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Laptop - sending audio out

Discussion in 'Recording' started by Trick, Sep 18, 2007.

  1. Trick

    Trick Guest

    I'm looking to purchase a laptop for a mobile recording rig and to use for my home editing, tracking, and mixing. What is the best way of sending the audio out of the laptop? I may decide to route the signal back into a mixer or straight to the monitors. Is there an external sound card I could buy for the laptop that will have all the great connections going out. I'm going to purchase the digimax fs, so that will be my audio in, but how do I send it out?

    one more thing, what should I look for in a laptop, sound card wise...does it matter if I can get an external interface?

    thanks for the help
  2. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

    Don't even think about using the built-in sound card of the laptop for the sort of work you are talking about. Remove the sound from your list of features to compare when choosing a laptop. You might want to look at other threads on this forum (using Search) to help you choose a make and model based on such things as whether it has the Texas Instruments FireWire chip set.

    Assuming you are using software other than ProTools, I would go for a FireWire interface that has both inputs and outputs, rather than the Digimax FS. There are half a dozen good interfaces of this type on the market. The Presonus FP10, RME FireFace range or the new Mackie 1200F are where you might start looking.
  3. Trick

    Trick Guest

    The reason I chose the Digimax FS is because I am primarily going to record to a Hard Disk Recorder (hd24). Actually the Digimax FS doesn't have firewire and I would be able to purchase the Firestudio and daisy chain the two together. The Digimax is the only one I've seen that has insert points, direct outs, and ADAT optical outs. I need the inserts for compression. My ideal setup would be a unit that has Firewire (which I could daisy chain multiple units, to get at least 24 inputs), optical outs, direct outs would be a plus but not needed, and insert points. Does this unit exist?
    Also, is there another way to compress the signal between the preamp and the hard disk recorder without using an insert point? for example if the unit had direct outs could I send that signal into the compressor in line and go right to the recorder? I've never used side chain inserts, is that what they are for?
    I need some help,

    thanks for the response
  4. Kent L T

    Kent L T Active Member

    if you have the fireport 1394 adapter you can just load the tracks from your pc straight to the hd24 hard drive or visa versa and not even use an audio interface. for the transfer. Then you can get a firewire interface like boswell suggested so you can record on your laptop as well as the hd24.
  5. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

    It would have helped to mention the HD24 in your first post.

    My advice would be not to compress before recording. Compress on the FOH mix if you have to, but leave the recorded tracks uncompressed so you can apply appropriate effects (EQ, pan, dynamics etc) on mixdown, where you are targeting a different acoustic listening space.

    If you really do want to insert while recording, either choose a pre-amp (like the Digimax FS) that has insert jacks for each channel, or use analog-out preamps and insert in the route to the analog ins of the HD24 (preferably HD24XR in this case).
  6. Trick

    Trick Guest

    The reason I want to compress is a just in case scenario. For example, I most likely will want to put a compressor on the bass track. I want to get a hot signal to the hd24, so I will set the compressor so that it's working much like a limiter, without the high ratio. This way I will still capture most of the dynamic range of the instrument and not have to worry about my signal clipping.
  7. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

    It's a matter of personal production style, but I still would not compress on the way in. You've got 24 bits on the HD24 - that's 48dB more dynamic range than on a CD - and it's a lot harder to apply expansion on mixdown if you find the recorded compression is not what you wanted than it is to record it flat and apply any needed compression at the production stage.
  8. Trick

    Trick Guest

    Thanks for all the replies...

    The reason I'm asking all these questions is because I'm looking for the right preamp unit. If I decide that I don't need compression, then I won't purchase a unit with inserts. For some weird reason I feel I need the option of inserting. I'm afraid that the bass or kick, or whatever instrument is going to clip on me. I feel that If i set my levels too low going in that my signal will be very close to the noise floor. For example, the meter on the lead vocal track is riding in the middle, and all of a sudden the vocalist screams or pops the mic and it clips. I see two options of how i could prevent this...As suggested - Meaning I dont' compress and then I would of had to set my level lower and closer to the noise floor...or I could insert and like I said before use the compressor much like a limiter by setting the threshold where the comp won't be touched unless a hot signal is coming in (the screaming, pop).

    Am I just crazy about this? If I am going to spend around $800 on 8 pres I want to make the best choices. And so far I could only find one unit that offers inserts, the Digimax FS. Others have direct outs, but then If I'm using optical, I could not use any outboad gear. Or talk me out of inserting, and then I'll need a unit with just ADAT optical outs and possibly direct outs.

    Also, what is the benefit of using optical inputs from the preamp to the HD24 as opposed to Analog? I understand the cable issue, but what about the signal, etc.?

    If you could read through this mess, thanks again
  9. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

    The noise floor is determined largely by the pre-amps, the settings for which are independent of whether you compress or not on the output. What you may be worried about is the quality of the A-D converters and being able to trust them to give you at least 18-20 bit (108-120dB) real data before you get quantisation errors and digitisation noise.
    A pop that does that much damage would normally trigger a re-track, but you could indeed use a compressor set up as a brick-wall limiter for coping with the unexpected.
    I'm sorry to say there's very little around worth having at $100 per channel.
    The main issue here is where the A-D conversion is performed. If you are talking about the HD24 and not the HD24XR, then it's not too difficult to find digitizing pre-amps that give better results than the ADCs inside the HD24. However, the HD24XR converters take some beating - to do substantially better you would have to lay out serious money for something like an Apogee Rosetta.

    For the combination of Digimax FS and the HD24, I think I would use the ADCs inside the FS and run optical into the HD24. You still have the analog outs of the FS if you want to use outboard compressors and record the compressed outputs to further HD24 channels, as the later HD24 firmware allows split analog/digital channel inputs. Also, you are likely to get better digitization of the signals with this approach by minimizing the movement of analog signals between pieces of gear.

    BTW, note to world in general: why does Presonus use ring=send on their inserts and not the conventional ring=return?
  10. Trick

    Trick Guest

    Boswell thanks for the info...much appreciated

    Just a reminder this is for live/mobile recording

    I'm still trying to put this system together and it is driving me insane. I've been spending way too many hours just researching and I seem to be going in circles.

    It looks like I can transfer audio from the hd24 through multiple ways...1.ethernet 2.firewire 3.optical? Is optical connection a better way to get audio in...I guess I would need to purchase interface with adat i/o?

    What I'm looking at now is the rack mount or tower unit from sonicalabs...anyone deal with them...great stuff and service? Also, it looks like I have a choice between a 32bit or 64 bit XP OS. What is the adavantage of 64 bit, would all my programs that run on 32 bit run on 64 bit system?
  11. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

    Depends what you mean by "better". All methods should give error-free transfers and result in multiple wav files or a multi-track audio file of some description. The main difference is in the transfer time. Optical is real-time for any number of tracks, and yes, you would need a multi-port optical interface for the computer. Transfer times for both the other transfer methods are track-count dependent. Ethernet is roughly 1 track in real-time, so is thus n times realtime where n is the number of tracks. FireWire is much faster than realtime, with the timings depending on the physical disk and computer characteristics.

    The only advantage of 64-bit XP (not 64-bit Vista) is that it can give 32-bit programs more memory than 32-bit XP, usually 3GB as against 2GB. This is a 32-bit limitation and applies even if you have 8GB in your computer. You would have to ask your program vendors whether they have native 64-bit versions of their programs, in which case the program could theoretically make use of all the memory fitted in the computer plus virtual memory swapped out to disk (slowly). Apart from that, you may run into trouble getting XP64 drivers for your hardware interfaces.
  12. Trick

    Trick Guest

    thanks again
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