Mixers and audio interfaces

I don’t have much hands on time with conventional mixers to have a habit.
Con - It’s 2 additional button presses (to switch mix and back to main) and then faders remember their last position (meaning you have to move a fader to a last saved position first for it to start registering changes and avoid audio discontinuity) so inconvenience depends on how drastic are the changes you want to make. It’s minor for me.
Pro - Send mix is done via faders, so might be more useful sometimes when you want to change more than two channels at once it’s easier than knobs.

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That sounds easy enough. I’ve been mixing in-rack because it makes traveling with my case easier. But the L-12 is so compact, I could see bringing it to jam sessions.

I just noticed Zoom has a small L-8 too. Pretty nifty at that size. 6 mono and 2 stereo channels, class compliant interface, battery and usb power. https://www.zoom-na.com/products/production-recording/live-sound-recording/zoom-livetrak-l-8

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The L12 et al seem to have almost everything I’ve been looking for in a mixer. I’m kind of surprised I haven’t heard about it until just now. With everyone being into the dawless scene these days, you’d think a self-contained mixer / recorder / interface would be all over the place. Zoom makes good gear. (Also the Arq, haha.)

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For anyone with experience, is it much of a drawback to only be able to change the panning/EQ one channel at a time? Likely not a huge issue/tradeoff considering the other features, but I can think of a few times when I’ve had to actively pan 2 seperate tracks to achieve certain movement in the mix. How responsive are the channels when you hit the little select button to start altering the pan and EQ for that channel?

Channels are instantly responsive ie no loading. You can’t select more than one at a time unfortunately, I was initially hoping for that.

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Yes, selecting multiple would’ve been a nice touch. And pairing two into a stereo channel. But hey…

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has anyone tried the Zoom L8/L12 headphone outs with higher powered/more sensitive headphones (like the sennheiser hd600 series), or have experience to compare the general sound quality to an RME Babyface Pro? It (probably the L8) would definitely be an easier all-in-one solution and make more sense than my RME which I keep around for portable use (I use a UAD interface when at home). I wonder how much “quality” I would sacrifice with the switch.

I’m intrigued by audio interfaces that can also record to disk. Specifically, at least 8 channels but 16-32 would be even better (not really looking for something in the field recorder format). What options are there for this?

I’m aware of these (will add more if they are posted):

  • Lynx Aurora(n)
  • Cymatic uTrack 24
  • RME FireFace UFX+

RME FireFace UFX+ can record and playback up to 76 of its 188 channels.

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Zoom R16 is a portable 16 track recorder that doubles as an audio interface. I think it is limited to 8 simultaneous tracks per recording but you can have 16 for a project / song. I don’t have any personal experience with it but its been on my radar for a while

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Looking for some advice…

As I stated earlier, I’m doing a lot of cleaning, organizing and rewiring. I need to consolidate some gear but ultimately want to make things more usable and comfortable. I’m trying to figure out the best, most ergonomic, long-term solution.

I have a few 500 series preamps that I use for micing acoustic instruments and vocals (will be adding some more eventually), a good number of outboard synths and drum machines, 3 different eurorack cases, some small desktop stuff, some outboard FX, and 3 48-point patchbays.

What is the best way to bring this all together?

My goals would be to have most everything wired up and ready to multitrack but my setup changes from time to time and I don’t want to have to tear everything down if/when I add something new to the setup. I want to sit down and be able to record in 30 seconds or so (would love to just hit a record button - see my post above re: converters that can also multitrack record the inputs). Basically, everything live, all the time.

My initial thoughts:

  • Use a small stage box to handle mic inputs to the outboard preamps
  • Preamps are normalled to converter line inputs at the patch bay (jury is still out on whether my converter/interface will change)
  • Synths and drum machines are normalled to another bank of converter inputs at the patchbay
  • Eurorack and desktop stuff would either go to a small, separate mixer with direct outputs or possibly another stage box - there are pros and cons both ways (stage box is much smaller and cheaper, mixer provides more flexibility)
  • Direct outputs of the mixer or the stage box are normalled to converter line inputs at the patch bay
  • Select and acquire a primary mixer to handle monitoring and OTB mixing duties - something like the SSL Six or X-Desk really appeal to me right now
  • All outboard handled at the patchbay and 500 series racks

Things I’m considering:

  • 16+ channels of converters either through Apollo 16, RME UFX+, or MOTU
  • SSL Six vs. X-Desk
  • Some small mixer with direct outputs
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I’ve also been re-designing/building out my studio, and selected the SSL Six as my core. A month in, I’m super happy with the Six from the studio-grade quality of the signal chain, to the enormous routing flexibility. It’s been a pleasure to use, and every component from the EQ to the compressors and pre’s have exceeded my expectations. I looked at the X-Desk, and decided that the Six’s capacity for analog summing 12 channels was enough, and I really wanted the goodies on the Six. I’d get a second Six before I bought an X-Desk.

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Your comments really summed up a lot of what I was thinking.

I don’t need to track more than 4-6 channels at a time even with 2 other instrumentalists with me. At least not right now.

The Six is appealing because for a little less than the price of a used X-Desk, I can still sum 12 channels of stems - almost as much as an X-Desk - and I’d get 3 nice preamps and the bus comp to work with. I also really really like that it incorporates DB25 connectors for all its i/o which makes all the routing happen easily at the patchbay.

However, the X-Desk is still on my list because I like the idea of all the switching it offers… really simplifying the transition from tracking to mixing and monitoring both. No built in EQ is a bit of a bummer but I could live without the extra preamps. Overall, jury is still out but I share your thoughts.

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So I’ve been very interested in nailing down an interface approach for every conceivable need and that would plausibly fill those needs for the bulk of a lifetime, or at least be amenable to maintenance, expansion, and upgrade over the course of such. My research in regard to choosing a computer along these same lines turned up an interesting find:

For my part, I would likely make use of such a thing for something like an RME Raydat and undoubtedly some other audio-related card. However, what I’m wondering is how that pricetag of $900 could be at all justified. There seem to be comparable enclosures, even among their own stock, priced far less, and the main difference I can see is that this one is rackmounted. Am I missing something? I mean, one could purchase a reasonably powerful and compact computer with two PCIe slots and TB3 expandability for little more. Is the rackmounting really so niche as to justify the mark-up? I would have assumed that the market for TB3->PCIe enclosures is already niche enough.

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Hi, wondering if someone with some experience with this interface may be able to help me solve the issue I am having. Very simply trying to get audio out of say channels 3&4 of the Motu, into Norns, then back into Ableton. The ins seem ok, but assigning the outs in Ableton to the Motu is not sending any signal. I’ve had it working before so not sure what’s going on. All is set right in Ableton preferences, but not seeing any output into Norns. I’m avoiding the Cuemix side of the Motu, as I don’t think that is needed for this and it confuses me? It must be a setting on the Motu. Any help much appreciated!

It’s been a while…

I think there’s something quirky about Motu’s numbering.

I could be wrong, but I think the preamps are what shows up as 1 and 2, in your DAW. On the back of the Ultraluge, (autocorrect, but i’ma leave it.) what says Outlut 1 and 2, will actually be 3 and 4 in your DAW. Displace the output numbers on the back to accommodate the preamps as 1 and 2.

Does that make any sense?

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Honestly, I’d check Cuemix just to see if outputs 3 and 4 are sending signal. If they aren’t, then it’s likely either an Ableton issue or a Motu problem. If CueMix indicates you’re outputting signal, try plugging the Motu output into another device (or really just plug a 1/4" heapdhone into the output and see if you hear something). Then it would be the Norns.
I haven’t used Ableton for a long time but I remember the output config being a bit of a pain… but if you’re certain the outputs are activated and the levels are up/not muted, then checking CueMix would be the next step in verifying the signal path…
As @joelcorriveau says, there is also the issue of output numbering. Ableton 1 and 2 are the main outs. Ableton 3 and 4 are labeled outputs 1 and 2 on the back of the ultralite.

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Gosh apologies, it was indeed the routing of the numbers being different between Ableton and Motu! Thanks!

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Welp friends, it has finally happened:

NSFW (j/k)

MOTU UltraLite mk3 you have served me valiantly over the years. Thousands (millions?) of hours of audio has been routed through your venerable 8 ins and 10 outs. For the last year or two I haven’t been able to launch your software, but still you were able to be selected as my interface. Alas, today was the end. I didn’t know just a few days ago was to be our last time together.

I love you MOTU UltraLite mk3.

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