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Mixer for home recording studio

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Mixer for home recording studio

Postby jthzp9 » Mon Oct 19, 2020 4:42 pm

Hi all,
I am looking for some help trying to choose a mixer for a home recording studio. Any suggestions or help would be much appreciated!

Some of the considerations I’m looking at:
The most mics I will in all likelihood need is for a drum set. So maybe 8-12 inputs for that.

Direct outputs for the individual channels.

48+ power on individual channels.

Nice preamps with plenty of gain to run sm57/7bs.

Nice EQs with adjustable HMF/LMF freq.

I want to use this as my front end to an audio interface. I would also like the ability to send my outputs back to the board to use it to mix and sum potentially.


Any recommendations on a board that might accomplish this? I don’t mind new/used recommendations.
Some of the boards I’ve looked at but not settled on.
A&H mix wizard
A&H zed 428
A&H GL2200
Soundcraft series 5

Open to other recommendations for sure!
Thanks again!
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Re: Mixer for home recording studio

Postby Mike Stranks » Mon Oct 19, 2020 6:06 pm

Welcome! :thumbup:

Is there any specific reason why you want a mixer?

These days many of us work quite happily without one. :)
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Re: Mixer for home recording studio

Postby jthzp9 » Mon Oct 19, 2020 6:35 pm

Right now I work pretty much direct mic/inst > focusrite Scarlett 18i8 2nd gen > Mac mini 2018.

I started looking for answers when I had been pretty unhappy with mic’ing my guitar amp with an sm57 I’ve had for years and had great results with on previous set ups. I plugged in an old Yamaha mg10/2 mixer I had, ran the mic into it and a Trs out to the focusrite and the sound I loved of my guitar amp an sm57 was back. Specifically, I was picking up a lot more high end that I wanted. Hearing lots of the acoustic noise of my electric guitar in the recordings instead of just the amp. With the mixer in the signal path that all went away. I’m assuming this is an impedance issue.

I figured if this was true of an old mixer, getting one that had all the features I need in a newer and better version would be the way to go. Then I could just use the audio interface as my AD/DA converter and use my DAW as the “tape”.
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Re: Mixer for home recording studio

Postby Arpangel » Mon Oct 19, 2020 7:31 pm

Mike Stranks wrote:Welcome! :thumbup:

Is there any specific reason why you want a mixer?

These days many of us work quite happily without one. :)

Agreed, but does he want to work exclusively in the box?
One of the reasons to use a mixer is because it either gives you a particular character that you like, or, you like hands on live mixing, and the routing options it gives you.
Many of the mixers in the law to mid price range won't have that "mojo" they’ll all be more or less "OK"
If I could, and my music didn’t demand an external mixer, I’d go completely in the box.
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Re: Mixer for home recording studio

Postby jthzp9 » Mon Oct 19, 2020 8:06 pm

Arpangel wrote:
Mike Stranks wrote:Welcome! :thumbup:

Is there any specific reason why you want a mixer?

These days many of us work quite happily without one. :)

Agreed, but does he want to work exclusively in the box?
One of the reasons to use a mixer is because it either gives you a particular character that you like, or, you like hands on live mixing, and the routing options it gives you.
Many of the mixers in the law to mid price range won't have that "mojo" they’ll all be more or less "OK"
If I could, and my music didn’t demand an external mixer, I’d go completely in the box.




I wouldn’t mind have a board that had a little bit of a sound it imparted to the sound for mixing back through. However, my main goal is to figure out a front end of my recording gear. I’m just not happy with the focusrite Scarlett but if anyone has any suggestions on why I might be having such dramatic differences between the Scarlett and the mixer to the Scarlett I’d love to hear other thoughts.

I just don’t imagine another audio interface is going to give me much different results than what I’m getting with the focusrite.
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Re: Mixer for home recording studio

Postby The Elf » Mon Oct 19, 2020 9:30 pm

jthzp9 wrote:I just don’t imagine another audio interface is going to give me much different results than what I’m getting with the focusrite.
This is probably true, so maybe you need to tell us about your recording methods, what you have connected and how.

I'm very much in the 'you don't need a mixer' camp - not that it can't be a good way of doing things, but it can create compromises and complications, and it may not be the magic bullet you're hoping for.
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Re: Mixer for home recording studio

Postby jthzp9 » Mon Oct 19, 2020 10:52 pm

The Elf wrote:
jthzp9 wrote:I just don’t imagine another audio interface is going to give me much different results than what I’m getting with the focusrite.
This is probably true, so maybe you need to tell us about your recording methods, what you have connected and how.

I'm very much in the 'you don't need a mixer' camp - not that it can't be a good way of doing things, but it can create compromises and complications, and it may not be the magic bullet you're hoping for.



My main instruments that I’m recording are electric & acoustic guitar, electric bass and vocals. However, I would like to be able to record acoustic drums with whatever set up I land on.

I like the idea of staying “ITB” but I feel like what I’m recording on the way end is not optimized to be able to do that. I will try and post some samples later on tonight of some of the challenges I’m having and maybe that will help diagnose some of the issues I’m having.

My basic set up usually starts with tracking electric guitar. I have never been happy with the DI tracks using any amp sim/IR. I really only have three pieces of equipment that are ever in use. I have a Warm Audio active DI, ART voice channel channel strip and a focusrite Scarlett 18i8 (2nd gen). Most often if I’m trying to record with amp sims I’m going into the warm audio DI with passive pickups (so using the active mode of the DI) > the input on the Scarlett. Alternatively, I’ve tried to use the hi-z input with my ART voice channel and do get a little better tone as I can get a little tube saturation from driving the preamp a bit on that. However, all of these still leave a very digital almost plastic sound to me in like the 2-6k region that I just can’t unhear and is very unpleasant.

As I stated in posts above, when I recorded my electric guitar through my amp with my sm57 and old mixer into the audio interface, it sounded exactly like what you would expect from an sm57 and a guitar amp. This lead me to believe there is a potential impedance issue at my audio interface because it does not sound the same when using the sm57 direct into the Scarlett.

And the reason I’m trying to get out of “the box” is I feel like I’ve always heard that what you hear when recording should be 90% of the way there of the final mix. And I don’t feel like I get close to that with this interface.
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Re: Mixer for home recording studio

Postby Watchmaker » Tue Oct 20, 2020 2:53 am

It sounds like your old mixer's pres were coloring your sound dramatically. The good news is, there are many ways to put to the dank back into your sound. The bad news is only you know what they are after you find them!

If you DI straight to the interface, you will hear your guitar as is. If you're trying to re-create the sound you got from a particular board and mic set up, you could chase that forever! :I recommend dirty pool and cheating creatively. Otherwise known as availableism.

fwiw, my experience with the Scarlett pres is that they have a weak overall heft to them. They sound brittle in the upper mids to me too. I upgraded to the Clarett 8PreX and that always delivers. You could look into adding I/O, like the Focusrite Clarett OctoPre and see if you like the sound any better. I have an Audient ASP800 that sounds killer which is the same basic idea as the OctoPre but has some features I like better. But the truth is, the trouble ain't the Scarlett, it's getting the sound in your head onto the track, which is what engineering is all about.

Of course, I would recommend something like this if you really want a mixer.

https://www.solidstatelogic.com/products/x-desk

Or my personal permanent wishlist item
https://www.solidstatelogic.com/products/nucleus
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Re: Mixer for home recording studio

Postby Arpangel » Tue Oct 20, 2020 6:33 am

I think from what you say, a really nice valve preamplifier would be a good idea, along with a better interface, as has been mentioned, the Clarett series of interfaces are very good.
We can recommend till the cows come home, I think what you need to do is get your tone right at the very beginning, and go from there, but that requires extensive auditioning of equipment, not easy at the moment, but you don’t want to end up wasting lots of money on the wrong recommendations.
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Re: Mixer for home recording studio

Postby manwilde » Tue Oct 20, 2020 12:18 pm

jthzp9 wrote:I plugged in an old Yamaha mg10/2 mixer I had, ran the mic into it and a Trs out to the focusrite and the sound I loved of my guitar amp an sm57 was back.

Sorry if I misunderstand your other reasonings, but if this happens to be the case, why don´t you just use the Yamaha into the Focusrite?.
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Re: Mixer for home recording studio

Postby jthzp9 » Tue Oct 20, 2020 3:34 pm

manwilde wrote:
jthzp9 wrote:I plugged in an old Yamaha mg10/2 mixer I had, ran the mic into it and a Trs out to the focusrite and the sound I loved of my guitar amp an sm57 was back.

Sorry if I misunderstand your other reasonings, but if this happens to be the case, why don´t you just use the Yamaha into the Focusrite?.


I like the sound of it but it is noisy and it only has four mic inputs unfortunately.

I’d like a mixer that has at least 12 mic inputs so that I can run that into an audio interface and use it as my front end.

I know a lot of folks like that universal audio stuff. Any love for that being a standalone front end for recording?

I don’t love the idea of being all digital as it generally gets outdated quickly. Whereas investing in some quality hardware will work for a long time.

Thoughts?
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Re: Mixer for home recording studio

Postby CS70 » Tue Oct 20, 2020 7:02 pm

jthzp9 wrote:As I stated in posts above, when I recorded my electric guitar through my amp with my sm57 and old mixer into the audio interface, it sounded exactly like what you would expect from an sm57 and a guitar amp. This lead me to believe there is a potential impedance issue at my audio interface because it does not sound the same when using the sm57 direct into the Scarlett.

This is odd. I've recorded tons of guitars, electric and acoustic, many of which with a 57, and a reasonably good mixer or interface preamp makes no difference at all - at least not for a single track of guitar.

There's a couple things I can think of but the easiest is just that you're using two different gain structures, perhaps without realizing it.

How do you set up the 57 into the mixer? Is there any EQ? Any effect And how do you connect the mixer to the interface?
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Re: Mixer for home recording studio

Postby Arpangel » Wed Oct 21, 2020 11:12 am

CS70 wrote:
jthzp9 wrote:As I stated in posts above, when I recorded my electric guitar through my amp with my sm57 and old mixer into the audio interface, it sounded exactly like what you would expect from an sm57 and a guitar amp. This lead me to believe there is a potential impedance issue at my audio interface because it does not sound the same when using the sm57 direct into the Scarlett.

It won’t sound the same, maybe you’re just hearing the sound of each system? or is the difference really drastic?
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Re: Mixer for home recording studio

Postby jthzp9 » Wed Oct 21, 2020 2:50 pm

Arpangel wrote:
CS70 wrote:
jthzp9 wrote:As I stated in posts above, when I recorded my electric guitar through my amp with my sm57 and old mixer into the audio interface, it sounded exactly like what you would expect from an sm57 and a guitar amp. This lead me to believe there is a potential impedance issue at my audio interface because it does not sound the same when using the sm57 direct into the Scarlett.

It won’t sound the same, maybe you’re just hearing the sound of each system? or is the difference really drastic?

I’ll post some clips tonight and you guys can tell me what you think. I think it sounds vastly different. Like, unusable different to I could drop that in a mix (sans the noise I described).
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Re: Mixer for home recording studio

Postby Sam Spoons » Wed Oct 21, 2020 3:02 pm

CS70 wrote:
jthzp9 wrote:As I stated in posts above, when I recorded my electric guitar through my amp with my sm57 and old mixer into the audio interface, it sounded exactly like what you would expect from an sm57 and a guitar amp. This lead me to believe there is a potential impedance issue at my audio interface because it does not sound the same when using the sm57 direct into the Scarlett.

This is odd. I've recorded tons of guitars, electric and acoustic, many of which with a 57, and a reasonably good mixer or interface preamp makes no difference at all - at least not for a single track of guitar.

There's a couple things I can think of but the easiest is just that you're using two different gain structures, perhaps without realizing it.

How do you set up the 57 into the mixer? Is there any EQ? Any effect And how do you connect the mixer to the interface?

This is what I would suspect too, the gain structure of a digital system needs to take into account the fact that headroom is not built in over and above 0dBFS while a typical analogue system has some 24dB available above 0VU before serious clipping occurs. It's very easy to run the preamps in the interface too hot in an attempt to get nice big waveforms on the DAW screen leading to an unpleasantly harsh sound. I speak from personal experience :blush:
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