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Yamaha STAGEPASS 300

Discussion in 'Recording' started by Scott, May 13, 2014.

  1. Scott

    Scott Active Member

    I am a drummer and trying to record some decent drum tracks on my laptop using Audacity. I have SM57 mics in each channel and a RCA to 1/4" T cable coming out of the mixer REC OUT and into the mic jack on the laptop. The sounds is pure crap, which makes me think the recording is actually the built-in condenser mic? This is my first attempt at this and I might be out in left field? Any help would be greatly appreciated.

    Peace,
    Scott
     
  2. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

    The Stagepas RCA outputs are almost certainly overloading the computer sound card input. You don't give any details of either your mixer or your laptop, but it's likely that it's set up for a microphone input rather than a line level. Some laptops have separate mic and line inputs, some have a high/low level software switch and some only have an input at microphone sensitivity levels. In addition, many microphone input jacks are mono rather than stereo.

    However, you should try to avoid using the computer sound card as an audio input device for everything except Skyping and other comms use. One way round the problem is to get an external line-level USB input device. These range from very cheap and poor quality up to more expensive but excellent quality. If you can tell us what sort of price bracket you could go for, we can make some suggestions.
     
  3. Scott

    Scott Active Member

    Thanks so much for your response! The mixer is a Yamaha STAGEPASS 300 and the laptop is a newer Samsung Series 7 I7. I'm simply trying to make a few decent youtube vids for promotions
     
  4. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

    I can't identify your laptop uniquely from the information you gave, but it seems that most of those 7 series have only a microphone input, not switchable to line level, and that it is almost certainly mono and not stereo.

    The upshot is that if you want to get better audio quality, you should invest in an external line-level USB audio adaptor. You didn't respond to the question in my last post about how much you would be prepared to spend on such a device. You could shell out all of $2 on a random Ebay adaptor and it might work, but because they are advertised without any useful specifications, we would have no way of predicting in advance whether it would be suitable. Units in the $30 - $50 range tend to be better specified and so have more of a chance of matching your requirement electrically, but the audio quality may still be questionable. Going up from there buys you improving quality.

    For recording drum tracks, you need good transient response and peak handling capacity, so I would advise you not to go too cheap on the interface. That said, and given that your signals are coming through the SP300 which has limitations of its own, there are some interface units in the $50+ bracket that would give quite acceptable results.

    Be aware that there are no panning facilities in the Yamaha SP300/500 series; the 4 XLR microphone inputs are always centred and the stereo line RCA/jack inputs are always hard L+R. This makes it difficult to record stereo drum overhead microphones without using a separate dual-channel pre-amp to feed one of the the stereo line input pairs of the Stagepas.
     
  5. Scott

    Scott Active Member

    Boswell, you are my boy! Thanks much
     
  6. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

    I forgot to mention in my last post that there is a potentially low-cost solution to both your problems. This is by using the original MBox (MBox-1) from Digidesign, which you can usually pick up for under $50 from a well-known auction site. The MBox-1 has Focusrite pre-amps which are excellent quality, although the rest of the unit is only so-so. Depending on your OS, you may need a third-party ASIO driver, but they are easily available, e.g. from Ploytec, although not necessarily free.

    The way this scheme would work is to use the Mbox as a 2-channel audio interface and the SP300 as an insert device using a pair of TRS jack - RCA insert cables. You connect the TRS ends of the insert cables to the insert jacks on the MBox, and the Send RCA plugs to the RCA inputs on channels 5/6 or 7/8 of the SP300. The Return RCA plugs go from the REC OUT jacks on the SP300 via the insert cables back to the MBox.

    By plugging the stereo pair of drum overhead microphones into the mic inputs on the MBox, you make use of the Focusrite quality pre-amps by feeding line levels (strictly they are insert levels) to one of the stereo line inputs of the SP300. These are then mixed with up to 4 standard (mono) mics plugged into the mic inputs of the SP300. In your case these would be kick, tom and any other source that you wanted to appear in the centre of the stereo image. This satisfies your requirement for an external audio interface and the problem of lack of stereo mic inputs on the SP300 with one box.

    The original MBox has had a bad press for many reasons, but the Focusrite pre-amps are good, and there is sufficient flexibility in the design to get the rest of the box to perform useful functions. I keep one of these MBoxes purely as a dual-channel pre-amp, taking an unbalanced output from the insert jacks and powering it from a cheap plug-top mains USB power adaptor. It's not the lowest noise unit, but with reasonable-sensitivity mics in a close-miked configuration it can work well.
     

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