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Tracking w/Mackie and Outboard Pre?

Discussion in 'Microphones (live or studio)' started by woods, Nov 8, 2002.

  1. woods

    woods Guest

    How ya doin? Been a while. Spent the last month in acquisition mode. Anyway back to the Mackie 1604 and tracking.

    We had been having a discussion before about the limitations of the Mackie ie. wanting to record cmore sources than viable with 16 channels. So I'm wondering about the outboard pre scenario.

    What if?

    I were to put 4 drum mics through a preamp such as the Sytek MPX 4A. Is there a way to do this and still sub them down to two tracks? You could free up 4 channels on the console for use later when coming back from the tape machine. But how do you sub them down to two?


  2. woods

    woods Guest

    I wonder if someone would comment on the following question and the responses I got?

    Then my question to you would be. Below, someone has suggested running from an outboard pre into the Mackie 1604 at unity gain -- But does this really leave the signal unaffected or are there implications?



    " "Then, would it be possible to get from the Sytek into the Mackie and then sum the drums?
    In other words, Is it possible to go in to the Mackie and bypass the Mackie pres?

    ""You'll either have to just put the trim for the channel at unity gain (it's passing through the preamp but with no audible change to the signal.) Or you can use the return of the insert and bypass the preamp completely. However, the insert is unbalanced so there's a trade-off. Personally, I use plan A. Line inputs also take the same path through the preamp though they're run through a pad first. If you have a 1202, 1402 or 1642 VLZPRO use the line input only channels. These don't have preamps.""
  3. GT40sc

    GT40sc Active Member

    Jan 14, 2001
    Seattle WA, USA

    please forgive me, but I hear too much thinking and not enough music in this post.

    Does that make sense?

    The goal is to find the shortest signal path to the greatest sound quality. There are no awards for the "most complex patching set-up."

    Running an outboard mic pre into a console seems like a waste of time...the true value of a good outboard pre can only be heard if you take it straight to tape, i.e. Microphone to Preamp to Recorder. Then take the outputs of your recorder into the console, and use it for monitoring...

    Can you give me some more specifics about your recording situation? For example, "cutting basic tracks with a 4-piece band, live to 8-track, using 8 microphones." Then detail the setup of each microphone...421 on kick, 57 on snare, whatever. Then I could lay out a few ideas for you. Right now I'm not really clear on what you need, and why you have to submix the drums...sorry.

    Maybe I should go back and read your earlier posts...

    contact me here, if you want:


    hope this helps, a little...
  4. woods

    woods Guest

    Thanks, for the response.

    Over thinking - you're probably right.

    I'll rethink everything in more detail later - it's getting a little late here - but....

    I'm thinking about putting drums through some outboard pres - Sytek or otherwise.

    I need to use 11 - 12 mics. Using Mackie 16 channel mixer. Recording to 8 tracks.

    I need 8 channels on Mackie to monitor the 8track.

    So lets say that I end up using 12 mics/or 12 signal sources. I've got to sub/sum some of them.

    Lets say it's the 4 drum mics that I'd like to sum to two 8trk inputs. If I insist (for arguments sake) on running the 4 drum mics through an outboard pre. Is there any way to get the signal into the mixer to be subbed to 2 before going to the 8 track?

    Thanks again,

  5. jajjguy

    jajjguy Guest

    Well sure, straight to tape would be best, but if there's some reason you want to use the console, I think calling on some outboard pres to do what they do best and not asking the Mackie to do this job will be an improvement. If you don't like the sound of the Mackie mixing section, this won't help, but if you don't like the sound of the pres, it will.

    Sorry I'm not answering the qustion about submixing, but I don't know that board.
  6. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    Jul 2, 2002
    77 Sunset Lane.
    Yes you can patch the Sytek pres into the Mackie insert returns. That is how I would do it. Using the line ins would run through the mackie pres and the pad. No good. In addition you wouldn't be able to use the pres from those channels on the Mackie as extra ins to tape like you want to. It's much better to go unbalanced into the Mackie insert return. I run my Neve 9098's into my Mackie SR 24 this way and it sounds real good. From the insert sends of those same channels you could now use the pre amps from the Mackie to go direct to some tape channels. Another way would be to just use the Mackie for the drums and use the outboard pres for the vocals, bass or guitars. I think that is the best solution in your case .... Fats
  7. woods

    woods Guest

    Sorry, it's only 10 signal sources I'm managing. Not 12 as I said the other night. No matter.

    The 4 drum mics are going to sytek and then into inserts, then subbed to two tracks.(4 sources tallied - 2 trks used). (4 Mackie ch used - 12 left)

    Vocals (Neumann U87) into Avalon 737sp and direct to one track. (5 sources tallied - 3 trks used). (0 Mackie ch used - 12 left)

    Bass into Demeter Bass Preamp and direct to tape.
    (6 sources tallied - 4 trks used). (0 ch used - 12 left.

    Telecaster into Deluxe Reverb into SM57 into Mackie then to tape. (7 sources tallied - 5 trks used). (1 ch used - 11 left)

    Acoustic Gtr to Radial DI (for initial tracking) but then stereo miked for overdub (9 sources tallied - 7 trks used). (1 ch used - 10 left)

    Harmony Vocal to Mackie then to tape (10 sources tallied - 8 trks used). (1 ch used - 9 left for monitoring) 'only need 8'

    Now this is the setup. Obviously there undoubtedly could second takes for lead vocals or whatever. But we're looking to keep at least bass and drums initially. But this recording setup will allow a full band performance with a top notch cue mix (utilizing Oz audio's HM6 headphone matrix).

    Fats, Coincidentally, did I understand you right? If the sytexks go into 4 channel inserts -can the mic inputs of those same 4 channels be used for other sources?

    Also, I suppose it's almost not worth having an Avalon 737 going direct to tape if your signal is just going to be affected by the Mackie's circuits during mix down. Is this right or is the sound of the Mackie's mix electronics not as impacting as the sound of the Mackie preamps?

    Anyway, your thoughts on all this is very appreciated.


  8. k.w.blackwell

    k.w.blackwell Member

    Mar 2, 2001
    Woods, it sounds like you've got a good handle on this problem. With the external signal chains that don't touch the Mackie on the way to the recorder, you've freed up even more channels and now only have to submix 4 to 2.

    Actually, I think you miscounted. For initial tracking, which is presumably when you're gonna have these constraints, you are only using the DI with the acoustic, which means you only have 9 signals going to 7 tracks. Overdubbing acoustic guitar is irrelevant since you could move a cable for that. Anyway, it sounds as though you've really only got 9 channels to 7 tracks, not 10 to 8. If so, consider splitting off one of the 4 drum channels: go directly from the Sytek to the recorder. Snare might be a good choice. Or add a room mic, or a more distant mic on the Deluxe Reverb, and let that take up the extra track.

    If you will recall from the previous conversation, each input can be split into an unbalanced send and an unbalanced return, which basically separates a channel's mic pre from the rest of that channel strip in the Mackie. So the answer to your question is "yes". You use the insert's send half to send the mic pre's output to the recorder, and the insert's return half to bring in any line-level signal. But, keep your inserting of Sytek outputs in the 1 -- 8 channels and use 9 -- 16's inserts for the returns from the recorder (for monitoring). This can get confusing, but it will work.

    One thing you might want to do is add a mic for the acoustic guitar during initial tracking, assuming you're sending a piezo's signal to the DI, since they tend to sound crappy in a recording unless they are blended with a real mic signal (and sometimes even then). Well, the DI isn't going through the Mackie, so you can't easily mix them down during tracking. I would say toss the DI for acoustic since it probably won't sound very good. If your concern is that by miking the acoustic you will have too much bleed from the other instruments, then you might consider not even recording that performance during initial tracking. Usually a mic on the acoustic, even with bleed, would still be more useful than the DI. If the bleed is that bad, then fashion some crude gobo's or get a more directional mic. Your situation (pickup) might be better, though. Record both DI and mic if you must, but at least consider saving that track of the recorder for a more distant electric guitar mic or a room mic or one direct drum track straight from the Sytek. (Note: miking the bass amp has it's advantages, too, but you can always re-amp that DI track later).

    Thanks for following up here on your developing project. Do continue to keep us updated.
  9. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    Jul 2, 2002
    77 Sunset Lane.
    You will benefit from using the Avalon pre for the vocal direct to tape... mixing is another thing, with a quality signal to tape you will be ahead of the game. Squeezing all you can from each element is what it's all about. When you mix just remember what our good friend Bill Roberts told us all about keeping the internal channel levels below -10dB to avoid the power supply from running out of headroom. When using the eq on the Mackie try to use cut, rather than boost, when possible. Try to keep it down to 6dB of cut and 3 dB of boost if you can. Situations will arise that require you to use more than 6dB and may need boosting instead of cutting but in general this is a good rule of thumb. Just remember the Mackie has serious power supply issues and the less you push it the better it will sound. If you haven't already purchased the Mackie you may consider the Crest X series mixer X 20. (http://) This is a wonderful sounding mixer, right up there with the best. Good pre amps and great sounding eq's. It costs 3 times as much as a Mackie but it will sound 10 better! An X 20 is at the top of my wish list. ....... Fats

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