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Analog desk to Digital

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Analog desk to Digital

Postby JRocker » Fri Nov 15, 2019 6:37 am

I currently record acoustic and electric guitars and vocals in my home studio. I don't record bass or drums. I am currently using UR22mkII (with Cubase) and it does a great job for what I need it for.

I've been thinking lately of looking to add a small mixing desk, like a 4 - 6 channel desk, something that I can record my guitar and vocals with simply, but also, that I capture a more organic analog sound rather than using the digital interface for everything. Obviously I'll be still using the Cubase as my main recording software.

My question is, can this be done and is it worth it? And can I use a combination of both, for example, maybe record my guitars using the outboard mixer and record my vocals sing the UR22. I don't do any mixing. So just need it for all my tracking work.
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Re: Analog desk to Digital

Postby Jack Ruston » Fri Nov 15, 2019 7:13 am

So by using a small desk, and a converter, you're performing the same steps as if you use a converter with a built in mic amp...there's still an analogue gain stage in the form of the mic amp, feeding an AD converter. Now sometimes the outboard mic pre or desk will have transformers which might add a subtle colour, but not necessarily.

Even if you're using something obviously coloured, and astronomically expensive for that reason, like an old Neve console, it's not going to change the fact that you have to convert it to digital. And while that colour becomes more obviously of benefit with certain heavily transient sources like drums, it doesn't always benefit vocals, and I'd say it benefits acoustic guitars least of all.

Typically when people are searching for a better acoustic guitar and vocal sound, it's all about the instrument, the room and the mic. That's 99% of it.
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Re: Analog desk to Digital

Postby ef37a » Fri Nov 15, 2019 7:29 am

I am not sure a mixer is going to give you any 'analogue warmf' JR?

There are pre amps that are said to have 'that sound'. Neve is one such but I doubt you want to spend that much.

I am also confused both by the type of mixer mixer you want and the MO you intend to employ. Do you want a USB mixer that can record a mix of the channels or one that can record individual tracks, i.e. a multitracker? The latter will be more expensive.

Then you seem to suggest that you want to record with the mixer AND the UR22 at the same time? You cannot do that on a Windows PC but you can on a mac.

The simplest setup would be a mixer with, say, 4 mic inputs that feeds the line input jacks of the AI. Said mixer would then allow you to EQ each channel and pan them into the stereo 'picture' something you cannot do out of the AI.

If you want some names? In no particular order: Yamaha, Allen & Heath, Soundcraft, Mackie. Then there are the exotics like the SSL 6.

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Re: Analog desk to Digital

Postby Tim Gillett » Fri Nov 15, 2019 7:31 am

It's also the skills in using the tools we already have. My guess is many musos disappointed in the quality of their home productions look to "analog" - whatever is meant by that -as an easy way to make more appealing work. An admirable goal but if it seems too good to be true, perhaps it is.
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Re: Analog desk to Digital

Postby Bob Bickerton » Fri Nov 15, 2019 8:23 am

It's mainly been said. The concept of 'that' analogue sound might be worth pursuing if everything else in your recording chain, including the room, esoteric microphones and first class monitoring, is up to scratch.

Personally I like to record 'clean' and then use analogue plug-in emulations to achieve the sound I'm after, interestingly, not because they are analogue emulations per se, but because they sound good and have fairly simple controls.

For me, I use the UAD environment to achieve this.

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Re: Analog desk to Digital

Postby Arpangel » Fri Nov 15, 2019 9:29 am

ef37a wrote:I am not sure a mixer is going to give you any 'analogue warmf' JR?

I agree with ef, current desks are actually very clean, and I doubt you'll notice anything TBQH in comparison with using an interface with mic pre's.
And even if you were to spend a lot on a high end preamp or channel strip, you're converters would have to be very good indeed to reveal any differences/benefits.
I'd also say that changing the microphone, positioning, and acoustics, will be much more beneficial, and produce will more obvious changes, I'm just underlining what's been said so far, but it's all very true.
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Re: Analog desk to Digital

Postby JRocker » Fri Nov 15, 2019 9:36 am

Thanks for the replies and opinions and advice. I suppose I'm just wanting something of more old school set up...where instead of a boring interface sitting on my desk, I have an actual mixing desk and tracking old school way.
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Re: Analog desk to Digital

Postby Bob Bickerton » Fri Nov 15, 2019 9:48 am

JRocker wrote:Thanks for the replies and opinions and advice. I suppose I'm just wanting something of more old school set up...where instead of a boring interface sitting on my desk, I have an actual mixing desk and tracking old school way.

Whilst it’s possible a perceived ‘old school’ set up may get your creative juices working better, sonically it’s not going to make much difference (as discussed above). Because you will still be tracking into Cubase, you will not be tracking old school way (thank goodness).

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Re: Analog desk to Digital

Postby ef37a » Fri Nov 15, 2019 9:54 am

JRocker wrote:Thanks for the replies and opinions and advice. I suppose I'm just wanting something of more old school set up...where instead of a boring interface sitting on my desk, I have an actual mixing desk and tracking old school way.

Yes but, an interface is just the pre amp part of a mixer bolted onto A/D-D/A converters. There is nothing special or different about the electronics of a modern mixer from an AI* save, as I said, a mixer will have EQ, pan, maybe HP and LP filters and possibly polarity flip. The actual SOUND it produces will be practically identical to that of a decent AI. 'Vintage' mixers might produce some harmonics that flatter but also a goodly dose of noise!

Not quite sure want you mean by "old school"? To really make a difference you would need to go straight to tape but which tape? Which machine and the upfront cost and ongoing maintainance will make you poor and lonely.

*Indeed they are often imported one to 'tother.

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Re: Analog desk to Digital

Postby CS70 » Fri Nov 15, 2019 10:33 am

JRocker wrote:Thanks for the replies and opinions and advice. I suppose I'm just wanting something of more old school set up...where instead of a boring interface sitting on my desk, I have an actual mixing desk and tracking old school way.

So long you want to record to an hard disk, you've got to go thru an A/D and you're recording at 24 bit and there's nothing old school about it (well, unless old school is the mid 80s...but then you should use much worse converters than the ones in your interface to get the sound :) )

If you want to record a "ready made" sound and have a hands-on feel, you can simply put a hardware compressor and EQ before the interface (or a channel strip) and set up the sound there - leaving it unaltered in the DAW. That's what you had to do in old tape days, since the dynamic range o the medium wasn't as wide as with today's 24 bits digital recording and editing tape was expensive and painful. It's an utter pain and you will waste uncountable hours and material because you've recorded it wrong - but after some time you'll be able to record good, mixable sound directly from the source.

All that said, "old school" is not about not having an interface or using a mixer .. is knowing what you're doing when recording. The "new school" sometimes seems to be buying an interface and a mic, placing it someplace random in an untreated room, and then proceed ask which plugins make for a perfect vocal chain :D :D

It may be that what I write here could be interesting to you to get the point.
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