What do you mix hardware with?

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sw_hunt
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What do you mix hardware with?

Post by sw_hunt » Mon Jan 09, 2017 10:58 am

With my next keyboard/module, I'll need a new mixer as I'm out of inputs. After a sucession of great Motu modules I fancy something with real sliders and hands-on send controls. Everything I've looked at seems perfect for recording a drum kit but not modern keyboards, ie there's 2 or 4 stereo ins and lots and lots of mono or mic ins. I only need 2 mics but need say 7 stereo ins. I can't be bothered to pair up mono channels and remember to move some sliders in pairs and some not! Wht does noone seem to do proper stereo mixers or have I missed something?
Spec:
Studio work only.
16 ins but most need to be stereo, two, maybe 4 max can be mono or mic ins.
Each in goes via usb to DAW (Cubase 9)
3 or 4 sends, most of them stereo.
Built in FX, preferably true stereo would be nice but not essential.
Budget < £700ish

Thanks :)

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Re: What do you mix hardware with?

Post by sw_hunt » Mon Jan 09, 2017 12:17 pm

ps when I say sliders; rotaries are ok.
no FX ok if everything else ticks the boxes

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Re: What do you mix hardware with?

Post by ranzee » Mon Jan 09, 2017 4:42 pm

I'm not even going to ask why they need to be stereo. Guess: gear with on-board FX.

Most pro-mixers are mainly all mono channels. Mixers with stereo channels usually only have 2 or 4.

What do I recommend for you? No idea - not sure if it exists. 16 stereo channels = 32 channels - so perhaps look at the Behringer X32?

I have a Presonus Studio 192 (with light pipe ADAT modules) and Studio Live 16

Most of my mixing is done in Ableton ...

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Re: What do you mix hardware with?

Post by ninja6485 » Mon Jan 09, 2017 4:54 pm

Unless a part really needs to be stereo, like a string sound with lots of chorus or stereo effects, it can actually be better for your mix to keep it in mono. This especially goes for bass parts. Panned mono sounds don't conflict with each other as much as you get less masking. So if using the mixer to create a mix, it might be a good idea learn from modeling your tracks based on the way common mixers are laid out.

This of course doesn't help if you're not using the mixer to mix, you just want to have all your gear plugged in at once, and want to be able to power everything on and use it whenever you want without unplugging anything.

I suggest looking for an additional interface that can be chained to work together with what you have (if possible) to give you the proper number of inputs, and then look into mixing desk style midi controllers, if they exist, and use that to control what's happening ITB.

Another idea would be to find a mixer with group's tracks that each get dedicated channel strips, and then you can have a massive set of left/ right moni pairs set up on the desk, and when you want to mix with them, have each pair assigned to a group. If you find a mixer with 4 stereo tracks and 4 group tracks, you can use the group tracks as 4 additional stereo tracks, each with a pair of mono tracks sent to it.

For example, my Yamaha MG mixer is fairly basic, but has 4 stereo tracks, and one additional group track. So if I take mono tracks 3 and 4, pan them hard left and right, and then send them to the group (keeping everything else going to the stereo bus); I can now use the group fader as a dedicated fader for that stereo pair, giving me 5 stereo tracks and two mono track's total.

The mixer also has an RCA in, which while not a stereo track, does allow for the input of an additional stereo input source, which can be panned compressed and equalized externally, giving a total of 6 stereo inputs and 2 mono inputs on the mixer. The last one's fudging it a little, but you get the point. There's also daisy chaining mixers, but that can take up a lot of space!

My particular mixer does not meet all your requirements, but I'm sure there are some that are - possibly even digital mixers!
This looks like a psychotropic reaction. No wonder it's so popular...

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Re: What do you mix hardware with?

Post by sw_hunt » Mon Jan 09, 2017 5:31 pm

Thanks both. Sorry, by 16 inputs mostly stereo, I meant 16 inputs, most of which are arranged in stereo PAIRS, ie something like a 16 input mixer having 7 stereo pair inputs and two mono inputs would be ok. (7x2) +(2x1) = 16

Point taken about using mono tracks for bass etc. Most of my synths (Kronos, Voyager and Blofeld) are stereo and use the whole field for pads, strings etc., so I do need to use both channels a lot of the time even though I'd mono-ify and pan them appropriately.

I'm coming to the conclusion I should just input everything straight into the DAW and use the mixer, sends etc in there. My reluctance was in having to boot up the DAW in order to play anything, but as that takes a lot less time than the Kronos takes to boot it's no real hardship! Maybe it's time I embraced this DAW stuff properly and binned the outboad FX...

One thing I was going to use the sends in an external mixer for is routing one synth into another occasionally, without having to poke around in the cabling. I'll have to RTFM for Cubase and see if it has a cunning way of remembering mixer 'scenes' so I can jump between different mixer routings without having to remember which sends and returns to wind up and down every time.

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Re: What do you mix hardware with?

Post by Broadwave » Mon Jan 09, 2017 6:32 pm

I had to ditch my old Alesis Multimix 16 USB2 due to lack of driver support - If you need a USB mixer, make sure it doesn't require specially written drivers!

You'll be very lucky to find a mixer that has stereo pairs only - Is it so difficult to move two sliders at once ;)

I ended up with a Behringer X2222, 8 Mono inputs with built in compressor on each channel (very handy for Guitar/Bass/Vintage synths) and 4 stereo inputs - I know Behringer still get slated for their gear, but at least It works well and does what it's supposed to, and it has Core Audio USB, so no drivers needed for my Mac.

No complaints so far.

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Re: What do you mix hardware with?

Post by pflosi » Mon Jan 09, 2017 8:06 pm

I don't think this exists. Particularly, because of one requirement: stereo sends.

Even ignoring that, it's hard. Quite a few options if you go for something like four stereo channels and a couple of mono ones (e.g., I'm using a Midas Venice 160 plus separate converters). Another option would be summing boxes, something like the ADT 16 stereo channel summing box, but that's pricey and no sends and ADDA conversion.

How about patchbays?

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Re: What do you mix hardware with?

Post by ninja6485 » Mon Jan 09, 2017 8:24 pm

Patch bay's an excellent idea. What's holding you back from using the grouped tracks workaround? Are you familiar with using group tracks in your mixes?
This looks like a psychotropic reaction. No wonder it's so popular...

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Re: What do you mix hardware with?

Post by sw_hunt » Mon Jan 09, 2017 8:59 pm

I've never used Group Tracks but thanks to your explanation above I think I get it now. I'd assign a group to be a stereo pair so that one fader and set of eq, sends etc controls a pair of mono inputs. That increases the possibilities then if I see a mixer with insuffiecient stereo inputs but enough Groups to make up for it. I used to have a monster Behringer desk, a 32-8-4 or similar if memory serves. Great desk and reliable but just too complicated and big for my needs at the time. Maybe that's what I need again now!

I've got a tiny 4x4 patchbay which I use to wire my two Korg Odyssey modules in either series or parallel. Maybe I should look at a bigger one.

Thanks for all the ideas :)

Not found a way of being able to recall different Cubase mixer settings without having a song for each one...anyone ever done this?

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Re: What do you mix hardware with?

Post by madtheory » Mon Jan 09, 2017 9:24 pm

D0n't do it in Cubase, do it in the interface. I rate the Focusrite stuff for this kind of work. The internal software mixer is flexible, has gangable inputs and lets you save setups. It's a real mixer, even has PFL! Even better, the interface will work as a mixer without the computer, using the setup you last saved to it. Pretty cool. They do an 18 input box IIRC. Incidentally, the Apogee internal mixer is a total PITA in comparison. The M-Audio one is OK (I had a FW1814 for years with all inputs used via ADAT and SPDIF), but Focusrite is better.

Stereo sends for stereo synths is kind of pointless IMO, given that the stereo effect is created by the synth's internal effects anyway. The stereo image is not so super critical to the sound that you'd ever notice a difference between using a mono send to add delay or reverb to a synth patch with, say, internal chorusing on it.

I got rid of an Amek BCII a few years ago, nice desk, worth money, but no longer suited my needs. I got a small Focusrite, planning to stay entirely ITB. Kind of regretted that, because I have a bunch of outboard. So I set up a patchbay with my Scarlett 6i6 a year ago, and it's great. In order of usage: most often I'm using a pair of Kaoss pads in a chain, after that it's tracking a mono part from a Novation KS, and after that I use the Digitech Vocalist for harmonies and weird stuff it does. I've just got back into the Roland JV-1080, next is using the sounds on the Roland SPD-11 again, instead of just as a MIDI controller pad.

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Re: What do you mix hardware with?

Post by Yekuku » Mon Jan 09, 2017 10:50 pm

Sorry I dont have any matching suggestion for your needs.
I can recommend 2 line mixers for use with synths :
Mackie LM3204
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Roland M-480
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Re: What do you mix hardware with?

Post by clubbedtodeath » Tue Jan 10, 2017 11:33 am

I'd be against doing routing within your DAW, for one reason - latency. What might be acceptable latency just now, might be noticeable when it's doubled. Whether you get a mixer or not, I second the suggestion of using a patchbay - that will give you plenty of flexibility with external multiple effect chains or synthesiser routings, without having to unplug stuff.

Cheers

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Re: What do you mix hardware with?

Post by sw_hunt » Tue Jan 10, 2017 1:19 pm

Lots of really interesting advice. I'm glad I asked now - it seemed an easy question but has given me a lot to think about. Behringer do a patchbay for about £70 that looks ok.

Cubase is telling me the Motu USB UltraLite is costing me 6ms round trip. Doesn't sound a lot?

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Re: What do you mix hardware with?

Post by jxalex » Tue Jan 10, 2017 4:55 pm

sw_hunt wrote:ie there's 2 or 4 stereo ins and lots and lots of mono or mic ins. I only need 2 mics but need say 7 stereo ins. I can't be bothered to pair up mono channels and remember to move some sliders in pairs and some not! Wht does noone seem to do proper stereo mixers or have I missed something?
Spec:
Studio work only.
16 ins but most need to be stereo, two, maybe 4 max can be mono or mic ins.
Each in goes via usb to DAW (Cubase 9)
3 or 4 sends, most of them stereo.
Built in FX, preferably true stereo would be nice but not essential.
Budget < £700ish

Thanks :)
16 input channels and 3..4-sends and 3..4 AUX returns -- you can find several compact mixer boards which are like these. MIC input channels can be used as Line level input channels too. Also they have insert on each MONO channel, so you can use these mono channels (routed hard left/right) strips as that stereo inserts.
These mixers cost ca 300..400GBP as new. Behringer MX2222FX or ALTO L16. There are also MACKIE compact mixers.
however I do not recommend the builtin FX as main FX -- their signal-noise ratio is lower than a external multieffect units. Problem still with these mixers are that their pots and faders need maintenance and they are not so reliable. So here is very good to have spare parts and skills with soldering, becouse mixers with 8-years lifetime cost more and they have the same amount input channels as Behringer.

Stereo Inserts... you are going to use many compressors?
So far as I know the multieffect units sum the incoming signal before they process it when it comes to reverbs.

I am still into modifying the things and thats the way to get unofficial way of getting more inserts, direct outs for each output or noise gates. ;)
Last edited by jxalex on Tue Jan 10, 2017 5:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: What do you mix hardware with?

Post by jxalex » Tue Jan 10, 2017 5:12 pm

pflosi wrote:I don't think this exists. Particularly, because of one requirement: stereo sends.
and which are these real stereo effect units? And what for to use these?


When I thought to make my own mixing console then I got also idea of making stereo sends, but
I did not went so far. Becouse -- Can someone name real stereo effect units besides compressors, and exciters?
All these flangers/chorus/reverbs are using mono input signals, and even the stereo signal they sum together!

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