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New Home Recording Studio Setup

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New Home Recording Studio Setup

Postby Upwordz » Fri Feb 14, 2020 10:39 pm

Hey all -

I have a Fostex VM88 https://www.fostexinternational.com/public/fostex_download.php?f=vm88_owners_manual.pdf 8 channel digital mixer, a custom built PC (no special sound card), and a handful of electric instruments and mics.

I'd like to figure out if I can use the VM88 as my mixer and record the output on my PC. I had the idea that I could buy an Audient iD14 USB audio interface https://audient.com/products/audio-interfaces/id14/overview/ which has an optical input (the Fostex has optical out). I'm not planning to do any DAW editing. Just basic recording for fun. A friend warned me that eventually, my digital mixer should have compression and noise gates. That was over my head but the VM88 manual lacks mentioning those features so I'm guessing my recordings won't be the best but I'd love to hear what you think. Can I get away with this for now? TIA!

BTW, amazing group here from what I have seen of the posts. Love it. I grew up playing sax and later guitar and vocals in a couple bands. I was maybe 14 when I started lugging gear around for my dad's band and setting up and testing everything and I played for 5 years (this was like 20 years ago). I bought a 4 track analog fostex cassette recorder and still have that in storage. I've fiddled with creating electronic music via FL Studio but my 5 year old daughter loves drums and we are excited to put a band room together so she can invite her friends and family over to play. And who knows, maybe I'll haul out my Gretsch hollowbody and have a little fun!
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Re: New Home Recording Studio Setup

Postby Eddy Deegan » Sat Feb 15, 2020 1:28 am

Upwordz wrote:Hey all

Hey yourself, welcome to the forum :-)

Upwordz wrote:I have a Fostex VM88 https://www.fostexinternational.com/public/fostex_download.php?f=vm88_owners_manual.pdf 8 channel digital mixer, a custom built PC (no special sound card), and a handful of electric instruments and mics.

I'd like to figure out if I can use the VM88 as my mixer and record the output on my PC. I had the idea that I could buy an Audient iD14 USB audio interface https://audient.com/products/audio-interfaces/id14/overview/ which has an optical input (the Fostex has optical out).

For some reason Fostex doesn't seem to like direct linking of manuals (I've noticed this in the past also), but I was able to get to the VM88 docs from https://fostexinternational.com/docs/te ... uals.shtml

I just perused the manuals for both, and from what I can see that should work fine. The Fostex manual is a little vague on the digital specifics but it looks like the internal sampling frequency is 44.1KHz (it additionally supports 48KHz on the digital inputs) so I would expect the S/PDIF output to be at 44.1KHz also.

Page 23 of the iD14 manual it says that it supports 'all rates' for the S/PDIF input.

Page 39 of the VM88 manual states that the digital output is 20-bit:

VM88 manual wrote:Dynamic range : 90dB (TYPICAL)
A/D : 20bit 64 times over sampling
D/A : 24bit 128 times over sampling
Sampling frequency : Internal=44.1kHz / External input=44.1kHz/48kHz (S/P DIF or ADAT)


I would be extremely surprised if the iD14 cannot accomodate it. Even if you had trouble with the digital connection, you could use an analogue connection which will sidestep all that and for the purposes you're putting the devices to will be fine in terms of audio quality.

Upwordz wrote:A friend warned me that eventually, my digital mixer should have compression and noise gates. That was over my head but the VM88 manual lacks mentioning those features so I'm guessing my recordings won't be the best

This shouldn't be a problem at all. Compression is used to reduce the dynamic range of a signal, raising the average signal level overall as a result (the net effect being that the recording sounds 'louder') but for the purposes you describe you are unlikely to need it.

You can always do some post-processing in the computer to add it later if you choose; the advantage being that if you apply it at source then you're stuck with it because it's permanently present (aka 'printed') in the recorded audio whereas if you apply it later (should you decide you want to) you have the freedom to try all sorts of different compression settings at that time and settle on the one you like best in the context of the mix.

Noise gates are used to stop quiet noises such as background hiss and hum from being passed through when the signal should be 'silent', but ideally should not be required. I dislike them myself as they can truncate reverb tails and the 'fadeout' of a ringing guitar string or piano etc. if not set carefully and if you have enough background hiss or hum to be noticeable then the best solution is to fix that at source rather than artificially with a gate.

Upwordz wrote:BTW, amazing group here from what I have seen of the posts. Love it. I grew up playing sax and later guitar and vocals in a couple bands. I was maybe 14 when I started lugging gear around for my dad's band and setting up and testing everything and I played for 5 years (this was like 20 years ago). I bought a 4 track analog fostex cassette recorder and still have that in storage. I've fiddled with creating electronic music via FL Studio but my 5 year old daughter loves drums and we are excited to put a band room together so she can invite her friends and family over to play. And who knows, maybe I'll haul out my Gretsch hollowbody and have a little fun!

The community here is top-notch and you just described a background not dissimilar to that of many folks here. You'll fit right in and I hope you stick around and ask more questions (and share your own discoveries!) as you get to grips with your new setup :thumbup:
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Re: New Home Recording Studio Setup

Postby ef37a » Sat Feb 15, 2020 8:15 am

Hello Upwordz and welcome from me.
As Eddy says, that combination 'should' work fine but with 'alien' hookups you never know!
I don't know if you have anything like the Distance Trading Regulations at your locale but if so, get the system set and ready and plug in the iD14 as soon as it arrives. You then have 14 days (I think) to see if it works and if not you can send it back for a full refund.

I also note that whilst the mixer has digital out AND in the AI has only optical input. Therefore the interface cannot 'talk' to the mixer. I have no idea how much of a limitation that would be, others here will no doubt chip in.

Rock on,
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Re: New Home Recording Studio Setup

Postby Wonks » Sat Feb 15, 2020 10:00 am

If it's just you recording, it will probably be easiest to not use the mixer, but get an audio interface and record directly into that. It's what the majority of us home recordists do.

Then pick some DAW (digital audio workstation) software to use with it for your multitrack recording. That will come with software compressors, EQ, noise gates, reverb, delays etc.
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Re: New Home Recording Studio Setup

Postby n o i s e f l e ur » Sat Feb 15, 2020 10:54 am

Aye . . . and while the plan isn't to do any processing in a DAW post-recording you may find that's probably the best reason to get the stuff into the computer in the first place. If you haven't ever played about with a modern DAW you'll be simply amazed at what can be achieved these days for very little financial outlay once you have the computer and audio interface part of the equation already sorted.

For example, Bandlab is free and a complete end-to-end commercial / professional bit of kit (formerly Cakewalk Sonar) - then there's Reaper, which isn't free but at around 70 bux for a non-commercial license represents some of the best value for money you'll encounter in the business.

If nothing else, these software environments will allow you to try out in practice all of the production techniques you'll read about here in the forums (and in the excellent SOS magazine) for a tiny fraction of the cost of equivalent hardware. Believe me, that's a whole lot of fun!
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Re: New Home Recording Studio Setup

Postby The Elf » Sat Feb 15, 2020 11:03 am

Yep, I'd get rid of a mixer from your setup if possible, and go for an audio interface with sufficient inputs of the type you need - it makes life much easier, at least at the start. Although a mixer seems comforting and familiar it can tie you in knots.
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Re: New Home Recording Studio Setup

Postby Sam Spoons » Sat Feb 15, 2020 11:18 am

Same advice here. Ditch the mixer and get a USB interface (or replace the mixer with one that has a built in USB interface). If you plan to record a 'full' band' you'll be limited by less than 8 inputs but I suspect that is for the future and you'll probably be fine with two mic inputs for now while you learn how to work the gear. Then, when your 5 year old drummer has progressed you'll have built up the skills to start recording her.

Enjoy the process. :thumbup:
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Re: New Home Recording Studio Setup

Postby ConcertinaChap » Sat Feb 15, 2020 11:42 am

But beware infection with the awful GAS virus, also known as Gear Acquisition Syndrome. It affects most if not all of us here and can be deadly to your bank account ;)

Cheers,

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