Audio Interface or Mixer?

Member for

6 days 13 hours
Submitted by Anonymous on Wed, 08/01/2007 - 04:04

Hello to all,

I need your help on clarifying some aspects of a setup I'm trying to build mostly for recording purposes.

Initially I as planning on buying an audio interface for multitrack recording. Something like the Alesis IO|14 (I'll give some examples just for better understanding). But then I come across this mixers with Firewire interface that can send each mixer channel independently to the computer (something like the Alesis Multimix 8 FW).

This got me confused in understanding which one suits my needs. I want mainly to do recording at my home studio but if I could join also the possibility of having a mixer to use for rehearsal and playing live, that would be great. But am I missing something here? Is this so linear? What will I have with just the audio interface that I don't with the mixer and vice-versa? What practical examples can you give me of the differences?

Thank you very much in advance.


Member for

15 years


Wed, 08/01/2007 - 08:41

For playing live you need a mixer that will take your mic and other channels and mix them down to 2-track for FOH and also produce a set of monitor mixes for the performers. You need instant access to individual channel faders and you may want to add in effects at the same time. This setup is the function of an external mixer and is something that cannot usefully be done in a PC, even those equipped with a "control surface".

For recording only (no live mix), you can either take the outputs of all the preamps and feed them via a multichannel interface into a PC to make a multitrack disk file for later mixdown, or you can use a dedicated multitrack hard disk recorder and mix down from that.

In the case that you are making a recording while doing a live gig, it is a matter of doing both of the above at the same time. There are variants, e.g. you can take the direct channel outs of the live mixer for recording, or you could split the signals at the microphone level and have two separate amplification chains. Note that I have not distinguished between the use of analog and digital mixers here, in that the principles of use are similar and the same overall arguments apply.

However, the new generation of FireWire-equipped mixers has opened up another possibility, viz. the live mixer digitising the signals and sending them to the PC via FireWire while running full FOH and monitor mixes. The newer Mackie range of mixers comes to mind here. With previous digital mixers (Yamaha "0" range, for example), you can take digital outputs for recording via ADAT and send them to a hard disk recorder, but to record multitrack to a PC, you needed one or more ADAT interface cards in the PC.

So for what you say you want to do and at a reasonable cost, I would recommend a PC and FireWire-equipped mixer.

Member for

6 days 13 hours


Fri, 01/18/2008 - 19:55

for all these kinds of mixers, when not connected to a computer, do they go in and out with no ad/da conversion? so they can be used for purely analog mixing?

Member for

6 days 13 hours


Sat, 01/19/2008 - 04:01

iivanov wrote: for all these kinds of mixers, when not connected to a computer, do they go in and out with no ad/da conversion? so they can be used for purely analog mixing?

Yes, they can be used as normal analog mixer with no computer connection