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Digital mixer beckons...

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Digital mixer beckons...

Postby Arpangel » Tue Jun 04, 2019 8:15 am

The whole concept of digital mixing has always been in my view, irrelevant to my personal situation, but it could actually be very useful to me given that I'm now involed in a few different types of projects.
Things that could benefit me, the ability to memorise and store completely different mixer set-ups for a given situation, and, the big one.....being able to store different effects chains for my synths, and have them back at the touch of a button. It would be like having a rack of effects for every single channel on the mixer!
Regarding our piano and acoustic stuff, I could make up templates and just leave everything like mic's permanantly plugged in, this could go a long way to relieving my stress on our Marimba sessions!
Anybody else made the jump from analogue to digital mixing in a studio setting, have you found it a revelation, or a nightmare?
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Re: Digital mixer beckons...

Postby The Elf » Tue Jun 04, 2019 8:23 am

Nothing not to like IMO.

But I'd rather use an RME interface and TotalMix software than a physical mixer - it's much more flexible for recording.
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Re: Digital mixer beckons...

Postby Bob Bickerton » Tue Jun 04, 2019 8:59 am

I'd agree. Digital mixers are great for live sound, but not nearly as flexible as a good computer based DAW.

I use Logic with an UAD Apollo interface. With the scenarios you describe, I'd set up a template and you're good to go. The Apollo allows you to insert plug-ins in the Console App so that you can monitor with effects and even track direct with them.

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Re: Digital mixer beckons...

Postby Sam Spoons » Tue Jun 04, 2019 9:02 am

I have and yes it's great. I bought an X32 Compact for live use and stuck it in the studio, initially to learn it and them between big gigs. I already had a Mackie DL1608 which I still use for most of the few gigs I do these days. Digital is great and allows all those things you mention (with a limit of eight fx units in the case of the X32 so not quite a rack per channel).

If you work ITB though then, as Bob and The Elf say, a good interface and DAW will also let you do all those things (and without the limitation on fx racks).

As a retired live sound guy I like my hands on/real faders method of working.
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Re: Digital mixer beckons...

Postby Dave B » Tue Jun 04, 2019 9:06 am

I use digital mixers for live and love it. I have different templates for the different bands that I play in / do sound for and it means that once we get something that people are happy with, we get it every time. Plus I have a ton of auxes, headphone amps, effects, notch filters / feedback suppression ... the list goes on.

The one 'gotcha' for me concerns mic amp gains. As much as I love my QSC Touchmix, the gain knobs are a little 'light' and continuous rather than stepped. So matching stereo is 'best endeavour'. And with different mics I sometimes have to change gain levels. It's not the end of the world, but it is a niggle. My plan is to get a backup mixer (Berry X18R) which does have digital gain controls for the mic pres. If I were to replace the TM, I'd probably go Allen and Heath (largely) for the same reason - total recall is brilliant.

My 2c.
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Re: Digital mixer beckons...

Postby Arpangel » Tue Jun 04, 2019 10:20 am

The Elf wrote:Nothing not to like IMO.

But I'd rather use an RME interface and TotalMix software than a physical mixer - it's much more flexible for recording.

Interesting, I was thinking of that route as well, but it's a bit like letting go of the edge of the swimming pool.....AAARRRGGGHHH! no mixer!
Does the appropriate RME have enough mic inputs though? I need about 6 minimum. And about 8 line inputs.
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Re: Digital mixer beckons...

Postby The Elf » Tue Jun 04, 2019 10:34 am

I ditched the mixer long ago and never looked back. TBH I don't know anyone that has regretted it. Of course many buy a control surface to make themselves feel better about the leap... which then acts as an ideal dust magnet.

TotalMix will baffle you at first, let's make no bones about that, but once the penny drops you will realise the power and flexibility you have and you will love it. It does take a bit of getting used to, so don't panic! If all else fails I'm available for 1-2-1s, as you know.

As to a specific device... For that many mic and line pre's you'll probably be looking at something like a Fireface UC at the minimum for your line inputs, then a separate 8-input mic interface that will connect to the Fireface by ADAT. Alternatively you can use a clutch of mic pre's into the Fireface's line inputs.

Don't forget the universal truth that whatever I/O you think you need right now, you can at least double it for what you'll need in 6 months' time. If you have any outboard it will also need I/O, so don't forget that.
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Re: Digital mixer beckons...

Postby Sam Spoons » Tue Jun 04, 2019 10:44 am

If you need lots of I/O a digital desk might be the most cost effective way to achieve it. A Berry X32 Rack, for example, has 22 inputs and 14 outputs and 32/32 USB I/O for around the same price as an RME Fireface UC. The Midas MR-18 has 18/8 and 18/18 USB for around £560 and boasts the Midas Pro preamps which seem to be pretty decent.

If you must have faders then either and A&H Qu 16 or Berry X32 Producer offer great facilities for not too much money.
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Re: Digital mixer beckons...

Postby blinddrew » Tue Jun 04, 2019 1:53 pm

The Elf wrote:I ditched the mixer long ago and never looked back. TBH I don't know anyone that has regretted it. Of course many buy a control surface to make themselves feel better about the leap... which then acts as an ideal dust magnet.
:P I have three and mine are used literally every session... ;)

You can get a high channel count AI pretty cheaply via Tascam but a) you lose the routing flexibility of TotalMix and b) being polite, you don't have the same reputation for longevity when it comes to support and drivers...

If I ever get round to upgrading my AI it will be an RME. :)
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Re: Digital mixer beckons...

Postby The Elf » Tue Jun 04, 2019 1:56 pm

blinddrew wrote:
The Elf wrote:Of course many buy a control surface to make themselves feel better about the leap... which then acts as an ideal dust magnet.
:P I have three and mine are used literally every session... ;
:D I suspect you are in the minority!
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Re: Digital mixer beckons...

Postby blinddrew » Tue Jun 04, 2019 2:03 pm

Suspect you're right. ;)
Basically, they're just tools. And like any new tool, it takes a bit of time and practice to learn to get the best out of them. For me, now, they speed up my workflow and, in conjunction with my templates, cut out some of the non-value-add-decision-making from the process.
But you have to put in the hours and make the effort to change your previous working habits - and it's not going to work for everyone.
On the positive side it does mean you can pick up some bargains second-hand! :D
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Re: Digital mixer beckons...

Postby The Elf » Tue Jun 04, 2019 2:16 pm

I agree with the good piece of cutlery above that the X32 and its derivatives represent a cost-effective front end. Maybe even more so the XR18, which I've found to very capable, if slightly hobbled by the naff (IMO) control/mixer application.

For all kinds of reasons I'd not want to head that way myself, but for the money...
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Re: Digital mixer beckons...

Postby Luke W » Tue Jun 04, 2019 2:36 pm

Another vote for interface with no mixer here, as others have mentioned with the software that comes with the likes of RME/UA etc, routing is just as versatile as having a mixer (if not more so) and the space saved is always a welcome bonus. Sam's point about cost of I/O count is a good one though.

Control surfaces are hit and miss for me, the integration has to be really tight or it just doesn't seem worth it. With live work I still like as many faders/controls to hand as is practical, but for the studio I'm generally happy with far less.
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Re: Digital mixer beckons...

Postby Mike Stranks » Tue Jun 04, 2019 3:12 pm

FWIW - which is not much - I used a mixer for absolutely everything for over 30 years; there simply was no alternative when I started.

However, when the delights of digital were introduced to me in my 50s I adopted them right speedily. Never a millisecond of regret.

Now I'm totally ITB for all things recording and totally proper faders for all things live. (I was never really comfortable with touch-screen faders for live. That's me.)

But each to their own.... If you've been alerted to the fact that these days a mixer isn't the only way to go and prefer to stick with what you know then fair enough.
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Re: Digital mixer beckons...

Postby The Red Bladder » Tue Jun 04, 2019 3:33 pm

Digital mixers are the spawn of The Devil because -

1. Almost as soon as you have bought them, they are worthless.

2. You can't fix them easily and spare parts are often unavailable after a few years.

3. They are just PCs with knobs on anyway. You might as well just use a DAW!

4. When they fail they do so completely. Analogue usually fails in sections and the rest is still working.

5. There are fantastic used analogue bargains to be had out there!

I completely fail to see the purpose or use of digital desks for anything whatsoever, live, studio, anything. Recall? Use a DAW. Live? Use a DAW. Studio? You are using a DAW already - you don't need one of those over-priced pocket calculators with knobs on!
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Re: Digital mixer beckons...

Postby blinddrew » Tue Jun 04, 2019 4:54 pm

Once you start wanting more than 8 mic pre-amps then digital mixers start giving you way better bang for your buck in terms of features.
Then add in all the extras that you so blithely dismiss, plus the ability to set up out of the way or monitor from the stage, plus letting people manage their own headphone mix...
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Re: Digital mixer beckons...

Postby Sam Spoons » Tue Jun 04, 2019 5:04 pm

A digital snake alone was enough to convert me.
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Re: Digital mixer beckons...

Postby The Red Bladder » Tue Jun 04, 2019 5:27 pm

blinddrew wrote:Once you start wanting more than 8 mic pre-amps then digital mixers start giving you way better bang for your buck in terms of features.

I bought a 24:10:2 Soundcraft Delta mixer a month ago for £325.

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Re: Digital mixer beckons...

Postby The Elf » Tue Jun 04, 2019 5:35 pm

These: https://www.soundonsound.com/reviews/behringer-xr18

...typically go for 350 quid or less (I paid 330). And I'd buy it again in a heartbeat. Built-in effects and dynamics, and EQ over every output too - saves a whole rack of additional gear.

I'm afraid I don't want to lug a huge analogue mixer (and rack) around with me any more. To each their own...
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Re: Digital mixer beckons...

Postby blinddrew » Tue Jun 04, 2019 5:36 pm

Ok TRB, but we're comparing new with second hand which is not apples to apples. And it doesn't address a lot of the other selling points of a digital mixer.
A lot of this is going to come down to the kind of gig you're doing as well. I'd struggle to fit that mixer into most of the places we play! ;)
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