Advice needed on new DAW setup

Discussion in 'Computing' started by karma1959, Nov 4, 2008.

  1. karma1959

    karma1959 Guest

    I currently have a dual xeon 3.2 Ghz w/ 2 Gig RAM running Sonar 8 PE with a MOTU 1224 and use a Mackie 1604VLZ for connecting XLRs and playback monitoring (to avoid CPU latency). I'm considering upgrading the MOTU 1224 to either the 2408mkiii or HD192.

    The mk2408mkiii has similar inputs as the 1224 (1/4 inch), but the HD192 has onboard XLRs - so no need to connect XLRs into the Mackie, then onward into the MOTU, however what's your view on the following:

    - Generally, what's your experience on pros / cons to using an analog mixer vs. connecting mics directly to the digital audio interface?

    - Any sound quality or functionality difference between using the mic preamps in the Mackie console vs. connecting mics directly into the Motu 192? I assume connecting directly into the HD192 would be cleaner (has 24-bit 192khz inputs), but am concerned I may lose warmth and preamp control the Mackie provides. Thoughts?

    - Lastly, any playback advantages / disadvantages between the two configurations? Main concern here is not relying on the PC for playback monitoring for fear of latency. Also, I notice the Motu 192 doesn't have 'main outs', so would require either monitoring playback via the computer or feeding 12 analog XLR outputs back into mixer, then onto monitors?

    Thanks in advance for the help.
  2. Jeemy

    Jeemy Well-Known Member

    Sep 19, 2003
    wrt your first question, there aren't really pros/cons to using an analog mixer vs. connecting mics directly to the digital audio interface... terms of functionality.

    Any decent DAI will be able to perform all the routing that you might need in recording terms. The pro's of a desk would be busing down into groups, routing headphones, monitors and so forth.

    But I have to say, the RME Fireface that I use does all of this effortlessly in the digital domain.

    Its going to come down to your research, not an answer we can give you.

    However everything you've posted sems to lean towards functionality issues. You briefly allude to audio quality when speaking about the Mackie pres VS the Motu pres.

    I would suggest the following:

    - your MOTU 1224 conversion is fine. I'm not directly familiar with the unit, but it obviously doesn't offer direct monitoring.

    - when you say onboard XLRs, you mean the HD192 has preamps built in? even so, they don't offer you much of an improvement.

    Going onto your last question:

    - even if the Motu 192 has no main outs, that does not mean you can't internally configure Analogue Outs 1 & 2 to sum your main L & R buses and act as a Main Out L/R pair, its all nomenclature.

    So all that said, what you need is (if I understand things correctly):

    1) A sonic improvement. I don't think the HD192, or 2408mkiii will offer any major improvement in your A/D converters.

    2) An ability to direct monitor without relying on the Mackie. I'm very surprised your 1224 does not offer this, I spent a few minutes Googling and found little on this.

    I started off the same way as you, using the Mackie as my monitoring & preamp tool; it was a very cheap way for me to get 16 preamps and sum them.

    To be honest the only way I see you getting the sonic improvement is to ditch the desk. Decent desks with decent preamps are expensive.

    You haven't mentioned a budget, or what you are recording.

    Step 1, is to see if you can make your 1224 direct monitor. If its able to, then you can ditch the desk and go straight to some preamps. This would give you some great improvement in the sound you are getting.

    Step 2, if you can't is gonna be a pain. You need a direct monitoring device (A/D/A) and a set of preamps.

    At this stage to offer advice we'd need to know how much you are recording simultaneously, and your budget.

    A quick suggestion that works for me is a JLM TMP08 and a RME Fireface - 4 RME preamps, 8 x JLM preamps, direct monitoring 10x10 and good midrange A/D/A - about $3000.
  3. karma1959

    karma1959 Guest

    thanks - very helpful. My main catalyst for upgrading is not so much for improved sonic quality, but instead due to some of my components are old and starting to be limiting factors: my pc is old and doesn't have PCIe slots for a new UAD-2, the Motu 1224 is 10 yrs old, has limited connectivity and doesn't support 96khz recording, etc.

    As you say, I'm struggling a bit whether to go 'mixerless' or not - going mixerless would require mic pre's and I'm sure newer / standalone mic pre's will help quite a bit over the existing Mackie VLZ mic pre's I'm using - I'll just have to weigh the options and costs.

    Thanks for your help.
  4. Jeemy

    Jeemy Well-Known Member

    Sep 19, 2003
    You know, there is a real gap in the market for something like a stage mixer unit with grouping, busing, headphones and aux send/receive, which has slots for preamps in the top so you can drop API 500 series compatible modules in it. The company could make their own brand VLZ-grade preamp module and you could swop in and out.

    I've been on 3-4 threads where guys are looking for something like that.
  5. Codemonkey

    Codemonkey Well-Known Member

    Dec 11, 2007
    Scotland, UK
    ...grouping and busing are a little complex for bands, surely?
    (If they weren't, us live sound people would be a little less insecure)

    So basically, a rack of pre's feeding line in's on a mixer (with lots of aux's) and a suitable headphone amp?
    Except it would be in one expensive, neat package and harder to upgrade.
  6. karma1959

    karma1959 Guest

    Apologies - Just realized I posted this in the pro forum - meant to include it in the newbie section. Thanks for your patience / advice in responding to cleary what is a newbie issue!
  7. Jeemy

    Jeemy Well-Known Member

    Sep 19, 2003
    Not hard, very easy to upgrade if everything is 500 series compatible modules.

    And cost would be shared with your rack unit, they'd just be mobile. Convenience is often costly.

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