How do you have your gear hooked up?

Discussions about anything analog, digital, MIDI, synth technology, techniques, theories and more.
User avatar
Matthew savànt
Newbie
Newbie
Posts: 6
Joined: Sat Dec 23, 2006 10:15 pm
Location: Massachusetts

How do you have your gear hooked up?

Post by Matthew savànt » Tue Dec 30, 2014 5:35 pm

Long time no post
I haven't been on the VSE forum in years but I'm glad to see the community is still thriving!

Alright so I have an embarrassing question...Embarrassing because it's a really N00Bish question even though I've been doing this thing for 10+ years but the whole time I've (knowingly) had my gear hooked up wrong and now it's come to a point where my career is getting serious so I really need to step up my game.

So guys with a lot of outboard gear, How do you have your gear hooked up?

I'm asking because I have a lot of outboard gear and the way I have mine set up is all of my gear goes to my Focusrite Saffire 24 which only has 4 inputs so basically I have everything running through a POS yamaha mixer and the main outs of that mixer into the back 3/4 inputs of the Focusrite and I leave the front two inputs open for mics.

The issue with the set up is one, That it's noisy and two it's really inconvenient I have everything hooked up as I mentioned above so if I just want to jam in the studio and that's fine I can deal with a little bit of noise BUT when I am working on actually professionally recording things for people I have to unhook whichever piece of gear I'm currently working with and hook it directly to the interface if I want a clean signal which is obviously a major pain in the a*s!

So what are my options? I've asked on Gearslutz and they were suggesting a patchbay but that doesn't really solve my problem because I still need to get all of these outputs into some inputs to that go directly to my computer.

Even though I'm running everything through a mixer I have essentially a mixer-less set up since I do all of my mixing in the box. I have looked at a lot of interfaces but it's hard to find one with a large number of inputs that doesn't cost like $3000 and most mixers I've seen have tons of mic pres and mono inputs and only a few stereo inputs which is okay but doesn't really help.
I was going to add the behringer ada8200 to give me 8 more inputs...I know behringer and professional don't belong in the same sentence but I figured if I'm only using it at line level then I wouldn't dirty up the signal with bad preamps but Idk maybe I'm wrong? One of my options is a new interface with more inputs and something like the ada8200 to add another 8 inputs but I'm not sure if that's the way to go either.

So I'm wondering how you guys think I should proceed basically I need to hook a bunch of outboard gear to my computer so I can record without having to continuously disconnect/reconnect

User avatar
Solderman
Supporting Member!
Supporting Member!
Posts: 1799
Joined: Sat Nov 17, 2007 5:43 pm

Re: How do you have your gear hooked up?

Post by Solderman » Tue Dec 30, 2014 6:00 pm

I have been using a MotU 828 mkII connected to a Mackie CR1604vlz 16 channel mixer. Six of the MotU inputs are connected to the Mackie's Direct Outs, 4 unbalanced and 2 balanced, and the other two MotU inputs connect to the mixer's Main Mix outs with unbalanced cables. I don't use the MotU's pre-amped inputs, as they sound like dried-up a*s. The Main Mix noise floor with all channels active but no signals patched is a bit higher than I'd like, about -73db, but I bought this mixer used and it may be in need of some maintenance that could improve this.

A patchbay is only useful if you either have more connections than mixer channels and need to switch things out (without unplugging anything at the mixer) or want a convenient way to do channel inserts. As far as noise goes, it could be a combination of the mixer output's noise floor and how you have levels set digitally. To a small degree the ADC converters on your interface will add some. My MotU 828 mkII seems to have a minimum noise floor for recording of -84 db per input, which is kinda s**t, but I think they still sound good.
I am no longer in pursuit of vintage synths. The generally absurd inflation from demand versus practical use and maintenance costs is no longer viable. The internet has suffocated and vanquished yet another wonderful hobby. Too bad.
--Solderman no more.

Rooftree
Newbie
Newbie
Posts: 79
Joined: Wed May 05, 2010 4:59 am

Re: How do you have your gear hooked up?

Post by Rooftree » Tue Dec 30, 2014 6:48 pm

You mention noise as the reason you disconnect/reconnect when recording into your computer. You might be able to reduce noise by careful gain staging. If possible, all of your mixer controls should be set at unity gain, which means that the mixer isn't boosting or cutting any of your signals. My Mackie 1604 is set up this way and it's quite enough for recording. As I was messing around with it last night after reconfiguring my setup I ended up cranking one of the gain knobs to 2 o'clock (12 o'clock is unity gain) and it was NOISY. So I backed it back down to 12 o'clock and all was well again.
Prophet 08 :: CS-30 :: Odyssey :: Korg 01W :: Juno-60 :: 606 :: Sonar :: soft synths

commodorejohn
Synth Explorer
Synth Explorer
Posts: 1565
Joined: Mon Aug 12, 2013 2:39 am
Real name: John
Gear: Roland JX-10/SH-09/MT-32/D-50, Yamaha DX7-II/V50/TX7/TG33/FB-01, Korg MS-20 Mini/ARP Odyssey/DW-8000/X5DR, Ensoniq SQ-80, Oberheim SEM
Location: Sacramento, CA
Contact:

Re: How do you have your gear hooked up?

Post by commodorejohn » Tue Dec 30, 2014 7:00 pm

I picked up a rack-mount 16-channel mixer used quite cheaply at my local Music-Go-Round, and I've got everything plugged into that for playing/composing purposes; it's slightly noisy, but not enough to be a problem. When I want to record, I just hook individual synths directly into my sound card's input.
Computers: Amiga 1200, DEC VAXStation 4000/60, DEC MicroPDP-11/73

User avatar
Jabberwalky
Synth Explorer
Synth Explorer
Posts: 2152
Joined: Fri Apr 01, 2005 6:03 pm
Gear: A hybrid of vintage and modern junk
Band: Variar
Location: Pgh, PA
Contact:

Re: How do you have your gear hooked up?

Post by Jabberwalky » Tue Dec 30, 2014 7:24 pm

I have everything running into a Yamaha Mg166cx, and from there I either go direct out from the channels, or I send different things to the bus sends. I have the 1-2, 3-4 busses, and the aux 1&2 sends going into the Focusrite Scarlett18i8 which has 8 ins. I like this approach because I can adjust the amount of each synth that's mixed into the inputs , and I'm still free to use the mixer EQ and compressions. Also, most of my s**t almost always needs some amount of gain (FM synths, An1x, Minikorg are all quiet) and I like the Yamaha better than the scarlett for that.

abruzzi
Junior Member
Junior Member
Posts: 172
Joined: Tue Dec 10, 2013 8:46 pm

Re: How do you have your gear hooked up?

Post by abruzzi » Tue Dec 30, 2014 8:19 pm

I'd second the MOTU path. They may not be high end preamps and AD converters but they are clean and reliable. I have 2 828s, and 8pre, and I'm going to add another 828 soon. If you're willing to go used, the MK2 828s go for $200-300 each on eBay. The MK3 are in the $700-800 used range, and the Mk1 are as low as $100. I can't speak to the quality or support on the Mk1, the the 2 and 3 are very good.

User avatar
calaverasgrande
Expert Member
Expert Member
Posts: 1038
Joined: Thu Jul 07, 2011 5:29 pm
Gear: MG1, MP201, MF101, MF102, Taurus 3, SH09, KPR-77, Streichfett, Dark Energy, X0Xb0x, Dronelab, Synsonics Drums, Machinedrum, Modular.
Band: N.S.V.
Location: New York
Contact:

Re: How do you have your gear hooked up?

Post by calaverasgrande » Tue Dec 30, 2014 8:50 pm

I've got a MOTU 828MKII as well. I can not beleive how long I've had this. It's so old I was part of that group that had a recall done because the displays went dead (kudos to MOTU for addressing that!).
Mine was also sent to Black Lion Audio in Chicago for an opamp upgrade. This really flattened out the frequency range and added about an octave on either side. I'd advise anyone to pick up a used 828 and pay the $300 or so for the work. Beats many current interfaces handily.

As far as my setup. I used to have a complicated patch bay/mixer/interface arrangement. But I realized I very rarely need to repatch anything. If I do so it is just as easy to unplug the roland and move that cable to the Moog than re-patching it at a patchbay.

So currently I have my main synths plugged into a couple preamps that feed into the motu. Then I have the drum machines coming up on a Mackie 1604 with the direct outs heading to the Motu.
A pair of cables come out of my modular/patchable rig and feed into an Art MPA II preamp. It hooks into the MOTU via S/PDif for two extra inputs. So I have 12 inputs total.
I then bring all of this back out of the Motu as a stereo pair on a fader on the Mackie, so I can monitor DAW tracks as well as whatever is going through the MOTU without hitting the mixer on the way in.
The cool thing about the 828MKII is that it is perfectly happy passing audio with everything muted, boosted or attenuated as you set it up in cuemix, even with your computer turned off. A lot of more expensive audio interfaces do not have that feature. In fact you can nerd around on the front panel to make these adjustments, but it is pretty tedious.

In the future I am going to pick up a 2nd 828 and have it upgraded by BLA. And possibly some more digital preamps as well. I'd like to be utilizing all the outputs on my Machinedrum and have other synths that will need to be hooked up after they are repaired. So I anticipate needing 20 or so inputs to cover all my mono synths, drum machines, modular and possible Elektron or DSI purchases.

I'm also debating ditching the Mackie for a more simple mixer that provides a bit of gain and a stereo mix for monitoring while also feeding a direct out. Ashly has a few like this.
Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with all thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave

plikestechno
Senior Member
Senior Member
Posts: 757
Joined: Wed Oct 01, 2008 11:36 pm
Gear: Lots. See sig.
Location: Edmonton, Canada

Re: How do you have your gear hooked up?

Post by plikestechno » Tue Dec 30, 2014 8:53 pm

Submixers into main mixer into patchbay into interface (RME Babyface). Effects all on patchbay.

If I ever HAVE to multitrack into an interface my old Focusrite Pro26 i/o goes into the ADAT inputs of the Babyface but I prefer to just record into the balanced inputs on the Babyface.
Last edited by plikestechno on Wed Dec 31, 2014 1:20 am, edited 2 times in total.
Serge/Modcan A/MOTM/Frac/Phenol/Andromeda/Jupiter6Europa/OctaveCatSRM/ARPSolina/ARPPro Soloist/Pro2/Korg770/Juno60/Lambda/Anamono/Little Deformer/Integra7/Microwave1&2/Syncussion/FS1R/Microkorg/Xoxio/VL1M/JD990/MKS50/TX816/DSS1/KARP/TG33/OCoast/SC40

gcoudert
Expert Member
Expert Member
Posts: 1198
Joined: Sat Dec 29, 2007 1:24 pm
Real name: Gilles
Gear: Roland Fantom X7 with Ultimate Keys expansion, Yamaha TX802, Roland JP-8080, Tascam DP-24SD.
Location: SE England

Re: How do you have your gear hooked up?

Post by gcoudert » Wed Dec 31, 2014 12:26 am

Recording & sequencing:
-All instruments' stereo audio outs to Yamaha 01X mixer/interface connected to PC via Firewire (mLAN).
-Yamaha 01X monitor stereo outs to M-Audio monitors.

MIDI:
-Yamaha 01X, Roland R8 and Fantom X8 MIDI outs to Akai ME30P II programmable MIDI patchbay inputs.
-Akai patchbay MIDI outs to Akai S5000, JV1080 and Fantom X8. Patchbay programmed to cater for various MIDI paths.

Mixing:
-Yamaha 01X acts as control surface for Cubase SX3. Software effects. Mixdown in DAW.

I only have to unplug the XLR from input/channel 1 of the mixer if I use the mic, which is rare, or if I need to use more than 2 outputs from any of my instruments (e.g. for drums). I am considering getting a Behringer audio patchbay.
GC

User avatar
meatballfulton
Moderator
Moderator
Posts: 5819
Joined: Wed Apr 13, 2005 9:29 pm
Gear: Logic Pro X

Re: How do you have your gear hooked up?

Post by meatballfulton » Wed Dec 31, 2014 12:47 am

If you are worried about Behringer quality, you can buy the Focusrite OctoPre which is a similar 8 channel expander for $500. The pres are the same as what is in your 24.

The MOTU is a nice unit but will only give you 8 inputs (2 mikes) vs. 12 (10 mikes) with the Saffire + expander combination. At $750 it's a more expensive option.
I listened to Hatfield and the North at Rainbow. They were very wonderful and they made my heart a prisoner.

User avatar
calaverasgrande
Expert Member
Expert Member
Posts: 1038
Joined: Thu Jul 07, 2011 5:29 pm
Gear: MG1, MP201, MF101, MF102, Taurus 3, SH09, KPR-77, Streichfett, Dark Energy, X0Xb0x, Dronelab, Synsonics Drums, Machinedrum, Modular.
Band: N.S.V.
Location: New York
Contact:

Re: How do you have your gear hooked up?

Post by calaverasgrande » Wed Dec 31, 2014 1:48 am

meatballfulton wrote:If you are worried about Behringer quality, you can buy the Focusrite OctoPre which is a similar 8 channel expander for $500. The pres are the same as what is in your 24.

The MOTU is a nice unit but will only give you 8 inputs (2 mikes) vs. 12 (10 mikes) with the Saffire + expander combination. At $750 it's a more expensive option.
Not sure which Motu you are referring to.
But the MOTU 828MKII had 8 line inputs, 2 mic/inst inputs, stereo S/PDif, and toslink/ADAT for stereo or 8 channels.
If you purchase an Octopre or similar along with a stereo pre with digital outs you can get 20 inputs, 22 outputs.
The problem with using ADAT optical input expanders is that they limit you to 44/48k. If you want to bump up to 88/96k the adat connection is mux-ed, meaning you get 4 channels at 88/96, or two channels at 192.

I prefer to record at 88.2 because I have the hearing of an albino dolphin. and because I can.
Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with all thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave

User avatar
visceralvoids
Junior Member
Junior Member
Posts: 142
Joined: Thu May 26, 2011 6:10 am
Gear: Access Virus TI - Roland JD990 - Sequential Drumtraks - Novation 61SLmkII
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Contact:

Re: How do you have your gear hooked up?

Post by visceralvoids » Wed Dec 31, 2014 10:38 pm

I love threads like these because it's great to take a look at how other people set their stuff up... great learning experience.
My new i7 PC based setup has a Mackie LM3204 16 stereo channel line mixer, all 8 of my Drumtraks outputs are on one bus taking advantage of the Mackie's mixer and EQ functions. On the other bus are my Virus TI desktop and JD-990, plenty of room for more synths or drum machines. The Drumtraks bus from the Mackie goes into a BBE Maxcom compressor/sonic maximizer into 2 inputs on my Audiobox 1818VSL, the "synth bus" on the Mackie goes to 2 more inputs on the Audiobox 1818VSL. I also play and record guitar so I have a mono out from a Line 6 POD XT Pro going into a ART Digital MPA tube preamp with a Tung-Sol tube in it (really does affect the sound.) That goes into a mono input on the Audiobox... Furman Merit power conditioner keeps everything turned on. All other effects, compression, and EQ come from the synths or Cubase plugins. Also I don't use the mic/instrument inputs on the Presonus Audiobox, only the mic/line ones.
Matthew, I had the same concern and I feel doing a setup this way solves the issue you presented ("need to hook a bunch of outboard gear to my computer so I can record without having to continuously disconnect/reconnect".) That Mackie LM3204 line mixer is essential to acheiving this goal, sounds great and the signal path routing is really flexible. Run all your hardware through it and use a PC running DAW of your choice as a glorified 2 track recorder/"studio as an instrument" in itself. I had a Behringer 16 channel line mixer before and this LM3204 is in another class, too bad Mackie discontinued it.

User avatar
dustinh
Active Member
Active Member
Posts: 283
Joined: Tue Jan 04, 2011 7:57 pm
Gear: juno-1, ensoniq sq-80, dsi mopho, microbrute, gretsch guitars, motu 2408, monotron, and caffeine
Location: Seattle, WA

Re: How do you have your gear hooked up?

Post by dustinh » Thu Jan 01, 2015 6:20 pm

I use a motu 2408 mk3. It has 8 inputs and outputs and you can buy additional racks to expand it to 24 ins/outs. You can get them used for about 600 usd. Very convinient, clean, and streamlined.

User avatar
Matthew savànt
Newbie
Newbie
Posts: 6
Joined: Sat Dec 23, 2006 10:15 pm
Location: Massachusetts

Re: How do you have your gear hooked up?

Post by Matthew savànt » Thu Jan 01, 2015 9:35 pm

Definitely interesting to see how you guys have your gear hooked up.
I haven't fully decided yet I'm still trying to figure out what works best for me but the wheels are turning and I think I'll be making a purchase shortly. Sadly I'll most likely have to put the funds I had put away for another synth (Moog sub 37) toward this but ultimately I know it's a good move, Stepping back and reconfiguring my studio towards a more professional set up as opposed to just buying more fun gear, I'll have to pick up the Sub 37 later! :?
I appreciate the responses!

User avatar
Stab Frenzy
Moderator
Moderator
Posts: 9723
Joined: Tue Jun 06, 2006 5:41 pm
Gear: Eurorack, RYTM, Ultranova, many FX
Location: monster island*
Contact:

Re: How do you have your gear hooked up?

Post by Stab Frenzy » Fri Jan 02, 2015 4:55 am

meatballfulton wrote:If you are worried about Behringer quality, you can buy the Focusrite OctoPre which is a similar 8 channel expander for $500. The pres are the same as what is in your 24.

The MOTU is a nice unit but will only give you 8 inputs (2 mikes) vs. 12 (10 mikes) with the Saffire + expander combination. At $750 it's a more expensive option.
Yeah, this. I have an Octopre mkII running into my Fireface UFX for an extra 8 inputs, does the job well enough. :thumbleft:

Post Reply