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WP23



Joined: 01/02/13
Posts: 11
Adding A Digital/Analogue Mixer to a DAC & DAW Set Up
      #1031517 - 01/02/13 04:51 AM
Hiya, me first post here

Let me first start off by saying this is by far my favourite music related site ... plenty of insight!

I wish to add an Analogue/Digital Mixer to my music production set up, which currently consists of a MacBook Pro running Logic 9 as the main DAW, a Mytek 192 D/A (8 Digital In/2 Analog Out) converter via Firewire, and a pro monitoring system / pro head-phone set up, connected to the D/A via its 2 Analog Out and dedicated amped phone jack respectively.

My query is, where/how does the mixer fit in this chain (keeping in mind that the D/A is a very high-end yet one way signal path converter, i.e. digital signals IN (8) and analog signal OUT (2)) ?

I appreciate that a mixing desk with a firewire/built in audio interface could do the job of an A/D D/A converter, however, I intend to make full use of the Mytek, as this is a top notch pre-amp / mastering quality piece of gear providing very true/transparent representation of the signals passed through it.

3 main reasons why I wish to add a Mixer to the chain:

1 - hands-on approach as opposed to "mousing" around on a virtual mixer
2 - recording outboard gear and processors (to be added shortly)
3 - characteristics which can be added/achieved by routing the signal path through a desk and it's onboard processors ( not suggesting this is not possible with software plug-ins/UADs etc ... )

I have looked at a few desks, some with 2 firewire ports (one for connecting to the computer, the other as a daisy chain option) ... but still unsure as to how I would rig it all and route it in my DAW!

Any thoughts or maybe similar experience in this matter would be greatly appreciated.

Cheers


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Nicky T



Joined: 24/03/06
Posts: 15
Re: Adding A Digital/Analogue Mixer to a DAC & DAW Set Up new [Re: WP23]
      #1031520 - 01/02/13 06:11 AM
Hi

I did something similar for a while using a Midas F16. So here's how I used it for 8 channels and hopefully gives you some ideas:

1. Used Ch1-8 Mic Pres/EQ/Ch Inserted dynamics on front end via direct FW outputs going into my DAW.
2. Used FW on Channels 9-16 as returns from my DAW to mix down 4 x stereo stems with analogue FX/Processor sends via the auxes and returned to the groups on the desk.
3. Assigned the 2 buss output to DAW inputs via FW and monitored it all back via the desk.

That gives you a nice analogue front end followed by digital processing, editing and automation, followed by analogue summing and integration of analogue processors with a flexible high quality monitoring path. It's all hands on as well for the tweaky bit.

Hope that helps.


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WP23



Joined: 01/02/13
Posts: 11
Re: Adding A Digital/Analogue Mixer to a DAC & DAW Set Up new [Re: WP23]
      #1031521 - 01/02/13 06:12 AM
... ... possibly a mixing desk with a digital MAIN OUT option such as SPDIF/Coaxial/Toslink/AES, to which the DAC then connects as the top part of the chain before the monitors??


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WP23



Joined: 01/02/13
Posts: 11
Re: Adding A Digital/Analogue Mixer to a DAC & DAW Set Up new [Re: Nicky T]
      #1031522 - 01/02/13 06:20 AM
Hi Nick, cheers for your feedback.

I'm just wondering bout two things in your reply,

1 - where did your DAC fit in all this?
2 - it seems as though the mixer you speak of only allowed for 2 channels back in from the DAW via Firewire, is that correct? Where as I m looking at the option of actually having a desk capable of say 6, 8 or even 10 "digital" ins via Firewire too.

Cheers


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Nicky T



Joined: 24/03/06
Posts: 15
Re: Adding A Digital/Analogue Mixer to a DAC & DAW Set Up new [Re: WP23]
      #1031523 - 01/02/13 06:29 AM
Hi


To answer your questions:

1. I sold my converters and used the Midas ones - but there are analogue directs out of the desk all over so you can integrate your converter if you prefer.

2. The desk had a 16 in 16 out configurable FW grid so you could set up the digitals to cover direct channel in/outs or a combination including group in/outs and main mix buss in/outs - it's quite flexible.

Not trying to sell Midas to you by the way - just how I did what you're talking about...


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WP23



Joined: 01/02/13
Posts: 11
Re: Adding A Digital/Analogue Mixer to a DAC & DAW Set Up new [Re: Nicky T]
      #1031524 - 01/02/13 06:45 AM
Hi Nick,

Cheers for clarifying.

The thing is, as I explained in my original post, I only have a DAC, not an AD/DA converter ... so it can only take digital signals in(8), and output a pair of analog signals, albeit, it does this at exceptional quality due to its high-end components. Ideally, yes, I would just get a high-end mixer, such as the Midas, and do away with any other converters ... but that is not what I am trying to do at this stage ... I am looking for a way to integrate a mixer (ideally analogue & digital, rather than just digital) and my current DAC together with my DAW ... I think one option would be to find a mixing desk which has a digital OUT such as SPDIF/Coaxial/Tslink/AES, which I can then feed into the DAC and that in turn feeds the Amp/Monitors.


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Nicky T



Joined: 24/03/06
Posts: 15
Re: Adding A Digital/Analogue Mixer to a DAC & DAW Set Up new [Re: WP23]
      #1031526 - 01/02/13 07:03 AM
Yep - get that, if you're keen to keep hold of the converters you have and you must route digital signals into them (as opposed to into your DAW via FW etc) 6 channel direct or group digital outputs from a hybrid mixer into your converters digital input as the front end and stereo analogue signal returned to the hybrid mixer where it can be monitored, processors inserted and routed back into your DAW on digitals 7-8 is the way I would look at it - but it depends on how many simultaneous inputs you need?



Edited by Nicky T (01/02/13 07:09 AM)


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Nicky T



Joined: 24/03/06
Posts: 15
Re: Adding A Digital/Analogue Mixer to a DAC & DAW Set Up new [Re: Nicky T]
      #1031528 - 01/02/13 07:24 AM
There are a few analogue mixers that have digital output options - really depends on your budget and whether you want new or are happy to buy used. The reason I mentioned the F16 approach is I went around the houses quite a bit before that and when I hit on it the workflow was much improved and very flexible.

What do you hope to achieve with the mixer bit ?:

1. Analogue sound? Routed as you suggest you get analogue front end sound but you could do this with a channel strip with built in ADC as opposed to a full on mixer. If it's analogue summing - then you need an analogue hybrid mixer with 8 digital inputs to connect to your interface .

2. Connectivity of external processors and monitoring? Only on 2 channels of audio because you're only coming out of the DACs in stereo - that might be the aim, if so, what is that for mix inserts or fx sends or purely monitoring? If more channel processing required simultaneously you again need a mixer with 8 digital inputs as well to fit your converters.

3. Hands On Tactile Approach - a bit improved on the output stage but again - only on 2 channels unless you go for a more involved hybrid desk with 8 digital inputs/ eq/ inserts/ groups/auxes as well.


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WP23



Joined: 01/02/13
Posts: 11
Re: Adding A Digital/Analogue Mixer to a DAC & DAW Set Up new [Re: Nicky T]
      #1031582 - 01/02/13 12:46 PM
Quote
What do you hope to achieve with the mixer bit ?:





Right I get where you are coming from.

To clarify and also answer your main question, the reasons I wish to include a mixing desk are:

1. to route channels/tracks simultaneously from say Logic DAW to separate channels on a Mixer for additional processing and to get that 'hands on approach'

2. to enable recording of an external instrument/processor, say an analogue synth or compressor, should I want that option later on

I am not too keen on the idea of just routing everything back from the DAW into the mixer in stereo, as this is just going to limit the signal processing to just a pair of channels. The intention is to be able to route multi tracks/channels from the DAW into the desk, process them individually and simultaneously if wanted, and then back to the DAW for recording. So I understand that, some sort of D/A A/D conversion needs to be in place, either by a separate audio interface or a mixer which has a built in one. The Mytek DAC's main purpose is for true monitoring of whatever digital signals are passed through it ... So am I not right in believing that in the chain, the DAC needs to go between the main outputs of a mixing desk (via a digital signal from a Main Out of mixer to the DAC via digital In, which is then hooked up to the monitoring system) ... so this way, whatever signal I pass through any part of the chain, will be captured by the DAC via the Mixer/DAW for monitoring, mixing, recording, and final mix down.

Hope to get some light shed on this.

:


heers!


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WP23



Joined: 01/02/13
Posts: 11
Re: Adding A Digital/Analogue Mixer to a DAC & DAW Set Up new [Re: WP23]
      #1031591 - 01/02/13 01:18 PM
I Also see what you mean about where in the chain you are suggesting to place the DAC, to make use of its conversion capabilities prior to the signal hitting the desk ... so it would look something like this ...

option A: DAW -> DAC (via firewire/usb ((multi-channel)) -> Mixer (via stereo analogue - 2 channel) -> DAW (via firewire/usb - main mix as stereo) ... this seems doable, but will limit channel processing in the mixer to just 2 channels

option B: DAW / External Instruments -> Mixer (via firewire/usb ((multi-channel)) -> Back to both the DAW (via firewire/usb (multi-channel) AND to the DAC (via digital out) -> Monitors

option C/D ... : ??


Opt A seems like signals will benefit from the DAC's conversion quality before hitting the desk, but limit output channels to mixer to just 2 analogue.

Opt B seems like it will benefit from the DAC's conversion quality at the end of the chain, more for monitoring purposes in this case, thus having to rely on a separate D/A for conversion, be it a built in one on the desk or a separate interface.

hmmm ... I am a little unsure as to what the best solution is at this stage. This was my main query really, how to get the best out of my existing DAC (i.e. its high quality D/A conversion + amped headphone jack to fully exploit a pair of Sennheiser HD800s) whilst also incorporating a mixing desk for the already mentioned reasons.

Racking me brains a lil here lol!!


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Wease



Joined: 17/07/03
Posts: 2238
Loc: Sunny Walsall
Re: Adding A Digital/Analogue Mixer to a DAC & DAW Set Up new [Re: WP23]
      #1031611 - 01/02/13 02:46 PM
ok - as i see it, at the moment, you're only using the mytek as a digital (from Logic) to analogue converter - so basically the 'superior' digital to analogue conversion so you can monitor your mixes in the best possible format.

your 8 channel digital inputs are at the moment not used....

now, you want a mixer for that 'real handling feel'.....because you don't seem to be too concerned about recording "real" instruments and sound like your mixing in the box...maybe a hardware controller would be more up your street??....so basically you can control the mixer in logic via 'real knobs'

now - there are issues with this - ive yet to see/hear a pure control box that's 'exactly' like a mixer.....and they are quite expensive....

....you also want to be able to 'flavour' the recorded tracks with an analogue mixer.....and, in the future, record some "actual" instruments into logic (or even some mic'ed instruments??)

and you want to keep your converter....it's something your used too....and you feel like the input side is redundant, and that cost you money as well, so you'd like to use it.....

ohhh- and no budget ball-park figure.....which makes things a little tricky....

ok.....there are options.....however, I am not sure you'll find a reasonable, cost effective 8 channel mixer with digital light pipe converters (because the mixer will have to convert the analogue signal to digital for the mytek)...much better to use those inputs to run, lets say a behringer ada8000 - 8 mic channels with digital conversion - into these as 'optional extra' input...there are other, more expensive options - but a lot of people rate the ada8000...even if they dont rate any other bheringer gear....

The most ideal product for you would seem to be either the allen and heath zedr16, makie onyx 1640i or for double the money (but nice..and a better spec'd daw controller) SSL Nucleus

Now - all the above have been reviewed (favourably i might add) in SOS....the A&H and Mackie are like traditional mixers, with a firewire connection to record into your daw. The Allen and heath has a very neat way of returning your signals from logic on a track by track basis, mixing with the eq etc (all with the touchability of a desk) and returning/recording that mixed signal to the DAW...i think the mackie does the same......the nucleus is more of a control surface kinda job with additional in out channels...but what nice channels...and a superior control surface spec (motorised faders etc) than the other 2....and includes duende plugins ....but doesnt have the dedicated knobs per channel of the other 2

your mytek inputs are still somewhat redundant...but you can still monitor from your mytek outputs..using the desks as input/mixing 'module's' and hearing the results from the mytek

the digital to analogue converters of all the above are pretty good tho.....you 'could' sell your mytek to fund/part fund your purchase??

or just buy a box o knobs/sliders (behringer again - novation make some as do others) and control the mixer in logic with 'real' knobs and sliders

you should take a look at the above and see which ones fit more into your workflow --and have a budget of somesort -

and the Elf will (using some very convincing and relevant arguments) try to disuade you from buying any kinda mixer and get used to mixing in the box - it is cheaper and £ for £ your plugins (UAD/SSL etc) are cheaper and more effective than buying a mixer....especially a sub £2000 one.....but im more on your side and would love a ZedR16!!


--------------------
http://soundcloud.com/seaapes


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The Elf
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Posts: 9388
Loc: Sheffield, UK
Re: Adding A Digital/Analogue Mixer to a DAC & DAW Set Up new [Re: Wease]
      #1031629 - 01/02/13 04:26 PM
Quote Wease:

and the Elf will (using some very convincing and relevant arguments) try to disuade you from buying any kinda mixer and get used to mixing in the box




Just look at all the confusion above...

Unless you REALLY know what you're doing mixers bring complication, confusion and compromise.

Living without a mixer is often a culture shock, but it's one worth bearing.

--------------------
An Eagle for an Emperor, A Kestrel for a Knave.


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James PerrettModerator



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Re: Adding A Digital/Analogue Mixer to a DAC & DAW Set Up new [Re: The Elf]
      #1031670 - 01/02/13 11:07 PM
Quote The Elf:



Just look at all the confusion above...





I'd agree - the Mytek seems a really bad starting point for what you want to do as it is a really specialist piece of gear designed for a different job to the one you want to do. If I was in your shoes I would contact Michal and see if he can offer you a trade in for something more suitable.

James.

--------------------
JRP Music - Audio Mastering and Restoration.
http://www.jrpmusic.net


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WP23



Joined: 01/02/13
Posts: 11
Re: Adding A Digital/Analogue Mixer to a DAC & DAW Set Up new [Re: Wease]
      #1031694 - 02/02/13 03:07 AM
Wease, really appreciate your time to go into some detail on this ... i will look into the options and desks you have suggested.

cheers!


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WP23



Joined: 01/02/13
Posts: 11
Re: Adding A Digital/Analogue Mixer to a DAC & DAW Set Up new [Re: The Elf]
      #1031695 - 02/02/13 03:09 AM
Elf,

i know exactly what i want to do with the mixer, which is why i wish to include one in the chain ... there must be a way ... i have nothing against mixing "ITB" ... but now i find myself in a better studio environment/space, where i can expand.


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WP23



Joined: 01/02/13
Posts: 11
Re: Adding A Digital/Analogue Mixer to a DAC & DAW Set Up new [Re: James Perrett]
      #1031697 - 02/02/13 03:24 AM
James,

whilst i appreciate your input ... let me just put you in the picture ...

i started off with an untreated room and very little space ... plus being in a quiet residential area ... the "in the box" option was the most practical solution. however, i still wanted to have some quality gear in terms of conversion and monitoring ... enter the Sennheiser HD800s (which perform at their best with an amped phone jack), and hence the Mytek 192 DAC, the combo providing an absolutely incredible and detailed sound representation ... something many of us tend to over look when looking at what gear to buy ... when really what we all need is a good pair of ears and a quality monitoring system as a basic but integral starting point (in my opinion) ... what use is having all other kind of gear & processors/software, tons of plugins etc... which may sound great, but because of a not so true sound representation, what you hear is not what is really going on, leaving you chasing your tail?? ... so, in MY original situation, i think i made a pretty decent starting point with a Macbook pro & Logic DAW, a Mytek 192 DAC & the HD800s.

Now, the opportunity has presented itself, for a decent sized space which is very well acoustically treated ... so an upgrade is in motion ... this is where a mixer and external synths/processors come in ... and the whole point of my original post being, HOW i could integrate a mixing desk into the chain, and still make use of my DAC ... i know an option is to sell it and do away with it, replace it wiv a desk/interface .... but that is not what i am asking here ...

cheers for your comments.


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Wease



Joined: 17/07/03
Posts: 2238
Loc: Sunny Walsall
Re: Adding A Digital/Analogue Mixer to a DAC & DAW Set Up new [Re: WP23]
      #1031749 - 02/02/13 04:01 PM
Yes....but the mytek input stage will still be largely redundant in your proposed set-up....as any analog to digital conversion must take place before that unit...and therefore it's the analog to digital conversion in the new mixer that effects the sound....this adds IMHO an unnessicary and costly element to any solution....just to use some currently redundant inputs.....

As a digital to analog stereo monitoring system, the mytek is good, and obviously fits your set-up and workflow...but I believe there are cheaper, and more effective systems available...including mytek's own stereo 96 DAC....as James stated, you might do well to arrange a "swap" with mytek for this unit....which I would imagine is cheaper than your current one.....

Then, put the difference towards the mixer solution........which on current prices is around £1250 (my euro conversion guess)....about half the cost of the nucleus.....or the price (just) of the Allen and Heath......

And how you do that really depends on your budget, channel count, in or out of the box, mic pre....etc etc requirements....which is another topic entirely....and may not even involve a mixer......Elf for example I think uses ssl modules for eq...and a lot in the box, with a controller surface...and no mixer.

I hope you find a good solution......but I wouldn't get too hung up on the digital inputs of the mytek....as James said, it's kinda the wrong product for your needs (think its better used to connect multiple digital mixers to one source...whereas you really want a good DAC for monitoring)

Best
Wease

--------------------
http://soundcloud.com/seaapes


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