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?? soundcard vs usb mixer ???

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?? soundcard vs usb mixer ???

Postby zout » Thu Jan 21, 2021 12:38 pm

hello guys (and gals ;-) )

i got meself a little home studio
a laptop with cubase 10, native komplete 12 with a Komplete Kontrol S49 MK2 , some synths,
and the soundcard i now own is a focusrite scarlett 18i20(2nd gen).


i always missed the immediacy of an analogue mixer, and i ve come across this https://www.soundonsound.com/reviews/so ... ure-22-mtk

it really caught my attention ! it s within budget, have a great SOS review...

but now, here comes the questions i have... :-)

1 could i send some virtual synths through the desk via usb, eq it, pan it and then back into the pc via usb again??7

2 would this even be reasonable vis a vis latency??
would the recorded (eq'd, panned etc) sound be delayed when back in the pc??

3 would not the soundcard be redundant ? ( i don t see the point of outputting analog to a desk that can receive the same signal digitally?!) or do i miss something...


i bet the answers i ll get will trigger some more questions ...

but that s a decent start to my investigation i believe...


already thank you all for your time

cheers

alex
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Re: ?? soundcard vs usb mixer ???

Postby CS70 » Thu Jan 21, 2021 1:16 pm

zout wrote:1 could i send some virtual synths through the desk via usb, eq it, pan it and then back into the pc via usb again??7

Nice piece of kit!

The USB channels are sent post gain but pre EQ, and optionally returned there, so it looks like it's the other way around: you can send some physical synths thru the PC for effects and then back to the mixer - basically allowing to use the PC as a gigantic effect rack.

You can probably also use the channel returns to send virtual synths and EQ them on the desk, but then you will have to "get" them via an AUX, and you have only a few of them. So you will be limited in the amount. The manual will tell you if the AUXes are too exposed via USB (if they aren't, the trick won't work).

2 would this even be reasonable vis a vis latency??
would the recorded (eq'd, panned etc) sound be delayed when back in the pc??

If you use the AUX trick, the routing latency thru the mixer is insignificant so it's all about the round of D/A and A/D conversion. In itself that wouldn't add more than a couple ms of latency, probably less, but perhaps a bit of processing time depending on the DAW and how the drivers are written. The handling of the delay depends on the DAW and where you do the routing.

With Cakewalk there's a "ping" feature which tests the external hardware and computes the necessary delay compensation in ms.

3 would not the soundcard be redundant ? ( i don t see the point of outputting analog to a desk that can receive the same signal digitally?!) or do i miss something...

Yes it would. For all purposes and intents the desk *is* an interface and if you are on Windows, you usually use just the one.
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Re: ?? soundcard vs usb mixer ???

Postby zout » Thu Jan 21, 2021 2:52 pm

Wow!!!! :clap: :clap: :clap: :thumbup: :thumbup: :thumbup:

i was used to the celerity, accuracy, eagerness to help and share among the SOS community,...

But CS70 (my new best friend ;) ... :angel: :angel: ) you might have reached the pinnacle of said qualities!!! :) :) :)


But back to the matter at hands if i may ;)

CS70 wrote:The USB channels are sent post gain but pre EQ, and optionally returned there, so it looks like it's the other way around: you can send some physical synths thru the PC for effects and then back to the mixer - basically allowing to use the PC as a gigantic effect rack.

You can probably also use the channel returns to send virtual synths and EQ them on the desk, but then you will have to "get" them via an AUX, and you have only a few of them. So you will be limited in the amount. The manual will tell you if the AUXes are too exposed via USB (if they aren't, the trick won't work).

i bet this DOES mean that my dream of an analog mixer that "gets" virtual synths or other audio tracks via usb, use the eq and the mix facilities of said mixer, then gets it back to the pc via usb is not here in the mtk22 then??

if not maybe there s an alternative on the market i missed??



also
CS70 wrote:Yes it would. For all purposes and intents the desk *is* an interface and if you are on Windows, you usually use just the one.

i never done it on a pc but i know it exists on mac...
can multiple interfaces "live" on the same machine??
i mean there are digital inputs on the scarlett i could put to use...


might an other way be to buy an all analog mixer, get a DAC to use along the adat out of the scarlett, and treat the analog audio coming from there as any analog source (on the mixing desk i mean)
to eventually record the results via (maybe )direct outs of said mixer???

any thoughts, comments, suggestions are very welcome!!!
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Re: ?? soundcard vs usb mixer ???

Postby CS70 » Thu Jan 21, 2021 4:08 pm

zout wrote:i bet this DOES mean that my dream of an analog mixer that "gets" virtual synths or other audio tracks via usb, use the eq and the mix facilities of said mixer, then gets it back to the pc via usb is not here in the mtk22 then??

Sort of. The mixer seems to be doing this:

signal from preamp/line --> gain -> USB send --> DAW --> USB return --> EQ --> etc.. --> Main out (if the DAW is not active, obviously the USB send/return will do nothing).

That means that from the DAW, you can send to the USB return and go thru the EQ but there's nowhere to pick the result up (other than the Main out, for a synth at a time),

But: this is primarily a mixer. So it will have AUX channels (I guess) and (hopefully) the USB send/return above happens for these as well. You can confirm in the manual.

If it does, and the AUX sending is post EQ (another thing to check) you could do the following:

DAW -> USB return -> EQ -> send to AUX -> AUX USB send -> DAW

and you could do it for as many synths as AUX channels you have (guess 4 or 5 on a desk of that size).

But it's not really a great solution, having so many channels just to use only 4 or 5 AUX.

if not maybe there s an alternative on the market i missed??

Not an expert in desks, but I guess what you need is a digital desk, where usually you can decide that the USB return is anywhere in the chain. Stuff like the Behringer X32 or similar.

also
CS70 wrote:Yes it would. For all purposes and intents the desk *is* an interface and if you are on Windows, you usually use just the one.

i never done it on a pc but i know it exists on mac...
can multiple interfaces "live" on the same machine??
i mean there are digital inputs on the scarlett i could put to use...

You can have several interfaces attached, but on Windows you can generally use them one at a time.. there are ways to try aggregate them but in practice they don't work so well. Mac you have aggregated devices, which work perfectly if you have hardware word clock on the interfaces, and mostly okay-ish if you don't.

In practice it's a rabbit hole that's not worth going into.

If you like mixers, and specifically turning the knobs of the mixer's EQ, a digital mixer with knobs will do much better I think.

might an other way be to buy an all analog mixer, get a DAC to use along the adat out of the scarlett, and treat the analog audio coming from there as any analog source (on the mixing desk i mean)
to eventually record the results via (maybe )direct outs of said mixer???

any thoughts, comments, suggestions are very welcome!!!

Sure, that's how consoles are used.. interface -> DA -> desk -> AD -> interface.

The desk need to have individual direct channel outs however, does the SoundCraft have them?
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Re: ?? soundcard vs usb mixer ???

Postby zout » Sat Jan 23, 2021 11:10 am

CS70 wrote:Not an expert in desks, but I guess what you need is a digital desk, where usually you can decide that the USB return is anywhere in the chain. Stuff like the Behringer X32 or similar.

thanks CS :thumbup:
ok.....

this is obviously a choice i ve been mulling over for some time now...

i liked the paradigm of analog consoles, but the lack of routing options (for a desk within my budget) seems crippling now....

i guess i CAN come back to the ways of "02R" mixing...


But , at the risk of being a bore, i looked at the behringer x32 producer and at the x-usb card documentation , but i cant find if, as you suggest, i can pick up or inject the signal coming or going to the usb anywhere (post comp, post eq or even post fader if ever i wanted it)

anyone got experience with the X32 + x-usb interfacing??
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Re: ?? soundcard vs usb mixer ???

Postby CS70 » Sat Jan 23, 2021 11:50 am

There's two reasons to get out to some hardware: the sound of the hardware is exceptional, or you like the physical control factor.

Of course they aren't exclusive, but when it comes to sound, there's very little if anything that is not replicated in software. People can bitch how much they want but so long they aren't able to differentiate consistently in a blind test. it's all BS and imagination and confirmation bias.. and with most hardware, they aren't. Perhaps a real Fairchild would be worth it but I dunno since I never tried a real Fairchild.

The hardware that matters is the input chain (and in your case, with virtual synths, you have none).

For example, while the EQ of the Soundcraft is certainly fine, you have just as fine (and probably better) software EQs. So sonically it would make very little sense to send your virtual instruments to the mixer just for the EQ, unless you do it just for the kicks.

For the physical controls, the usual recommendation here is that if you like knobs'n'faders you get yourself a good control surface.

Now of course I shouldn't speak as I have and use outboard... but I'm very aware that it's just for the kicks :D

Sam Spoons here has a X32 and can probably help. There may even be better suited digital desks. Or you can get yourself a proper analog console with direct channel outs and use converters to patch it out and in. Nothing rivals that in terms of mojo and showoff factor! :D Just nearby there's a old Studer desk for sale for not much money, and if I had a spare room boy I'd be tempted - just for the looks :D
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Re: ?? soundcard vs usb mixer ???

Postby Sam Spoons » Sat Jan 23, 2021 5:40 pm

CS70 wrote:Sam Spoons here has a X32 and can probably help.

I have indeed :thumbup: It's a while since I tried recording post eq (I record direct* but mix down through the desk) but IIRC it can only be done via the P16 monitor channels or buses. But there have been several f/w updates since I last did this so I'll go and have a fiddle this evening and see if that has changed. The P16 route does work well but limits you to 16 channels, I'm pretty sure you can record the other 16 direct at the same time or possibly through the buses.

Will get back to you later/tomoz.
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Re: ?? soundcard vs usb mixer ???

Postby zout » Sat Jan 23, 2021 6:28 pm

CS70 wrote:Or you can get yourself a proper analog console with direct channel outs and use converters to patch it out and in. Nothing rivals that in terms of mojo and showoff factor! Just nearby there's a old Studer desk for sale for not much money, and if I had a spare room boy I'd be tempted - just for the looks


i get you very much there, but i bet my budget, space won t fit those....

as for the mojo and show off factor i like to believe i m above all that shallowness , but i know i ain t :D :D :D

CS70 wrote:You can have several interfaces attached, but on Windows you can generally use them one at a time.. there are ways to try aggregate them but in practice they don't work so well.


i m now realising that a another prospective buy of mine is the roland tr8s...
one plus point was the usb direct outs...

i bet this IS an interface as well then,....

would this be one of this rabbit hole too then...???


And now Mr Spoons is up to the rescue!!!!

1st let me thank you to come to help me here!

i can t even tell you how i now wait for your test results

So i understand u have the x-usb interface installed as well (they ship with it onboard now... :) so another bonus included from my point of view :) )

i ve been looking further into the x32 range !!!
at 1st i was looking at the x32 producer , but now i ll rather go for the x32 compact (because of the scribble strips) ...
does that seem a good reason to you lot??
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Re: ?? soundcard vs usb mixer ???

Postby The Elf » Sat Jan 23, 2021 6:35 pm

zout wrote:i m now realising that a another prospective buy of mine is the roland tr8s...
one plus point was the usb direct outs...
It does have more analogue outputs than the earlier TR-8, though. And you can load your own samples. These were good reasons for me upgrading.
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Re: ?? soundcard vs usb mixer ???

Postby Sam Spoons » Sun Jan 24, 2021 12:20 am

zout wrote:And now Mr Spoons is up to the rescue!!!!

I had a quick look this evening, it's quite easy to route the P16 to the card outs and that can be tapped at various places in the channel signal path. I couldn't find a way to tap the direct outs anywhere except the default post gain/pre everything else. Will try to have another look tomorrow.

i ve been looking further into the x32 range !!!
at 1st i was looking at the x32 producer , but now i ll rather go for the x32 compact (because of the scribble strips) ...
does that seem a good reason to you lot??

I have the X32 Compact for exactly that reason, I've been very happy with it, in terms of 'bang for bucks' it's pretty much unbeatable. I bought it for, and used it, live gigs before I retired, it now lives in my studio and has the occasional outing for a little festival I help run.

I'd still question why you want to record with eq/dynamics/fx though, I grew up with analogue and do like using the desk as I did back in the day but, even when I was recording to 8 track tape I didn't process incoming signals (maybe a compressor but nowt else and there's no need to use a comp on the way in any more). TBF my outboard was very simple, a compressor and a Microverb II IIRC.
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Re: ?? soundcard vs usb mixer ???

Postby zout » Tue Jan 26, 2021 10:17 am

Sam Spoons wrote:I had a quick look this evening, it's quite easy to route the P16 to the card outs and that can be tapped at various places in the channel signal path. I couldn't find a way to tap the direct outs anywhere except the default post gain/pre everything else.

when you say "P16" do you mean the analog ins on the x32??

Sam Spoons wrote:I'd still question why you want to record with eq/dynamics/fx though,

i did not mean record like a vocal overdub...
but rather more like mixed / effected stems , does that seems stupid??



as for tyhr more agregate devices on the PC,... i read this https://www.soundonsound.com/forum/view ... 5&start=45

and now i know much more as to why not more than one working at a time , etc... :thumbup: :thumbup: :thumbup:
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Re: ?? soundcard vs usb mixer ???

Postby CS70 » Tue Jan 26, 2021 11:23 am

zout wrote:as for the mojo and show off factor i like to believe i m above all that shallowness , but i know i ain t :D :D :D

Ahah I'm definitely not! The Studer is crazy sexy!

one plus point was the usb direct outs...

i bet this IS an interface as well then,....


Yeah basically everything that has connectivity directly to the computer is (or contains) by definition an interface to it. The general idea is - everything connects to one interface which has enough channels; the interface connects to the pc.

Just to be clear on the aggregation: if each device has a word clock port and you connect them in hardware (using the best clock as a master, or even better an external clock) it all can be made to work quite well (in Windows.. perhaps not ASIO, but probably WASAPI Ex). Unfortunately most interfaces embedded in "other stuff" (such as the ones in mixers, keyboards, some synths etc) don't offer the possibility to be synched to an external clock. To say nothing that, if you have the money and understanding to do that, you probably will not want to do it as a permanent solution. :)
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Re: ?? soundcard vs usb mixer ???

Postby Sam Spoons » Tue Jan 26, 2021 12:08 pm

zout wrote:
Sam Spoons wrote:I had a quick look this evening, it's quite easy to route the P16 to the card outs and that can be tapped at various places in the channel signal path. I couldn't find a way to tap the direct outs anywhere except the default post gain/pre everything else.

when you say "P16" do you mean the analog ins on the x32??

No, in the internal routing options you have the P16 outputs which meant for the dedicated 'ultranet' personal monitor system Berry sell as an add on to the X/M32. But you can use these to send signals to the USB card too/instead. They are useful in this context because they can tap the signal from anywhere in the channel strip whereas the direct outs are fixed post gain/pre everything else.

Sam Spoons wrote:I'd still question why you want to record with eq/dynamics/fx though,

i did not mean record like a vocal overdub...
but rather more like mixed / effected stems , does that seems stupid??

That makes more sense, particularly if you are using the stems for backing tracks or some such.
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Re: ?? soundcard vs usb mixer ???

Postby zout » Wed Jan 27, 2021 12:06 am

Sam Spoons wrote:No, in the internal routing options you have the P16 outputs which meant for the dedicated 'ultranet' personal monitor system Berry sell as an add on to the X/M32. But you can use these to send signals to the USB card too/instead. They are useful in this context because they can tap the signal from anywhere in the channel strip whereas the direct outs are fixed post gain/pre everything else

So this definitely looks more and more like a very decent proposal for me then... :thumbup:

Thank you Mr spoons and cs70...
This is very helpful!

I might crack the wallet very soon....

This time I ll set up a parchbay as well...
This means buying some multicores ...
And some heavy thinking into how to plumb it all together with efficiency Cablevision and flexibility signalwise...
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Re: ?? soundcard vs usb mixer ???

Postby zout » Wed Jan 27, 2021 4:48 pm

so....

it s done ....

i bought meself a x32 compact!!!

i m now officially like a kid on pre xmas week ( delivery time unknown ATM)


bought me some multicores as well....

sprucing up the studio very soon....


thanks all


cheers


alex
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