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We have a Yamaha EMX5016cf powered mixer. Great as a PA for rooms up to about 300 people, but we're done with playing gigs. Now we want to record. Can we use the Insert I/O jacks to connect to a firewire interface device? Any advice appreciated.

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Boswell Mon, 01/30/2012 - 04:58

Yes, the Insert jacks on the first 8 channels of the EMX5016CF would allow you to extract line-level audio from there and take it via the line inputs of an 8-channel interface into a computer for multi-track recording. You would need specially-wired plugs for doing this, or else use the [[url=http://[/URL]="http://www.hosatech…"]Hosa DOC106[/]="http://www.hosatech…"]Hosa DOC106[/] adaptors.

However, if you get an 8-channel interface, it will almost certainly be of the sort that has its own microphone pre-amps, so why would you want to use the pre-amps in the mixer at all? In the medium price range, the pre-amps in something like a Focusrite or MOTU box will be at least at good if not better than those in a PA console.

Looking with a wider focus, if you are shifting your mode of operation from live performance to recording, you need to re-evaluate your signal chain for the new usage, and this applies as much to microphone selection, headphone foldback and studio monitoring as it does to interface type. Generally, there is not a huge overlap between stage gear and studio gear, with the exception of things like SM57/SM58s, stands and cables. Also, don't overlook the problems generated by the acoustics in a small space compared with those on a stage - you may need to budget for acoustic treatment in whatever space you plan to record in.

hyde Mon, 01/30/2012 - 07:35

Thanks for your input. As for the studio, the room itself is already set up with acoustic tiles, etc. We're using Samson CO2 mics, and the Yamaha has a built-in feedback suppression system that has served us well. In this room we are able to create a clean and satisfying live sound. Our plan is to play live while capturing each mic/instrument on its own track, then use this recording as the 'scratch track.' We recognize we may end up using none of the live recording in the finished product, but that's our plan for now. Any suggestions welcome.

Boswell Mon, 01/30/2012 - 07:49

Ah yes, a multitrack recording of an otherwise live performance. Go for the DOC106-style of insert adaptors, or make your own. I would still consider a multi-channel interface that has microphone pre-amps as well as line inputs, but just use the line inputs for this job. Are you really using C02 mics for the vocals?

If this recording is for scratch purposes, then fine. I assume that what you have in the back of your minds eventually is to re-record each performer's part under studio conditions while playing the scratch track in headphones. It's here that the mic pre-amps in the interface would come into use, but you would need a new set of mics.

Boswell Tue, 01/31/2012 - 03:13

Well, as I mentioned earlier, there is not a lot of overlap between what mics you need for stage (live) use and what you need for studio use. The Shure dynamics are the main items in the area of overlap. Now the Samson C02s are a bit of an odd beast. They are not really stage mics, but then they are not really mics you would want to use for professional recording of CDs in a studio. I'm not being disparaging here because the C02s are good value for their very low cost, but it's just that conventionally they don't fit well into either of these two categories of usage.

One thing about multi-track studio recordings is that you should avoid recording all (or most) of the tracks with a single type of microphone, unless, perhaps, it's a very expensive one. This is because any slightly unpleasant characteristics of a particular type of mic tend to build up over many tracks to something quite audibly unpleasant, but the problem can be masked if they are confined to one (or a stereo pair) of tracks, with other mics (maybe with other different unpleasantnesses) being used on other tracks. This is quite apart from any recommendations that certain types of mic are better for particular instruments or qualities of vocals.

I suppose I'm saying that you will doubtless be laying down very fine scratch tracks, but when it comes to replacing the tracks one by one with studio recordings using the same equipment, be prepared that the result may not live up to expectations.