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Analog/Digital

Postby JRocker » Mon Dec 16, 2019 3:20 am

Just picked up an old Mackie 1402 small desk, and was wondering if I can connect this to my PC (I use Cubase) and have it where I can record some tracks through it (as analog) and the rest via my digital DAW. I want to achieve a mixture of analog/digital sounds. I'm only interested in using it for recording acoustic guitars and vocals.
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Re: Analog/Digital

Postby ken long » Mon Dec 16, 2019 9:23 am

JRocker wrote:Just picked up an old Mackie 1402 small desk, and was wondering if I can connect this to my PC (I use Cubase) and have it where I can record some tracks through it (as analog) and the rest via my digital DAW. I want to achieve a mixture of analog/digital sounds. I'm only interested in using it for recording acoustic guitars and vocals.

You can set this up in a number of ways. ALT Outs of mixer to 2 channels on interface. Send interface back into Mackie and use the monitor outs as your primary monitor feed. tbh, The Mackie pre-amps leave a lot to be desired. A semi-pro interface these days has better, IME, pre-amps.
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Re: Analog/Digital

Postby Arpangel » Mon Dec 16, 2019 9:44 am

I have a Mackie 1202, similar thing, same preamps, I used it in exactly the way Ken describes, it worked fine. Mackie preamps are hidden gems, you'll pay a lot more for something appreciably better. One annoying thing about these mixers is that if you use the Alt Out, it cuts off your aux sends, I always found that annoying.
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Re: Analog/Digital

Postby CS70 » Mon Dec 16, 2019 10:31 am

JRocker wrote:Just picked up an old Mackie 1402 small desk, and was wondering if I can connect this to my PC (I use Cubase) and have it where I can record some tracks through it (as analog) and the rest via my digital DAW. I want to achieve a mixture of analog/digital sounds. I'm only interested in using it for recording acoustic guitars and vocals.

You surely can, the 1402 has inserts on some of its channels so you can surely use an interface with many I/O to connect channels individually (not sure where the insert is located, probably before the EQ section). Or of course simply send the stereo out to the DAW using only 2 line ins of the interface. It also has AUXes so you can send left and right AUX mixes.

It begs the question of why and what do you think you'll achieve, but that's another story. :-)
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Re: Analog/Digital

Postby Sam Spoons » Mon Dec 16, 2019 10:39 am

These two articles suggest that there ain't much wrong with those Mackie mic preamps.

Bearing in mind the mic preamps in your audio interface are already analogue whether sticking the Mackie desk in front will do anything useful is another matter. Easy to try though and see is you like it.

https://www.soundonsound.com/reviews/pick-preamp

https://www.soundonsound.com/reviews/preamp-post-mortem
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Re: Analog/Digital

Postby N i g e l » Mon Dec 16, 2019 1:22 pm

The Mackie and "similar" {ahem} mixers use a transistor front end for hi gain / low noise.
The line level inputs also go through this chain but they are potted down first.

One application when feeding a sampler was to overdrive the i/p, sample distorted and playback clean.

This colouration might occur in lower amounts at lower levels of course.
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Re: Analog/Digital

Postby Sam Spoons » Mon Dec 16, 2019 2:11 pm

This is for vocals and acoustic guitar so the line inputs/pads are not really relevant. The Mackie's analogue eq might be worth having but, apart from that, the 'analogue sound' is unlikely to be significantly different from the digital sound the interface (with it's analogue pre amps) produces.

As I said earlier, it's not hard to try so give it a go and make your decision with your ears. Several suggestions as to how to connect it to the PC but it's all got to go through the interface to get it into the DAW so it ends up digital.
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Re: Analog/Digital

Postby CS70 » Mon Dec 16, 2019 2:47 pm

Sam Spoons wrote:This is for vocals and acoustic guitar so the line inputs/pads are not really relevant. The Mackie's analogue eq might be worth having but, apart from that, the 'analogue sound' is unlikely to be significantly different from the digital sound the interface (with it's analogue pre amps) produces.

Spot on.

For the OP: if you want to have some "analog" sound, a good option is to save for an external preamp (or borrow it) and run it cranked - something you usually can't really do on an interface (since you can't bring the level down again to avoid overloading the converters) and you probably don't want to do on the Mackie mixer (these kind of mixers are often engineered to work well and sound ok within the performance envelope of their component, not outside).

Certain specific preamps, however, tend to behave nicely when pushed. And get something with a transformer. I use a 610 for example which really sounds nice when cranked on vocals and bass. It's just distorting but it does it in a nice way. Same goes for pushing a 1176-like compressor - sometimes. An inexpensive option is the Golden Age Pre 73, which is quite nice than pushed. Since it's Swedish plenty people have it around there and I'm thinking of getting one for good myself instead of borrowing.

However: important to say that all that is just for fun. These days you can get pretty much the same analog feel in the box - so long you record properly and process with the right effects. The 610 emulation of my Twin (with its Unison preamp) sounds pretty much the same as my hardware unit, and for free and instant analog magic I do still recommend and use the glorious 32 bit BootEQ MkII from Variety of Sound.

But nothing wrong with having fun!
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Re: Analog/Digital

Postby N i g e l » Mon Dec 16, 2019 3:39 pm

CS70 wrote:
Sam Spoons wrote:This is for vocals and acoustic guitar so the line inputs/pads are not really relevant. The Mackie's analogue eq might be worth having but, apart from that, the 'analogue sound' is unlikely to be significantly different from the digital sound the interface (with it's analogue pre amps) produces.

Spot on.


I disagree. My point was that no matter what the signal into the mixer, they all go through the same path which can be overdriven. This is significantly different to overdriving the analogue on my convertor which only has 1 gain knob / ch and therfore any overdrive very quickly results in clipping.

CS70 wrote: Mackie mixer (these kind of mixers are often engineered to work well and sound ok within the performance envelope of their component, not outside).

The Mackie mixer has plenty headroom, so it is straightforward to overdrive the i/p and then bring the level down to avoid clipping.

CS70 wrote:These days you can get pretty much the same analog feel in the box

I agree, I think I first read about mixer overdriving by either Prodigy or the KLF, so quite a while ago.
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Re: Analog/Digital

Postby CS70 » Mon Dec 16, 2019 3:51 pm

N i g e l wrote:The Mackie mixer has plenty headroom, so it is straightforward to overdrive the i/p and then bring the level down to avoid clipping.

The Mackies and similar live mixers I've tried didn't really sound that great when overdriven, but I've likely never tried that one (I guess... never remember the various denominations) so maybe it does. It's easy to try anyways.
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Re: Analog/Digital

Postby Sam Spoons » Mon Dec 16, 2019 4:11 pm

All true but I suspect the OP is hoping that simply passing the signal through the Mackie will give him an 'analogue sound'?

I may be way off the mark though, #JRocker?
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Re: Analog/Digital

Postby Wonks » Mon Dec 16, 2019 5:25 pm

The EQ on the Mackie is just a shelving treble and bass. OK for slight tweaking but nothing surgical.

N i g e l wrote:The Mackie mixer has plenty headroom, so it is straightforward to overdrive the i/p and then bring the level down to avoid clipping.

I may be miseading your intention, but surely if the mixer has 'plenty of headroom', it's going to be a lot harder to overdrive the i/p?

Yes, I get that because it's got input and output gain controls (well two output gains - channel and master) you can drive it in a way that that can't drive a standard AI mic input, but 'plenty of headroom' means that you need a lot more gain to get into overdrive mode than with a low headroom device, and that extra gain is likely to make the signal quite noisy.
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Re: Analog/Digital

Postby N i g e l » Mon Dec 16, 2019 5:57 pm

Wonks wrote:
N i g e l wrote:The Mackie mixer has plenty headroom, so it is straightforward to overdrive the i/p and then bring the level down to avoid clipping.

I may be miseading your intention, but surely if the mixer has 'plenty of headroom', it's going to be a lot harder to overdrive the i/p?

fair enough; what I mean is that the i/p can be overdriven and that the next stage/mix bus has the headroom to handle that without clipping.
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Re: Analog/Digital

Postby Wonks » Mon Dec 16, 2019 6:07 pm

Fine.
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Re: Analog/Digital

Postby N i g e l » Mon Dec 16, 2019 6:14 pm

Im not a Cuebase user but like other DAWs, does it have Vintage channel strips or Fx that would give a more analogue feel to the sound ?
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Re: Analog/Digital

Postby The Elf » Mon Dec 16, 2019 6:24 pm

Cubase has various saturation options. Whether these further this mystical, magical 'analogue-ness' is debatable...
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Re: Analog/Digital

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Mon Dec 16, 2019 7:11 pm

In amongst this thread I think the OP has been given plenty of options for hooking up a small mixer to an interface connected to the computer... but I note that no interface was actually mentioned! :think:

So, to the OP: do you have a suitable interface? If not, you'll need a simple two-channel USB interface. There are many available according to budget. Depending on your computer's sound card, there might be the option of connecting the mixer to the analogue line or mic inputs on the sound card... but I really wouldn't recommend it from either the sound quality or latency points of view.

As for the side discussion of Mackie mic preamps, I've always found them remarkably good for the money -- but best results are definitely obtained by taking the direct output from the insert point. In my experience (I have an old 1402VLZ pro) it's the rest of the mixer that tends to let the preamps down because -- and contrary to some other opinions here -- the summing busses and output amps lack headroom, particularly at high frequencies.

I found that I could achieve quite respectable release-quality recordings through the desk only if I recalibrated the A-D I attached to the mix output so that 0dBFS aligned to no more than +12dBu, and recorded peaks were no higher than +6dBu -- basically, never let the top green, yellow or red LEDs ever come on!

Of course, there have been several generations of small Mackie mixer since mine and I've not tested any of them, so the current models may be better (or worse).
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Re: Analog/Digital

Postby JRocker » Mon Dec 16, 2019 11:01 pm

Thanks for the replies and advice so far.

Sorry forgot to mention, I am using an AKAI EIE Pro interface.

So let me get this right. Please correct if I have misunderstood. So if I use the ALT Outs of mixer to 2 channels on interface then send the interface back into Mackie, the first signal I get from recording will be analog then because it is going through interface next, it will be coloured 'digitally' by the interface, have I got it right?

What about if I want a pure Mackie anolog signal, say for guitar only and then record my vocals through interface only (digitally)?

As to the poster CS70 and his question of 'It begs the question of why and what do you think you'll achieve'...well if the past innovators etc listened to comments like this, nothing would have even been discovered, developed and found...I mean I am wanting to experiment, doing something different and I am not all about following trends or whats the standard. To be honest, I may achieve a shit sound and will forget it or I may achieve something unique in my experimenting,but what makes one like 'their' sound may to another be 'nothing but crap tone'.

There a literally hundreds of examples of this in music history, commercially successful and now influential songs that used demo vocals, demo guitar track and the like. Recordings that were record in crap environments yet turn out to have something unique that years later others want to copy..you get the point.
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Re: Analog/Digital

Postby Wonks » Mon Dec 16, 2019 11:13 pm

JRocker wrote:Sorry forgot to mention, I am using an AKAI EIE Pro interface.

JRocker wrote:Hi,
I have a Steinberg UR22MkII interface.

Hmmmmmmmm.......
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Re: Analog/Digital

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Mon Dec 16, 2019 11:25 pm

JRocker wrote:Sorry forgot to mention, I am using an AKAI EIE Pro interface.

Thanks... that clears up that mystery! :-) ... Maybe.

What about if I want a pure Mackie anolog signal, say for guitar only and then record my vocals through interface only (digitally)?

Anything you record will be digital because it's being recorded on the (digital) computer. The interface provides the conversion between the analogue and digital domains in each direction.

The mixer is really just a useful input expander for the interface, and may also serve as a convenient monitor controller, taking the output from the interface as well as other local (analogue) sources. So if you hook up your monitor speakers to the Mackie, you could play your guitar through the desk and listen directly to the live analogue signal.... if that matters to you.

There are several different ways of connecting the desk to the interface, depending on what you want to achieve. The critical thing, though, is to use a configuration that avoids any possibility of a howl-round loop where the output from the computer interface gets routed accodentally back to the interface input. Check out the various options described in the manual for ideas, and/or study the block diagram to understand the signal flows.
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