How important is your mixer?

Discussion in 'Consoles / Control Surfaces' started by supercharry, Aug 25, 2005.

  1. supercharry

    supercharry Guest

    I havent used my mixer that much lately.

    What's the main use of your mixer in your studio?

    If you have outboard gear you use through your mixer (comp, rev, eqs...etc), what's the idea of using quality preamps if your mixer will colour the sound in some way....? Do you record to your interface directly from the preamps? through a mixer? Im skipping the mixer and going directly to the interface through preamps.

    What's the best way to be able to use your outboard gear without colouring the sound..... I mean, not loosing the quality of it..

    just curious, hope it doesn't sound too dumb.... :oops:
  2. timtu

    timtu Guest

    The main idea of a mixer is to take in all mics, di,s etc, mix them and equalise levels and frequencies before converting them into stereo. I suppose you dont need a mixer but I think it's easier and thus more logical to have one. If the way you a working now is doing fine then I say do it. If anyones guilty of doing "un-conventional" things it's me. If you have one (a mixer) then I reccomend using but you know better than I do of what you want

  3. twenty5south

    twenty5south Guest

    VERY IMPORTANT! Cant mix without a mixer........

  4. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Mar 8, 2004
    Tacoma, WA

    How so?

    I run a mixerless studio --

    Signal flow =

    1. Microphone
    2. Snake
    3. Mic Preamps
    4. Patch Bay
    ---Compressors, Limiters, EQs, inzanouts of AD/DA, inzanouts of Central Station, amplifiers, etc.
    5. A/D
    6. Lynx AES 16
    7. D/A
    8. Central Station
    9. Amplifier
    10. Speaker

    I don't really ever find any need for a mixing console. I have a couple mini desks (1202 and Soundcraft M12), but they really don't do much right now. I occassionally use them on remotes, cue mixes or for submixes, but not much else.

  5. jahme

    jahme Guest

    well dude, u spent 10 times more money buying all those stuff instead of buying a nice mackie mixer...a mixer has all the preamps,eq's,even builtin FX processor...
  6. Midlandmorgan

    Midlandmorgan Active Member

    Jul 21, 2002

    Technically, there can't be such a thing as a mixerless studio (I don't believe) mixers are IMO just as, if not MORE important, than hardware versions....

    The differences are(you know this already):

    - proprietary sound (API vs Mackie, Raindirk vs Behringer, etc)
    - Hands on vs mouseing around (or emulating hands on with extensive controllers
    - Routing options...and this is where it gets strange: hardware mixers are somewhat limited in what they can do where, whereas in software mixers (at least Samplitude's) you can reorder any configuration you want...internally, without 30 miles of patch cords.
    - Granted a software mixer is really a graphic representation of what the DAW is doing, the layout/appearance/responses are crucial to the way I (try and) work...
    - To answer the original post, the mixer (both person and device) is perhaps the MOST crucial element in the audio chain...without them, you can't route anything, can't adjust anything, and the ergonomics/lack of ergonomics can make or break an otherwise great studio operation. The choice of how you route from pres to media is purely up to you - use what sounds best...if you are in the mid/low end mixer camp, perhaps your best bet is to bypass the inbound mixer route and use it as a large headphone amp/cue mixer...if your mixer is in the high end camp (think Neve, SSL, Trident 80B, etc), I think you are cheating yourself by not maximizing its use

    That said, given my druthers (and I can NEVER afford my druthers) I'd just as soon have a hardware mixer...but to get to the sonic level of current summing units/couple of hardware goodies, the price/cost/benefit ratios go right out the I have to rely on software mixing until other sources of funding facilitate what I want.
  7. supercharry

    supercharry Guest

    Hey cucco. I´d like to know how can you setup a patch bay inorder to give you routing through your outboard gear. I do have an idea of how it works but not exactly.... I have found my mixer not so useful lately and I dont have outboard gear such as comps and eq´s yet but planning to do so, so it would be great for me if I can setup some outboard gear through a patch bay, I got used to work without the mixer and I would like to keep it up that way.

    I wont have a bunch of outboard gear yet, so is it still a good idea to use a patch bay for a few, or should I wait till I get enough to use one?

    If I should wait, what´s another good idea to use the outboard gear without a mixer?

    signal flow=

    Mic Preamps

    PD: What type of snake do you have?

  8. supercharry

    supercharry Guest

    My point about not using a mixer is that in order to get a very good sound you should get a very expensive mixer, so its better to have good outboard gear without running it through a behringer or a mackie, and have good preamps going directly to your interface should work better talking about sound quality. Am I right on this?
  9. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Mar 8, 2004
    Tacoma, WA
    Touche...True - a software mixer is obviously an integral part to any digital studio. I was speaking in the traditional sense of a hardware mixer with physical sends and returns.

    It's actually pretty simple.

    If the preamps only have direct outputs, then they go directly to the patchbay.

    If the pres have both inserts and direct outs then the direct outs go to the patchbay (balanced in my case since all of my pres have balanced outs) and the inserts are sent to an unbalanced patchbay with ins and outs labeled seperately. In the case of times when the unit has no insert, there is a jumper placed between the in and out of the insert to maintain signal flow.

    Compressors/EQs/Limiters/FX are all patched into their respective patchbays (balanced gear - balanced patchbay / unbalanced gear, unbalanced patchbay). If I need to insert, the I take the outs from the pre insert and route it to the appropriate input and vice versa for the ins.

    In the cases of situations where there is no insert, I simply patch the outs from the pres into the ins from the FX box and the outs of the FX to the ins of the AD. If I am operating with direct monitoring capabilities, there is no real disadvantage to going this route.

    The one and only drawback that I see to this kind of situation is that there is lots of cable running through the studio. This can be confusing when you see the mess of wires patched into the patchbay - it can also be problematic if you have a bad cable. Not to mention, it's rather expensive to cable up a studio in this manner.

    I have two primary snakes -
    1 Custom 100' XLR-M to XLR-F Monster Cable (500 Series)
    1 Custom 50' with stage box XLR-F 16 channel to XLR-M with 4 TRS points.

    I have a few others that I use for live, but the mean time, this is what I use in the studio.

    There's nothing wrong with getting it early. It will help you in building your system. Imagine the first day you buy the patchbay and you ALSO have to buy $500 worth of cables just to hook everything up. If you get it early, you can drop little bits of $$ as you go to get it cabled up and you can also learn to be more efficient and dependent upon it.

  10. twenty5south

    twenty5south Guest

    Well im using the Akai DPS 24. Mixer, recorder, pres (12), compressors and EQ (on every input channel and track). Its even got a "rack" full of FX and MBCX for mastering. Although i do also use some outboard stuff to, Art Pro Channel for tracking vocals, and M ONE XL reverb. Everything else as far as editing and mixing is done right there in the box. It gives me 24 tracks of uncompressed audio at 24bit and upto 96khz inputs and track count are cut in half..... but in my opinion 96khz is a bit overkill.

    If you want to check out what this thing will do check out some of our tracks here:
    NOTE: THESE ARE ROUGH MIXES (not yelling :D )

  11. JoeH

    JoeH Well-Known Member

    Jun 22, 2004
    Philadelphia, PA/ Greenville, DE
    Home Page:
    Having grown up in the analog world first, and now making my living entirely in the digital world, I understand how old habits die hard. I've worked with everything from MCI JH consoles, to 48 input SSL's, Neoteks, etc., and more recently still use a 36 input API Legacy in one of the studios I work for. I have loved 'em all, at one time or another, even though they could at times be harsh mistresses to those who take them for granted. (Interestingly, they need lots of TLC and warm-up time too - not unlike the women in our lives, I guess!. ;-)

    After getting into mixing with DAWs over the last 10 years now, (specifically Samplitude/Sequoia), I am thrilled to leave all that hardware behind, for the most part. Sure, there's nothing like a big impressive board with lots of flashing lights and everything laid out in front of me for an easy read, and easy access to it all in real time. But who's got the $$ for that, not to mention the upkeep and maintenance? (Believe me, I did maintenance on the above-mentioned SSL & Neoteks and NEVER want to go back to taking those suckers apart again. EVER!!!!)

    These days, my "console" is 99% used just for monitoring and interfacing of various other devices in my production studio. (In my case, it's now shrunk down to a Mackie 1220 ONXY. The smaller footprint, the better, as far as MY needs go.) I'll use the onboard pre's for day to day stuff, and more exotic pre's as needed. (I do most of my tracking on location anyway, but that's just how I work). The rest of the mixing is all done entirely inside the box - in my case, it's now Sequoia V8.2.

    I don't track live sessions here (it's too small, plus I use the studio with the API console for that!) but as soon as I can, I am right back here with Sequoia to do the mixing and occasional overdubs.

    With each new challenge and succesful project that comes my way, I continue to be astounded at what is possible with a DAW this powerful. I am doing things here, on my own, with no more investment than my time, software and of course the hardware that any good production suite would have, and turning out mixes and masters that would not be possible with even the best-equipped studio from only 10 years ago.

    If you had sat me down back in the late 80's (while DAT was still making inroads and digital wasn't much more than the multitrack 3M & Mitsubishi prototypes costing hundreds of thousands of dollars), I probably would have wept in awe at (or simply would refuse to believe) what is now possible.

    Sure, big consoles are important for many reasons (live sound, live tracking, broadcasts, etc), but as far as the way "I" work, they are no longer necessary, actually an encumberance, IMHO, to getting the perfect mix. With what can be done now with DSP inside the box (along with analog aux sends and other "real-world" routing), there's really no point in a big huge chunck of real estate being spent on a multi input console that only adds noise and exponentially increases bad connections, dirty pots, leaky caps and many many other gremlins to mess up a good mix. I could never go back to working that way - moving fader automation, 2-3 people on a mix....ugh! Forgetaboutit.

    Don't get me wrong, I'll use my Mackie's any time they're needed, as well as the Big Boys, but for the important stuff (Mixing & mastering) gimme a DAW anyday and keep the console out of the chain as much as possible.
  12. bobbo

    bobbo Active Member

    Dec 11, 2004

    i've got a dps24 too, and its great, has everything built into it that you would need, 12 pres, plus 4 ballanced inserts, and direct ins for outboard pres too (that totally bypass the stock pres) which is a great plus, it also has a built in 8 channel adat input upgradable to 24 of adat input so you can in the future get a really nice a/d converter and run all your pres into it and then do all the patching in the machine, and it also comes with a digital coax spdif too so that you can use pres with the spdif output, which is what i use on my eureka's digital card, and the card has an aux input for another pre and i have my art prochannel hooked up to that and i've always got them pluged into the dps24, ready to patch internally.

    plus it has faders on it that you can acutally move with your fingers, not with a mouse cursor,

    has lots of stuff that makes life alot easier and cheaper and setup and wiring.

    later folks
  13. twenty5south

    twenty5south Guest

    not to mention they are touch sensitive and we (dps users) have full automation over all paramaters.

  14. sdelsolray

    sdelsolray Active Member

    Jul 5, 2003
    Portland, OR
    I mix in the box, but use a Soundcraft M4 for monitoring and for tracking to headphones.
  15. axel

    axel Guest

    sorry to mention that, it might be slightly off topic but i like to avoid a missunderstanding here

    supercharry wrote:
    colouring the sound does NOT necessarily mean a reduction of quality at all, oposite many people, including myself, love gear that colours a sound like compressors or mixers / pres for that matter and the like... i am not a fan at all of that "clean digital sound" it's utterly soulless to me...

    and a mixer, hardware or software is one of the most important pieces of gear, absolut essential to work.
  16. supercharry

    supercharry Guest

    axel wrote:

    You're right, sorry if my English is misunderstood sometimes....

    My point is that for example you have good preamps, lets say an ISA 428, and then you route the signal through a not so good mixer then add comps, eq's....etc.., wouldn't it be better to skip the mixer and route through comps, eq's....etc directly to the interface?

    Would you still use the mixer even if it's not a very good one? or would you save the $$$ from a very good mixer and get better outboard gear?
  17. axel

    axel Guest

    of course i recommend to avoid any weak link within a signal chain, specially a mixer which is a kind of "central connex station" where you route most or even all your gear through... so for me it's an essential unit wich should be very good to not "downgrade" the maybee nice mics / pres / comps / instruments / and other stuff you have connected...

    if we talk hardware i say save up the bucks and grab a good one, definetely... or if software a good apps like DP or logic (sequia if you are on PC) and some yummy interface like a fireface 800 or even something better...

    and of course that with the coloured sound is a pure matter of taste, nothing else...

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