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1st gen Focusrite Scarlett 18i8 in 2019?

With 1st Gen 18i8’s at giveaway prices and talks of the 3rd gen soon, is it still ok to get one in 2019? I’ll be doing stereo mic setup music college acoustic recitals later this year with my 2012 MacBook pro 15”, rode nt55s, on mojave and Logic pro x at 24/96. I want to run 4 mics with simultenaous spaced omnis and ORTF setups. Hence I’m thinking of getting the 18i8 1st gens because they are so cheap now.

Comments

Profile picture for user Boswell

Boswell Fri, 05/03/2019 - 04:54

The 2nd gen 18i8 was a significant improvement on the 1st gen, especially in the area of mic pre-amp noise levels. The 1st gen are perfectly OK for close-miking in the studio, but in your situation, I would go for a least 2nd gen for live performance work where more microphone gain is needed.

pcrecord Fri, 05/03/2019 - 04:55

The first gen scarlett were ok for the price.. Honest preamps but will be noisy if you need to push them higher than 70% of available gain.
They are well built and hopefully more durable and the first gen of Saffire interfaces (had problems with mine)
So to me if the source isn't a loud one, it's risky..

What kind of recording do you want to do ?

Profile picture for user makinao

makinao Fri, 05/03/2019 - 07:44

pcrecord, post: 460879, member: 46460 wrote: What kind of recording do you want to do ?

One recital will be a chamber orchestra in a recital hall. The other will be a orchestral band and choir in a cathedral. As I said earlier, Given that these are live performances with minimal rehearsals at the venues and no chance for multiple takes, I was thinking of using a spaced omni pair and an ORTF cardioid pair together so I can choose the better one in post production.

pcrecord Fri, 05/03/2019 - 11:31

Great !
It all depends on the levels of quality you want really. One could go for easy to carry gear like a Zoom or Taskcam 4 channel recorders.
But I think @paulears is one RO member you should talk to about classical music recording..
Things to consider is how far from the instruments you'll be and matching preamp clean gain available. For exemple, Focusrite ISA preamps get you to 80db without a once of noise. but no interface will get you this kind of performances. . .

Can't wait to read you Paul..

Profile picture for user kmetal

kmetal Fri, 05/03/2019 - 11:42

Id look into the zoom uac-8 its got a 121db dynamic range, which would be useful for classical musics wide dynamic range. The scarlett 2nd gen has 109db dynamic range. The Zoom is priced 100$ more than the scarlett. Based on specs id err towards the uac 8.

Profile picture for user paulears

paulears Sat, 05/04/2019 - 12:53

I do quite a few, and sadly, the success rate for them is rather low. I'll explain - the recordings are flawed. It's got nothing to do with the techniques, the equipment or even the buildings - it's problems with the performers, the way they use the space and their expectations.

I've been developing a belts and braces approach recently - I've diverted and swapped equipment round and am taking a Midas M32 to the locations now, recording into a MacBook, and in absolute 'technical quality' terms, I've been able to capture multiple microphones in a number of techniques and then deal with them back in the studio.

The issues are totally practical ones. I cannot get the microphones exactly where I want them. I cannot predict in advance that the piano will sound dreadful. The balance off the performers can be truly terrible. One recording, a rather strange (to my taste) Fauré piece, was arranged for two sopranos and one alto section - but - this had split the available sopranos so the altos were very loud. They were split in the choir stalls, so we had sopranos one side altos the other - and the altos were on the same side as the organ - a terrible choice as the careful, and in this case ok mic position just didn't work well. In some of the pre-edit sessions the conductor wanted the sopranos up and the altos down - and it was simply impossible. The pianist felt he was too loud, so played lid down, and this was clearly a problem, so having plenty of spare channels, I popped out a spot mic in rehearsals, but with the lid down, it was just too soft and lost. I'd put another stereo pair further down the church because they had built a set of choir rostra, but again, even though these were much more balanced with male and female singers, during the event, one of the males came out of his position and sang a solo behind the microphones, while another soloist took advantage of the raised pulpit - which actually was fine, but not having been to a continuous rehearsal, I was dismayed when part of the Beethoven featured a duet, with her in her prominent raised position singing against a chap on the back row furthest away - who I actually found more prominent in the now unused mics setup for the choir.

This particular event also featured video - so we finished on Version 16 - by the time the audio and video edits were approved. The choir feature a number of professionals and a much higher number of enthusiastic amateurs, so the usual things take place - the best voices are not the loudest, and the loudest always have a 'character' to them that really requires them being as far away as possible, but front row places are status decided, as in length of time in the choir, having the nicest hair cut, or the least odd haircut - seriously!

Sonically - we could have produced a recording that would have impressed as the acoustics were pretty decent, and the number of participants sufficient to make a big recording. Reality is that it is what it is.

Exactly the same happens with orchestral recordings. The musicians will in non-100% professional orchestras, be variable in quality, and the internal balance between section probably a bit dubious.

For the music college recording, I'd recommend a simple approach, but a tricky one. Is the venue wonderful sounding? Let's assume it is.

Two things will happen. You will find one of these scenarios.

You are number 1 on the priority list. You get the choice of mic position. You get a chance to record a rehearsal in their real and marked playing positions. You get a chance to listen to the balance, and make adjustments as required. In the case of a small orchestra with choral components, this could mean moving the strings a little, or perhaps bringing the singers forward, or a soloist - that kind of thing. Then you get them to repeat the piece or movement and review the result. If you hear a problem - perhaps in tuning in some sections, you can point it out and have them adjust. You brief the musicians that you must have silence between movements and please try not to make any extraneous noises that could compromise the recording of their excellent playing.

The alternative is this:
You come number 2 on the list, you get now chance to record the rehearsal properly, your suspicions that the strings are going to overpower the brass are dismissed, and your observed tuning issue with the third cellist is not going to be mentioned because his father funded the new sports pavilion. If you are lucky, they will tell you the start has been moved forward to 7.25, rather than 7.30, and the conductor will not keep talking and mouthing at the players when they are playing a pp section. The technically competent recording will contain mistakes and other flaws that will consign it to private use only - the better players refusing to allow it to be distributed.

This last point is not at all unusual. A 20 minute recital I did a few weeks back, as a money making product for a group is now a 3 minute highlights version going on a website!

Lastly - who are you dealing with? An individual or a committee - these are terrible for getting things approved.

Quality wise, there is no problem with anything I recorded, with a zoom 4 channel backup, just in case. The idea to try different techniques is a good one, but probably won't be your quality indicator - the performers will! If there are things that worry you, rather than play with different techniques - stick to X/Y and use the extra channels for backup life saving stuff!

Profile picture for user paulears

paulears Sun, 05/05/2019 - 00:45

Sometimes I think we're all guilty of wearing rose tinted glasses and not seeing/hearing the critical quality of the performers and their instruments. A friend's son is a nationally known award winning cellist. If you stuck him in a nice sounding space and put up two cheap mics, in nearly the right place with angles nearly perfect you would get a wonderful recording. Swapping these mics for the most expensive pair would alter the tone, hopefully for the better but the cheap mics would sound great. Probably even two SM57s would work fine on him. Use the same mics in the school hall with a Grade 3 player on a communal instrument and your recording would sound awful. Sometimes it's just not you! My colleague is a diploma level pianist and has to play what he's given. Sometimes he sounds crap!

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