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audio interface help!

Discussion in 'Recording' started by AlmAcoustic, Oct 10, 2012.

  1. AlmAcoustic

    AlmAcoustic Active Member

    hey everyone,

    My friend and I have been wanting to do some home recording, we know what we need we have worked out what model mics we want and all that. Originally we decided to get the Alesis io4 as the audio interface however this means only the person with the interface can record for fun or whatever by themselves. So then we looked at the alesis io2, which looks great and would be perfect for each of us, but our question is: will we still be able to record together when we meet up and just use 2 interfaces? (provided we have 2 usb slots)

    Any help will be much appreciated, thanks
     
  2. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

    At this level, it's more a function of the computer you are using than the interfaces. If you have a Macintosh, you can aggregate I/O boxes to work together, which is something you can't do on a Windows PC.

    For PC users, there is another way, but you would have to spend more money. Most interface boxes above the base level have digital inputs and outputs as well as their computer interface connections, and with the right type, they can be configured internally to route the pre-amp outputs to the digital output. Using this, you can route the digital output of one box to the digital input of a second box. If you then interface the second box to a computer as normal, you can select its inputs as usual, but also take data from the first box via the digital inputs. The best interface units for this mode of operation are the ones that have a "stand-alone" mode for use as expanders for other boxes.

    Let us know the number of channels you need (mics + guitars) and your rough budget and we can point you at suitable interface boxes.

    Which microphones have you chosen?
     
  3. AlmAcoustic

    AlmAcoustic Active Member

    When recording together we want 2 guitar inputs and 2 mic inputs, so each interface needs 1 mic input and 1 guitar input. We have chosen se2000 mics that come in a package with pop shields and stands for £90 each. Our budget for the interface was no more than 120 really, we were planning on getting the io2's second hand. Also the io2s came with software. The plan was to record using windows pc's and laptops however we both have iPads if that makes a difference? Although we decided not to buy the apple mics and gear because we figured this would strongly limit what we can use to record in the future as we plan on upgrading and adding to our recording gear over time and the iPads are rather limited when you start getting decent amounts if money to spend on home studio.
     
  4. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

    The iO|2 is one of the better two-channel interfaces in this price range, but it can't be used in multiple other than through the aggregating facilities on a Mac. However, it does have S/PDIF connections, but there is no internal routing to send the pre-amp outputs to the S/PDIF output. Unfortunately, iPads are no help to you for device aggregation.

    I'm not aware of any very low-cost pre-amps that have S/PDIF outputs you could plug into the iO|2 digital inputs.

    I don't like saying this, but for when you are playing together, your best best for that sort of budget may be to get a small 4-channel mixer that has at least 2 DI inputs and 2 mic inputs. You could feed the stereo mixer output into one of the iO|2 units to record. By panning the inputs, you could put the mixed guitars on one output channel and the blended vocals on the other. It would mean balancing the two vocals and two guitars in real-time while you are playing with no chance of adjustment later. To create the stereo result, you would mix the guitars and vocals down to a 2-track mix, but there would be no authentic stereo. Reverb and other effects can overcome that to some extent.
     
  5. AlmAcoustic

    AlmAcoustic Active Member

    So basically, if I want to use two separate interfaces we'll need to spend more money and things willbecome more complicated and we will lose quality? And the only way of using two separate interfaces together is if we have a mac?
     
  6. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

    You won't necessarily lose quality by going though a mixer. What you certainly would lose is flexibility.

    You are right to be going through this process of thinking hard about what you can achieve for what sort of money. To get more channels by coupling together of two separate Windows PC interfaces is easily available, but not at the price point you are considering.
     
  7. AlmAcoustic

    AlmAcoustic Active Member

    Hmm okay, so what sort of price are we looking at? And would it be cheaper just to buy an io4 and an io2 and use to io4 for joint recording?
     
  8. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

    The IO4 is not necessarily cheaper, and you only get 16-bit recording in 4-channel mode, but it's more flexible than using a 4-input mixer and recording the 2-channel output.

    The sad truth is that there isn't much around at the lower end of the audio interface market that has two mic inputs and two separate DI (guitar) inputs.
     
  9. AlmAcoustic

    AlmAcoustic Active Member

    What difference does the bit size make? We're both knew to recording as you can probably tell
     
  10. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

    The wordlength (number of bits) describes the resolution (related to accuracy) of each digital sample. It's a debatable point, but when using 16-bit rather than 24-bit there is more pressure on you to get the levels right at the time of recording, as there is less room for adjusting them later without gritty artefacts creeping in.

    Since the IO4 is about the only box that would give you two mics and two DI inputs at this price level, I would say go for that plus an IO|2 if you can find both of them for a reasonable cost. Digital Village and several Ebay shops have them new at £99 and £79 respectively. You get a copy of Cubase LE audio software with the IO4; it's pretty basic but would get you started. You could graduate to the low-cost Reaper software when you are ready for more functionality.
     
  11. AlmAcoustic

    AlmAcoustic Active Member

    Okay got it, thanks very much for the help! Last question, I'm assuming its the software that enables the use of vocal effects such as auto tune, and the interfaces won't affect our abilitybtomdo that?
     
  12. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

    If you were to get a software plug-in for tuning correction, that would be independent of the hardware. It's only when you want to use physical special effect boxes with input and output connectors that you would need to consider how and at which stage of the recording process to use them.
     
  13. AlmAcoustic

    AlmAcoustic Active Member

    Okay :) thank you for all your help
     
  14. AlmAcoustic

    AlmAcoustic Active Member

    My friend just found a difference interface he thinks we should get (this is irrelevant to the previous issue) MultiMix 4 USB Four-Channel USB Mixer it's that or the io4 iO4 4-Channel, 24-Bit Recording Interface

    My question is, if they both do the exact same thing thing the same standard except one has a mixer built in, why is the multiple mix £60 and the io4 £100?
     
  15. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

    The MultiMix 4 USB only records the stereo (2-channel) output of the mixer. It's in the category of the mixers I was referring to a few posts ago (#4), except that it does not have DI (guitar) inputs and the digitizing is only 16-bit, even for 2 channels.
     

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