1. Register NOW and become part of this fantastic knowledge base forum! This message will go away once you have registered.

Can't record, interface not communicating with protools?

Discussion in 'Vocals' started by Donna Pacifici, Sep 4, 2016.

  1. Donna Pacifici

    Donna Pacifici Active Member


    First and foremost you need to know that I am the least techie sav person on the planet. Having said that, I have done my homework and trying to get my new pre amp with my compressor into the interface to work but for some reason when I go to record, I get a flat line in my track. When I plugged the mic directly into the avid solo interface no probs. But Since I ve tried to hook up the preamp and compressor... everything appears to be working, but protools is not recording it! I have double checked the way I should plug everything and its correct????Please help......

  2. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

    Hey Donna! Welcome to RO.

    It'd be super useful to know which pre amp and compressor your using to double check the connections. I'm assuming your using the avid fast track solo interface?

    It sounds to me like something is plugged in incorrectly or there is a gain setting that's wrong.

    Your plugs/cables are like this right? The ">" sign can read "goes into" if that makes more sense.

    1.mic>pre amp in

    2.pre amp line out> compressor line in>

    3.Compressor line out>Avid solo instrument in.

    If that's how everything is plugged in then that should be okay.

    Now it's up to the gain knobs.

    Set the pre amp INPUT GAIN about 1/2-2/3 of the way, or start with it all the way off (counter clockwise) and speak into the mic while slowly bringing it up, when you see the pre amp meter about half way up that's fine for this test.

    If you pre amp has an OUTPUT GAIN knob set that to 0db or "~" or unity gain, whatever it's labeled. If in doubt turn it half way up, that's usually unity gain. Set the THRESHOLD knob to 0db/unity/or about halfway up the dial.

    Set your compressor INPUT and OUTPUT or MAKEUP gains to 0db or unity, or about halfway on the dial. Set your ratio to 2:1, and set your attack and release to medium or about halfway.

    Now turn avid solo's INSTRUMENT gain knob up till the meter is about halfway up in protools, while the track is record enabled, like usual.

    This should at least get you sound.

    One you've verified that it's hooked up properly, and yor getting some sort of sound, the next step is setting all the gains to a more ideal position which I/we can run you through.

    First step is just getting some signs of life on the track in protools.

    Let us know after you've tried this step by step of yor still having issues or if not we can move to getting things more finely tuned.

    Other things to check (no joking) is making sure the mic is on and the pre amp and compressor are powered on. Lol obvious but we've all done it. Also make sure the plugs are pressed firmly into the jacks.

    Good luck!
    DonnyThompson likes this.
  3. Donna Pacifici

    Donna Pacifici Active Member

    Hi Kyle,

    wow thats bloody impressive, okay first off I am at work right now but very anxious to get home and check these detailed notes. As far as hookup goes, its all connected right as you described and I know everything is on cause the sound in the mic is stellar compared to when I went directly into the interface. I will get all the settings right and see if it is a question of the "gain" signals

    In terms of what I have ... I got a little Art V3 preamp , a DBX 266 compressor and just bought all new xlr and 1/4 " wires to be sure it wasn t that causing the issue. What baffles me is all the meters are working, all the little lights on the DBX comp are dancing why is protools not picking up the vox. I will most certainly check all the gains and move them to where you said they should be and go from there. In the mean time, I thank you for such a detailed tutorial on " how to 101" for idiots...LOL I will keep you posted !!!


  4. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    Adding to Kyle's nicely detailed instructions, since the compressor is the last step before you get to your interface, what type of output jack does the compressor have?... Is it XLR,( mic), TRS ( balanced 1/4") or standard (instrument) 1/4" ? If you look at the output jack of the compressor, how is it labeled? And, are you using an XLR, instrument input, or line level input on the interface?
    As a diagnostic scenario, if you remove the compressor from the gain chain, and go to your interface directly from your pre amp, do you signal on your pro tools track?
    Also, are you sure you have the right input selected on the track you are trying to record to in Pro Tools?
  5. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

    Asuming your interface is the Avid Fast Track Solo, then you have to use its instrument input for connecting the output of the DBX 266 compressor. Since the DBX output is unbalanced, I would use a standard guitar lead (TS jacks) for this connection. Bear in mind that this is input 2 on the Solo, so you have to set up recording in PT to capture signals from input 2 and not the microphone connector on input 1.

    The one problem that may occur is the output of the DBX compressor overloading the instrument input of the Solo. Since Avid does not publish any useful specifications for the Solo giving the maximum signal levels that it will accept, I can't say for certain whether this will happen or not, but there are ways of solving that problem if and when it does occur. However, your problem at the moment is the opposite - no signal.

    One thing that may be worth mentioning here is that you should aim for minimal compression during recording. You can perform compression later in PT if more is necessary. On the few occasions that I run with a compressor in series with a recording signal, the compressor is almost invariably set as a limiter (maximum compression ratio, knee at about 3dB below full scale), simply to avoid overload from the crazy signal excursions that some guitarists manage to generate. In your case (as I understand it from your first post), you are using the compressor route with vocals, but even so, I would be very sparing with compression during recording, as it is very hard to undo once captured.
    kmetal likes this.
  6. dvdhawk

    dvdhawk Well-Known Member

    Bos, as much as I hate to disagree with you, I don't know of any iteration of the dbx 266 (Project 1, A, XL, XS) that does not have both balanced and unbalanced ¼" output capability. They should all be capable of being used inline, in either an unbalanced or balanced chain, or on unbalanced inserts. The original mid-90's (?) version 266 did not have a +4/-10dBu switch to select operating level, but still had TS or TRS inputs and outputs. All later incarnations added the "operating level" switch. The recent XL and current XS added XLR connectors, signified by the 'X' in the model number.

    Please correct me if I'm missing something.
  7. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

    Ha, yes, well, it depends on the exact model number. The OP specified that she had the DBX266, so I took my information from the specifications of that model. These show the 266 has only an impedance-balanced (i.e. signal unbalanced) jack output. If it's not a 266 and instead is a 266XS or a 266XL, then these have proper balanced outputs on a combination of jacks and XLRs, as you indicate.
  8. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

    This is a good point.
  9. dvdhawk

    dvdhawk Well-Known Member

    When I say "I hate to disagree with you", it's surely not because I'm afraid I'll hurt your feelings - it's because I assume it's going to come back and bite me. :)

    The 266 manual makes it seem like the outputs are operating balanced at +0dBu to +20dBu into 600Ω, in which case, wouldn't it still be better to use them in this particular chain in that pseudo-balanced fashion? But in looking at the separate schematic, the Tip and Ring of input runs to the corresponding sides of the NE5532 op-amp, as you would expect on an electronically balanced input. Meanwhile, the output jack only has one active trace [3], and it looks like the Ring [2] shorts to the Sleeve [1] regardless of whether the normalling contacts [5] are open or closed. (am I reading that right?)

    Always a pleasure being your classroom!
    kmetal likes this.
  10. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

    Thanks for linking the 266 schematic, which I hadn't seen before. It confirms that the audio outputs are singled-ended (unbalanced), but it also suggests that there is no impedance-matching resistor on the output -ve, contrary to what the 266 specification says. I don't see any -10/+4 switch, implied in the manual.

    It also looks as though the "bypass" switch setting is nothing of the sort, as the audio flows through exactly the same path as when compressing, it's just that there is no compression.

    I still think a TS lead from the DBX266 output to the Solo instrument input is the best solution, although a TRS lead would work identically.
    kmetal likes this.
  11. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    @Boswell @dvdhawk ...
    Great info, guys. As always, you both contribute such awesome information... But at this point I think we need to remember who we are trying to help, and Donna has self admittedly expressed in her initial post that she's "the least tech savvy person here", so let's keep that in mind when trying to help her. ;)
    That's NOT to say that your info here wouldn't be of great benefit to someone doing a search on the subject; but for the moment, might I suggest that we keep the bulk of the explanations at an appropriate level of comprehension for her..,

    There's nothing that says that we can't help her to understand what we are saying, though, as the info you shared is indeed pertinent, and, Donna needs to know that the more she learns, the easier and more productive her sessions will be. IMHO of course.

    To Donna: (@Donna Pacifici )
    Understanding the terminology of the craft will prove very useful to you; let's start by suggesting that the industry accepted term to describe your various device connections is not with using "wires", but "cables".
    This applies to USB, microphones, instruments, and inputs and outputs of all devices.

  12. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

    Point taken Donny - Hawk and I were just having a tech exchange about what would work for her in terms of bits of wire.
  13. dvdhawk

    dvdhawk Well-Known Member

    You're right @DonnyThompson.

    Please pardon our little sidebar discussion @Donna Pacifici. You obviously got some great insight from kmetal, Donny, and Boswell. I'm sorry if I started us off on a tangent. An original dbx 266 would be a 20 year old piece of equipment, so I went out on a limb and supposed you might have one of the more recent models based on probability. My apologies.

    The takeaways for you in there can be summarized as follows:

    A) Boswell is always right.
    B) Female ¼" Jacks all look basically the same. In many cases, the type of ¼" male to male cable you use (TS or TRS) to interconnect them can dramatically affect the resulting sound. (See Image Below, to help identify which you have). The manufacturers don't always do a great job indicating which is appropriate.
    C) In this specific situation, having reviewed the dbx 266 manual and schematic, Boswell believes either a TS or a TRS ¼" cable would perform equally well. (See Item A)
    D) If you have a dbx 266A, dbx 'Project 1' 266A, dbx 266xl, or dbx 266xs, the suffixes (and prefixes) matter, and it might alter our cable recommendations.

    Best of Luck! Please do keep us posted on your progress.

  14. Donna Pacifici

    Donna Pacifici Active Member

    Hi Donny,

    Thank you and the rest of the crew for all this incredible insight, I have read every tread here and tried my best to fix the problem but it appears that it is way beyond what I am capable of...now don t get me wrong , I can build a house with a hammer and a few good nails, it appears I just don t have the mind for the techie stuff. I can tell you I have brand new balanced cables I bought I have checked and double checked all the cables made sure everything was plugged in right but getting no response still. So my next move is to find someone who can come over for a few bucks and figure it out for me. That shold take them about 5 minutes I bet!!!!

    You know anyone techies or pro tools dudes in Toronto Ontario ??? LOL

    Out... thx
  15. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

    Argh. In another year my remote system will be set up and I'll be able to do live tech support through my website. I'm not aware of anyone in Toronto unfortunately but hopefully the others will know someone. The best I could do is annotate/label some pictures of you end up wanting to give it another go yourself.

    Best of luck.

Share This Page