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Larry Jones

Audio Interface: Looking For Software Advice

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If you've encountered me in this forum you may know that I'm not somebody looking for the lowest possible latency in an audio inteface. For one thing, I'm always on a tight budget. I also seem to be comfortable using guitar amp sims at higher latency than many other CbB/SONAR users. So I'm just not into investing in a fancier interface than the one I already have. Except for one thing.

I'm currently using a Focusrite Scarlett 6i6. It's a first generation model, and CbB reports round trip latency in the range of 10ms (I haven't looked lately). I like it -- the preamps and stuff. But I kind of hate the mixing software ("Mix Control") that comes with the Focusrite driver. I've never been comfortable using it to create headphone mixes. Mostly I work by myself as engineer, producer, player and singer, but I expect to be doing a few things with some other folks this year, and I'd like to be able to generate two or three different headphone mixes and I want something that's intuitive and easier to use. I've heard that the 2nd generation 6i6 comes with a vastly improved Mix Control, but I haven't seen it in action.

So my two-part question is: Is 2nd gen Mix Control way better than 1st gen? And (part two) is there another interface in the 6i6 price range with significantly better (easier to use) mixing software?

Thanks for reading!

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8 hours ago, Larry Jones said:

It's a first generation model, and CbB reports round trip latency in the range of 10ms

Careful!! They test these things on very very powerful computers with awesome motherboards to get the lowest possible latency. Be careful what you read and believe. a lot is marketing hype disguised as facts. You are more than likely going to get a higher round trip latency then what they report.

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If your machine has Thunderbolt-3, ~$600 would get you into Quantum-2.  Quantum can get RTL down to 1ms.

If you need to go USB and want something simple,  have a look at the Audient ID14 (~$299).

  • Best fidelity you'll find at that cost (Burr-Brown Converters)
  • Round-trip latency is ~5ms at a 64-sample ASIO buffer size 44.1k

To achieve better than ~5ms total round-trip latency with a USB audio interface, you're looking at RME or MOTU (recent AVB series and spin-offs).

Either of those will get you down to just under 4ms RTL.

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@CJ Jacobson & @Jim Roseberry: Thanks guys! I guess I wasn't clear. I'm trying to find a USB interface with better (easier to use) routing software, so I can create multiple headphone mixes. The Focusrite Mix Control that comes with the Scarlett driver is confusing. I there might be something better for creating multiple headphone mixes. Naturally I don't want to go backward in latency, but that's not my main issue here.

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43 minutes ago, Larry Jones said:

@CJ Jacobson & @Jim Roseberry: Thanks guys! I guess I wasn't clear. I'm trying to find a USB interface with better (easier to use) routing software, so I can create multiple headphone mixes. The Focusrite Mix Control that comes with the Scarlett driver is confusing. I there might be something better for creating multiple headphone mixes. Naturally I don't want to go backward in latency, but that's not my main issue here.

For that, you will need a headphone amp/mixer like the one i have, the Sampson S Phone 4 channel headphone amp/mixer, if you want more than 2 headphone mixes to be heard by more than 2 people at the same time. 

Audio interfaces only come with 1 or 2 headphones connections and most just come with one. Then you would rout each headphone mix from your DAW and sound card cue mix

Edited by CJ Jacobson

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21 minutes ago, CJ Jacobson said:

That looks like a que mix to me, all audio interface mixers are like that. That one is pretty straight forward. its nice!

You got it. That's what I said in my original post. In actual practice, I have not found it to be nice. I've found it to be hard to work with, and as a result I don't use it. It's part of the driver for the Scarlett 6i6. As far as I know, it's the only way I can set up cue mixes with the 6i6, which is why I'm looking around for other devices with better cue mix software.

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1 hour ago, Larry Jones said:

You got it. That's what I said in my original post. In actual practice, I have not found it to be nice. I've found it to be hard to work with, and as a result I don't use it. It's part of the driver for the Scarlett 6i6. As far as I know, it's the only way I can set up cue mixes with the 6i6, which is why I'm looking around for other devices with better cue mix software.

To be honest, I find it a bit confusing myself. It's the same mix app for both my 6i6 and my 18i20.

What I found helped enormously was a tutorial on it on groove3. It explained it all very well: 

https://www.groove3.com/tutorials/Focusrite-MixControl-Explained

FWIW, there are far worse routing apps out there. The one for my mLAN setup ( Yamaha 01X / i88x ) is an absolute nightmare. All the sources/destinations are (to my mind anyhow) the wrong way around, and the connection points are ridiculously small.

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Hey Larry, You know I have never used the deeper parts of the mix control, in all the years I've owned the 6i6 I've rarely even opened the app. I just leave it alone.

I have always used a little Mackie mixer to control my headphone mixes.   And with the correct mixing board in the studio you can possible make this work for a whole band,, Forget those headphone amps,, they rarely offer custom mixes. So there's the hardware approach ( my pick)  or fight the software. 

The other day I was making a tutorial for my bandmate and he won't have the mixer so I was pondering how to set him up.

So I opened mix control and lo and behold I started to see how it worked. Amazing, It is ONLY for setting Headphone mixes. It has little to do with recording levels.  The biggest problem is they use illogical terminology.  Like DAW 1 and DAW 2??? 

I even posted the video I made for my friend on my web site but since then I've figured out a few more things. http://www.cactusmusic.ca/tutorial-videos  it's on the right.

I'll see if I can brew up a new tutorial this weekend.  You might get buy for FREE.. my favourite price point>>  

Edit- whoops, the 6i6 is at my bandmates house so I can't even open Mix control.... I 

 

From what I understand... all of the software that comes with audio interfaces is just as mind boggling.

 

Edited by Cactus Music

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Technically I am also first gen (my Saffire had no second gen), and never had an issue with MixControl routing. Granted, it does take a bit of a walkthrough to first learn (some videos are good on this), but most routings are static (DAW, inputs, outputs, etc.).

To that end, my advice would be to take advantage of the "Save as" function. You can save only one routing setup into the hardware itself, but can save any number to the connected PC. 95% of the time I use *my* default routing, but for multiple outs, loopback, etc. I have those stored on the PC, so switching is a simple matter of loading the one desired.

Also... those Mix tabs at the top are for up to 16 routing setups, which may be sufficient unto itself.

Edited by mettelus
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9 hours ago, Jim Roseberry said:

If your machine has Thunderbolt-3, ~$600 would get you into Quantum-2.  Quantum can get RTL down to 1ms.

If you need to go USB and want something simple,  have a look at the Audient ID14 (~$299).

  • Best fidelity you'll find at that cost (Burr-Brown Converters)
  • Round-trip latency is ~5ms at a 64-sample ASIO buffer size 44.1k

To achieve better than ~5ms total round-trip latency with a USB audio interface, you're looking at RME or MOTU (recent AVB series and spin-offs).

Either of those will get you down to just under 4ms RTL.

For sake of clarity you mean at 44k only correct? I mean using 48k or 96k other brands can beat 5ms.

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Just watched the above video. It did explain clearly  how to get the 2 different mixes to the 2 headphone and rear output jacks. 

I was unaware that the 2 HP jacks are tied to the rear outputs that way. In other words you have only 2 analog stereo mix options and they are cloned with 1/2 output to the left hand headphone jack and 3/4 output to the right hand HP jack. I always thought you could send these individually creating up to 6 mixes. Now at least I understand why I could never figure out how to send something different to the second HP jack. 

 The 3rd stereo cue mix would be possible using the spdif  but you of course need a device to send it to. I have the Yamaha 01v so I could achieve 3 stereo mixes easily. 

I think the 6 cue mix option would only be possible by using mono and panning.   

 

So Larry, do you have a way to use the SPDIF? I've heard of people using a DAT player or even some CD recorders ( remember those?) have the SPDIF inputs and a headphone jack. 

Otherwise you would only have 2 stereo mixes or 4 mono. 

Edited by Cactus Music

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6 hours ago, msmcleod said:

To be honest, I find it a bit confusing myself. It's the same mix app for both my 6i6 and my 18i20.

Good to know I'm not alone. I've seen the YouTube tutorial you linked to -- came away thinking "He's leaving something out." Still not sure what. If I don't find a better way, I'll try Groove 3.

5 hours ago, Cactus Music said:

I opened mix control and lo and behold I started to see how it worked.

I see generally how it works -- I just don't like it, and I'm no good at using it. When there are other people in the studio, I feel like I have to be good (and fast) at everything. Looking forward to a tutorial, Johnny. Let us know!

4 hours ago, mettelus said:

...my advice would be to take advantage of the "Save as" function.

Thanks @mettelus! If I end up having to use it, I'll take your advice.

1 hour ago, Clint Martin said:

I have a gen 2 6i6 on reverb now for $189.

@Clint Martin - 2nd gen uses "Focusrite Control," which is different from "Mix Control." Have you found it to be better?

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@Larry Jones I never had the other to compare it to.  I bought it to compare to my Presonus 44VSL, and was just testing stability and latency. They both work good, and I found them to be pretty even. 

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20 hours ago, mettelus said:

To that end, my advice would be to take advantage of the "Save as" function. You can save only one routing setup into the hardware itself, but can save any number to the connected PC. 95% of the time I use *my* default routing, but for multiple outs, loopback, etc. I have those stored on the PC, so switching is a simple matter of loading the one desired.

This was good advise. I see that the solution to not making a fool of yourself in front of clients/bandmates is to pre meditate a few set ups and save them. 

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2 hours ago, Cactus Music said:

This was good advise. I see that the solution to not making a fool of yourself in front of clients/bandmates is to pre meditate a few set ups and save them. 

This is one reason I'm looking for an easier-to-use cue mixer: don't want to be fumbling around while people wait for me to get my shit together.🙃

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On 2/9/2019 at 6:16 AM, msmcleod said:

To be honest, I find it a bit confusing myself...

I have a similar problem with the software that accompanies my Audient interface and get confused with it sometimes. Some of the terms used seem arbitrary and inconsistent.

Edited by Kev
typo

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