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Matthias Hewelt

How to process and route live input with Cakewalk

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Hello together, 

I am fairly new to audio processing using a DAW.

First my scenario: I have a band playing live in front of a small audience (due to corona). For the sound in the room/hall I use a common mixer. I then route the inserts via USB into my PC running Cakewalk. There I get the audio input for all channels using an ASIO driver for the mixer. This is working fine and I can do recordings of the live audio.

My problem is, that I do not want to do a recording. I rather want to just process the live signals with some EQ, compression and effects and then route the master output to e. g. OBS. 

So my question is: Is it possible with Cakewalk to process and output live inputs instead of recordings in the way I described?

What I achieved so far is, that I used the Input Echo to output live sound. But it sounds very different from what I get from a recording. Channel gain for example does not impact input echo. I would really like to be able to do a recording, set up all the channel pipelines based on the recording in a quiet room and then just use the same pipelines for live signal processing when the band performs their songs. 

I would be very grateful for any help. Kind regards, Matthias

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Input gain does not affect live signals, only recorded/imported audio. Input level to CbB has to be set at the interface or in a software mixer that sits between the hardware and CbB - many hardware interfaces have a software console that does this.  In your case where a hardware mixer is the interface, managing levels to the ASIO channels may be a hardware function only.

That said, if input Gain is left at unity in CbB, the sound of live input monitoring should be identical to what you get when playing back a recording  - with or without FX plugins operating on the output.  Of course, It will definitely sound different from monitoring the mixed output from the mixer to PA/headphones, but the output from Cakewalk should sound the same whether live or recorded, using I/O level controls in the FX chain and track output Volume to mix

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And if you need to change levels before plug-ins, there are other plug-ins which can change level (eg. Cakewalk's own Channel Tools, which I believe is now part of the CbB install; or Blue Cat's Gain Suite).

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I'm not sure if this will help with what you want to do, but I have used Voxengo Recorder in a similar situation, streaming audio to OBS. It's a bit fiddly, but basically I place Voxengo Recorder on the Master bus and set it to output to "MME", and then in OBS I create a source called "Audio Output Capture". There's a bit of a delay in the audio that I compensate for by delaying the video using an OBS filter. Voxengo Recorder ends up acting as a kind of bridge out of ASIO-land into MME-land. Recorder is a decades-old 32-bit-only freeware plugin, but it gets the job done. It might be something to try playing around with.

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@white flowers Thanks for your reply, too. I do actually not have routing problems to OBS. This is already working fine. But I appreciate your suggestion. 🙂 

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The problem is you will have latency if you go from a mixer to an interface to a computer and back out again.  A/D and D/A and USB everything adds a bit of latency. 

And if you use certain effects in Cakewalk they also add latency. Cakewalk is a recording DAW not a live effects processor. Those need to either be built into your FOH mixer or in a rack. 

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So long as output from Cakewalk is not going to the same destination as output from the hardware mixer, latency should not be a problem. My understanding is that OBS is a live-streaming app, presumably being used to stream the performance to remote listeners via the Web.

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Posted (edited)

Whoops, I missed the OBS at the end of the sentence. 
This is a tricky problem for sure. I can only think input echo is the only way to send a recording in progress out the back end. 


I have been in situations where 
A 3 way isolated splitter is what we used  but now with digital audio systems you can easily split the stage box to go just about anywhere. 
But Cakewalk is the last thing I’d try and use as a live mixer. As your finding out its routing is made for recording. 
What is you mixer? If it’s like  a Behringer Air or X 32 you just set up a second mix using the auxiliaries. Then feed that to your computer in stereo. 
If your mixer is old school analog and you say you have inserts. then what we used to do is patch those to a second mixer to feed ( in those days) the cable TV audio input. If 

 

Edited by John Vere
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Thanks for your additional replies and questions.

3 hours ago, John Vere said:

What is you mixer? If it’s like  a Behringer Air or X 32 you just set up a second mix using the auxiliaries.

It's an A&H QU24. I think this matches what I tried at first. I created a separate mix with the QU24 and used the audio for the live stream. But it is so hard to do the mixing when the band is performing live simultaneously. I do not have a noise-isolated mixing area so it's very hard to distinguish between what I actually hear from the rooms Sound System and what comes over my headphones for the live stream. After a few tries I found this to be nearly impossible. After some research and actually meeting with a guy who does something similar, I found using a DAW to do a recording of the band, set up all the processing pipelines for the channels and then use the same settings for live input the best practice solution. From what I heared so far Cakewalk might just not be the software to go with. Which is sad, because I actually like it. 

On 4/26/2021 at 11:57 PM, John Vere said:

The problem is you will have latency if you go from a mixer to an interface to a computer and back out again.  A/D and D/A and USB everything adds a bit of latency. 

And if you use certain effects in Cakewalk they also add latency. Cakewalk is a recording DAW not a live effects processor. Those need to either be built into your FOH mixer or in a rack. 

You are completely right, it will add latency. But that's not really a problem for live broadcasts, since video and sound input is almost always not synchronous anyway. I will just have to add an appropriate delay on the video in OBS (the broadcasting software). 

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Posted (edited)

Yes I have many times been in that situation where you are doing 2 mixes and cannot monitor the second mix other than headphones.  I came very close to buying a mobile recording truck at that time. There was good money to be made recording live bands at venues and festivals. Of course that takes two people which is another option possibly for you. 

I never thought about how latency might be why my screen capture recordings are out of sync. Thanks for mentioning that.  I use OBS and send Cakewalk in ASIO mode to it using the loop back feature of my Motu M4. I will look for the video delay option and I guess set it to my output latency which I think is 7ms. 
 

I mentioned the latency in that first post because I miss read what you were trying to do. I thought you were trying to use Cakewalk for live FOH processing 

Edited by John Vere

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On 4/26/2021 at 3:39 AM, Matthias Hewelt said:

 

So my question is: Is it possible with Cakewalk to process and output live inputs instead of recordings in the way I described?

What I achieved so far is, that I used the Input Echo to output live sound. But it sounds very different from what I get from a recording. Channel gain for example does not impact input echo. I would really like to be able to do a recording, set up all the channel pipelines based on the recording in a quiet room and then just use the same pipelines for live signal processing when the band performs their songs. 

 

I don’t see why you shouldn’t be able to mix live inputs rather than recording. (Not being able to hear your mix through headphones in a live room is a different physical problem of course) 
While track volume affects the post FX gain, Input gain will affect the pre FX gain. If I understand what you want, you should be able to set the input gain levels to mix all your live input levels to what you want. Alternatively if you want to mix post FX use track volume. 

@David Baay Input gain does affect live inputs since its applied immediately after the inputs and pre fix bin. Take a look at the signal flowchart.

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1 hour ago, Noel Borthwick said:

Input gain does affect live inputs since its applied immediately after the inputs and pre fix bin. Take a look at the signal flowchart.

You had me going there for a minute, @Noel Borthwick, but I tested and then checked the flow chart to confirm: Hardware Inputs come in after Input Gain. Only inputs from audio clips and soft synths are affected by Gain.

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2 hours ago, David Baay said:

You had me going there for a minute, @Noel Borthwick, but I tested and then checked the flow chart to confirm: Hardware Inputs come in after Input Gain. Only inputs from audio clips and soft synths are affected by Gain.

Hmm I stand corrected, I was confusing software inputs like patch points.
We could consider allowing hardware input monitoring to be pre input gain but it could be tricky. Recorded audio should always be at the source level so it would sound different post record if we did that.

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