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Newbie Qs on Monitoring Overdubs and Choice of Audio Interface

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Newbie Qs on Monitoring Overdubs and Choice of Audio Interface

Postby Bob Simon » Wed Jul 03, 2019 6:45 pm

I am getting ready to buy my first audio interface. With no digital recording experience, I need some advice on monitoring overdubs. I had been looking at the Focusrite Clarett 2Pre Thunderbolt audio interface (connected to my HP Spectre x360 with Thunderbolt 3) because it has especially low latency in hopes that I would be able to monitor my live overdub tracks via the DAW. However, Focusrite Tech Support suggested I get the USB version of the Clarett instead because there are problems with the Thunderbolt implementation on some Windows machines. Has anyone here tried to use Thunderbolt on the HP Spectre x360 - 13-ac076nr (Z4Z25UA)?

Potential Thunderbolt issues caused me re-consider my whole approach. Do you find that it's simply not practical to monitor live overdubs through the DAW due to delay introduced by the computer? I suspect that is the case because all the interfaces I've looked at allow for direct monitoring by reconfiguring its signal routing. I imagine it would be way simpler to set up the interface routing once and forget about it but perhaps adjusting that is a necessary part of recording in a home studio. If so, then maybe spending double for the Clarett isn't justified since I'll need to manage latency through the interface routing anyway.

If that's true, then the Scarlett 4i4 would work fine and provides two additional preamps. Or since I plan on initially using the free version of Studio One, maybe it would be better to get the PreSonus Studio 26c or 68c, which are only $200 and $300 respectively and come with Artist.

All information/advice/suggestions on audio interfaces and dealing with latency in live monitoring are welcome.
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Re: Newbie Qs on Monitoring Overdubs and Choice of Audio Interface

Postby Arpangel » Thu Jul 04, 2019 8:04 am

I used to use an external hardware mixer for recording and monitoring when overdubbing, I never had any problems with latency at all, I monitored the previously recorded tracks direct from the computer into a "tape" return on the mixer, newly recorded signals were monitored direct from my mixer, not going through the computer at all. All of the associated routing was done on the master/monitor section of my mixer.
This is one of those situations where the decision to go completely in the box becomes less clear, all of the routing has to be set up in the interface software, which isn't as immediate or easy as it is on an external mixer, and using an external mixer allows you to set and forget your interface, because the routing is done on the mixer. I've now gone ITB, and find things a bit more complicated and not as immediate regarding overdubbing and routing. Regarding overall latency, I think, these days given a reasonably high spec computer and any of the current mid range interfaces latency is low enough not to worry about.
I'm sorry if I haven't addresssed the interfaces you mentioned directly, but I thought my perspectives might help you decide the way you may want to work.
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Re: Newbie Qs on Monitoring Overdubs and Choice of Audio Interface

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Thu Jul 04, 2019 9:13 am

Bob Simon wrote:Do you find that it's simply not practical to monitor live overdubs through the DAW due to delay introduced by the computer?

Yes. Quite commonly... and that's why most interfaces incorporate some form of direct monitoring facility, as you have discovered.

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Re: Newbie Qs on Monitoring Overdubs and Choice of Audio Interface

Postby Bob Simon » Thu Jul 04, 2019 5:39 pm

Arpangel wrote:I used to use an external hardware mixer for recording and monitoring when overdubbing, I never had any problems with latency at all, I monitored the previously recorded tracks direct from the computer into a "tape" return on the mixer, newly recorded signals were monitored direct from my mixer, not going through the computer at all. All of the associated routing was done on the master/monitor section of my mixer.

Thank you for presenting your perspective on monitoring. I have a small PV8 mixer that I can use as you described above. This would also allow me to continue using my familiar analog effects while monitoring. This is appealing since I have so much to learn about digital recording and plugins.

However, after I complete my first project, I'm looking forward to experimenting with monitoring via the DAW. If delay in and out of the computer turns out to be a problem for me, I'll try direct monitoring next. It's reassuring to know that I can always return to using the external mixer if that works better for me.
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