Skip to main content

Hi, I am planning on buying a macbook pro soon, likely 17inch, upgrading to 7200 RPM, and maybe the 4 gigs of Ram option.
Eventually I'd like to be able to do some portable multitrack recording on it. I was reading up on tweaks guide and lots of other things I could find on the net. I have a question regarding the MOTU 828MKII 24/96 Audio Interface.

First of all I probably misunderstand some of the specs, I'm pretty new to this digital recording stuff, other than some experiments with Cool Edit Pro and a Soundblaster card a few years back, and some others with a Roland VS 880.

Anyway the MOTU 828 I was looking at is here.
I'm a little confused about the number of inputs and what I can do with them. It says it's a 20 input machine, but I only see 8 on the picture that look like I can put mics into them. I'm a drummer and might want to mic up a full kit and a live band and do multitrack recording at some point. I could do that with 8 inputs and a small number of musicians if I only used BD / Snare and 2 overheads, but what if I wanted to use more drum mikes and more musicians? From what I read the other inputs are probably midi things and I really don't know much about that. If I can't put more mics than 8 in do they offer the same kind of interface with maybe 16 or more inputs? I did read you can buy two or three and daisy chain them.

I'm also open to something from another brand, this was just the one that Tweak seemed to recommend. Any words of wisdom? Also I'll probably start off using Garage band, and when I have more money upgrade to Logic, as I heard Pro Tools is really expensive, so I'd like something that is compatible with both. If there is something that does what I need but is compatible with all three that's a good bonus I guess?


bent Wed, 02/20/2008 - 19:38

You can plug a max of two mics into an 828, the rest of the inputs are line and digital.

Here's the low down on the MOTU 828:
2 Mic / Instrument (XLR Combo) inputs + 8 line inputs =
10 - total analog inputs at a time.

8 ADAT Digital inputs + 2 S/Pdif =
10 - Total Digital inputs at a time.

Total Digital + Analog =
20 mixed inputs at a time.

If you want more I/O, the MOTU 24 I/O does 24 line ins and outs at a time. With a mixer, the sky's the limit.

Or you could buy the Presonus boxes that actually do have eight mic pre's built in, your choice...

rainsong23 Wed, 02/20/2008 - 20:49

First of all, thanks for taking the time to answer and put up with a noobie who doesn't know much. I've tried to do some research on my own but it gets pretty confusing at times.

So with the motu 24, is that 24 mics / instrument XLR's you can plug in at a time, or are some of those for other things?

I also read some reviews for Presonus Firestudio too. Right now my head is spinning like crazy, like trying to read some dense Faulker novel without a prof to tell me what the hell he's on about lol. I'm wondering if I'm on the right track research wise?

I guess my main things are I want portability of a laptop, want to try the macbook and get away from a windows machine as I tried my friends mac and really liked the operating sytem and the way everything is integrated.

I also like some types of musical situations that entail alot of improvising and it's important for me to be able to have everyone playing and feeding off each other in real time, but still be able to tweak each track individually after the actual recording. Like I said I know I could do a half decent bed track live with 8 mic tracks and limited drum miking, but think if I'm going to spend money maybe should consider spending more now rather than upgrading later. So 16 tracks at least would be nice if I can afford it.

Which brings me to affordability. The presonar review I read

he says is about $700. I'm wondering if that might be an alternative. I think I saw the 24 moto going for about $1500 maybe, so that's about twice as much.

On a sidenote, I do have a 12 channel behringer mixer and a behringer effects processor, but can't remember the exact model names except the efx is called a virtualizer and think it can send two different efx choices at the same time. I think I remember having one set for vox and another set for my drums at a gig. But, I've been living in Korea for the last 4 years and that stuff is in storage back in Canada. Anyway eventually I could put em together maybe. I also have an 8 track Roland vs 880 expanded which does 4 tracks simultaneously. It has midi outs, I wonder if I could also somehow use that for mic inputs and run it into the laptop I get? That I actually have in Korea with me, along with a yamaha electronic drum kit, but I really prefer accoustic drums.

RemyRAD Wed, 02/20/2008 - 22:58

I think you are barking at a shadow?

Like myself, you need maximum input capabilities for simultaneous multitrack acquisition. So for you, I wouldn't be screwing around with all of that junk you have. That's why God invented eBay.

What I think you should get is the Mackie 1640 Onyx with FireWire option. This will set you back slightly under 2K US. But with that, you'll not only get 16 incredibly superb sounding preamps, you'll be able to stream up to 16 tracks to your computer from 16 active microphone inputs, simultaneously in real time. No waiting.

To stream that many tracks in recording, you'll need to purchase an optional, external, 7200 rpm minimum with 8 to 12MB cache, FireWire hard disk drive. With 500GB drives now at around $150, you'll be able to keep recording until this time next year before it fills up.

Once you have recorded stuff into your new Mac Book Pro, you'll be able to use any Macintosh capable, multitrack audio program such as Logic, Garage Band, ProTools, etc.. However, to use ProTools, you'll probably want to purchase the M-Box USB Micro. This device for $250 US MSRP also bundles ProTools L. E.! So for $230, you are mixing in ProTools with all of its cool and included RTAS real-time audio streaming plug-ins. Bomb Factory 1176 is definitely my favorite. And considering you get a 1176 that normally costs upwards of $1500 by it self as a hardware device, included with ProTools for $250, it's an incredible deal! But for about $50 more, you can get the M-Box 2 Micro, which has a single microphone input allowing you to record overdubs with a single microphone or feeding it with stereo line inputs which also includes Protools. Such a deal! Whereas like myself, I really like things in stereo so the extra $150 for the M-Box 2, was the unit I purchased. I figured, if I only need to make a stereo recording, I don't need anything else but my laptop and the interface. Adequate transformer free, transformer lite, transformer less microphone preamps. Nothing great except that it will do the job. Great when traveling light. But generally I travel with the 25,000 pound Mercedes 1117 that holds the 36 input Neve. Which ain't exactly portable.

Have you hernia any good ones lately?
Ms. Remy Ann David

rainsong23 Wed, 02/20/2008 - 23:59

Ha ha, thanks for the info Remy. I think stumbling on this forum was a good thing for me, though might make me spend more money. But they pay me not to bad just for speaking English here in Korea, so I might as well spend before I am someday a poor guy in Canada.

The mackie looks great, combining a traditional soundboard with the capability to go directly into the laptop. Of course it is bigger than I was thinking which could be a problem if I move back to Canada someday and need to ship it. Decisions, decisions.

By looking at a google pic of your Mercedes 1117 and the Neve console, you are definately running a much much more professional and expensive studio than I will probably ever have, unless I decide someday to go to some recording school and try to make a profession out of it.

Question again, and again please excuse my noobish ignorance, but what exactly is that M-Box 2? Is is a smaller recording interface on it's own, ie, could I buy that first to be able to plug say one mic or one guitar etc into my laptop for starters, and look at something like the mackie onyx later down the road? ie, will it stand alone to get me started until I can get more money later to upgrade to all the channels I'd like? It's appealing in that it comes with pro tools so would get me started with software too? If this is the case it would be a nice first start since the computer itself is my first order of business, and for a non pro really, that's gonna be quite an investment in and of itself.

I have some recording I did a few years ago that I'd like to start finally mixing. The drums are pretty much all done on that stuff, so I could get away with dumping the track files I made with the roland and edited in Cool edit into the pro tools, and maybe getting the odd guitar player or keyboard player to do over dubs in the meantime. After getting my "final mix" as best as I can, I'll probably take that to some Korean pro for mastering and pro ears, as there are some fairly affordable studios here I think. I know the stuff I did was not done on great equipment and stuff, but then again there are alot of recordings from the 60's and 70's which maybe used alot less technology than today and too me still sounds great. After all the actual songs and feeling still count for something right. I definately don't want to redo any of that stuff (with perhaps some vox tracks the exception if I get my hand on nicer mics / pres ect. . Still that stuff has sentimental value to me, and the musicians I used are scattered all over mid to east coast Canada and I'm in Korea.

When I moved to Korea I sold my desktop with my little audigy soundcard that I was mixing on. Don't even get me started on the ass backward way I used to get the tracks out of my VS880 and into that computer. You would probably want to hang me. But anyway, my laptop I have now is pretty old, has no good soundcard and isn't worth investing in to get one, plus there is weird tick tick tickety tick sound like an electrical current or something that makes it impossible to use anyway. So if I could at least start finishing that stuff, hell actually finish it, that would be a start. That stuff can mostly be finished up track by track and actually some to alot of it is just mixing and mastering. So bottom line, I might not be able to afford everything I would eventually like to make me content, but would like to try to at least think ahead so anything I do buy is at least compatible and part of that bigger future picture.

rainsong23 Thu, 02/21/2008 - 01:00

Oh I googled that M-Box USB Micro and see it looks like a usb drive, so I guess that answers my question, it's not something I could plug my mics into. I feel a bit dumb now. So I wonder if the "Digidesign Mbox 2 USB Audio/MIDI Pro Tools LE Interface" I see on musicians friend, but can't see details because their site is under construction, would be a good starter until I can get something bigger like the mackie onyx?

RemyRAD Thu, 02/21/2008 - 02:01

Yes, the M-Box 2 is a decent bang for the buck. Completely usable & adequate pair of microphone preamps with both balanced line level inputs and unbalanced musical instrument DI inputs. Coupled with a SPDIF RCA coaxial connection. With a secondary A to D converter or old DAT machine, the device is capable of printing 4 simultaneous audio tracks to the computer. And you wondered what to do with that broken old DAT machine.

On location for orchestral recordings, I'll generally use my API 3124 into the M-Box 2 instead of its built-in resident preamps. But if I don't have the 3124 handy, I wouldn't think twice about using the onboard microphone's preamps. Totally adequate. Just don't overdrive them as they get nasty quickly. Want a different textural sound? Engage the pad and crank the gain. Then the preamps runs with more open loop gain which will give you a more open, albeit slightly higher in hiss, sound. But I can live with that. As long as it doesn't sound like a cloud burst in Fort Lauderdale. I'm still trying to get comfortable with ProTools. I've never quite been able to explore all that it's capable of, yet. That day is coming since the studio I'm associated with is installing a new ProTools C-24 console. I guess it's time for me to bite the bullet (as opposed to somebody or something else) and get used to working in ProTools more? They'll probably be out of business by the time I get proficient with it? But I think I passed the audition?

Number nine
Ms. Remy Ann David

rainsong23 Thu, 02/21/2008 - 03:05

And does that Mbox 2 also come with pro tools software?

I've been researching this stuff all day, almost 8 hours, where has the time been sucked away to? I'm still not sure which is my wisest choice to start.

Is there a good interface that comes bundled with Logic I should be thinking about? How much does Logic usually run for if you are just buying the program?

rainsong23 Thu, 02/21/2008 - 04:10

The NRV10 - 10 x 10 FireWire Digital Audio Interface looks maybe promising as well, a bit smaller than the Mackie Onyx 1640 which is a bit large to carry around easily, not necessarily someting I won't go for, but trying to research all options. I think I can plug 8 or ten mics in to this? Not sure.

Anyway, I started at about noon I think, and it's about 9 pm. Really time for a break for today I guess. Thanks everyone that gave suggestions.