Skip to main content

Hardware Processing With a DAW

Member for

20 years 1 month
There have been several threads going on around here forever about the virtues (or lack-thereof) of passing the signal through a compressor on the way into a software-based DAW (hard drive). I am not here to once again debate whether or not this is good idea, let's just say for the sake of argument in this thread, that it *is* a good idea. This post can apply to compression, de-essing, EQ'ing, pitch-shifting, limiting, gating, whatever...I want to process on the way to "tape".

The question becomes, in this day of mixerless home studios and channel strips and mic pres without channel inserts, how is everyone patching in these hardware devices?

For example, my RNC is not balanced, nor is my dbx 263A de-esser. My problem is that I do not have any inserts in my mic pres, so I am assuming that I going to do the following:

  • line out from the mic pre to the in on the RNC
  • line out from the RNC into the A/D converter, and on into the DAW
    If indeed this is the correct way to patch this together, how do I deal with the balanced vs. unbalanced cable issue? The line outs from the mic pre are balanced, as are the line ins on the A/D, whereas The i/o on the RNC (and the dbx 263A) are unbalanced. So do I patch this all together with balanced or un-balanced cables?

    Bottom line: How do I patch all this, and with what type of cable?

  • Comments

    Member for

    19 years 10 months

    lorenzo gerace Sat, 08/09/2003 - 05:09

    Usually the best point to unbalance a line is at it's end, so that the signal is balanced all the way through; unfortunately this isn't your case, as you have unbalanced pieces of gear in the middle of the signal path; so I think that you only have one choice at this: use a custom cable from the balanced preamp's line out that has the other end unbalanced (soldered so that pin 1 & 3 are connected together); then go unbalanced from there to the A/D: you cannot get the signal to be balanced again unless you use some other purpose built device (like a DI box), but I wouldn't add more devices ( then more noise and distortion) in the signal path before the A/D; I think if you use a really good quality connectors (Neutrik, Switchcraft) and cable (Belden, Mogami, Canare, Monster, Zaolla etc..) with good shielding and keep the distances short (no more than 1m or 3ft) you shouldn't have any issues. Keep consistent levels, and hit the front end fairly hot (without overs going in the digital domain ;) ), and you should be fine.

    Hope this helps