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Some questions and advise wanted

 
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Solow



Joined: 10 Sep 2012
Posts: 7

PostPosted: Thu Sep 13, 2012 2:04 pm    Post subject: Some questions and advise wanted Reply with quote

Hi, my first post here. I've been producing Hip Hop and such genres for a decade and a half. I always liked reggae and dub and often practised playing reggae sessions. I am particularly interested in Dub's mixing techniques wich are unique and truly use the mixer as an instrument. I'm looking into building a new rig for dub mixing. Right now I do all my things in the box. I play real instruments and combine that with e-drum. But I want to be able to mix on a analog mixer with outboard effects.
So my plan is to save up some money for a mackie onyx 1640i. Looks to me like an ideal way to multitrack and mix out of the box. Do you guys think that is a good plan? Or should I go and buy a multichannel interface, an ad/da converter and a normal analog mixer? What are the pro's and con's of this mackie?
I purchased a Danelectro reel echo recently. Is this a good alternative for tape delay? I could never afford a real vintage one and I see allot of people either mix with a Line 6 delay or build their own. I believe this danelectro reel echo is mono. Should I use a mono or stereo delay unit? I believe that line 6 dl4 is stereo.


I guess most of my future questions will concern routing signals and effects used.

Btw, I heard some incredible music on this board. You guys know what you're doing.

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stranded horse



Joined: 07 Mar 2011
Posts: 65

PostPosted: Fri Sep 14, 2012 2:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hello Solow and welcome aboard!

Don't get the Mackie!
You can record 16 tracks with it's firewire port, but it's playback is only stereo (2 channels) so you still need something to play your tunes.
The main feature you need to dub would not be recording 16 tracks at once, but playing back 16 tracks at once, so you pay extra money for the Mackie's firewire port which you may not even use. (I did that mistake)

Also you might not even need 16 tracks. I use a 12 track mixer but most of the time I don't even use 8 of them. It's very practical anyways to have some instruments routed to the same channel (like skanks from piano and guitar).

You have to decide on your playback device.
You could go harddisk recorder, tape recorder or computer+interface.

Each one has their advantages:

Harddisk recorders are very reliable and you don't have to use a computer (look much cooler when you perform live without a computer).

Tape recorders have a cool sound and again no computer, but are expensive and not as reliable.

Computers can be reliable, but often are not. Also they are multifunctional (surf the internet, watch movies, etc Very Happy)
The biggest advantage though, is that you can do a basic mix on your computer and you can use stuff which you would have to buy otherwise. What if you want to put a flanger on that piano in one song? Without a computer you would have to buy a hardware flanger for a lot of money. Also compressors! Good hardware compressors are really expensive and you can get good software compressors for free and they are usually a lot better than cheap hardware ones.
Unfortunately, there are not that many sound interfaces that have lots of outputs. The cheaper ones usually only have 2 and one with 8 or 16 is quite expensive.
I use a M-Audio Fast Track Ultra 8R, which has 8 outputs.
An alternative with 8 outputs would be MOTU Ultralite MK3 Hybrid.
Roland OCTA-CAPTURE UA-1010 has 10 outputs. Steinberg UR824 has 8 also.
Stay away from Presonus and Phonic!
The one with the most outputs I know is the RME Fireface UFX which has 12, but it costs around $2000...
All the other ones I listed are between $400 and $800.

For a delay, usually mono is enough. I don't know about that Danelectro or Line 6 Stuff. I think they are guitar pedals and might not work well with a mixer because they might not work properly on line level.

So my advice is: If you want to use a computer, get a good analog mixer with 8 tracks, but get one that has at least one stereo channel (with left/right inputs) because drums sound a lot better in stereo and depending on your budget get the M-Audio or Roland Interface I mentioned above.
Also, if you can't afford a good vintage tape echo, don't get a cheap one! They are usually not very usable. Rather get a digital one. A reverb is also at least as important as a delay, but you should have both.
Look for old rack units. Sometimes you can get old digital Korg or Yamaha Delays and Reverbs from the 80s for cheap are they are not bad.
If you have more money, get a Roland Space Echo and a Furman RV-1.

I hope I could help you.

regards,
s.h.

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Solow



Joined: 10 Sep 2012
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 15, 2012 2:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanx for the info. The Mackie onyx 1640I is I believe 16in 16 out so one is able to send 16 tracks from Daw to mixer thru a single firewire cable. The other onyx models are not capable of doing so. My original plan was to record to DAW then send tracks/stems to mixer and mixer stereo out to Revox b77 II taperecorder.

My only doubt about this setup is, what if the mixer malfunctions and I have to send it for repairs, then my whole production comes to a stand still because the firewire mixer is your interface right?

I was indeed thinking about an older analog mixer ( something like a Yamaha mc1202 or so) and a multichannel interface as you suggested. I currently use a M-Audio Profire 610 with only a few outputs, so I'll have to go profire 2626 or something similar. Maybe Adat?

So you think 8 to 12 tracks would be enough?

Thanks for sharing your thoughts, I very much appreciate it!

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Solow



Joined: 10 Sep 2012
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 15, 2012 2:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I said my profire 610 only had a few outputs. It has 8 like yours, so no need to look for another? 8 tracks to mix. 8 minus 2 ( stereo pair for drums ) leaves 6 for bass, guitar, piano, vocals, soundfx etc... so everything but the drums are mono? Sounds logic to me. Mixer must have atleast 2 aux right? The more the better I presume.

Tell me more about your setup please. Looks like I won't have to spend the amount of money I thought on another interface. I can put that money in a better mixer then. Wink I currently have a 8 track yamaha mixer with build in effects but only 1 aux. I will get rid of it a.s.a.p. !!

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stranded horse



Joined: 07 Mar 2011
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 15, 2012 4:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Solow wrote:
Thanx for the info. The Mackie onyx 1640I is I believe 16in 16 out so one is able to send 16 tracks from Daw to mixer thru a single firewire cable. The other onyx models are not capable of doing so. My original plan was to record to DAW then send tracks/stems to mixer and mixer stereo out to Revox b77 II taperecorder.

My only doubt about this setup is, what if the mixer malfunctions and I have to send it for repairs, then my whole production comes to a stand still because the firewire mixer is your interface right?

I was indeed thinking about an older analog mixer ( something like a Yamaha mc1202 or so) and a multichannel interface as you suggested. I currently use a M-Audio Profire 610 with only a few outputs, so I'll have to go profire 2626 or something similar. Maybe Adat?

So you think 8 to 12 tracks would be enough?

Thanks for sharing your thoughts, I very much appreciate it!


Well, if you are really really sure the Mackie Onyx 1640i has also 16 firewire outputs (which I still doubt) then it would be ideal, but pretty expensive.
You can get a good 8 or 12 Channel Soundcraft or Allen & Heath mixer for half that price and your interface seems usable, maybe you want to upgrade later on (check the ones I suggested in my earlier post), but it's definitly a good starting point.

My mixer has 12 channels, 4 of which are stereo and it was always enough for me. Most of the time I used 8 channels or less. It also has 4 aux. I use 3 of them: reverb, echo, phaser.

I record drums with 4 mics, but in my DAW I rout snare and overheads to the same channel, and sometimes additional percussions too. (Depends, if it's a shaker or tambourine then yes, if it's a cowbell groove I might want to solo during dubbing without the drums, then not)
Kick goes to a separate channel, becaues usually it doesn't sound good with echo or reverb.
I use one stereo and one mono channel for drums. One for bass, one for skanks (keyboard and guitar can go to the same channel for this one), one for melodies (melodica, lead guitar, lead organ), sometimes one for a second guitar which doubles the bass, one for vocals, one for my Korg Monotribe (which I use as a siren and for sound effects).
That equals 8 tracks and covers pretty much everything. As I said, sometimes but rarely I need a 9th track for percussions, but if I just had 8 tracks I would leave away the guitar that doubles the bass for that tune.

Sometimes limitations are good to get a focus, and finding ways to get the best out of what you have got!

Rather spend less money on a mixer I'd say, and save the money for good effects. You can get a new Allen & Heath ZED-14 for less than $400 which has 10 channels (4 of which are stereo) and 4 aux. Then you'd still have enough money left to buy a Space Echo or Mutron Bi-Phase Very Happy

cheers,
s.h.


Edit: This track was done with my current setup, so you see, 8 channels are kind of enough for classic dub. The mix was done on a PA though (live), so the balance isn't perfect (bass too quiet)
http://soundcloud.com/dubwillner/green-bay-killing

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Solow



Joined: 10 Sep 2012
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 15, 2012 8:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nice! This really changed my thinking man. Thanx! Good news for my wallet I guess Wink
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Solow



Joined: 10 Sep 2012
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 15, 2012 9:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

And what do you guys look for in a mixer? What are must have specs for a mixer? A certain amount of aux's, a certain type of EQ??

edit* I should have a couple of extra channels on my mixer for aux returns or isn't that necessery?

I should have known the answers to all my questions after all those years of music making. I guess computers make it too easy nowadays. It's about time I start mixing with an actual mixer. I'm sure I'll love it!

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stranded horse



Joined: 07 Mar 2011
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 15, 2012 11:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Usually cheap mixers don't have a parametric EQ but a set one (usually like 80 Hz for Bass, 4 kHz for Mids and 10 kHz for highs). Or sometimes just mids are parametric (that means you can not only set the mid boost, but also the exact frequency of your mid boost). Good mixers usually have 4 different frequencies (bass, low-mids, high-mids, highs) and all of them parametric.
If you do your basic mix on the computer you are not that dependant on the EQ from your mixer because you can do a good mix in your DAW already. Then it only takes away some possibilites for dub moves like resonance sweeps (set mids for example to +15 db and sweeping the frequency bump around)
My mixer offers this possibility but I rarely use it...

Then you should have at least 2 aux (if you go very cheap) but 4 aux is always better.

Routing effects to channels can be fun (again resonance sweeps), but I stopped using it, because I ended up not really using the possibilities.

cheers,
s.h.

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