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Focusrite Scarlet 18i8 and Logic Pro X: What should I do with the "Scarlett MixControl" app?

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Focusrite Scarlet 18i8 and Logic Pro X: What should I do with the "Scarlett MixControl" app?

Postby Dolmetscher007 » Tue Apr 07, 2020 2:53 am

I hate having to post such a dumb title for this thread, as I know how inexperienced it makes me sound, but after 20+ years of recording with Logic, it still is not just obvious to me what the software that came with my audio interface is really for.

Six or seven years ago when I bought my Focusrite Scarlett 18i8, I installed the Scarlett MixControl software that came with it and opened it for the first time. I plugged my electric guitar into Analog Input 1 on the interface, and I could hear my guitar in a very pure form; no eq, amp modeling, compression... nothing.

Then, I opened a completely empty project in Logic Pro. I created a new Guitar Track, which is just an Audio Track that opens with Logic's amp modeling engine, Amp Designer, already loaded. I select the first amp model preset, "Amazing Tweed." The guitar instantly changed to the sound of the amp model. But something sounded weird. It sounded really muddy and clanky. I went back to the MixControl software and clicked mute on my guitar's channel. The sound cleared right up. I could hear the just the Logic "Amazing Tweed" amp modeling. I tried to unmute the MixControl channel again, and I could tell that I was hearing my pure guitar sound from the MixControl software, mixed in the Amazing Tweed amp model within Logic.

I played around with the MixControl software a little more, but I ended up just muting all the channels, closing the software, and not open it again for... all these years, until this week. I thought Logic will handle all the ins, outs, routing, and mixing, and the MixControl software is not of any use with Logic Pro X.

Can someone explain to me if Logic Pro X has all the functionality of the software that comes with an audio interface, or do I need to do some configuring to get Logic and my Scarlett 18i8 to communicate and work together?
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Re: Focusrite Scarlet 18i8 and Logic Pro X: What should I do with the "Scarlett MixControl" app?

Postby MOF » Tue Apr 07, 2020 4:01 am

I think you’re hearing the Logic mixer with ‘software monitoring on’ and the ‘direct out’ sound of your Scarlet virtual mixer, this is causing a short delay which sounds ‘muddy’. If the small processor delay through Logic isn’t a problem for you then mute/fade out the interface software channels.
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Re: Focusrite Scarlet 18i8 and Logic Pro X: What should I do with the "Scarlett MixControl" app?

Postby desmond » Tue Apr 07, 2020 7:40 am

Dolmetscher007 wrote:it still is not just obvious to me what the software that came with my audio interface is really for.

I thought Logic will handle all the ins, outs, routing, and mixing, and the MixControl software is not of any use with Logic Pro X.

Can someone explain to me if Logic Pro X has all the functionality of the software that comes with an audio interface, or do I need to do some configuring to get Logic and my Scarlett 18i8 to communicate and work together?

No, Logic (or any DAW) does not have all the functionality making the audio interface's control panel software redundant - that's why these control panels exist. :)

Now, it's true that you can do a bunch of routing in your DAW, and this may be all the use case you need, and you never need to open the control panel at all. However, in at least one case you describe, you *did* need to go to the panel panel, to turn off direct monitoring. This is one such setting that is done in the audio interface's control panel. I'll return to this later.

Let's step back a little bit. Pretty much all audio interfaces are not just a bunch of inputs and outputs. They pretty much all have mixing and routing functionality inside them (and outside of the OS & DAW). Why? For flexibility. Let me illustrate with an example.

Let's say a hypothetical audio interface was *just* some audio inputs and some audio outputs. We load our DAW, and we can choose to record any input to a track, we can route our mix to a pair of outputs (and on to our speakers), we can route individual tracks to individual outputs for sending to external hardware, and so on - we have some flexibility here, and this maybe all we'd ever need while using our DAW.

But maybe we'd like to record a bunch of inputs to a stereo pair of tracks? Without a mixer up front, we can only ever route one input to one track - we couldn't say "I want a mix of inputs 1-6 to go to tracks 1&2" - this kind of thing is very common when using analog mixers to track to tape machines/recorders, for example - without having to find workarounds.

Ok, so we can use our DAW to route signals around our interface. Let's say I plug my iPad into my audio interface so I can watch Netflix while doing some computer stuff. I want the iPad audio coming in on inputs 1&2 to be sent to the speakers. Do I really want to run Logic, set up a stereo audio track, record-enable (or input monitor) it, just so I can hear Netflix? No - I just want to route inputs 1&2 in the audio interface to outputs 1&2. This is precisely the sort of thing that the mixer inside audio interfaces let you do - they give you routing flexibility for applications when the software you are using doesn't have routing flexibility.

There are other uses for control panel software too. For instance, if I want to connect up something via the digital input, I have to set the interface to clock from the external digital source. That's a setting internal to the interface, that DAWs typically can't access or control, yet is required.

Let's return to your direct monitoring problem you mention in your post. If, as in our Netflix example above, the interface was set to send inputs 1&2 directly to outputs 1&2, that's called Direct Monitoring - we are hearing the audio coming into those inputs, *directly* via the audio interface, to our speakers - even if Logic isn't running.

Let's now run Logic. With Logic's "software monitoring" option switched off, we can still record from inputs 1&2, but we *hear* what we are recording via the audio interface (as the inputs are being sent directly to the outputs in the interface.)

This means we can't, for instance, hear plugins on that track while recording - which is not that great if we're wanting to record with a software guitar FX plugin, for instance. If we want to hear those plugins on our input signal while recording, we need to turn software monitoring on (ie, we want to monitor through Logic, so the inputs come into the interface, are sent to Logic, processed by the record enabled audio channels, and then back out to the interface and then the speakers).

But if we still have a dry, direct monitoring signal being passed from the inputs to the outputs via the interface, we will hear both the dry sound, and the software-monitored "wet" sound, which is not what we want. Hence we want to turn off direct monitoring, to make sure those dry audio inputs are not heard.

So, control panel software generally performs two main functions with a typical audio interface. Firstly, it has a bunch of mixing and routing capabilities to control how signals pass around between audio inputs, software returns, and audio outputs. And secondly, it lets you access required settings on the interface (set the digital clocking, maybe enable input padding, turn on/off phantom power, and other functions that may or may not also have physical controls on the interface itself).

You can also usually save settings and routing configs as well from within the control panel.

There are many more example configurations where you'd need to involve the mixer in your audio interface that I could run through, but hopefully you get the idea. In short, if you only use your audio interface with your DAW, have no need for direct monitoring (and have this correctly configured), and never plugin digital stuff, you may have no need to go visit the control panel - and this is fine.

For me, I'm often running audio through my interface in situations that aren't composing/recording music, and I'm glad I don't have to load up my computer with a heavy DAW just to hear something... ;)

I hope that helps clarify some things...
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Re: Focusrite Scarlet 18i8 and Logic Pro X: What should I do with the "Scarlett MixControl" app?

Postby Arpangel » Tue Apr 07, 2020 7:42 am

I never got on with the software that came with Focusrite interfaces, it’s overly complicated and confusing, shame, as they are some of the best sounding ones.
Motu software is very easy, and contrary to a lot of opinions so is RME.
It’s worth persevering with though, and you will need to use it and as MOF said, that sounds exactly like what’s happening, monitored and direct sound together.
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Re: Focusrite Scarlet 18i8 and Logic Pro X: What should I do with the "Scarlett MixControl" app?

Postby jaytom » Thu Apr 09, 2020 6:16 pm

The Mix Control app will allow changing the input to -instrument- for proper impedance matching. This may help your guitar sound a bit more natural and brighter.
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Re: Focusrite Scarlet 18i8 and Logic Pro X: What should I do with the "Scarlett MixControl" app?

Postby shufflebeat » Thu Apr 09, 2020 9:31 pm

It's worth remembering that when you do find a configuration that's useful in a particular situation you can save it as a preset, then revert to saved default later with one recall.

I have different setups for tracking and mixing for instance to match up what's going on to what I'm hearing back. I found that the DAW return from Reaper was too high compared to the input, encouraging me to play harder. I didn't want to change anything in Reaper so I dropped the level of the DAW return in Mix Control.
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