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Mixing desk to Mac recording

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Mixing desk to Mac recording

Postby Sunny_Orange_Hair92 » Tue Sep 15, 2020 3:32 pm

Hi,

I'm a complete newbie to recording and my sound knowledge is limited so forgive me for lack of information!
I have an 8 channel analog desk connected to an audio interface which is going into my Mac, Garageband at the moment. My AI only has 2 inputs, so my set up at the moment is the first 2 inputs on the desk are going to the main L and R out of the desk and into these inputs on the AI, one panned L and one panned R as that's the only way I seem to be able to separate the channels going into Garageband.
I've got a couple of Rode NT2s and a couple of AKG C414s plus some SM58s.. I'm wanting to record a grand piano, sometimes on its own and sometimes with either a vocalist or a solo instrument.
Basically I'm trying to work out the best set up with what i've got to get the best sound. Am I right in thinking I've just got 2 inputs to play with? I can't add more on the desk and pan them?
Any advice on set up and mics would be much appreciated.
Thanks!
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Re: Mixing desk to Mac recording

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Tue Sep 15, 2020 3:50 pm

Sunny_Orange_Hair92 wrote:Am I right in thinking I've just got 2 inputs to play with? I can't add more on the desk and pan them?

With only a two-input interface you can only record two separate channels at once, of course. So by panning two individual sources on the mixer hard left or right, you can route them into the computer as separate things. Which is what you've been doing.

One point to consider... as most interfaces have mic inputs, it seems rather pointless and wasteful to be using a mixer as well. It's probably not adding anything to the party, but it is adding complications and taking up space.

However, if it's an eight-channel desk you can mix together up to eight sources all at the same time, panning as you require to create a stereo mix, and record that stereo mix into the computer via the interface.

So it's perfectly possible to record a performance/recital or piano/vocalist/soloist etc in real time as a stereo mix. The downside of this approach is that you can't then process each instrument separately or re-balance the mix afterwards.

If you want to record each part separately to that you can process them individually, then you'll have to record each instrument separately using the two channels you have for two mics or a stereo array, while monitoring the output of the previously recorded tracks in garageband so you can play along.
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Re: Mixing desk to Mac recording

Postby Sunny_Orange_Hair92 » Tue Sep 15, 2020 4:02 pm

Thanks for that, I see what you mean about adding the desk, the only reason I had it was for more control really but I can set the levels then tweak post recording. It is being used to be synced with a video recording in Premier Pro
I also seemed to be getting a buzz when I turned the gain up on the AI, but if I turn it down enough for that to go, the recording level is not great..
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Re: Mixing desk to Mac recording

Postby Arpangel » Tue Sep 15, 2020 4:32 pm

Sunny_Orange_Hair92 wrote:Thanks for that, I see what you mean about adding the desk, the only reason I had it was for more control really but I can set the levels then tweak post recording. It is being used to be synced with a video recording in Premier Pro
I also seemed to be getting a buzz when I turned the gain up on the AI, but if I turn it down enough for that to go, the recording level is not great..

Maybe an earth loop? I had the same issue once, dare I mention the Art Clean Box Pro, a good solution, are the inputs of the AI balanced or unbalanced? that could be causing issues if the mixer outputs are balanced and the AI isn’t.
I know it’s money, but cheap 8 input AI's are all over the place, maybe you’d be better off getting one and ditching your mixer?
Hugh will put you right there.
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Re: Mixing desk to Mac recording

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Tue Sep 15, 2020 4:56 pm

Sunny_Orange_Hair92 wrote:I also seemed to be getting a buzz when I turned the gain up on the AI, but if I turn it down enough for that to go, the recording level is not great..

There are lots of possible causes of hums and buzzes, and they require different fixes. To identify which is the most likely cause we need to know more about your whole system.

Is it a laptop or a desktop computer? Do you have monitor speakers connected to the interface? Is the buzz present with all mics or just some? Is it present with other sources?

H
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Re: Mixing desk to Mac recording

Postby Sunny_Orange_Hair92 » Wed Sep 16, 2020 12:22 pm

Hugh Robjohns wrote:
Sunny_Orange_Hair92 wrote:I also seemed to be getting a buzz when I turned the gain up on the AI, but if I turn it down enough for that to go, the recording level is not great..

There are lots of possible causes of hums and buzzes, and they require different fixes. To identify which is the most likely cause we need to know more about your whole system.

Is it a laptop or a desktop computer? Do you have monitor speakers connected to the interface? Is the buzz present with all mics or just some? Is it present with other sources?

H

I'm using a MacBook Air, no speakers connected to the interface. I've got 2 AKG 414's inside the piano, about a foot above the strings, one at the bass end and one at the treble end.
The buzz is there on all the mics, I've got an AKG and a boundary mic going to each channel. It's less of a constant background fuzziness but happens more when the keys are played on the piano and the louder it's played the more you hear the buzz, if that makes sense.

Also unsure of which settings to choose on the AKG's - polar pattern and pad settings

Thanks
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Re: Mixing desk to Mac recording

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Wed Sep 16, 2020 1:18 pm

Sunny_Orange_Hair92 wrote:I'm using a MacBook Air, no speakers connected to the interface.

Ah... then I strongly suspect your system is lacking a solid ground, and so the whole system is acting as an aerial to pickup whatever interference is floating around in the aether!

The solution is to find a way of providing a solid (mains earth) ground to the interface. That is most easily done by connecting powered monitor speakers since most of those are grounded via the mains earth and they'll pass that ground reference back to the interface via the output cabling.

You can often achieve the same thing via an input connection to the interface from a grounded (not double-insulated) mains-powered source.

Ideally, the ground would come from the computer, but most -- including the Macbook Air -- use double-insulated supplies that don't have a mains earth connection.

A less elegant but workable solution is to ground the interface with a wire running between something grounded to the mains earth, and a ground point on the interface.

I use this as a neat solution when I'm fault-finding people's systems. Needs a little DIY and it's not exactly cheap, but it is convenient!

https://www.soundonsound.com/reviews/groundology-earth-connection-plug

Also unsure of which settings to choose on the AKG's - polar pattern and pad settings

I doubt you'll need the pads on the 414s, but if things sound overloaded or distorted, flip them on to the 10dB position!

As for polar patterns, you can experiment to your heart's content! But with mics above th strings I'd probably go with cardioid.

I've got an AKG and a boundary mic going to each channel.

This phrase is raising an eyebrow! What exactly do you mean by this?
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Re: Mixing desk to Mac recording

Postby Sunny_Orange_Hair92 » Wed Sep 16, 2020 1:32 pm

Thanks, this is really useful!
Could I just use a DI Box? The only speakers I have available are unpowered

Hugh Robjohns wrote:
Sunny_Orange_Hair92 wrote:I've got an AKG and a boundary mic going to each channel.

This phrase is raising an eyebrow! What exactly do you mean by this?

So I have each mic plugged into its own input on the mixing desk and then I have panned one AKG and one boundary to the left and the other 2 to the right, the 2 main outs, which are then going to the audio interface, as I've only got 2 inputs on there.
I was asked to capture more of the ambience of the room.. maybe they aren't helping?!
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Re: Mixing desk to Mac recording

Postby MOF » Wed Sep 16, 2020 1:49 pm

I was asked to capture more of the ambience of the room.. maybe they aren't helping?!
I’d be tempted to record just the 414s and add reverb in GarageBand.
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