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Small mixer for home setup

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Re: Small mixer for home setup

PostPosted: Mon Jul 13, 2020 9:18 pm
by fatbenelton
Is selling the Mk1 Babyface and stretching to a Mk 2 (with four inputs) an option?

Re: Small mixer for home setup

PostPosted: Mon Jul 13, 2020 9:54 pm
by James Perrett
The ADA8200 is probably going to make surprisingly little difference to the sound and is the route I'd suggest if you want to buy new. If you don't mind buying used then I'd look for a an Octopre with ADAT outputs - I've saw them going for around £100 a few months ago though current Ebay prices seem higher.

I certainly wouldn't even think about a different audio interface (unless it is another RME).

Re: Small mixer for home setup

PostPosted: Mon Jul 13, 2020 10:02 pm
by manwilde
@fatbenelton: Not really an option, money is tight post covid plus I have access to nice gear at the studio I share and I really want to keep things as cheap (within reason) as possible at home. Not a bad idea at all, but a bit out of my range right now. Thanks for the suggestion anyway.

@The Elf: My bad, should have considered that option. My only doubt is, being the Samson a balanced device, would it be a problem when connecting the unbalanced headphone output from the guitar amp?. Sorry, I´m really new to patchbays...

@ef37a: Yes, I remember that article, that´s why the small Mackie with the Onyx preamps was on my shortlist... also, the A&H seems like a good bit of kit, again, for the price. But I totally get Hugh´s statement, so I´m a bit confused at this point...
It´s worth mentioning that the way I´m using the Behringer, no gain is applied from the desk: I just leave the gain pot at "zero" (it reads "line" or something like that on that position), set channel and send faders at 0 = Unity (I´m using the send output instead of the master), and add tipically +35db or so at the Babyface input channel for voice recording, +27dB for bass DI, and +30dB for guitar. So, really the mixer pres (and the whole path) need to add no noise, not much else...

@James Perrett: Thanks for the suggestion, adding one of those to my setup would make for a convenient mobile rig should the occasion arise. So, more choices...

Re: Small mixer for home setup

PostPosted: Mon Jul 13, 2020 10:26 pm
by Sam Spoons
ef37a wrote:I really don't get the logic here.
In the last 15 years or so I must have read nigh on a score of reviews of small mixers from Behringer, Mackie, A&H, Soundcraft, Yamaha and a few others. Never have I read "Caution this device will seriously degrade your audio path". Heck! There was a Mackie mixer in the famous Pre amp Shootout and nobody nailed it!

These small mixer have about the same amount of electronics as a decent active monitor controller and probably the same op amps.

Dave.

^ This

Re: Small mixer for home setup

PostPosted: Mon Jul 13, 2020 10:51 pm
by adrian_k
ef37a wrote:I really don't get the logic here.
In the last 15 years or so I must have read nigh on a score of reviews of small mixers from Behringer, Mackie, A&H, Soundcraft, Yamaha and a few others. Never have I read "Caution this device will seriously degrade your audio path". Heck! There was a Mackie mixer in the famous Pre amp Shootout and nobody nailed it!

These small mixer have about the same amount of electronics as a decent active monitor controller and probably the same op amps.

Dave.

Nevertheless! What the OP describes I can confirm from my experience- years ago I used a behringer mixer as a front end to my AI, for the same reasons as the OP, and found exactly the same. That’s why I ditched it and got an RME Fireface.

And more recently I used a Yamaha MG series desk to front end an RME (just through laziness) and that too added noise. Wasn’t too noticeable in tracking but really showed up in the mix. I used RX to reduce the noise but in the end that’s more work ...

Re: Small mixer for home setup

PostPosted: Mon Jul 13, 2020 11:24 pm
by ef37a
adrian_k wrote:
ef37a wrote:I really don't get the logic here.
In the last 15 years or so I must have read nigh on a score of reviews of small mixers from Behringer, Mackie, A&H, Soundcraft, Yamaha and a few others. Never have I read "Caution this device will seriously degrade your audio path". Heck! There was a Mackie mixer in the famous Pre amp Shootout and nobody nailed it!

These small mixer have about the same amount of electronics as a decent active monitor controller and probably the same op amps.

Dave.

Nevertheless! What the OP describes I can confirm from my experience- years ago I used a behringer mixer as a front end to my AI, for the same reasons as the OP, and found exactly the same. That’s why I ditched it and got an RME Fireface.

And more recently I used a Yamaha MG series desk to front end an RME (just through laziness) and that too added noise. Wasn’t too noticeable in tracking but really showed up in the mix. I used RX to reduce the noise but in the end that’s more work ...

I can see I shall have to get my ZED10 out of the plastic and do some tests!

The fact is, if you have an AI with a line in noise floor at -100dBfs, connecting almost ANYTHING to the input will worsen the noise performance but, as has been said in this forum and elsewhere it is the 'working' noise floor that matters. I can connect a mic to my KA6 at 2am when I can hear sod all in the house but the noise will bump up 4 or 5 dB. 'Real ' sources, synths say will be noisier and guitars? You are lucky to get better than -70dB.

Take the whole lot down to the Mucky Duck and you might as well use a 10 bit converter.

But I am not sure it was noise that was thought to be the problem with 'cheap' mixers? I got the impression it was an undefinable 'something' that had that made them bad?

I gave up the Hi Fi magazines many years ago because of the departure from sense and reason. If there is a demonstrable problem with these mixers can we please have some objective tests and maybe a blind listening test? I cannot see what can be so evil with a signal path of a few, maybe AS few as three or four, 'industry standard' op amps? The music we all listen to probably came through a dozen or so.

Dave.

Re: Small mixer for home setup

PostPosted: Tue Jul 14, 2020 4:31 am
by DC-Choppah
I like the Yamaha MG mixer for your needs.

I have one - the 16 channel version. It is clean and sounds great and has great routing.
Used to have a Mackie, but Mackies get dirty and noisy and hard to clean over time.
A&H skimp a bit on the electronics.

Go with the Yamaha MG. Get more channels than you need now and grow into it.

Re: Small mixer for home setup

PostPosted: Tue Jul 14, 2020 6:16 am
by monospace
You asked for a specific gear recommendation, so I'll just sidestep the philosophical discussion of whether you even need a mixer in favor of suggesting to you the Yamaha MG06X. That's the one with the builtin effects. I own it, and I love it. It has great preamps, it's super quiet, it has XLR outs, and the effects are more than serviceable. That said, I don't use the effects for recording (DAWs are obviously a lot more flexible in that respect) but I like having the effects as an option for when I need a small mixer on a gig, or even when I'm just messing around at home and feel like adding some Hall reverb to my noodling.

I also own the Mackie. Another great mixer. No opinion on the A&H.

Re: Small mixer for home setup

PostPosted: Tue Jul 14, 2020 7:30 am
by Arpangel
DC-Choppah wrote:I like the Yamaha MG mixer for your needs.

I have one - the 16 channel version. It is clean and sounds great and has great routing.
Used to have a Mackie, but Mackies get dirty and noisy and hard to clean over time.
A&H skimp a bit on the electronics.

Go with the Yamaha MG. Get more channels than you need now and grow into it.

I have a Mackie, and a Yamaha MG20XU.
OK, I’ll just echo what’s been said here, all of my Mackies have developed noisy pots and faders over a quicker period than anything else I’ve owned, it seems to be a common trait, they sound very good, but this is a weakness, maybe poor quality pots?
I’m also one of those who is careful too, and always keeps mixers covered up.
I’d go for the Yamaha, great build, very clean sound, will last for a very long time indeed.
AH are fine, but you need to spend a few bob to get the real benefits of an AH mixer.
I’m giving you this advice as a man who loves mixers, I can’t work with just an interface, so take it in that context.

Re: Small mixer for home setup

PostPosted: Tue Jul 14, 2020 8:17 am
by The Elf
manwilde wrote:@The Elf: My bad, should have considered that option. My only doubt is, being the Samson a balanced device, would it be a problem when connecting the unbalanced headphone output from the guitar amp?
It will be no problem at all. I'm not sure why you would want to connect a headphone output, but it would simply be a stereo cable to the bay. Stereo unbalanced and mono balanced both use three connections, so essentially the same with regards to cable and connectors.

Re: Small mixer for home setup

PostPosted: Tue Jul 14, 2020 8:42 am
by ef37a
The Elf wrote:
manwilde wrote:@The Elf: My bad, should have considered that option. My only doubt is, being the Samson a balanced device, would it be a problem when connecting the unbalanced headphone output from the guitar amp?
It will be no problem at all. I'm not sure why you would want to connect a headphone output, but it would simply be a stereo cable to the bay. Stereo unbalanced and mono balanced both use three connections, so essentially the same with regards to cable and connectors.

Elf some guitar amplifiers have an 'emulated' headphone output and that doubles as a line feed in many cases. But, and I may have become a bit lost here? "Double mono TRS headphone feed to a balanced input" ? No differential signal on tip and ring surely?

Dave.

Re: Small mixer for home setup

PostPosted: Tue Jul 14, 2020 9:21 am
by The Elf
ef37a wrote:
The Elf wrote:
manwilde wrote:@The Elf: My bad, should have considered that option. My only doubt is, being the Samson a balanced device, would it be a problem when connecting the unbalanced headphone output from the guitar amp?
It will be no problem at all. I'm not sure why you would want to connect a headphone output, but it would simply be a stereo cable to the bay. Stereo unbalanced and mono balanced both use three connections, so essentially the same with regards to cable and connectors.

Elf some guitar amplifiers have an 'emulated' headphone output and that doubles as a line feed in many cases. But, and I may have become a bit lost here? "Double mono TRS headphone feed to a balanced input" ? No differential signal on tip and ring surely?
I'm assuming all the OP would connect to a headphone output would be headphones, which would work through a bay. If it's going anywhere else, as you suggest, then it may be an issue.

Re: Small mixer for home setup

PostPosted: Tue Jul 14, 2020 10:19 am
by manwilde
The reason I'm using the amp's headphones out is... because it's the only way out, aside from miking!. Well, there's also usb recording, but I don't wanna have to swap audio devices for this...This is a Fender Mustang I, the smallest, cheapest of the line. I force myself to work on a sound and play the song from that. Some sounds are better than others, but for the sake of demoing it works well enough...until I buy an Helix or something similar!.

Re: Small mixer for home setup

PostPosted: Tue Jul 14, 2020 11:55 am
by ef37a
Ok, I have done some numbers.
The setup is, ZED 10 Main out left feeds KA6 line in 3. via an XLR to TRS cable.

Tested using Samplitude SE8 (because the meters go down to -90dB fs and give a numerical readout beyond that. 24 bits 44.1kHz.

With nothing plugged into the KA6 Sam reads -102 dBfs 3 and 4. (reading rms because at these tiny levels peaks jazz about even if you move) Plug into mixer, powered up but Main Mix out at minimum, i.e. off. -101.8 dB fs (NAUGHTY mixer!)
Main mix at '0' -101.3dB fs (Very naughty mixer!) Wind ch 1 to '0' mic gain min.
-100dB fs
Mic gain max -70.7dBfs

Next plugged in a Prodipe T111 and set mixer mic gain for 'Mary had' at 50mm from grill to average -20 in Sam. Pulled mic and replaced with a screened 200R
-98.0 dB fs
Plugged mic into the left mic input of KA6, again Mary at neg 20.
-99.7dBfs for a screened termination. But, took mic into bedroom and walked away. Same gain setting -95.4 dB fs. Now the house is very quiet. My budget SPL meter reads 25/26 dB C (but I suspect that is its noise floor) So both systems are at least 5 dB quieter than ambient noise.

Of course that is just one channel of the mixer and adding more will increase noise but not as much as the extra level. If you leave unused mixer channels open you are not doing it right!

Dave.

Re: Small mixer for home setup

PostPosted: Tue Jul 14, 2020 12:06 pm
by ef37a
manwilde wrote:The reason I'm using the amp's headphones out is... because it's the only way out, aside from miking!. Well, there's also usb recording, but I don't wanna have to swap audio devices for this...This is a Fender Mustang I, the smallest, cheapest of the line. I force myself to work on a sound and play the song from that. Some sounds are better than others, but for the sake of demoing it works well enough...until I buy an Helix or something similar!.

Ah! Do you use a TS 'mono' jack cable from the headphone output? If so that will work.

Dave.