I am thinking about upgrading the audio setup of my computer system (G3/300 tower with 92Mb RAM). I am looking at the MOTU 2408 digital recording system but I have one question: can I use my computer with this as a kind of digital mixer or is this too processor‑intensive? I have asked dealers but they seem rather cagey on giving details. Basically, I would like to hook up most of my gear through the 2408 (and a 308 for digital‑enabled gear) and use it as the central hub of my system. However, how do I get the audio out of this setup into a small mixer so that I can listen to it?
Assistant Editor Sam Inglis replies: All the major software sequencers incorporate a well‑specified digital mixer, so yes, it is perfectly possible to use a computer as a digital mixer. It would be unusual to use it just as a mixer and not a multitrack recorder too, which is what I assume you want to do, but you certainly should be able to set up a program like Cubase or Logic to mix the 2408's inputs, with effects, down to one or more stereo outputs. The 2408 itself incorporates multiple analogue outputs, so hearing the output is just a matter of connecting these to a mixer or even directly to your monitoring system.
The disadvantage of a computer/2408 system, compared to a hardware digital mixer such as Yamaha's O2R, is that you have to make all the adjustments to channel levels and so on using the mouse — you don't get a hardware control surface with knobs and faders on it! The advantage of computer‑based systems is that you can record and edit multitrack audio as well as mixing it. If you have no plans to do this, and you like the idea of having hands‑on control, it might be worth considering a hardware mixer instead.