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Analog mixing via multi-output interface

Postby wearashirt » Wed Jun 09, 2021 4:33 am

hi everyone!

What potential road blocks are there with an amateur hybrid analog mixing set-up?

I've recently set-up an analog mixing workflow, with a vintage 16-channel Soundcraft Spirit Live and a Behringer umc 1820. The 18i20 interface pairs with my existing Focusrite 6i6, and I'm able to fill all 16 channels as well as 1 pair of returns.

The results have been very delightful. Mixing is simple. (1) Mix, (2) record back effects returns in DAW (96 khz) (3) Mix and tune #2 into final mix (4) record final mix from analog stereo returns (96khz). EQ is 90% on the board, even shelving.

My question is - what potential road blocks lay before me with this amateur set up? Is it ill-advised to simultaneously use all outputs of any interface? Is the D-A conversion suboptimal for this kind of interface?

Thanks for all your insights.
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Re: Analog mixing via multi-output interface

Postby James Perrett » Wed Jun 09, 2021 1:31 pm

There's nothing wrong with that approach if it works for you. The biggest issue with analogue mixing is recalling the mix if you want to make changes. Nowadays people are so used to being able to bring up a mix at the press of a button they forget that in the old days a mix could take days and no other projects could be done on the desk until the mix was finished.
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Re: Analog mixing via multi-output interface

Postby ken long » Wed Jun 09, 2021 1:55 pm

James Perrett wrote:There's nothing wrong with that approach if it works for you. The biggest issue with analogue mixing is recalling the mix if you want to make changes. Nowadays people are so used to being able to bring up a mix at the press of a button they forget that in the old days a mix could take days and no other projects could be done on the desk until the mix was finished.

Had a conversation about this the other day.

Friend: "it's great to be able to recall a mix!"

Me: "When's the last time you recalled a mix?"

Friend: "Er... Never".

You can always keep your desk settings the same until you're happy with the mix and then commit to the mix and move on as there are many other nice things to do in life.

As ever, everyone's mileage varies... I'm sure someone will be along with a completely different workflow but back before total recall, that's how things were done and one of the nice things about analogue is the way it forces you to commit to something and move on.
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Re: Analog mixing via multi-output interface

Postby James Perrett » Wed Jun 09, 2021 3:26 pm

ken long wrote:Me: "When's the last time you recalled a mix?"

I do it all the time. I like to be able to take a break and come back to a mix. I'll also often send off a mix for approval and then work on other projects. The client will often come back with a list of changes so I'll make the changes, send it off and get on with other stuff again. I'll often have 2 or 3 mix projects on the go at once.

This thread reminded me that I found this from the 1980's in a tape box the other day.
IMG_20210420_182547_crop_small.jpg
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Re: Analog mixing via multi-output interface

Postby Kwackman » Wed Jun 09, 2021 4:13 pm

ken long wrote:Me: "When's the last time you recalled a mix?"
When I worked in TV post production- most weeks, and frequently daily.
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Re: Analog mixing via multi-output interface

Postby Eddy Deegan » Wed Jun 09, 2021 4:26 pm

James Perrett wrote: I found this from the 1980's in a tape box the other day.

Hey, a Kenwood Mixer :thumbup:
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Re: Analog mixing via multi-output interface

Postby ken long » Thu Jun 10, 2021 8:18 am

James Perrett wrote:
ken long wrote:Me: "When's the last time you recalled a mix?"

I do it all the time. I like to be able to take a break and come back to a mix. I'll also often send off a mix for approval and then work on other projects. The client will often come back with a list of changes so I'll make the changes, send it off and get on with other stuff again. I'll often have 2 or 3 mix projects on the go at once.

This thread reminded me that I found this from the 1980's in a tape box the other day.
IMG_20210420_182547_crop_small.jpg

Nice pic!

OK but do you come back to it after approval? Or for personal music? I mean, I have hard drives full of multitrack Pro Tools sessions and I've never found myself coming back to any of it. If the mix works I tend to move on.
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Re: Analog mixing via multi-output interface

Postby Arpangel » Thu Jun 10, 2021 8:29 am

wearashirt wrote:The results have been very delightful.

Then there’s nothing more to say, you’ve achieved what some of us are striving for!
Just carry on.

:thumbup:
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That would be an ecumenical matter.

Re: Analog mixing via multi-output interface

Postby AlasdairEaston » Thu Jun 10, 2021 11:42 am

Eddy Deegan wrote:
James Perrett wrote: I found this from the 1980's in a tape box the other day.

Hey, a Kenwood Mixer :thumbup:

:lol: :lol: :lol: :clap: :clap: :clap:
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Re: Analog mixing via multi-output interface

Postby Luke W » Thu Jun 10, 2021 12:13 pm

wearashirt wrote:My question is - what potential road blocks lay before me with this amateur set up? Is it ill-advised to simultaneously use all outputs of any interface? Is the D-A conversion suboptimal for this kind of interface?

There's nothing wrong with using all of your I/O, that's exactly what it's there for. And if there were any issues then it's safe to say you'd have probably run into them by now.

As for the conversion, it's not likely to be a practical problem and again, if you can't hear anything that you dislike happening then don't worry about it! There will always be better this and better that, but ultimately with most modern gear conversion is fairly low on the list of things that will be affecting your sound in a negative way.

For me personally, the biggest downfall for such a setup is what others have already mentioned. I wouldn't want to be without recall. I quite often switch between projects and go back to old ones from time to time (both at the request of other people and just to listen/change things on my own personal work), and having a console just wouldn't fit into that in a way that would be useful or practical.

It probably has a lot to do with the fact that I'm not a console person in general really, I appreciate them but in a studio setting especially the cons outweigh the pros by a long way for me. However, if you like that way of working and it's not causing you any problems, then great stuff!
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Re: Analog mixing via multi-output interface

Postby wearashirt » Thu Jun 10, 2021 3:25 pm

Thanks everybody.

The only reason I ask about the appropriateness of my audio interface is the nagging question - why aren't there all-output audio interfaces for this kind of application? Is it because the in-going and out-going signals go through the same ADDA, and there's no use making an multioutput-only device?

All I seem to see are the super-pro stuff that go out of what looks like VGA ports. So I'm suddenly worried if I'm a lone wolf doing this kind of thing, and it's not designed for this purpose. Otherwise, if these 18i20/ADAT stuff are also meant for outputting to a console or mastering device - why isn't it emphasized in their advertisements? Seems like the outputs are meant for sending headphone mixes.

(I had really wanted to ask this question last month BEFORE I pulled various triggers, but alas, the email confirmation from SOS went into the "Promotions" folder.)

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Indeed. I try to A/B a fader move or a pot move then have this urge to do a CMD-Z, but it's just not there. It's internally hilarious, embarassing, and humbling. It's a con. Another con is that since the mixer is 30 years old, sometimes a gain pot would lose contact up-strip. When I print tracks back into the DAW, I have to make sure all strips are working, else I might be without an OH mic or backing vocals track. Loving all this button pushing though!

Pro-wise, I hear a lot more with the console, for example a certain hoarseness of a certain singer's voice comes through more aurally than otherwise. It's also my first time with hardware EQs and I feel like I can make tracks sit in position a lot quicker and better. Mixing-in reverb is also a dream. I've never felt so good doing a mix - maybe because I never had access to paid plugins (Reason user).

Everything (the console, the new interface) came together all of a sudden, really. It was even a happy coincidence an electrician nearby soldered high-quality balanced cables. I was hit hard by the Law of Attraction. Else, I stay ITB until I'm ready to mix. (All my own stuff with other artists, so no clients to speak of.)

Here's a pic of my "recall" https://photos.app.goo.gl/kEFi17ZGAXVgZj9i9
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Re: Analog mixing via multi-output interface

Postby James Perrett » Thu Jun 10, 2021 3:34 pm

ken long wrote:
James Perrett wrote:This thread reminded me that I found this from the 1980's in a tape box the other day.
IMG_20210420_182547_crop_small.jpg

Nice pic!

OK but do you come back to it after approval? Or for personal music? I mean, I have hard drives full of multitrack Pro Tools sessions and I've never found myself coming back to any of it. If the mix works I tend to move on.

I have one client who regularly goes back to multitracks that were recorded back in 2012. These are mainly for backing tracks and he seems to want to remix every time he changes his PA setup.

Most of the other really long term mix projects are things where I have some personal involvement - there's a project that started back in 2007 that is still revisited occasionally.

I seem to be doing more multitrack transfers and rough mixes recently since I resurrected the 2" machine. Some of the rough mixes have been turned into proper mixes so it will be interesting to see if these are revisited over the coming months and also interesting to see if any of them are actually used on a finished project.
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Re: Analog mixing via multi-output interface

Postby James Perrett » Thu Jun 10, 2021 3:51 pm

wearashirt wrote:The only reason I ask about the appropriateness of my audio interface is the nagging question - why aren't there all-output audio interfaces for this kind of application? Is it because the in-going and out-going signals go through the same ADDA, and there's no use making an multioutput-only device?

The lack of all output audio interfaces is down to the size of the market. There are more people recording with large channel counts than there are mixing out of the box. Those that are mixing out of the box are also likely to be recording large channel counts too.
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Re: Analog mixing via multi-output interface

Postby Wonks » Thu Jun 10, 2021 4:30 pm

MOTU do the 24 Ao, a 24 output interface. They also do the matching 24 Ai, a 24 input interface.
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