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Mixing and Recording Drums from Analog Mixer to Audio Interface?

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Mixing and Recording Drums from Analog Mixer to Audio Interface?

Postby gabrieldguitar » Thu Dec 05, 2019 4:00 am

I recently purchased a Mackie CFX-12 mixer and some cheap mics with the hope of recording drums. It does not have any USB capabilities, so the plan is to record into my DAW by sending the mixer output to my Focusrite Scarlett Solo 2nd gen. However, since the Scarlett only has one input each of XLR and TRS, I am a bit confused as to how I would run the main outputs from the mixer to get a stereo sound (i.e. panned toms) in my recording.

The mixer has both XLR and 1/4" main outs, but since I only have one of each of those on my interface, I don't know how I could get a stereo sound (for instance, if I had my hi-tom mic panned left on channel 1 and floor tom panned right on channel 2) to come out that way in my recording with this setup. I'm still waiting on my XLR snake to arrive so I haven't yet been able to fiddle around with any configurations and see what works and doesn't, so perhaps I'm misunderstanding everything and creating a problem that doesn't exist; I am new to recording and mixing so I figured I'd ask some people with more experience before spending hours tearing my hair out trying to figure out every connection on my own through trial and error. Any and all help is greatly appreciated, I've been trying to get into the recording and production side of music, but with all the equipment and software and cables and knobs I'll admit it's pretty overwhelming.

I know a USB multi-track mixer would make this whole process much simpler as it basically combines a mixer and audio interface so I could adjust the pan of each separately-tracked mic in the DAW, but I'm not trying to break the bank at the moment and would prefer to make use of the resources I already have if possible. Thanks :headbang:
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Re: Mixing and Recording Drums from Analog Mixer to Audio Interface?

Postby CS70 » Thu Dec 05, 2019 12:47 pm

gabrieldguitar wrote:I recently purchased a Mackie CFX-12 mixer and some cheap mics with the hope of recording drums. It does not have any USB capabilities, so the plan is to record into my DAW by sending the mixer output to my Focusrite Scarlett Solo 2nd gen. However, since the Scarlett only has one input each of XLR and TRS, I am a bit confused as to how I would run the main outputs from the mixer to get a stereo sound (i.e. panned toms) in my recording.

The Solo is really not the best tool for the job, but I guess it's possible, but cranky and with possible quality issues.. from what I see the solo has two channels, one with a preamp and one with instrument/line input.

Your mixer output line level signal, so you can directly feed say the mixer R channel to the Solo's line/inst input (in line mode) and that's fine.

The L channel will generally be too hot to be plugged into the preamp, so you need a DI to bring it back down to a suitable level, and then bring it back up again with the preamp gain control on the Solo to the same level as the R channel.

The issues are that the whole it's unnecessarily complex (an additional box to bring down the signal only to match it with the interface), you will get a little of the preamp coloration in the L channel only (with modern interfaces, not a big deal tough) and it's gonna be tough to match the volume by ears between left and right channel.

It's ok for experimenting a little, but I'd definitely recommend you get another interface with two line inputs.

You do have already a mixer, but it's worth mentioning the Alesis multimix 16 USB 2.0 which is a mixer+interface, has 8 preamps (allowing you to mic the kit with 8 mics) and other 8 line inputs (so you can use a couple other preamps for more mics) and allows you to get the individual channels into the DAW, as opposite to the stereo mix only. Which in turn allows proper mixing of the drum kit. (note the "USB 2.0" label - the previous version didn't)

It's not at all rugged nor hi quality (plastic everywhere, and brittle at that) but sonically works really well - clean preamps with all the gain you need. Not sure it's still in production, but it was inexpensive and incredible value for money for what it did.. if you find one used it's still an amazing deal.
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Re: Mixing and Recording Drums from Analog Mixer to Audio Interface?

Postby The Elf » Thu Dec 05, 2019 2:19 pm

Yep, you're trying to undo screws with a hammer. You're going to need a different device to do the job.

It needn't be hugely expensive - something like the Behringer XR18 would be good in this scenario.
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Re: Mixing and Recording Drums from Analog Mixer to Audio Interface?

Postby gabrieldguitar » Thu Dec 05, 2019 5:57 pm

CS70 wrote:
The Solo is really not the best tool for the job, but I guess it's possible, but cranky and with possible quality issues.. from what I see the solo has two channels, one with a preamp and one with instrument/line input.

Your mixer output line level signal, so you can directly feed say the mixer R channel to the Solo's line/inst input (in line mode) and that's fine.

The L channel will generally be too hot to be plugged into the preamp, so you need a DI to bring it back down to a suitable level, and then bring it back up again with the preamp gain control on the Solo to the same level as the R channel.

The issues are that the whole it's unnecessarily complex (an additional box to bring down the signal only to match it with the interface), you will get a little of the preamp coloration in the L channel only (with modern interfaces, not a big deal tough) and it's gonna be tough to match the volume by ears between left and right channel.

It's ok for experimenting a little, but I'd definitely recommend you get another interface with two line inputs.

You do have already a mixer, but it's worth mentioning the Alesis multimix 16 USB 2.0 which is a mixer+interface, has 8 preamps (allowing you to mic the kit with 8 mics) and other 8 line inputs (so you can use a couple other preamps for more mics) and allows you to get the individual channels into the DAW, as opposite to the stereo mix only. Which in turn allows proper mixing of the drum kit. (note the "USB 2.0" label - the previous version didn't)

It's not at all rugged nor hi quality (plastic everywhere, and brittle at that) but sonically works really well - clean preamps with all the gain you need. Not sure it's still in production, but it was inexpensive and incredible value for money for what it did.. if you find one used it's still an amazing deal.

Thanks for breaking it down for me, you saved me several hours of troubleshooting and frustration. Not the news I wanted to hear, but if I'm going to record I want to do it right. I guess its time to start saving up for a proper multitrack mixer
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Re: Mixing and Recording Drums from Analog Mixer to Audio Interface?

Postby gabrieldguitar » Thu Dec 05, 2019 5:58 pm

The Elf wrote:Yep, you're trying to undo screws with a hammer. You're going to need a different device to do the job.

It needn't be hugely expensive - something like the Behringer XR18 would be good in this scenario.

Thanks for the suggestion, time to start researching my options
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