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Trying to pick a new Board for DAW - Help

Discussion in 'Recording' started by ocdstudios, Mar 16, 2010.

  1. ocdstudios

    ocdstudios Active Member

    Right now I'm running through two Behringer xenyx2442fx's ( 1 drums only with a send to the main board for monitoring) before you ask, I do it so I can record an entire band at once - including live drums - and monitor with no latency (from the boards) The directs are then sent to a Tascam US1641 (which also has pre' s) and I am running Cubase LE4 for now. (moving to 5 soon I hope!) It also allows me to set monitor and rec. levels seperately. Set the rec. level and it's good for the session (pretty much) Anyway, it works great. However, I have come to believe that the Behringer pre's and eq's are my limiting link in the chain. My mixes are pretty good at this point but they still don't have that "pro" sound. Like they are missing that extra clarity/sparkle/dreamy pro sound. It's not an eq thing I promise. They are good mixes, it's just that they still have that flavor of "home-studio". I tried to deny it but I really think it's the Behringer's coloring the sound (dulling it a bit). Or is it the Tascam? It could just be me. I know it could be a million other things but let's start with the ones I hear the most bad stuff about (behringer).

    If you want to hear what the current set-up sounds like, all of the songs on this myspace page were done with this setup at my home, and mixed by me. Google

    I am ready to move to the next "quality" level.

    Ok, so I've been eyeing a Alan & Heath board down at Guitar Center. 24 channel with direct outs on all channels. I could run this to the tascam then into the box.


    A&H has a 16 channel firewire/18 channel adat board (no sure the model - I'm sure ya'll do) You can run 16 channels simultaneously either direction. You can mix a Cubase session on the board (sort of) You could also Lightpipe it to a digi 003 or vice versa I think with the adat (if I read it right).

    Now, the questions -
    Do you think the Behringers are dulling my tracks?
    Do you think the A&H pre's and eq's will give me a better quality inital recorded track? "Studio quality" better?
    Do you think the Tascam pre's color the sound at all?
    If not - 24 channel (cheaper) board run to the 14 inputs on the Tascam? or 16 channel direct (no Tascam) firewire board?
    Any other sugesstion for a set up? I am concerned about the quality of the recorded tracks. Once it's in the box, it's up to me. I don't mind mixing in the box, I am pretty familiar with Cubase by now. I also plan on possibly adding a pro tools rig soon as well.

    Thank you for all your help and suggestions.

    Getting GAS,
    Matt in GA
  2. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    How many sticks do you need for your whole band?

    The ZED R16 is a great board as is the Mackie Onyx 1640i. Both of these would give you 16 individual channels plus a 2-bus (18 total). The ZED R16 also gives you ADAT inputs. The 003 would only get you the 4 onboard preamps which are ok but not great, and 8 channels on ADAT.

    One Fireface 800 would get you 10 analog inputs, 2 ADAT inputs (16 channels) and 2 SPDif. Skip the Spdif so 26 inputs. You can chain two FF800's together (three actually) which would give you 52 (or 78).

    A last option would be to by a proper board with as many channels as you require and then by stand alone AD/DA converters.

    And yes, the Behringer built in noise, the noise of any cheap cables and connectors and their associated frequency attenuation, and the Tascam unit are holding you back.
  3. ocdstudios

    ocdstudios Active Member

    So, the dullness is likely from the Behringer AND the Tascam. The digi 003 is no better.

    The ZED 16 is a good board? As good as the fireface or Steinberg mr816csx?

    I have read of the Fireface and also the steinberg mr816 csx (which could be chained as well. I don't ever see needing more than 16 simultaneous. I normally am running 11-14 at once. That would give me 3 guitars, bass, an entire drum set with 4 toms (generally I mix these on a small board - bad idea) and a scratch track vocal. So 16 simultaneous would be nice - I don't think I'd need more than that. I like a board for direct monitoring back to the band though. I've never been able to get the tascam or cubase to monitor with absolutely 0 latencey.

    What would I be talking $$ wise with a board and converters?
  4. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    It sounds like either the Onyx or the Zed would be a great fit for you. Simply monitor from the board itself. Zero latency required. Both have excellent preamps and routing. For redundant backup you could get an Alesis HD24XR. It's the only decent piece of gear Alesis makes.
  5. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    Allen & Heath ZED R16 and Onyx 1640i that is. If you went with a stand alone board then make it worth it. Go Midas or Ghost or something in that class with a set of RME AD8QS. I'd still have HD24XR as redundant or even primary storage.
  6. ocdstudios

    ocdstudios Active Member

    ok, so cost wise it looks like a ZED. However, I really don't see mixing with it. Especially with no recall/mot. faders. I would still be in the box, which is ok. The ZED cannot control your Cubase faders, etc. You can only route the tracks to it and mix to a stereo out. Am I correct on that? ALSO, I am an "EQ twiddler" of sorts. I use eq'ing extensively. The cubase EQ are said to be pretty horrible. Since you eq alot during mixdown, I would have to route the tracks back to the zed and then back to cubase a few at a time and basically record the eq'd track. Every time I want to change the eq w/o using the cubase eq's. Is that right? I could do my mix in Cubase then do a final mix / eq on the board and record the sum. Not sure if that makes much sense to do it that way?
  7. ocdstudios

    ocdstudios Active Member

    OMG - I just looked at the price of a RME AD8QS. I will NOT be going the board / converter route. I would be looking for a new place to live!
  8. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    You have several options for EQ.

    2-Track with the board into Cubase and then mix down back into the board. Each of the channels can be assigned via firewire back into the Zed. Use either external eq's or the onboard eq's. The 2-bus (17&18) is then recorded as a final stereo track back into Cubase via firewire. You can do most of your automation in Cubase itself.

    As an aside. More folks ruin a good track by too much EQ-especially additive-than fix it. Subtractive EQ can be useful. There is a segment that likes to "carve" out spaces for each instrument but I've never found that as satisfactory but the rule is there are no hard and fast rules. Just good sound.
  9. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    Yamaha makes a good digital board too. Some of those have automation.
  10. ocdstudios

    ocdstudios Active Member

    Problem with option 2 is by the time you have stereo channels (for stereo effects) I think you would burn up too many strips on the ZED. It would only allow 8 stereo channels from Cuebase. I could do some summing before sending to the ZED and that might work. It's got to be worth it just to have the Pre's and eq's if you want them. Seems like the most cost effective route to getting "pro or at least near-pro level" inital tracks down. It's GOT to sound more commercial than what I have now. I just want to get rid of that "Home studio" hint that it's got now.

    Thanks for the plug-ins I'll give them a try. I really appreciate all your help with this. 2 grand is a lot to me to throw out there. Not to metion that new workstation I'll have to build! LOL!
  11. ocdstudios

    ocdstudios Active Member

    OK, so I found this one - PreSonus StudioLive 16.4.2 Digital Mixer

    and this one - Yamaha 01V96VCM Digital Mixing Console

    These and the A&H ZED16 are about the same price point. As far as sound quality goes, which one wins? Or are they equal? What order would you rank them if it was your studio?
  12. boxcar

    boxcar Active Member

    the r16 can control your cubase faders, up to 32 of them through midi.
    also controls transport bar in cubase.
    you can route 16 tracks to the board for mix.
    you can use the e.q's and inserts as "software plugs" in real time, no need to go back and forth.
    you can mix to master stereo out, or 17/18 digital back in to the app. from any of the 16 tracks or to any of the 18 tracks.
    you can send output channels to adat for mix or master.
    the e.q's are of twiddling quality.lol
    the pre's are nicer imo than the onyx pre's(i also have an onyx 1200f) but that's subjective, i kept the onyx for extra pre's and they are quite good.
    just thought i'd share.
  13. ocdstudios

    ocdstudios Active Member

    how would you compare (pre's - a/d conversion-sound quality) the A&H to the others? would having effects on the board (like the others) be benificial? BTW - this things getting mounted in a studio desk and not going to do live sound at all. The Yamaha looks decent but somewhat confusing.

    if you send a stereo group channel (I typically send a mono guitar track to a stereo group to apply stereo effects) from cubase to a channel on the ZED it would become mono, correct? You would have to send it to 2 strips on the ZED to keep it stereo, correct?

    So if you move a fader on the ZED it shows the fader movement in Cubase?

    you can use the ZED eq's as plug-ins in cubase, did I understand that correctly or you basically loop the channel thru the ZED and back to use the eq?

    Sorry, for the questions, I'm just trying to understand what I'm buying before laying out the cash.
  14. boxcar

    boxcar Active Member

    i havn't heard those other boards but the A/H pre's/conversion imo is equal to the talent recorded.i fret a lot more about my mixing skills than the conversion loss.

    i would rather use seperate outboard effects than the afterthought effects that are incorporated on these boards, though they're o.k. for live.there's so much "fun noise" live,it doesn't matter.lol
    im glad A/H didn't put on board effects in the r16.money well spent somewhere else.
    i had a mix wizzard with onboard effects and it was just that "ok for live stuff" delays.

    yeah, if you send 2 mono tracks(pannrd L/R) or group track(panned center) to the r16, you use 2 tracks.
    but you could, say effect your tracks as a sub mix on the r16 for 8 drum tracks,re-record them while keeping the originals, group them in a cubase group track and return them as a stereo pair to the r16 while retaining track and group automation in cubase.that's what i do and the conversion loss,well, i can't hear.it certainly wouldn't stop a great song from sounding great.

    yes, if you move the 16 faders on the z, it moves the faders in cubase.you can also map 12 knobs and 4 more sliders to whatever you want.

    you can use the e.q's real time for recording/plaback or record them back to the track after the fact, like an external plug.

    oh, by the way, i don't work for A/H, i just like the board.lol
  15. ocdstudios

    ocdstudios Active Member

    OK, so I'm pretty sure it's the Zed 16 but I want to know if it was YOUR money and Studio which of three would you buy and why:

    - ZED 16 - $1999
    - PreSonus StudioLive 16.4.2 Digital Mixer $1999
    - Yamaha 01V96VCM Digital Mixing Console $2300

    Boxcar - I already know your answer! I appreciate the help too! Does anybody have experience with these other boards? The Yamaha is supposed to be pretty good as well but I don't have any experience with them.

    Thanks again before I make a final decision!

    Matt in GA
  16. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    I like the routing on the ZED.
  17. ocdstudios

    ocdstudios Active Member

    wouldn't you know it. I go to order the ZED and MF is out of stock! (JUNE!!!! Expected date!!!!!) Anyone know of a shop that has one that has financing? I need to finance 1/2 of it I think...
  18. jg49

    jg49 Well-Known Member

    Sweetwater (they have it in stock this morning), you could try Sam Ash, Full Compass, Front End, Music 123, Same Day Music, and on and on.
  19. boxcar

    boxcar Active Member

    these guys should have some.
    i got mine there, exellent communication and service.
    can't say enough good things about them.

    Allen & Heath ZED-R-16 Allen and Heath ZED R16 ZEDR 16
  20. ocdstudios

    ocdstudios Active Member

    boxcar, they are out of stock. Sweetwater says theirs is reserved??? not open on Sunday I don't think, i'll check. Found some from sellers on ebay. One is in AL (right next door) but only has a "merchandise credit" return policy. One seller in Nebraska or somewhere says 10 available. One in NY has it for $1795!!! Not sure about any of these places, anyone have a clue about these guys? search ebay for zed-r16 and it will show all 3. Sam Ash says 1 available but not guaranteed they also take like 3-5 days to process the order so I don't awnt to pay, wait till the end of the week then get the "oh by the way we don't have that item but we kept your $$ and it's on backorder" call.

    I did check all the usuals as listed but ebay is about the only place except for the one on "reserve" at sweetwater. I will call them.


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