Mid-range Audio Interface Option

Discussion in 'Tracking / Mixing / Editing' started by Aaron, Feb 17, 2015.

  1. Aaron

    Aaron Active Member

    I'm thinking of a couple of different methods for recording. To start, most of the recording will be location so I'm interested in portability. The recordings will be quiet source classical ensembles, with some jazz/blues/small rock clubs too.

    Initially I was thinking of using a separate recorder device ( I can't afford something like the Sound Devices 788T yet link removed ) but am now considering the audio interface option to record via computer.

    I have never recorded anything before and I'm not expecting to be creating grammy award-winning mixes right out of the gates, so I'm looking for a good place to start with price/quality a consideration, upto $1,000 range. I really like the Sound Devices USBPre 2, but is only 2-channel. That might be okay for me to start but am thinking of 4-channel and for more options. (I've talked to some audio people and am surprised that not all of them have heard of Sound Devices, known for their world class portable units) ( link removed ) Although the price is relatively low on the unit, the preamps used are the same used in their $4400 744T 4-channel recorder ( link removed ) , so am not concerned that sound quality is a problem.

    Looking at higher count channel units in the $1000 price range, I found the Roland Studio Capture yesterday and want to know if anyone is familiar in using it for recording to computer. http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/UA1610?adpos=1o1&creative=55225946401&device=c&matchtype=&network=g&gclid=CPCu6PP_58MCFfRj7AodiX4A8A

    It's got some nice specs but am wondering about the sound. I've found some videos online, most produced by Roland themselves, but the mix techniques used are definitely off ( sounds like they were trying too much and got a little hyped up) and don't want to use that as reference to what the Studio Capture unit is capable of, or incapable of for that matter.

    Tracking and Mixing a live band video - The mic the host is using is noisy, but am guessing it's being used through the video camera setup and not the Studio Capture. Music from the band is at 14:00-19:45 , and some track samples throughout. Like the other video, I don't prefer the sound of the mix, but don't know if that's from technique or not.

    Thanks for any thoughts and reviews!
  2. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    I'm trying to get this for remote outdoor work. Not for music.

    A lot of people, including myself like the Prism line for the pristine acoustic music. I have an Prism Atlas and be fore that, owned an Orpheus . I love them both. The pre's are excellent and the converters or superb. They work great for tracking but are not the best option for larger track count when lower latency multi tracking/ OTB summing is required. Another topic.
    There is always a trade off with performance, channels count vs HD sound and stability.

    It sounds like you only need 4 channels, 8 max? You might want to look at a RME Fireface 800 too. The used market is a good place to save 50%. They are excellent for both Mac or PC and the Firewire interface works..

    What ever you get, you need to consider your OS and DAW of choice.
    pcrecord likes this.
  3. Aaron

    Aaron Active Member

    DAW I'm starting out with is Reaper.
    OS I'm going with is Yosemite from Apple going with the NVIDIA graphics card and 16mb RAM option necessary for HD Video link removed
    Yes, probably 4 channels, 8 max. Mr.Marco also recommended the RME 800 earlier and will look at that one too.
    Thanks Chris!
  4. pcrecord

    pcrecord Don't you want the best recording like I do ? Well-Known Member

    What's nice with the RME is that the included preamps are very good compared to cheaper interfaces and you get a ton of usefull options that will help you grow. Like line inputs for external preamps, ADAT and SPDIF, World clock and midi I/O. Using a FireWire port also insure good performances and low latency.
    Also, the internal mixer application (Totalmix) is one of the best I've tried. OMG I'm sounding like a sells rep.. which I'm definitively not ;)
    I would be planning to buy this if I hadn't and eye on the Antelope Zen Studio ;)

  5. Aaron

    Aaron Active Member

    It's working, especially for the AZS. You should look into it ;)
  6. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    @Aaron @Chris @pcrecord @Boswell

    I've been doing a lot of research on high end preamps in the past few months or so; brands and models such as Grace, Orpheus, ADK, RME, Antelope, Focusrite, Millennia, Neve and SSL... I'm in search of one very nice single channel preamp for vocals. If I can afford a two channel model, I'll get one, because I'd like to be able to do M/S , XY and ORTF miking. But if I'm limited to just a single channel due to arrodability lmitations, then it's paramount to me that it sound exceptional on vocals.

    I think I've come to a decision regarding what type of pre I want, and I've decided - I think - that transparency is the way to go.

    Although, a friend of mine is letting me borrow his ADK AP-1 later this week, for a month or so (his studio is temporarily down due to house remodeling), and he's including some different trannies to try with it, Sowter, Cinemag and Lundahl...apparently switching out transformers is a very easy thing to do with this model - no soldering required - and most who buy this model will also buy different transformers to have as " color options" - so, who knows? Maybe I'll end up really liking it. I'll have to actually use it on vocals and see.

    In your case, Aaron, I think it's very important to consider the color/character of a pre - and this also includes the possible lack of said color - when choosing a pre based on the classical music style that you seem to be interested in doing the most. I can't personally recommend a pre for this, because I've never specialized in classical/orchestral recording. I've done some, but only as an assistant - at Telarc Records, when I was doing my internship back in the early 80's. Telarc's specialty at the time was with remote orchestral - and in fact, for awhile, they were the recording company/label that handled the Cleveland Orchestra, recording live performances at Severance Hall.

    My assumption would be that you'd want an ultra clean/transparent preamp for this work - ? - but that's an assumption based on my limited experience with that side of the recording field. Another assumption I would make would be that your mic selection - as well as placement and technique - would be an important part of the sonic equation as well.


  7. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

    My goto pre-amps for classical work are the DAV BG range. Very transparent, switch-settable gains (so you can be sure of what you set, and you can know you set a stereo pair of channels the same), high headroom and no frills. For what they offer, they are surprisingly good value, at least in the UK.

    When setting up for non-classical vocal recording, I usually start by choosing a mic and putting it into an API and see how it sounds on that voice. Since what goes down on the vocal track is an interactive combination of voice, microphone and pre-amp (given the room acoustics and A-D conversion), I give the track a good listen before I decide what to change. It's usually microphone first and second, even if just to prove that my original hunch was the best of the three. However, I keep a mental list of which microphones gives what sort of sound with which pre-amps, and may go to a different pre-amp such as my Neumann V476Bs or even my Audient Mico if I think the voice needs a bit of pampering in certain departments.

    Pre-amp choice for vocals can't easily be separated from microphone choice, and vice versa. There's a huge difference between live recording a jazz singer, an opera singer, a classical chamber solo vocalist or a choir. I would not expect to use any of the same microphones and rarely the same pre-amps for these different sessions.
  8. Aaron

    Aaron Active Member

    Yes the recordings I have in mind are clean and as near to the original sound the instruments and voices are making as possible. Of course all the variables from equipment choices, room choices, techniques, and my lack of experience to begin with will change that.
    Whenever I'm doing anything, in this case making recordings, I always think in terms of 'less'. Thinking of adding as few variables as is necessary between the source and result. So I'm sure as things happen I'll be able to figure that out.

    Stereo recording/mic placement seems like there could be quite a range with angling,etc. ORTF, NOS, DIN. Although those are defined as having set angles and spacing, seems to me like those could be tweaked during monitoring to see what any of the combinations sound like.

    Besides a pair of mics to record orchestra/ensemble/band, I'm considering another mic to capture hall ambiance or crowd noise if I record a concert. Can anyone recommend a microphone type/model for this?(I can't afford or justify a $1000 mic yet considering I haven't recorded yet, so less than that. A good one for a beginner). I'm thinking maybe a hypercardioid pointed toward the opposite direction? Would that even be necessary, or would room capture be more for a multitrack when the mics would be closer like spot miking? Also, a book that I'm reading recommends no more than 30feet from the mic pair up front otherwise risk an echo effect. Wouldn't spacing even less than that produce an echo effect, or is the timing so close that it's just not noticeable?
  9. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    For mid level - around $600 - $700 - I think I'd suggest a Grace, if transparency is the way you want to go.

    For what you are doing, I'd definitely follow the advice of Chris and Bos and stay away from anything with transformers, which will end up coloring the sound - the degree of which depends on the type of transformer used, some are cleaner than others, but they will all still have an element of color that you might not like if you are after transparency.
    (I need to interject here that I am not entirely against preamps with character/color...I think they have their place, and there are times I really do like them - but I wouldn't use those models for what you are wanting to do).

    Similar to the DAV pre that Bos uses, the Grace M101 is also a "no frills" preamp, with standard features - gain, polarity, 48v, and a switch for ribbon mics, which increases the max gain of 60 db by + 10 db to 70db, which is plenty to gain-up ribbons and dynamics ( both of which have lower outputs than condensers) to optimal levels. There are no bells and whistles like EQ or Gain Reduction, It's a simple, bare bones pre, but the sound is what you are after, and to that end, the Grace is a winner for providing transparent, clean, quiet amplification.

    I've heard the M101 on an acoustic guitar (using a Neumann TL) and vocals (using a newer model AKG 414) and it sounded great for both applications.

    You'd probably want to look at the 202 stereo model though - the M101 is a single channel unit, and for the type of miking you'll end up doing, you'll need a stereo (or 2 channel) pre.

    IMHO of course. ;)


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