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Dazed and confused OTB and ITB

Discussion in 'Vintage Analog Gear' started by djmukilteo, Sep 16, 2009.

  1. djmukilteo

    djmukilteo Well-Known Member

    I have some older vintage analog tape gear along with new computer recording gear...and I need some advice on how best to wrangle and incorporate all of the various pieces I want to use so I can record and :roll: playback some analog tracks and then run those into my DAW, then maybe mix other analog sources back again..some digital stuff and some analog stuff and be able to move between the two easily....ITB and OTB....aaaahhhhhh??!?!
    I just don't know anymore!? LOL :shock: :roll:
    I record mostly my own stuff and have other people over to do the same thing. This is my hobby studio, but I really want to get this stuff together
    I use an RME FF800 with Cubase right now and I love it but I really don't like using a mouse and the screen. It has it's place...but when I want to make music or create some noise I really prefer fader's and pots and buttons.
    I record keyboards, guitars, and use a couple of dynamic mics.
    Now I know what I need is a mixing console or a control surface or I don't know maybe both....
    I have thought of getting a nice older analog mixing board for routing all the analog stuff...maybe even one that would need mods or repair....I've looked at A&H, Mackie, Yamaha etc....I've thought about control surfaces MCU, C4, Euphonics etc...
    I want to use the RME as my main converter in/out but thought maybe adding a mixer with ADAT into the RME would be a good way of getting the vintage stuff into the DAW and squeeze more channels out of the RME??
    I know someone here will know what to do to help me with some direction....
    so any thoughts or suggestions would be really appreciated!

    Here's a list of analog stuff:
    Tascam 38-8 track
    Tascam 32-2 track
    lots of tape...

    and digital stuff:
    RME FF800
    Cubase 4
  2. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

    Not easy to advise the best way forward here - so much depends on your own personal preferences.

    A Yamaha 01V96 would cover many of your bases: use as a control surface for Cubase, use as an external mixer (up to 16 ADAT channels in and out could be routed via the FF800), use as a microphone input expander (the 01V96 preamps are perfectly serviceable, though not in the FF800 class), and can also be automated from a Cubase MIDI track for those pesky repetitive mixes. What you don't get is true analog-quality mixing, but it is every bit as good as ITB Cubase for digital mixing and digital effects, and the faders are real.

    You should also look at the A+H Zed-R16. No automation or control surface capability, but a real analog mixer with decent FireWire and ADAT digital I/O and a great classic sound. The new Mackie 16xxi series is also aimed at this area, but I have not yet had the opportunity to hear the converter quality on those.
  3. djmukilteo

    djmukilteo Well-Known Member

    Thanks Boswell:
    I would love to have a new mixer like those and those were the models I was looking at....the A&H Zed16 and a Mackie MCU Pro Universal would be a nice combo for Cubase control and the analog mixing.
    Cubase transport controls is a major plus and fader automation with Cubase would be nice too.

    Is there a way to use those mixers together with the RME in unison? Would the ADAT option be the way of getting more channels into and out of the RME and does that require additional hardware like clocks, etc?
    I really don't want to start over and get rid of the RME....I would like to keep it and use it....It has up to 56 channels with ADAT...Not that I need that many....but I figure after I hookup all this stuff who knows....Right now I'm not using the tape machines and I used to have an older Tascam mixer for those back in the day but thought it would be great to get them back into the picture and let them join in with the digital fun!

  4. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    56 Channels is deceptive. It is essentially 10 analog in/out and two sets of 8 channel ADAT optical in/out for a total of 26.

    If you daisy chain two FF800's then you get 52 channels of routing. Total mix is of course capable of routing 56 channels but you are still limited by the physical ins/outs.
  5. djmukilteo

    djmukilteo Well-Known Member

    Thanks Jack:
    What I'm really trying to do here (I think) is to get an analog mixer for these Tascams (8trk/2trk) that I can route via ADAT into the FF800 so if I got a 8 channel board with ADAT out and fed that into the FF800 ADAT in....would I end up with say 18 channels available in Cubase?
    Then maybe use an MCU Pro Universal controller for the Cubase...
    Does that make sense?
  6. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

    You have to be a little careful here. An analog mixer does not automatically have ADAT (digital) outputs. Some analog mixers are fitted with FireWire digital interfaces, but the only one I know of fitted with ADAT as well as FireWire in the low-medium price bracket is the A+H Zed-R16.

    Connecting one of those via ADAT and the FF800 would give you 16 raw analog (mic/line) inputs from the Zed-R16 and a further 10 (4 mic + 6 line) native to the FF800. By using the ADAT outs of the FF800, you could also mix down in analog on the R16 and route the stereo output via the FF800 line inputs back to Cubase. Frustratingly, you can only send the digitized stereo mix out of the R16 via FireWire and not via ADAT.
  7. djmukilteo

    djmukilteo Well-Known Member

    Thanks for that reminder...I have read and understand that the RME is like that....I guess my thought was to add a 8/12/16 channel adat mixer into the RME so I could route the Tascam38/32 into Cubase via the RME....that was my idea anyway...I really don't need 56 channels...LOL...maybe someday!!!..I think my computer would explode
    I remember you mentioning on other threads you use a Mackie Onyx board (1640 or 1620) and you also have the RME FF800....
    Do you use your RME as your primary converter interface and wondered how you implement your Mack with it in your setup?....that might be what I'm thinking I need....
    But at this point maybe I'm looking at this all wrong....

    I like the A&H Z16 alot and the new Mackie 1640i too....there a bit pricey for my needs at this point....not that I wouldn't want to step up to a console like those, but that may require some decisions and then what do with the RME other than sell it.....that's part of my problem I'm trying to use the RME and looking to either add channels to it or add the RME into a board using it's firewire....can't use both....right???

    Thank you both for your input....
  8. jammster

    jammster Active Member

    djmukilteo, sounds like you have GAS, huh? Thats short for Gear Addict Syndrom I believe. I know I've read about it on the forum, I know I've had it and will continue to have it.

    Funny, sounds like were along the same lines, I am in the process of getting my act together with my studio at the moment. I had been thinking about trading in my old Mackie rip off MX-9000, but then it dawned on me that I should check it out with my PreSonus FireStudio first. It may be that they will do for the moment. I am considering a long range goal of saving for a quality mixing desk that will be analog only.

    Also I am thinking about getting a SMPTE device to lock my DAW to my 8 track Otari deck.

    I know for the money Mackie has always done well for me. I don't know if a 1640 would be ideal in my case, maybe 32 inputs would do better, mainly because I have a bunch of outboard gear that I would be possibly running into it.

    I must admit, I was fully converted and committed to "In the box" mixdowns two years ago.

    Now, when I listen to some songs I had mixed on the analog desk and compare it to the ones I have been mixing in the DAW I am amazed at the subtle but strikingly odd difference. The depth and dimensional aspect of analog over digital mixing is like none other.

    Funny, just like in the days of everyone ditching there old analog synths for digital ones, people are now ditching the old analog mixers for digital ones. Proof is in the mix. And Oh, how I love a analog mix!!!

    I can suggest that you do one thing,
    keep your wonderful FF800 and get a decent analog mixer that you like to mix it down. You may have to do some soul searching to find what your looking for.

    They call it mixing "outside the box" these days. This means get out of the digital domain and get some dynamics!
  9. djmukilteo

    djmukilteo Well-Known Member

    100% frickin right on...let me just say...I'm old school from way back....I've played those old synths, moog, korg, rolands, used old mixers, tapcos, tascams...got rid of most or all of it for needed cash...changes in musical creative juices....a life.!...and then I come back, start over again...go all digital ITB.....thought that was the goods....and it is!....I love this RME, I love Cubase and my hot rod computer...they are smoking cool pieces of musical electronics for creating tracks...all the plugins, soft synths, modeling, mastering tools, reverb, compressors....hey GAS me up.....I'm all over it and not looking back!....LOL

    So here's my latest dealio....I have tracks on 1/2" and 1/4", I have people who want old ADAT tapes re-sampled and I've recently acquired a vintage 1940's tube "recording lathe" which I've repaired/re-capped with lacquer disks. I want to get all this stuff shoved into my computer and SoundSoap the crap out of them and have some fun taking these old audio tracks apart, re-construct some of this stuff...maybe use some of it with new material....who knows....but that's the basic gist of my quest....but I digress...

    I'm not too concerned with budget on a good quality board but if I'm going back to the board...and I AM going back to the board (I'm totally done with little miss mouse now....she gets used enough for everything else going on) then I'm really just doing my homework and pickin brains.....I think I know what I want...it's just a matter of making sure I haven't missed something.
    I'm just thinking this out from different avenues like the Mackie MCU and C4 which we've chatted about before on previous threads and now I'm throwing this analog morph-recombinant DNA/GAS thingy into the mix....Ha!!!
    I think we need a new acronym for I/OTB
    I'm getting close....but then that's all part of the fun isn't it....
    Thanks for the I/O...
  10. jammster

    jammster Active Member

    I've been soul searching myself about the mixing desk, I've got to admit here this has been a life long goal for me. What I really would like I cannot afford. I may just have to settle for what I got for now I guess.

    My ultimate board would be a Soundcraft Ghost. I found one on craigslist, but it must have sold because I never got a word from the seller.

    BTW, have you checked out a Korg MR-1?

    I'm considering it for recording my mixdown from now on. I've read there amazing, used through the line input that is. I guess the mic input is not quite as nice from what reviews I have read.

    I found a retailer thats selling them very reasonably. I may consider one after paying my mortgage next month.

    Check it out.
  11. djmukilteo

    djmukilteo Well-Known Member

    I like it....that would be perfect for sampling straight out of the vintage boxes....I was reading some of the specs on another thread about those and now you got me thinking different directions...again...good one!
  12. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    I have a Ghost. It works very well. I have avoided the DAW/digital scene fairly well. The only tip of the hat being the HD24 sitting next to the board.

    What I love about it. Rewind takes milli secs. No lossy from repeated passes over the heads. Stable and alignment is a snap. Sound is what you put in it. It IS destructive recording just like in the old days. (Do it again, that take sucked.....)

    I dont know if the Ghost is any better than a CS3000 A&H...or any similarly priced desk-top console.....I know that when I had a 38 it sounded great with this console. Mine is a 97 and {knock on wood}, it only needs a little cleaning right now. (soon, very soon).

    I would say that someone with a bunch of outboard....pres, synths, etc etc. would do well with the routing you can do with a Ghost. I think its Creation Audio Labs that does the upgrade on these and from what I can tell, its able to move the sound of the pres into the next level of console. So if you can buy one cheap...and you want to do the upgrades, it'll essentially be more like the list price one might pay for one of these but the sound quality gets you in to the Neotek range to an extent.

    Of course YMMV.
  13. djmukilteo

    djmukilteo Well-Known Member

    I found a few Soundcraft Ghost LE mixers on Ebay....brand new 32x8 - $7600!....24x8 - $6700 and a used 24 for $5500 and one as low as $2800 and then I suppose with the Creation Audio Labs refurbish add another $4K?....which I think would be way cool but way more than what I think I need...but I do like the idea...hmmmm
  14. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    You have to discount what I do via ITB/OTB. As a classical engineer it is very rare for me to exceed 8 tracks and virtually unheard of for me to exceed 16. When I am using the FF800 for recording I don't even take the 1640 along. I have a True Precision 8 for the line inputs (+ 2 of the onboard pre's for 9&10) and a set of the Onyx 800R for ADAT purposes. If I am doing a live show that I need the Onyx board for, then I use the Mackie firewire OR I utilize my Alesis HD24XR (which is usually recording a redundant backup anyway).

    For analog summing I utilize the 8 line outputs of the FF800 to go into the insert points of the 1640 or come out of the HD24XR into the 1640-recording the two track mixdown into the FF800. Even for live show mixdowns I'd likely bus stuff up in the DAW and then run out to the Mackie. I started in live sound so having things grouped up into 8 buses doesn't bother me very much for non-classical.

    I can also cheat a little because I have two FF800's which doubles my analog I/O and my ADAT I/O.

    If I were looking for a combo live/recording board for your purposes I might look at the Yamaha line with the ADAT I/O-either the 01V96 or the 02V line. I too like the Mackie gear and am quite interested in the 1640i just like I've been interested in the ZED R16. Ultimately for me, a true summing mixer makes more sense since I don't do hardly any live shows anymore.
  15. djmukilteo

    djmukilteo Well-Known Member

    Thanks Jack for the setup info
    After further research I'm still reading everything I can on different mixers and especially the ADAT interfacing to the FF800.
    I'm not so much concerned with channel count as I am on routing and using the FF800 as the master A/D D/A converter, if that makes sense?!

    I'm seriously looking at the A&H ZED16R. It has plenty of inputs for my needs, ADAT, MIDI DAW control, nice monitor control section, good eq, good preamps. talkback....no motorized faders, but the fader automation can be done within the DAW using the ZED faders so that seems like no big deal and so far I'm liking what I'm reading.
    One thing that seems real obvious is the fact that they've made the mixer very flexible.
    I think the Mackie 1640i could have provided DAW control and ADAT I/O. I would have been sold on it.
    And....I'm still looking at the Yamaha 01.
    Thanks again for the info........I'll keep at it....
  16. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

    The FF800 plus the Zed-R16 makes an interesting and flexible combination. For mixdown of up to 16 tracks, you would not need to use the FF800 as long as you had the R16 Firewire interface operational. However, you may decide that you prefer to use the converters in the FF800, so you could run the R16 with no Firewire connection, replaying your first 8 "money" channels via the FF800 DACs into the R16, up to 8 more via Firewire using the DACs in the R16, and capturing the analog stereo mix on a pair of the FF800 line inputs back to the DAW via Firewire. This would give you a really good sound.

    For recording, you would have the R16 inputs available as a conventional set of pre-amps and use either its ADAT direct outs via the FF800 or its FIrewire outs for multitrack recording. The mixer capability gives you real-time monitoring.

    I re-read my earlier post and realised I gave the impression that both the A+H Zed-R16 and the new Mackie Onyx 1640i will not work as a control surface. Unlike the Mackie, the R16 can be used in this way, as it has a mode where changes in the fader positions can be transmitted digitally to the computer.
  17. djmukilteo

    djmukilteo Well-Known Member

    I had to read that a couple times to fully comprehend that....
    I think I'm looking at redundancy here or overkill...obviously the FF800 isn't a control surface and has no real world mixer (TotalMix is fine but software).
    If I get the R16 and add this into my setup..I'm really going to end up with two FW connections, two DAW's and two AD/DA converters.

    The R16 ends up as the console/control surface/preamp/eq/routing...the FF800 is sort of a master bus converter into Cubase.
    Maybe I just switch between the two:
    Mode A:
    R16/SonarLE with FF800 ADAT for additional channels
    Mode B:
    FF800/Cubase with R16 ADAT
    or some combination of both!?

    Now...just for the sake of agrument
    A comparable Mackie setup??:
    1640i around $1700 similar mix/routing/preamps/eq but no control surface
    MCU Pro around $1300 and maybe throw in a
    C4 controller $400 for plugin controls..

    The more I think about this the more I'm thinking the R16 for its control surface routing preamps and eq sound quality (front end) and using the FF800/Cubase as the DAW interface and probably leave the R16 FW out of the loop..
    I'm sure I'm missing something...LOL
    Let me know if I completely missed your take on that
  18. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

    You are going to have redundancy with what you propose unless you keep the FF800 for all the audio I/O and simply buy a dedicated control surface that has only MIDI output and no analog hardware.

    Some degree of redundancy is not a bad thing to incorporate into your game plan, but you need to budget for it as well.
  19. djmukilteo

    djmukilteo Well-Known Member

    Well new turn of events!
    The A&H ZED16R has now dropped in price to $2000
    from $3000! original MSRP was $3500! :shock:

    I thought this was a misprint on some online sites in fact there are "B stock" units available for $1700!

    OK....so is there something wrong with these or is it a fire sale or are they trying to beat out the 1640i's?

    On all the reviews everyone seems to like this board for it's preamps and eq the other features like MIDI control surface, 18 ch FW in/out, 4 ADAT in/out, throw in a copy of SonarLE all seem to be a bonus package at this price!!
    Trigger finger is getting tweaky!!
    Any comments opinions? :cool:
  20. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    My guess is there is an updated version about to be released. Mackie did this also right before releasing the 1640i. Before the 1640i of course there was a very large price difference but also a large feature differential. It is not apples for apples but the two are much closer in utility than before.

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