Analog mixers vs. audio interfaces

Discussion in 'Consoles / Control Surfaces' started by jammer42777, Mar 24, 2006.

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  1. jammer42777

    jammer42777 Guest

    Good day,
    I am wondering which would be more conducive to a better (IE clear) sound, a firewire preamp (eg the presonus firebox, or Focusrite Octu Pre)
    OR a good analog mixer (Mackie DFX12) combined with the A/D converters on an m-audio audiophile 2496?
    Which produces a higher fidelity sound?
    or is the difference marginal?
    If you do have a preference PLEASE INCLUDE WHY.
    thank you very much for your input.
    I will be using the PC at the end of this chain either way
  2. pr0gr4m

    pr0gr4m Well-Known Member

    Feb 9, 2005
    South Florida
    Home Page:
    I would imagine that each unit is different from the next in which case it becomes a question of preference.

    There are potentially three different things which will affect the sound. You have the pre-amp, the mixer (if you take that road) and the A/D converters. Some items have good pre-amps with not so good A/D converters and some are the opposite. Then there are some with both good preamps and good A/D converters. I'm sorry to say that I don't know which is best.

    Personally, I use a MOTU 828MKII. The 828 has a couple mic pres which are OK. Aside from that I use the pres from my Mackie mixer. I also have 4 TLAudio pres I use or when I want something fun I'll go to my Electro Harmonix preamp.
    I also have an AI-3 which is hooked into the 828. It has a different converters but I've never really tested them against the ones in the 828. I guess I'll have to try that out this weekend.
  3. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Member

    Sep 26, 2005
    jammer42777, your question is asking which piece of mediocre hardware is better than the other piece of mediocre hardware. A good mixer like a Mackie?? I think you'll find that if you're not talking esoteric high-end stuff, you will find many of the same IC chips in these various pieces of equipment? They will be preamplifiers and converters from companies like Analog Devices, Crystal, Burr Brown, OPI and many others. There is really no advantage from one to the other. You should just choose the features that you want as quality levels will be similar.

    I personally do feel independent components are best as opposed to devices that are fully integrated. I mean years ago didn't everybody stop buying " stereo consoles", in favor of buying separate components for their stereo system? I think the same still applies especially in the recording business? Converters with microphone preamplifier's built-in? Blah! I mean if schlepping around junk is what your aiming to do then maybe integration makes sense? If it's going to be rackmounted in your control room, I'd opt for separate pieces.

    Thank goodness I'm integrated because if I wasn't I'd forget my brain at home regularly.
    Ms. Remy Ann David
  4. jammer42777

    jammer42777 Guest

    Soo... I'm wondering (yes I'm a noob) should I get separate pre-amps for each separate job (vocals guitars, drums etc) and just send them through the Ballanced inputs on a mixer then?

    Sorry for such a basic question, right now I just have a samson C01U, it's the first condenser that I've ever owned.

    In any case, thank you for your time!
  5. saemskin

    saemskin Active Member

    Nov 6, 2005
    Can you afford a separate preamp for each instrument you'll be recording, and do you know your preference for said instrument? Probably not, so it's best for you to pick up a good "all around" preamp to start with and then pick up the signature pieces as your tastes develop. Maybe you should get the Mackie 400F which has rock solid preamp at that price, then save up for something Universal Audio or similar for making sweet vocal tracks. Or you can get the Presonus Firepod and adat a Mackie 800R and you'll have alot of useable preamps.

    I dont know that Samson makes any decent products, but if you buy a nice preamp it will make that crummy condenser mic sound better. Until then you should buy a better mic to use with the preamps you start with that arent "golden", maybe a Rode NT1A which is a great condenser for 200$ new and an SM57 which seems to be the workhorse of choice around these parts.

    Progr4m's setup is really utilitarian, he has expanded his 828 with the adat box giving him 16 inputs. Then he has a selection of preamps, one set of which is really sweet, the rest are pretty solid aside from that. His and my setup are nearly identical in that respect. I'm buying the same adat box for more IO and I have 1 really nice mic pre. Eventually I'll get another for variety, but the basic pre's on the 828 MKII coupled with the excellent pre's on my TLaudio C1 get me where I need to go without having spent tons of cash on overlapping products
  6. jahtao

    jahtao Guest

    line out from preamp direct into the interface, thus bypassing the mixer? cleaner, purist, simplest solution always the best
  7. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Member

    Sep 26, 2005
    OK, let me see if I can be more clear and succinct.

    1) Buy a reasonable entry-level mixer, Mackie, Beringer, Soundcraft, etc..

    2) Buy a reasonable multitrack input soundcard interface, Presonus, MOTU, Digidesign, M-Audio, etc..

    3) Plug the interface into your computer.

    4) Plug the mixer into the interface.

    5) Plug your microphones into the mixer.

    6) Learn how to record and mix.

    Once you become good with that, you can start to add other ancillary equipment to flavor your future mixes.

    Master Chef
    Ms. Remy Ann David
  8. jammer42777

    jammer42777 Guest

    thank you!
  9. TeddyG

    TeddyG Well-Known Member

    Jan 20, 2005
    To "push" Ms. RAD's fine(To say nothing of how clear and succinct it is!) answer just a bit.

    If budget allows(And you know enough about how you want to record to figure which one?) for ONE very nice piece of gear, I would suggest a Lynx sound card... Why?

    Anything you plug into it will sound as good as it can sound AND, as you grow(Seperate preamps, better mics, speakers, etc.) these, too, will not, then, be "limited" by a possibly "iffy"(Cheap to even "semi-pro") sound card/interface? Making your "base" be absolutely "pro", never having a worry as to whether it's "holding you back" and working your way out, as you can.....? Certainly, with a Lynx, everything IN the computer will be as good as it can be, all it's connections and converters will be absolutely pro, right from the start, ready for any primo piece of gear(Even a Mackie!) that comes along - a very good thing...


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