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looking to step forward

Discussion in 'Recording' started by acousticman, Jan 31, 2005.

  1. acousticman

    acousticman Guest

    I have change my mind on using a control surface after reading posts on this board. I play fingerstyle acoustic guitar with a two channels dual preamp good mics and monitors for my use. I don't need a lot of imputs. Occasionally I will add synthesizer direct or use midi to the mix. I have a dell 2350 p4 1.8 gig, 768 memory with usb and firewire ports. It has integrated Intel AGP graphics and audio Ac97 on the mother board. There is however 3 pci slots and room for another hard drive..I used an 8 track Tascam in the past and made pretty nice cds. Of course nothing pro sounding but not bad either. I would like to take a step up. My knowledge of DAW software is nil although I feel quite comfortable with computers in general. For my intended use what type of setup would you recommend? Also what software program would run on this computer and be compatible. Be trouble free ( if thats possible in a computer based system) "clean converters" and software that don't take a year and a day to learn is important to me. I was looking at the New Edirol FA-66 or the Focusrite Saffire that came out at NAMM. Don't know at that price point if they are even worth considering. As far a money goes I am not strapped but I want to be practical and try to use the computer I have. I rather put money into clean a/d converters and a good software program and upgrade the pc at a later time. Is that being impractical? I am a musician first and don't claim to be or want to be a sound engineer. I need direction.

    Thanks,

    Joe
     
  2. David French

    David French Well-Known Member

    Hey, Joe.

    I heard you shot your woman down.

    :lol:

    Anyway.

    A lot of this depends on how much money you are looking to spend. Let us know and we can get you taken care of. In the meantime, i'll try to give you some general info. It seems to me that you are going to want to buy a two channel soundcard with great A/D converters. I can't think of anything much better than the Lynx One card from Lynx Studio Technology. There are other options including cheaper solutions and solutions that involve separating the A/D from the card, but the plan involving the single card with great A/D will probably give you the best price/performance ratio. You will also need something to route your signal to monitors and headphones. Something like the Mackie Big Knob or the Samson C-Control should do the trick. As far as software goes, there are many options, but for your situation, I would recommend Cubase SE from Steinberg. About the only difference between most of these programs is how they look, and I personally like the look of Cubase better than equally competent programs like Cakewalk Sonar of whatever. Learning to use the basic features of any of these apps is easy, and if you have trouble, there are plenty of people here that can help you.

    So let us know how much you're looking to spend and we'll go from there. Also, what guitar, pre, mics, and monitors are you using? Just curious.
     
  3. acousticman

    acousticman Guest

    Dave.. Spending money is $1000 to $1500. I do have more money to spend, but don't know if it's practical to do so for what I am trying to accomplish. I will say I have 2 handmade acoustic guitars that cost as much as my car I am driving - so I can get carried away pretty fast if I don't watch it. I have a presonus MP20 pre and a matched pair of Rodes NT5 mics. For the money I like this combination. Also Event Project Studio 6 monitors. Pardon my lack of computer knowledge but how wiil the lynx card hook up to my microphones? The pictures just show a bunch of cables. I'm thinking they go to the back of my pre-amps and say the samson or the big knob for monitering? Could I use MIDI if I wanted to? The biggest question is with the integrated audio card in my computer. Would I have to bypass it somehow in order for the lynx card to work? Since this is not a firewire device, I'm guessing it would be more stable in a PCI slot? As far as cubase is concerned, I know my computer meetes their minimum requirements, actually better, but not their recommended requirements. I'm guessing that since I'm only recording a couple of tracks at a time - I should be fine? Should I be looking at another hard drive as well? Sorry about all these computer illiterate questions. I like the idea of having decent equipment which I can transfer to a faster computer at a later date.
    Thanks,
    Joe
     
  4. David French

    David French Well-Known Member

    The card woul hook up to your mics and the minotor mixer exactly as you guessed.

    Yes, you can use MIDI since the Lynx card has MIDI I/O.

    Your onboard audio should be disabled and I can tell you how to do this easily.

    The Lynx card is a PCI card and therefore must be used in a PCI slot. Firewire and USB both go through the PCI bus on their way to the processor, by the way.

    I'm not seeing how your computer doesn't meet the recommended requirements. It looks like it exceeds them to me. Read again.

    You could get another hard drive if you wanted, but with such a low track count, it's not going to be a real performance bottleneck.

    It seems to me that if you go with the Lynx card, Cubase SE, and the C-Control, you would have up to $900 left from that $1500. This could be used for other useful things like getting your acoustics under control if they aren't already, buying plugins or something like a UAD-1 or TC Powercore card, or revamping your other gear.
     
  5. acousticman

    acousticman Guest

    Dave, I really appreciate you taking the time in helping me out. I have just a few other questions. This is all making sense to me. The UAD-1 or the TC power card you mentioned - what actually do they do? I do have a headphone amp on my pre amp but I believe that's not going to help me much as I am listening to the sound before it goes into the card. With your recommendation of the big knob or similar, what kind of latency do you think I would get? Also, from reading on this great recording forum, I have read that many think the lynx cards are all that others should be measured by. Having said that, the focusrite sapphire interests me from the NAMM video. They also now have it on their website. I wrote them and asked them about their A/D converters. They told me they were the same ones they use in their platinum series. It also had onboard DSP which they claim will take some of the work off the CPU. It has a lot of outs including a monitor headphone amp control. Focusrite did send me some information, but I don't know how to post it on this forum, but can send it to you as an attachment if you'd like to see they specs. I know this is a new product and hasn't been tested and it seems a lot for the money, which kind of scares me. What's your opinion? Just as a side note, by plugging in a PCI card direct to the computer, would that be more stable and faster than a firewire cable and external converters? Thanks again,I think we're almost there.
    Joe
     
  6. David French

    David French Well-Known Member

    Powercore and UAD-1 provide powered plugin effects. When you use these plugins, your CPU power is not used. Very useful if you need to run a lot of plugs, but something tells me that's not you. I don't know why I even mentioned these.

    If you set things up correctly in your software, you should be able to get an extremely low latency - probably about 5 msec and certainly under 10. Under 20 is usually deemed "professional". The Big Knob or similar will not influence your latency. This is a product of your sound card's buffers and your computer speed.

    The Focusrite Saffire looks pretty cool, but at this point it's vaporware. I don't think they've even announced a release date. I don't care what they come up with, you won't find better converters that the Lynx in that pricerange. It could be a decent solution for some people. Maybe even you, who knows, but I think you need something that's actually for sale.

    PCI is fine. Firewire is fine. You will not perceive a difference either way.
     
  7. acousticman

    acousticman Guest

    By the way, Dave... I did shoot my woman down. A few divorces you know :lol: My only doubt about the lynx card was if I ever needed more than 2 inputs. But after reading a little about it, I see you can piggy-back them. As far as the effects go, for now I would try the buit-in software effects. You're right about that, I don't use a lot of effects, but maybe a good analog Lexicon reverb might come into play later. I only have one other question which I can probably find out on the lynx website - if I wanted to use a regular TRS plug and go direct to this card, and not use a MIDI cable, how would I do this - do you know? I do have instrument inputs on the front of my MP 20 - don't know if it would be a good idea to plug a synth into that? By the way, I looked up cubase and you are right - no problem with the SX version. I was thinking about a higher version which I really don't think I'll need at this point. Can always upgrade. The sapphire is "supposed" to be out end of March beginning of April, but I do know you pay for what you get. Sounds too good. I'm taking your advice. Talk to you later.
    Joe
     
  8. David French

    David French Well-Known Member

    Ah, there's a problem... how to go in with a line level 1/4" source. Plugging the synth into the front jacks is not an option; these are high impedance inputs designed to take an unamplified guitar signal. The MP20 has insert jacks, so you could take a mono signal into the return jack on each channel, but this is not going to work for one TRS source. I can't think of a really nice computer interface that has stereo line ins. Is that all your synth has? Also, I never thought that you might want more than two simultaneous inputs. If you so, then perhaps the Lynx card isn't for you.

    We'll figure this out.
     
  9. acousticman

    acousticman Guest

    I think I am confusing you and myself. I do have midi out on the synth and I can use that to get softsynths. What I ment to say is a mono guitar jack not a trs stereo plug. So what your saying I could use the 1/4 inch line on the MP20 for mono input of say a guitar pick-up but not all three at once. Example.. dual channel preamp used with mics and another mono for guitar pick-up and mix the three. The lynx is not capable of three channels at once. Right?
     
  10. David French

    David French Well-Known Member

    You can use the line in on the front or you can use the mic in, but not both at the same time. For example, you can't record stero miked guitar and it's peizo pickup at the same time. This is becasue of your preamp, not the soundcard

    The Lynx is NOT capable of more than two ananlog channels at a time.

    It seesm there is a void in the marketplace. What for the user that wants more than two but less than eight channels of great A/D in a convenient package with several connectivity options? Perhaps someone else knows of something I don't. I'll keep looking.
     
  11. acousticman

    acousticman Guest

    David.. I have gained a wealth of knowledge from these posts and for that I Thank You :cool: I have never used more than 2 inputs at a time but if I ever wanted to mix a pick-up with two mics, I would be limited. I have read of other guitar players doing this with great results. The lynx one card is still a great option. I guess I could move up two a lynx two (the one with 4 in and 4 out) and use something else to get the extra 1/4 inch line in. I don't think in my case the price difference is worth it as I may never use more than 2 inputs. Thanks again :)
     
  12. acousticman

    acousticman Guest

    On another note what do you think of the fw-1884 control . Have a lot of tracks on that. But don't know how good the a/d converters could be?
     
  13. David French

    David French Well-Known Member

    The FW-1884 is a nice piece. A friend of mine has one and he loves it. The converters are decent enough, as are the mic pres, but I got the impression that you were looking for something crystal clear. If you're willing to look at things like the Tascam, there are a lot more options.
     
  14. acousticman

    acousticman Guest

    So the lynx card is way better than the motu or the presouns stuff and the tascam and saffire in your opinion. One is Pro sounding and the others are not in the same league as far as noise ratio. Would that be a fair assessment?
     
  15. acousticman

    acousticman Guest

    BTW I am Looking for a very clear a/d converrter. But is my MP20 and rodes nt5 mics live up to the lynx card? The MP20 does have class a discret amps.
     
  16. David French

    David French Well-Known Member

    The Lynx coverters are great. The others are good. Whether or not a difference will be heard in your setup is unclear. Converters are one of the last items in the heirarchy of recording quality. Source, acoustics, mics, pres, converters.

    The NT5s and the MP20 are not known for being the best mics/pres in the world, but I think that if you have good ears and a bit of knowledge, you will be able to make good recordings with them. Class 'A' is not a measure of quality, by the way. Upgrading your mics and pres to something that would be truly better than your current set up would cost at minimum $2,000. If you chose to upgrade one, I would choose the mics. Mic selection will do much more drastic changes than pre selection.
     
  17. acousticman

    acousticman Guest

    Yeah, I know what you mean about the pre-amps. That's why I went with the MP20 in the first place - a nice pre-amp for the money. As far as my NT5's are concerned, I mic them in stereo and seem to get very good results with them. It seems like with this combination of mics and pre-amp, I'm able to get a lot of headroom, but all of what you said is very true. Some thoughts: I was first thinking about a control surface like the 1884 because you do get a lot for the money, but rethought that idea and decided to go with a good sound over the glitz of buttons and moving faders. As I stated in the last post, I have made a decent CD on a Tascam 788 - sounds pretty damn good - and to the lay person, they wouldn't know the difference from that CD to a pro engineered Cd. My non-recording friends can attest to that. But that completely stand alone work station was also an option, say Roland or whatever, but I thought I could get more processing and mastering power from a PC based system. My next logical step was a control surface like the 1884 - kind of a hybrid of what I am used to from the stand alone work station. Now I have done a 360 degree turn around and trying to get the best clean sound for my money and not worrying about all the bells and whistles.
     
  18. acousticman

    acousticman Guest

    I am really long winded :shock: Two last questions from you Dave if you please. 1) I hear converters in general are better away from the computers noise where the converters can sit in a rack through a fw cable? True? 2) In my situation ,with cubase sx , can I also master with that or is it better to bring it into another program for final editing?
     
  19. David French

    David French Well-Known Member

    1) Generally, yes, but a well-designed internal card will have a respectable level of EMI immunity. I wouldn't let internal vs. external weigh too heavily on your decision.

    2) Cubase can handle all of your editing needs.
     
  20. acousticman

    acousticman Guest

    Probably the next time you hear from me will be asking how I can disable my sound card :D I'll sleep on it a few days but Lynx sounds like the way :cool: :D
     

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