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

My Analog/Digital Home Studio: Advice, Tips, and What Do I Need?

Discussion in 'Recording' started by ericeholtz, Jul 30, 2011.

  1. ericeholtz

    ericeholtz Active Member

    Hello everyone,
    I am posting the particulars of my recording system, which includes both analog and digital elements. My end goal is to have the ability to route my analog recording console’s direct outputs to my computer in order to have automated mixing capability. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Here is the breakdown of my current recording process:

    • · Analog source - reel to reel, cassette, Lp record, VHS/SVHS audio, 8-track – is mixed and outputted from the mixer as a two-channel stereo mix.

    • · Stereo mix: mixer -> dbx 231 Graphic Eq. -> Aphex Aural Exciter -> dbx 166XL Compressor/Limiter/Gate -> Denon DN-C550R Professional CD Recorder
    · The resulting CD (I use CD-RW at this stage) is then ripped as .wav files into my PC using Nero 9 Multimedia Suite; final tweaking and mastering are done in Wave Editor.
    I want to run my board’s direct outs directly to a good quality (is there any other?) USB audio interface, and then into my computer; I only wish to use eight-analog direct outs at this time. Would I be able to mix the analog signals in real time, with the interface output signals being the same as those of the analog faders? Simply put, I want the analog mix levels to be represented digitally, in multitrack format, as they are on my board. I can come close to a perfect mix in the analog domain, have those levels “memorized” digitally, and then tweak those tracks in the software. Can I do this, or are the digital signals simply recorded as “0” on the hard drive, with no real time, analog control on the input side?

    What would be a good choice of audio interface, remembering I only need 8-analog inputs/digital outputs at this time?
    What about software? I’ve looked at Cubase and Studio One; I was told that software really comes down to personal preference. I am planning an upgrade to Windows 7 Professional 64-bit in the upcoming week.
    Thank you beforehand for your time in reading this,

    Eric Holtz
    Holtz Media Solutions
     
  2. GZsound

    GZsound Active Member

    You need to search USB interfaces. There are several that would fit your needs. There are also USB mixers from Alesis, Allen & Heath, etc. that have the interface built in.

    You would normally record the individual track into your multitrack software and do your mixing there. The signals do not need to be of the same level since you are going to change them on mixing anyway. That is one of the good things about using a computer, you only need to capture clean tracks that you can manipulate later.

    I would imagine that if all your tracks were at the same volume, you would need to do some volume changes anyway..since everything can't be as loud as everything else.
     
  3. ericeholtz

    ericeholtz Active Member

    Thank you for the reply GZsound. In regards to the statement "The signals do not need to be of the same level since you are going to change them on mixing anyway," I DO want the mix levels to be exact, or at least close going into and out of the interface. I DO NOT wish to do complete mixing on the computer, only to fix things (guitar solo too low, wrong panning, etc.) that may have been missed during the analog mix. I want the interface output levels to match the output levels coming out of the board.
     
  4. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Guest

    You're talking about trying to create a full grown cat and then installing your brain of choice. You have read nothing regarding any of this material. Your question is sort of like mommy how are babies made. And then expecting a simple answer. Which has really nothing to do with the actual process. Automated mixing is done in the software not on your mixer. Your mixer can feed out 8 separate analog outputs (provided it has a capability) to a FireWire audio interface that will accommodate 8 separate inputs. But why do that when most of those audio interfaces already featured 8 superior microphone preamp to begin with? That's sort of like asking if 2 daddies can make a better single baby. The answer to that is no. You need to understand some of the basics better before asking questions that are generally complete non sequiturs. Many of us incorporate analog mixers with our digital interfaces. So I have a 24 input line level computer interfaces. I would never go out and purchase one of those that house 8 microphone inputs since I generally don't like those microphone inputs much. There is no reason to try to do what you want to do. None whatsoever.

    Next question
    Mx. Remy Ann David
     
  5. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

    You don't give a budget, but I suggest you consider the RME Fireface UFX as a USB interface. For DAW software, Reaper is excellent and very low cost.

    I can't quite untangle the model of mixer that you have from the information in your post, but unless it's something top-end, I would leave it out of the loop and go from your multi-track source straight into the UFX. The UFX can perform real-time mixing for monitoring or other purposes as well as recording the direct inputs.

    You may have to adapt your way of thinking a little to go from what you describe to automated mixes in the computer, but it's a straightforward process. The number and variety of analog sources you mention may suggest that you should have some sort of patch panel on the line inputs to cater for the different configurations, but that should not be difficult to sort out.
     
  6. ericeholtz

    ericeholtz Active Member

    Why recommend interfaces with "8 superior microphone preamp", then say that you do not "like those microphone inputs much"? I realize that automated mixing is done in the software. What I want to achieve is a real time mix on the analog board, then fine tune said mix in the software. I do wish to use the analog line-level outputs of my board, since it does have the capability.
     
  7. ericeholtz

    ericeholtz Active Member

    $500-$600
    The mixer on this project is a Fostex 812 Recording Mixer, which has upgraded electronics and a complete calibration.
     
  8. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

    You seem determined to include the 812 mixer in your recording chain, when it could in fact be the very item that limits the quality of your eventual mixes. What's the bit about "upgraded electronics"?

    Since the direct outs of the 812 are post-EQ, post-fader, it's perfectly possible to capture the individual channels with the levels and EQ set up as for the mix and feed them into a computer. Almost any 8-channel USB computer interface will work for this application, as there won't appear to be a lot of difference between various makes and models when using the Fostex as the signal source. The Lexicon I-Onix U82S could be a place to start.

    When choosing a suitable interface, you should take note that the Fostex 812 is a -10dBV (domestic) I/O standard unit and not a +4dBu (professional) level mixer.
     
  9. ericeholtz

    ericeholtz Active Member

    REVISION - My Analog/Digital Studio: Advice, Tips, and What More Do I Need?

    I made some revisions for better clarity.
    Hello everyone,
    I am posting the particulars of my recording system, which includes both analog and digital elements. My end goal is to have the ability to route my analog recording console’s direct outputs/group outputs to my computer in order to have automated mixing capability. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Here is the breakdown of my current recording process:

    • Analog source - reel to reel, cassette, Lp record, VHS/S-VHS audio, or 8-track cartridge– is mixed and outputted from (in this case) a 16x8 mixer as a two-channel stereo mix.
    • Stereo mix -> dbx 231 Graphic Eq. -> Aphex Aural Exciter -> dbx 166XL Compressor/Limiter/Gate -> Denon DN-C550R Professional CD Recorder
    • The resulting CD (I use CD-RW at this stage) is then ripped as .wav files into my PC using Nero 9 Multimedia Suite; final tweaking and mastering are done in Wave Editor.

    I want to run my board’s direct outs (or group outs) directly to a good quality, USB audio interface, and then into my computer; I only need 8-inputs for the 8-line level outs at this time, even if I use 8-group outs. Would I be able to mix the analog signals in real time, with the interface output being the same as those of the analog faders, effects, and pans? Simply put, I want the analog mix levels to be represented digitally, in multitrack format, as they are on my board. I can come close to a perfect mix in the analog domain, but I want automated mixing capability, and the ability to tweak those tracks in the software. I do not wish to do an entire mix from scratch on the computer, so can I mix in analog and have that mix called up as “scene memory”? My mixing console sounds clear as a bell and with the outboard processing gear connected, I wish to keep it in the loop.
    What would be a good choice of audio interface, remembering I only need 8-line level inputs, which can run simultaneously?
    What about software? I’ve looked at Cubase and Studio One; I was told that software really comes down to personal preference.
    Thank you again for your time in reading this,

    Eric Holtz
    Holtz Media Solutions

    Update: It appears that I am going to have to postpone my Windows 7 - 64bit upgrade and stay with Vista Home Premium – 32bit for some time longer.
     
  10. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Guest

    Your question is largely a non sequitur. If you have an analog mixer, it's not automatable unless it has provisions for automated mixing. Otherwise, you can record your fader movements to tracks in the computer. Then you can automate in the computer to fine tune your mix. But you need an eight track computer interface for this to all work. And I don't know anybody that enhances little toy recorders like you're using. What kind of enhancements? Different chips for the microphone preamps? Different kind of input transformers where there wasn't any to begin with? You need to read some books if you're going to put Media Solutions in your title.There is no real point in you trying to do what you're asking to do. It's sort of like parking your car 5 miles from work and having to ride your bicycle 20 miles to get to your car first.

    We all have our favorite software we like to use. It's like underwear, shoes, hats. I like Adobe Audition. But I also use ProTools, Sony Vegas. I really don't do any MIDI so I don't need software that is particularly functional in that respect. So if you're really into MIDI, that might give you some idea what kind of software to look for. If you don't do MIDI, don't bother spending the extra dollars for a software package that's especially deep in MIDI. So only you can decide what you need to do or what you want.

    I think you should upgrade to Windows 7 and get rid of that dog called Vista. A lot of manufacturers & software companies didn't & won't support Vista. Windows 7 is said to be quite stable and much more media friendly. So if you don't want 64-bit, get Windows 7, 32-bit version. I'm still screwing around with XP SP 2. One day I may upgrade to Windows 7 but I'm in no hurry.

    Tutti-frutti
    Mx. Remy Ann David
     
  11. ericeholtz

    ericeholtz Active Member

    You're funny-in your own mind. I have read quite enough books thank you, and learned along the way to listen to musicians and engineers who possess a certain decorum in the tone of their language. Having said that, thank you very much for the software advice. I knew that I wanted automation and fine tuning done with software, but I did not wish to perform a mix from scratch in the computer. What non-"toy" recorders do you use: Otari, MCI, Studer, ATR? People like the warmth, clarity, and tone of my "toy" recorders and hey, they are MIDI capable, just as my board.
    Thank you again,
    Eric Holtz
     
  12. gdoubleyou

    gdoubleyou Well-Known Member

    I would lose the aural exciter, haven't seen one in a commercial studio since the '80s, not really sure what you're trying to do with the analog gear that would ENHANCE the audio.

    Because of the headroom in the digital realm, do the analog levels even matter?
     
  13. ericeholtz

    ericeholtz Active Member

    I record on analog tape, just as many others do as well. My recordings sound great as is; I only wish to have automated mixing and scene memory of the various tracks.
     
  14. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Guest

    Eric, there is nothing wrong with analog tape. In fact what you are doing, is really the only way to get that analog goodness into the digital realm. But yes, I know recorders, I know them well. Yes, I do utilize Ampex, Scully, Studer, Lesher and While I also have TEACs & Otaris, those aren't my favorites. Neither is FOSTEX, but hey, if you know how to Tweak them properly, that's what matters most. What kind of celebration tapes do you like best? STL? MRL? Are they compensated for low-frequency fringing? Are you 0 at 250 nano webers per meter or are you +3 or +6? You understand your calibration reference level will show lower on your playback meter to attain those elevated record levels and not the other way around. What kind of tape are you tracking on? What is your preferred method of bias adjustment? At one point I had to use a 16 track 1 half-inch FOSTEX and I hated the way it sounded. It was awful sounding with or without the Dolby C on Scotch 250 at +6. Very thin squeezed tracks produce a similar character to the sound. That's why we love 2 inch 16 which still sounds way better than 2 inch 24.

    Here is something that I recommend when you are trying to combine tracking on analog with digital. People will frequently record on their analog machines, rewind the tape and then transfer the playback into the computer/digital recorder. This is actually rather counterproductive. And here's why. When you follow that workflow, you're subjecting yourself to twice the amount of wow & flutter. You also suffer through Print Through. What I recommend people do is put your analog machine into record mode but monitor off the playback head while recording. The playback head will output the recording mere milliseconds after it is recorded and direct to the input of your digital capture device. Then when it comes time for overdubs, you overdub in digital and then lay back that digital track to the analog machine and loop that into another digital track. Then you will have to re-synchronize the overdub track by advancing it in time, in your software timeline. This will aid in reducing your transport artifacts by 50% and you will have no print through to deal with.

    What I don't understand is your reluctance to select a consistent mixing plan? Do a analog mix and then remaster digitally. Do a digital mix & remaster in the analog realm. Or do a half crappy mix with one and try to fix the other half crappy part with the other. I mean essentially we all do all of the above in numerous different ways. I can tell you there is no best way. You have to hear the big picture in order to determine what you feel is most viable. You're telling us what you want to do so do it. If you're not happy with the outcome? Then you haven't mastered your technique in either realm. You will find that wider track formats have a more open quality to them than narrow tracks. And that's what I mean by toy recorders. And that's even why my Ampex MM 1200-16 sounded so much better than my Ampex MM 1200-24. And I never liked Dolby and I never did Dolby. I learned that from romper room. Remember to be a good bee. Don't be a Dolby. Although I do have a couple of 361 units to use for multiband microphone processors. Okay so Dolby SR was relatively benign in comparison to A.

    So when it comes to your mixing, you really want to become proficient enough to generate both a analog & ITB digital mix. If you're good, they'll be the same but different. If you don't quite know what you're doing, they'll be wildly different. But it all depends on how many whizbang gimmicky tricks you want to incorporate? Not hearing your material, we can provide no useful input for you. What is the musical genre? Is it rock or is it rot? Hip-hop or slip shot? Operatic or orchestral? Gospel or demonic? What kind of sonic character are you trying to emulate? Or is that imitate? Do you want to be inspirational or do you want to anger people? I mean I like to have a car that would allow me to drive 150 miles an hour to work. But generally, that won't necessarily work out well? It may only depend on how much money you got? So what exactly are you asking for? A specific tutorial in technique? Some kind of approval regarding your description? Do you want to know what everybody else does? Are you trying to tell us what we should do? If you want automated mixing and scene memory? I hate to tell you this, you already have it. If you have a computer with software, you have automation and scene memory. If you trying to obtain that from your analog mixer that has MIDI integration, you still need your computer and the software. If that capability is built into your mixer why are you asking any questions? All you need to do then is read your manuals. When you have a practical load of both theory & practice, you'll be able to deliver what you want to deliver. If you don't understand your equipment, you will never be able to deliver what you want. Your questions appear to me that you do not understand your equipment fully? You don't want to build up a complete mix in one format but you will in another? That's like being good with reading and writing but not arithmetic. Forget about history and concentrate on gym instead. Well none of that is professionally practical. So learn your equipment and work it, work it hard. Do it fully every which way you can. That's how you get good with anything. Deciding what you don't want to do tells us you have no interest in learning anything. You're asking questions about what you want to do but you're not doing what you want to do. What does that mean? If you want to make a recording replay all of the instruments, you must first learn how to play all of the instruments. You're learning to play your instruments which are called recording devices. So really, questions like yours just confuse the crap out of me? It would sort of be like me saying, I would like to make a hit record recording a digitally. But I don't like hard drives so I want to use floppy drives and I don't know how? And of course the educated answer & reply is, you can't do it because you don't fully understand your tools and how they function.

    Try again
    Mx. Remy Ann David
     
  15. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    Okay. You have a 'mixer'. And from what I can tell, you have a bunch of stuff inputted as sources. Right? Apparently a tape machine of some sort, possibly 8 tracks 1/4"??? A cassette machine, hopefully a good one....a turntable??I dont remember what else......And all of this is outputted to stereo.....Y/N ?

    And you also have a 'mixer' with direct outs that you want to interface with your computer to fix stuff with....like timing anomolies, maybe pitch, beat detective, possibly add some digital effects to etc etc .....maybe even setup an automated mix in the puter and then you want to come back out through the 'mixer' and mix this down to your stereo bus for your final product.

    Y/N??

    I think this is a noble plan. I will tell you right off that every time you pass your signal through that Fostex (and I dont care a whit about its upgrade) you are stamping your sound with its inherrant flavor. If thats what you want, then its good by me. I owned one of those mixers and used it for a live recording rig. It was really really ordinary and a bit on the noisy side, but hey, it is what it is.

    First. Get rid of your Vista. If you put any sort of decent recording program in it you will be waiting for it on every occasion to toss out stuff and crash and burn all your hard earned bits and bytes. XP runs better than that piece of crap. I'm not sure you should even care about the bit depth if this is your methodology to making records. 24 bits will be enough. Even your 64 will be degraded every pass through your 'mixer'. And by my count you're making three for every track you record.


    I have a hybrid studio. Probably a lot like you're shooting for. I still have all my analog gear. I have a bunch of pres and a board and a bunch of patchbays to route the signals anywhere I want to go. I use PT9 and I have a PT 003 interface. I also kept my Alesis HD24 digital recorder which, long ago, replaced a tape machine. No maintainence and its destructive recording just like tape. It doesnt 'sound' quite like tape but its fine for my needs. We'd all love a Studer in the room......

    So I can record up to 18 tracks at a time into PT, 24 tracks at a time into the digital hard disk and I can route these anywhere I want them to go. Back through the outboard, into PT and back out to the board for a hands on mix etc etc etc.

    I find my cleanest and clearest captures happen when I simply put a finely crafted ANALOG signal directly into PT and then mix it all there with all the effects I have with the UA and Waves plugs.

    I said that I think your idea of what you THINK is going to enhance your recordings is a noble one or that you're going to find some magic manipulation that will be another selling point, but having done this myself I gotta tell ya you're dreaming.

    But get a nice interface and try it out. All you need is an interface with analog and firwire inz and outz. And a decent computer running Reaper. A MOTU 2408 MkII is really all you need.
     

Share This Page