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brandon

Allen & Heath Mixers as Audio Interfaces

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Are any Cake users using one of the above (via USB) as an Audio Interface in CbB and if so have you had any problems  or experiences you might be able to share?   I currently use a Focusrite Scarlett 2i4 (2nd gen) but would be interested to know how a 'decent' mixer would cope with the same demands.

 

Thank you

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Since a mixer is not an audio interface, I doubt CbB or even Windows would recognize it as an audio interface. Could be wrong, but you might include the mixer model you're referring to just in case A&H has a model that includes an interface in it.

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Also, for those mixers which can function as audio interfaces, many only send a stereo signal to the DAW, regardless of how many channels the mixer has.
So if you're thinking of getting one, check them out carefully.
I guess that's what you're doing here. 😉

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if the mixer has a USB IO connection, it can generally be used for your IO. if not, you could take the main output of the mixer into the 2i4 IO, and the outputs of that into an aux return on mixer or into a pair of line level channels (caring not to set up the routing to cause feedback loops).

most times a mixer has only stereo in/out on the USB unless you buy a high end unit which supports multiple channels. 

as an example - i have an old Behringer MX2004A which has inserts on the 8 mic channels, so i normalize via patch panel the IO of the UMC1820 from the mixer which has better preamp levels for mics although when i want something really clean, or i am using a line out keyboard etc,, i patch in directly to the UMC inputs. since i'm only using the mixer for inputs, i route the outputs from the UMC into my cross-over and then monitor switcher which feed the powered monitors, the amp for the 901s, or the optical out to the 5.1 receiver. 

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I use the A&H MixWizard WZ3 16:2.  I run the 16 direct outs into 2 x 8 channel ADAT converters (currently 2 x Fostex VC8's until I can afford some better converters) and into my RME Digiface USB, so basically I'm using it as 16 mic pres.

The newer MixWizard WZ4 has a optional USB interface. It's not cheap though, but should give better conversion than what I have currently.... whether the drivers are as good as the RME's is a different matter.

The sound of the MixWizard itself is excellent. To my ears, the mic pre's are superior to the pre's in most audio interfaces, but my main reason for using the A&H is because I like to sculp the sound using EQ (and maybe outboard compression) on the way in.

One thing I would say, is make sure any USB mixer you get has a multi-channel interface. Most of the cheaper ones are just a stereo output over USB.

I did a fair bit of research on these before I opted for the MixWizard, and all of these can send every individual channel via USB:

Tascam Model 24 /16 / 12  (£750 (24) / £600 (16) / £500 (12) )- this would have been my first choice, but the USB signal is sent pre-eq / pre-fader on both the Model 24 & Model 16...  the Model 12 has remedied this by making it switchable, so if this is a concern, the Model 12 is a great choice.  The Model 12/16/24 can also be used as a standalone portastudio recording to SD card.

Soundcraft Signature 22 MTK  ( £550 - £650 ) -  The MTK  suffix means multi-track... there's cheaper stereo versions without the MTK which is reflected in the price.  This is a fantastic mixer, and soundcraft are well known for their great sound.  Again, the tracks are sent to USB pre-eq/fader, which isn't what I wanted.

A&H MixWizard WZ4 16:2 (£1100  + £265 for USB option).  An even  better sound than the Soundcraft IMO.  It's a smaller mixer than the Soundcraft 22 ( only 16 tracks, yet almost twice the price ).  But it'll fit in a 19" rack.  And it's an Allen & Heath.  What gets sent to USB is switchable via dipswitches on the board.

The second hand price for WZ3's is amazing though... between £300 & £450... which is why I opted for that along with a RME Digiface USB (£320) and the 2 x Fostex VC8's which were about £50 -£75 each.

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2 hours ago, msmcleod said:

I use the A&H MixWizard WZ3 16:2.  I run the 16 direct outs into 2 x 8 channel ADAT converters (currently 2 x Fostex VC8's until I can afford some better converters) and into my RME Digiface USB, so basically I'm using it as 16 mic pres.

The newer MixWizard WZ4 has a optional USB interface. It's not cheap though, but should give better conversion than what I have currently.... whether the drivers are as good as the RME's is a different matter.

The sound of the MixWizard itself is excellent. To my ears, the mic pre's are superior to the pre's in most audio interfaces, but my main reason for using the A&H is because I like to sculp the sound using EQ (and maybe outboard compression) on the way in.

One thing I would say, is make sure any USB mixer you get has a multi-channel interface. Most of the cheaper ones are just a stereo output over USB.

I did a fair bit of research on these before I opted for the MixWizard, and all of these can send every individual channel via USB:

Tascam Model 24 /16 / 12  (£750 (24) / £600 (16) / £500 (12) )- this would have been my first choice, but the USB signal is sent pre-eq / pre-fader on both the Model 24 & Model 16...  the Model 12 has remedied this by making it switchable, so if this is a concern, the Model 12 is a great choice.  The Model 12/16/24 can also be used as a standalone portastudio recording to SD card.

Soundcraft Signature 22 MTK  ( £550 - £650 ) -  The MTK  suffix means multi-track... there's cheaper stereo versions without the MTK which is reflected in the price.  This is a fantastic mixer, and soundcraft are well known for their great sound.  Again, the tracks are sent to USB pre-eq/fader, which isn't what I wanted.

A&H MixWizard WZ4 16:2 (£1100  + £265 for USB option).  An even  better sound than the Soundcraft IMO.  It's a smaller mixer than the Soundcraft 22 ( only 16 tracks, yet almost twice the price ).  But it'll fit in a 19" rack.  And it's an Allen & Heath.  What gets sent to USB is switchable via dipswitches on the board.

The second hand price for WZ3's is amazing though... between £300 & £450... which is why I opted for that along with a RME Digiface USB (£320) and the 2 x Fostex VC8's which were about £50 -£75 each.

Hey, does that model have the motorized faders?

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Just now, razor7music said:

Hey, does that model have the motorized faders?

No, they're just standard 100m long throw faders.

I don't actually use any of my analog gear for mixing - all of that is in the box, so the mixer is basically used as 16 preamps for tracking (same with the 8 channels on the Alice).

I've got a Mackie MCU / XT & C4 for ITB mixing duties. 

The MCU & XT have motorized faders, and the C4 is just a dream for controlling plugins. I've spent a lot of time mapping the parameters of compressor/eq plugins to the C4 knobs so they all have a consistent layout regardless of what plugin I'm using.

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I have the Soundcraft MTK 22 which we use for live and studio work. Its great with rock solid drivers.

allows me to record a one hour set with 16 tracks onto an Asus laptop with no hiccups.  Its mid price. Great piece of kit.

Jerry

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Thank you to the above. The mixer in question is the Zed 10FX. It has a stereo USB out for recording purposes which the manufacturer states makes it ideal for use as an AI. It is a great piece of kit as a mixer and I wouldnt be recording more than 2 channels at a time with it so wondered if there were likely to be any issues with it, i.e. latency.

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Posted (edited)

Latency is not a problem either if the USB connectors in your computer are good(most are afaik), I´ve been using a SQ-5 for about 2 1/2 years, as an audio interface it´s excellent, I never got it to work satisfyingly as a DAW controller for Cakewalk (or Sonar Platinum) though.

The only problems I´ve had when recording is not related directly to your question. You can record directly to a USB-drive on the SQ models but it has to be fast enough, i.e. not even expensive thumb drives are guaranteed to work well. I put an older SSD that I had in the drawer in a cheap USB-HD-cabinet which solved the problem. After that the band disbanded and I wanted more inputs so the SQ ended up replacing my RME FF400.

 

Edited by Per Westin

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Latency is not an issue with any interfaces unless you use guitar sims. You use direct monitoring and then there’s no latency. As long as they supply up to date ASIO drivers you’ll be fine. 
I bought a Soundcraft signature 10 and the USB connection is broken after only 2 years. I’ll never buy that brand again. 
aband I was in bought a Yamaha 16 channel mixer and it was much better quality to me 

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I've been using a ZEDi 10FX for about a year now. I remember in the store that I had to choose between the "ZEDi" and the "regular" ZED, but can no longer remember why I chose the ZEDi. They're quite similar.

Haven't had any issues but my use is pretty simple. I like to have a small mixer for recording audio with direct monitoring. Although truthfully I mostly just work with MIDI.

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4 hours ago, John Vere said:

Latency is not an issue with any interfaces unless you use guitar sims. You use direct monitoring and then there’s no latency. As long as they supply up to date ASIO drivers you’ll be fine. 
I bought a Soundcraft signature 10 and the USB connection is broken after only 2 years. I’ll never buy that brand again. 
aband I was in bought a Yamaha 16 channel mixer and it was much better quality to me 

The MTK series have different drivers which haven’t let me down over the past 3 years.  I do however re-install after each major W10 update.

personally i recommend the MKT 22. But as ever, YMMV

Jerry

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15 hours ago, brandon said:

and I wouldnt be recording more than 2 channels at a time

You say that now, but what about next year? 😉
If you can afford it, more is better.

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Posted (edited)

Allen and Heath QU-16 user here. Excellent desk with really nice preamps, the full unit is extremely quiet. Fantastic build quality. You can record pre/post fader and there's 16 XLR inputs, alongside 16 line ins. 

I've had no issues tracking with this desk in Cakewalk. 

It replaced a Soundcraft Signature 22MTK which died on me after 4 uses. That unit sounded good, but the build quality was sketchy in places and the headphone amp was useless and noisy so I lost faith in the unit and sold my replacement. The QU-16 is a much better desk overall. 

Another option is the Zoom LiveTrak line, they are really nifty mixers for the money. 

Edited by Light Grenade
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Not much help here. I have the Zed 10FX -for 9 years. But only use it for playback. I do know the routing is a bit to get around if you use it for playback and tracking. And yes, only a stereo out.

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We bought the signature 10 just for playback of my backing tracks and now that no longer works. I paid probably $200 more for a feature that broke in very short time. I have mixers that are 20 year old that never broke. Soundcraft is now made in China which explains it all. 

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7 hours ago, Michael Fogarty said:

Not much help here. I have the Zed 10FX -for 9 years. But only use it for playback. I do know the routing is a bit to get around if you use it for playback and tracking. And yes, only a stereo out.

That's the key issue - recording and monitoring at the same time; is there a noticeable time difference between the 2 sounds i.e. the sound going in and the one being monitored?

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9 hours ago, 57Gregy said:

You say that now, but what about next year? 😉
If you can afford it, more is better.

Totally agree 🙂

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