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Old 01-18-2020, 06:41 PM
AlfredFelix AlfredFelix is offline
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Default Mixer Recommendations and Questions...

So, I have a few instruments in a spare bedroom that I use as a jam room and a simple studio. Currently, I record everything into an old Boss BR600 digital recorder. I'm not a professional, and I'm happy enough with the sound I get. However, when I get a decent computer eventually, I will prolly switch to using a Daw.

Mixer vs Audio Interface:. Is there any disadvantage or sound quality difference in using an audio interface vs a mixer? (Other than the tracks bring individual or just a summer mix.)

Do you all have any recommendations on a good 10 to 20 track mixer? The following is what I'm looking for:

1: It doesn't suck/ruin the sound/tone.
2: 10 to 20 channels. The more the better, but it's all about cost vs features and being logical.

I don't have a budget really... If a $130 mixer will work well, then I'm happy, but if I need to spend $500 to get okay sound out of a mixer, then I'll save up. So, I guess the cheapest quality option is what I'm looking for.

Anyhow, I appreciate you all and your help very much!
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Old 01-18-2020, 08:50 PM
RRuskin RRuskin is offline
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10 to 20 channels because you will need to mix that many or because you will be recording that many at a single time?
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Old 01-18-2020, 10:00 PM
AlfredFelix AlfredFelix is offline
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I chose those numbers because I have that many instruments that will need recorded. Most of the time, I only record one at a time. Sometimes when playing with people, I may record like 4 inputs at one time. I was planning to just plug each instrument into its own input and leave the levels properly adjusted. Or is it wiser to get a small mixer and just adjust it each time I choose a new instrument to record? 4 instruments is probably the most I would record simultaneously. Although I do use 2 mics that need phantom power sometimes.

Last edited by AlfredFelix; 01-18-2020 at 10:06 PM.
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Old 01-18-2020, 11:06 PM
Chipotle Chipotle is offline
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A mixer and an audio interface are (usually) two entirely different things.

If you are recording to a computer with a DAW, you will need an audio interface. That is what takes your analog sound from a microphone or instrument and converts it to digital for the computer. You can get interfaces with varying numbers of inputs, but (like a mixer) you only need as many inputs as you will record at the same time. Typically each input on the interface goes to its own track on the DAW, so you have them separate for editing, adding effects and mixing later. For doing one instrument at a time, a 1- or 2-input interface is enough. Yes, with just 1 or 2 inputs, people unplug one instrument and plug in the next instrument or mic, rather than leaving everything plugged in all the time.

A mixer, as the name implies, takes multiple inputs and mixes them down to a smaller number of output channels, often just two stereo channels. Those outputs still need to go into an audio interface to be digitized for the DAW, though.

A mixer isn't really required for a home studio, since if you're just recording a few tracks at a time, you use the interface to send those straight to their own tracks in the DAW. You record the tracks "dry" and add effects etc. in the DAW, so you don't need a mixer for effects either.

If you're doing 4 (or more) inputs at a time, you could use a mixer to combine those inputs before sending them to one of the channels of an audio interface. But then those instruments go onto the same track, and you've lost the ability to separately work on them in the DAW. They are combined forever. You're stuck with that mix with no way to adjust instrument balance, effect instruments differently, etc.

My recommendation would be to get an audio interface with as many inputs as you think you'll need simultaneously, and skip the mixer entirely. If you really need 4 simultaneous inputs there are interfaces with 2 mic/2+ line inputs, or 4+ mics + more line inputs for a bit more money.

A hybrid, if you still really want the mixer capability, is a mixer with 4-channel or more USB out, like the Soundcraft Notepad-12FX or digital like the Behringer X18. So you plug into the mixer, but then run USB from the mixer to your computer so it acts as the audio interface as well.
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Old 01-18-2020, 11:08 PM
Chipotle Chipotle is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AlfredFelix View Post
I chose those numbers because I have that many instruments that will need recorded.
That doesn't affect what you need for your interface or mixer. In a DAW, you can have as many tracks recorded as you desire--hundreds, if you want.
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Old 01-18-2020, 11:29 PM
jim1960 jim1960 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chipotle View Post
My recommendation would be to get an audio interface with as many inputs as you think you'll need simultaneously, and skip the mixer entirely. If you really need 4 simultaneous inputs there are interfaces with 2 mic/2+ line inputs, or 4+ mics + more line inputs for a bit more money.
That^
You don't need a mixer for what you're saying you want to do. You want an interface and daw software. As Chipotle said, you only need as many mic inputs as you'll use at the same time. Each mic will go to a separate track on in the daw. When you're done, you can leave the mics just where they are in the interface and simply set up additional tracks in the daw. You can do a hundred tracks that way if you want. When you play them back, they'll all play at the same time.

If you plan on recording with yourself and others playing at the same time, you'll need two sets of headphones (I'd recommend closed back so you don't get bleeding into the mics) and you'll need two places to plug them in. Interfaces will almost always have at least one output for headphone, some will have two. For what you're doing, you can probably get away using a simple splitter if the interface you choose only has one.
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  #7  
Old 01-18-2020, 11:55 PM
RRuskin RRuskin is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AlfredFelix View Post
I chose those numbers because I have that many instruments that will need recorded. Most of the time, I only record one at a time. Sometimes when playing with people, I may record like 4 inputs at one time. I was planning to just plug each instrument into its own input and leave the levels properly adjusted. Or is it wiser to get a small mixer and just adjust it each time I choose a new instrument to record? 4 instruments is probably the most I would record simultaneously. Although I do use 2 mics that need phantom power sometimes.
Most interfaces coupled with software will allow you to record and mix as many tracks as you want. The more elaborate the interface, the more discreet inputs & outputs will be available. Any interface with 4 mic/line inputs and phantom power will suffice for the needs you've listed.

The idea of leaving instruments plugged in and having a "set & forget" setup sounds appealing but IMHO, is a bit impractical. Who knows? Maybe it will work for you.

A system with an analog mixer will still need an interface to get in & out of a computer. It also takes up more space and is more complicated to lash together. It's not for everyone but it's my preference.
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Last edited by RRuskin; 01-19-2020 at 05:53 PM.
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Old 01-19-2020, 08:26 AM
bagpipe bagpipe is offline
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Great explanation here by Chipotle.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chipotle View Post
A mixer and an audio interface are (usually) two entirely different things.

If you are recording to a computer with a DAW, you will need an audio interface. That is what takes your analog sound from a microphone or instrument and converts it to digital for the computer. You can get interfaces with varying numbers of inputs, but (like a mixer) you only need as many inputs as you will record at the same time. Typically each input on the interface goes to its own track on the DAW, so you have them separate for editing, adding effects and mixing later. For doing one instrument at a time, a 1- or 2-input interface is enough. Yes, with just 1 or 2 inputs, people unplug one instrument and plug in the next instrument or mic, rather than leaving everything plugged in all the time.

A mixer, as the name implies, takes multiple inputs and mixes them down to a smaller number of output channels, often just two stereo channels. Those outputs still need to go into an audio interface to be digitized for the DAW, though.

A mixer isn't really required for a home studio, since if you're just recording a few tracks at a time, you use the interface to send those straight to their own tracks in the DAW. You record the tracks "dry" and add effects etc. in the DAW, so you don't need a mixer for effects either.

If you're doing 4 (or more) inputs at a time, you could use a mixer to combine those inputs before sending them to one of the channels of an audio interface. But then those instruments go onto the same track, and you've lost the ability to separately work on them in the DAW. They are combined forever. You're stuck with that mix with no way to adjust instrument balance, effect instruments differently, etc.

My recommendation would be to get an audio interface with as many inputs as you think you'll need simultaneously, and skip the mixer entirely. If you really need 4 simultaneous inputs there are interfaces with 2 mic/2+ line inputs, or 4+ mics + more line inputs for a bit more money.

A hybrid, if you still really want the mixer capability, is a mixer with 4-channel or more USB out, like the Soundcraft Notepad-12FX or digital like the Behringer X18. So you plug into the mixer, but then run USB from the mixer to your computer so it acts as the audio interface as well.
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Old 01-19-2020, 08:38 AM
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KevWind KevWind is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AlfredFelix View Post

Mixer vs Audio Interface:. Is there any disadvantage or sound quality difference in using an audio interface vs a mixer? (Other than the tracks bring individual or just a summer mix.)
(All things being equal) almost without exception, the reverse is actually true. For any given budget (until you get into high end digital mixers) you are more likely to get better sound quality in a dedicated interface than a mixer/interface combo.

For what you seem to be talking about. Let me agree with and add to what others have mentioned. First as mentioned for computer DAW recording you have to have an interface (of some kind or other ) and just like any other audio equipment you tend to get what you pay for.
Which leads directly to this

Quote:
I don't have a budget really... If a $130 mixer will work well, then I'm happy, but if I need to spend $500 to get okay sound out of a mixer, then I'll save up. So, I guess the cheapest quality option is what I'm looking for.
Also consider ( Not having a budget in mind), is the most inefficient method to research and shop for audio gear, plane and simple

Because "almost without exception --"cheapest -quality"--- is a contradiction in terms.
There may be sweet spots of value per dollar, within any given budget range BUT that is a different concept.

As suggested look for as high of quality (within your budget range) of a 4 analog input interface.

With a DAW you don't need a physical mixer with all your instruments plugged in with correct levels. because you can set up different user defined templates for each, any, and all combinations of instruments, you might wish to record.
User defined templates are the DAW equivalent of "Plug and Play" to get going quickly
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Old 01-19-2020, 09:09 AM
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gwlee7 gwlee7 is offline
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Another consideration is that most interfaces will include very workable DAW software with its purchase. Being willing to buy a decent interface should get all the “mixer” needed to get started making music.
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Old 01-19-2020, 10:00 AM
MikeBmusic MikeBmusic is offline
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I totally understand where you are coming from! I recorded my first album (and started on the 2nd) with a Boss BR600. I bought a Mackie FX12-USB mixer. I found it great to be able to plug in a mic and guitar and keyboard and leave them plugged in, routing the stereo output of the Mackie to the two BR600 inputs.
When I started to use my computer to record, I could send a stereo track to the DAW from the Mackie's USB, and could pan each input left and right, and then set the DAW to record them as separate tracks or as a stereo track.
However, the USB conversion was only 16 bit (24 bit or better recommended for better headroom). I also found that there were no dedicated drivers for the Mackie's USB function, I had to use ASIO4ALL and latency (a delay when monitoring) was noticeable and no easy way to direct monitor.
That is what an audio interface will offer you - direct monitoring so zero latency, and better monitoring options, and higher bit rate.

As a consolation, I am still using the Mackie mixer regularly for live work, which is what a mixer is really for.
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Old 01-21-2020, 12:18 PM
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I'm far from accomplished on the topic but over the past 10 years have gone through several recording setups starting with garage band on ipad, couple of mixers with stereo usb outs to DAW, and audio interfaces. I have two usage models: Play plugged in with headphones which puts me in my own little world, sometimes with another person or two. I find a mixer works best for that given the small delay using an audio interface which bugged me (maybe that's been fixed?). Second usage is I make multitrack recordings both with and without video mostly by myself but also sometimes with others. My current setup (recommended from this forum) is working pretty well. I'm using a Zoom livetrack-12 which is overkill on channels, but great for live and great for recording it to an SD card which I take to my computer area for post processing with a DAW (Audacity) and for mixing audio and video. This may sound complicated but its actually quite easy. Would be killer if the mixer had wifi so I didn't have to pull the SD card, but that's not a big deal. Just saw that Zoom now has a Livetrack 8 for about $400. I may sell my 12 and get one of those since it's plenty for my needs, smaller, and portable (operates optionally off batteries).
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