Small Mixers And Synths

Discussions on sound production outside the synthesizer such as mixing, processing, recording, editing and mastering.
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Small Mixers And Synths

Post by drawtippy » Wed Nov 26, 2008 4:59 pm

So I was checking out the Analog Industries blog and I found this post:

http://www.analogindustries.com/blog/en ... 7414971645

It's a pic of somebody's rig/synths and the thread is titled "What's wrong with this picture?"

Sublime poster aside, several people started commenting on the mixer. Then some of the comments starting ripping on "synth guys" or collectors who don't actually play their instruments or put expensive analogs through a cheap mixer.

People in the thread were talking about signal and only using a mixer to fool around but always rewire directly for recording! I don't do this. I basically ran out of ins on my MOTU and I have a bunch of synths across the room that run into an affordable (in my eyes half decent) Yamaha mixer and then into the MOTU. The mixer is great cuz I can boost the signal a bit if needed, throw a little EQ on and even run all my synths through the effects loop. I think it's very convenient and valuable. What are your guys thoughts? Do you wire directly when you record? Or are these guys just being wankers?
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Re: Small Mixers And Synths

Post by aXL » Wed Nov 26, 2008 5:46 pm

Using a Mackie VLZ3 or Onyx series as a line mixer is no crime. Not for monitoring, not for recording, and certainly not for live work. Behringer, on the other hand...

Me, I record directly into my audio interface (a Native AK1 with 2 ins and 4 outs) and repatch if I need to. Though I don't record anything truly dry anymore (after I got my RE-20) except software, my rig is so small a mixer isn't necessary. And since I don't play live, I very rarely need all synths tuned on at once, let alone do I need all put into the AK1 at the same time. Then again, this is just me.

Truth is, there is no absolute or definite way to record. All that matters is the sound, the recording process is just means to an end. I record DI and mix it in Cubase, but would actually prefer a line mixer if I had the space because I'd like to use some outboard effects with them all without using the same signal. I actually use my Boss RE-20 as a preamp, just using the input volume and turning off the effects.
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Re: Small Mixers And Synths

Post by nathanscribe » Wed Nov 26, 2008 5:56 pm

As long as you buy a mixer that sounds like you want it to, you're doing the right thing. I have a few mixers kicking about, and entirely re-opamped my old Phonic PMC1202 because it sounded muffled next to the mackie (1604VLZpro). I've got a couple of old 70s/80s Boss mixers too - grubby and rough, just for those moments. I had a little 8-ch Behringer and got rid. Did its job when needed, but not worth keeping afterwards.

I always go through a mixer with synths. I tend to record with effects in place, and especially if you're recording everything at once, a mixer is a valid and useful tool. I don't like software and am trying to use it only for recording (steering away from MIDI even for some things), but I never use plug-ins or softsynths or anything like that, so hardware mixing is the way.

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Re: Small Mixers And Synths

Post by small blue dot » Wed Nov 26, 2008 6:06 pm

Someone else started to bring up this question in another thread. I am by no means any kind of studio expert and don’t want to give the impression that I am. So take what I say with a grain of salt (you could probably say about the same for 99.9% of the people on this forum or that one).

Just like the synth hobby, the recording hobby is a slippery slope. Mics, mixers, preamps, compressors, etc. that are considered professional quality and widely regarding as very good sounding are thousands of dollars each. Some mics alone can easily set you back more than a Jupiter 8. Studio engineers obsess about the way different compressors sound in the same way we obsess about different synths. I think some of this is valid and I think some of it is chasing magic snake oil. “well if I just had the same tube compressor the Beatles use my music would sound so much better”. “If I just have an Arp 2600 my tracks would sound so much better”.

I think that a lot of us are guilty of the same thing. If you’re into synths who wouldn’t want a cool new synth over an expensive compressor that subtly colors the sound? But I also think there is a balance. I mean you have to wonder about the guy that has $10k+ in nice synths and has paid absolutely little attention to his recording interface. I mean that is his right and prerogative but it seems strange.

What I think it really comes down to is good songwriting skills and the best use of the equipment you have. I’ve read this frequently from famous producers. If the songs aren’t there than any amount of production isn’t going to help. Lots of great and even classic albums are recording with less than stellar gear and the recordings themselves leave a lot to be desired (The Velvet Underground comes to mind as an obvious example). To add to this, most people listen to MP3s these days which degrades a lot of the sound source. You also have audiophiles who listen to their music on more expensive gear than it was created on.
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Re: Small Mixers And Synths

Post by Alphacode » Wed Nov 26, 2008 6:22 pm

I noticed that recording directly to my Card doesn't do much difference than recording throu my 802VLZ3 . That said behringer sounded crappy next to the Mackie as it seemed to always miss some mid frequencies to me ...
That said i absolutely agree with the comment that people buy less CD now and listen to crappy 128kb Mp3s so using a phonic or Allen and Heath won't make a difference for 70% or more of listeners anyway.

Funny enough with sound improvement these recent years the quality of what people listen degraded in the same time...

If i remember correctly ''Les Rhytmes Digitales'' and ''Daft punk'' recorded their first albums in their bedrooms basically so ...

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Re: Small Mixers And Synths

Post by nvbrkr » Wed Nov 26, 2008 7:59 pm

I'm sorry but I really don't understand why recording through a mixer is wrong. Is this really what is implied?

Would my Poly-800 sound more professional when played through a tube compressor and a Neve strip? Or alternatively, when did going straight to the soundcard become some sort of a standard way of recording?

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Re: Small Mixers And Synths

Post by GeneralBigbag » Wed Nov 26, 2008 8:13 pm

I write tracks with everything run into a Behringer mixer, but when I record, it's track by track into an Apogee Minime. I don't like to record stereo out from a mixer, since there's very little that you can do to the individual voices as far as compression, eq, and reverb goes.
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Re: Small Mixers And Synths

Post by idiotboy » Wed Nov 26, 2008 8:20 pm

nvbrkr wrote:I'm sorry but I really don't understand why recording through a mixer is wrong. Is this really what is implied?

Would my Poly-800 sound more professional when played through a tube compressor and a Neve strip? Or alternatively, when did going straight to the soundcard become some sort of a standard way of recording?
I think what's implied is that recording through a bad mixer is wrong. But "wrong" is mis-used here. "Right" is whatever recording method allows you to achieve your own goals.

Will better recording gear make your recordings sound better? Of course! (assuming you use it properly). Will that improvement matter, or justify the extra expense? Only you can answer this.

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Re: Small Mixers And Synths

Post by JSRockit » Wed Nov 26, 2008 10:34 pm

Alphacode wrote:I noticed that recording directly to my Card doesn't do much difference than recording throu my 802VLZ3.
You may notice a difference when stacking tracks on top of each other... not by listening to one track versus another. I guess people don't want to pay for good conversion and then put something of lower quality in the path. Myself? I'm not that good for it to make a difference yet...even though I do go straight into my audio interface.
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Re: Small Mixers And Synths

Post by JSRockit » Wed Nov 26, 2008 10:35 pm

GeneralBigbag wrote:I write tracks with everything run into a Behringer mixer, but when I record, it's track by track into an Apogee Minime.
Hmmm...didn't you forget the Ebbe and Flut part?
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Re: Small Mixers And Synths

Post by kyodai » Wed Nov 26, 2008 10:38 pm

At first I though that the photographer had used the wrong F-stop but then I figured it out . . . there is no lava lamp in that studio.

Now if someone posted the question what would you change about this studio . . . . then the original poster would seem like less on an @$$&%(#. If there were an audio cable plugged into an electrical outlet or if it was obvious that there was a routing problem then there would be something wrong in that picture. but saying that there is something wrong with that picture because of a particular gear choice (mixer, lack of effects etc) wow that's gall.

Guess what, people buy gear and make choices about how to spend their money using their own logic, you might disagree with their logic but that doesn't make it wrong. Stop complaining about what other people do in their studios and make music.
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Re: Small Mixers And Synths

Post by GeneralBigbag » Wed Nov 26, 2008 10:46 pm

JSRockit wrote:
GeneralBigbag wrote:I write tracks with everything run into a Behringer mixer, but when I record, it's track by track into an Apogee Minime.
Hmmm...didn't you forget the Ebbe and Flut part?
Well, yeah, but I didn't want to brag :)

The way the recording chain goes is synths into the Minime straight, then I pipe them back out through the MCM 50-7774 DAC (which, at $110, is a good enough converter that the next step up would be <$1k) into the axis of TM-1/Sherman/EuF, and then I mix the effected and uneffected tracks ITB w/ mostly Stillwell plugs (tho I may have to get an UAD Xpress).
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Re: Small Mixers And Synths

Post by Zamise » Thu Nov 27, 2008 4:58 am

I have 3 mixers. All fairly cheap, one is a Behrehinger 24 channel /w effects, a pretty old Yamaha 8 channel mixer, and a newer 10 channel USB one.

I don't record to tracks, I record to a track and I mostly use my newer USB Yamaha mixer when I'm recording because it is my audio interface. The old Yamaha mixer is cool to throw in there or use at gigs sometimes because it seems to "color" the sound a tad bit and it has this freakishly nice volume curve or gain thats hard to get it to clip out sort of like a limiter that I'm not use to on the other ones which usually play it like it sounds until it clips or distorts in a bad way. The Behringer is only for when I want to hook up a lot of stuff at the same time.

It may not be professional way, but it works in the home/bedroom studio and for gigs, you've got to have a mixer if you've got more than a couple synths and you shouldn't have to pay $600+ just to hear a few synths play at the same time. I think it'd be wronger to chain the synths.

So, I'm not even sure thats really what is wrong with the picture. Sounds like some folks just got all pro pro and uppity about it. I think its the electribe, its a Virtual Analog, and the rest are considered all real analogs I think (those all anlog or all high end pro gear only folks can get kind of snooty IMO, but nothing wrong with that either I suppose) so its not really wrong either, just out of place "one of these things is not like the other" I think, even if it can sit well with the rest of them sound wise, its still the only VA, and there is no rules about having all one kind of synth, in fact the picture may be wrong just because there is no rompler in it too to make a more rounded setup.

My favorite setup includes an ARP Oddy (analog), Yamaha AN1X (VA), Yamaha RS7000 (rompler/sampler), and a KPII for effects. Oh and a small cheap mixer too of course, doesn't matter which really. I've been trying to incorporate a Peavey PC-1600 in there too, which is a small programable row of 16 midi sliders, but well still have to see what benifits it brings or not, as I don't like to hook up midi to my gear when I can get away without it most of the time.

Just my thoughts.

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Last edited by Zamise on Thu Nov 27, 2008 5:28 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Small Mixers And Synths

Post by Stab Frenzy » Thu Nov 27, 2008 5:26 am

kyodai wrote:At first I though that the photographer had used the wrong F-stop but then I figured it out . . . there is no lava lamp in that studio.

Now if someone posted the question what would you change about this studio . . . . then the original poster would seem like less on an @$$&%(#. If there were an audio cable plugged into an electrical outlet or if it was obvious that there was a routing problem then there would be something wrong in that picture. but saying that there is something wrong with that picture because of a particular gear choice (mixer, lack of effects etc) wow that's gall.

Guess what, people buy gear and make choices about how to spend their money using their own logic, you might disagree with their logic but that doesn't make it wrong. Stop complaining about what other people do in their studios and make music.
With you on the lava lamp thing. :D

I think the reason people get annoyed about people doing stuff like that is that there are people out there with Jupiter 8s and Serges and Andromedas that buy them cause they need to have the best sounding thing, and then post on internet forums about how good it sounds, and they're running them through Behringer mixers and cheap headphones, or a pair of M1 mkIIs with one speaker on top of their bookshelf and the other under their desk. Sure you can hear the basic tonal qualities of a synth through a playback system like that but you miss the detail that makes them sound great and that's the thing that makes them cost so much. I'm sure you'd get a similar response on a guitarist forum if you bought a vintage Jag or something and then just ran it through a little battery-powered practise amp.

Running pretty much any synth through a beefy keyboard amp or a big PA is a fairly mindblowing experience, and it makes you realise the playback system is a big part of the sound. I sometimes see pictures of studios with $50,000 worth of synths going through a $300 mixer and $200 speakers and it makes me think that if I had those synths I'd sell one or two of them and buy a great sounding mixer and monitor setup. Everyone is entitled to spend their money however they want but if you post pictures of your setup on teh internet you've got to be prepared for a little bit of criticism from people who think they know better, and may or may not be a little jealous. :)

That Mackie's not that bad though...

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Re: Small Mixers And Synths

Post by Zamise » Thu Nov 27, 2008 5:40 am

Ahh your right stabby, no monitors, not even to listen to the crappy mixer ;) There is what is wrong with the pic.
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