Should I get an analog mixer? If so, which one?

Discussions on sound production outside the synthesizer such as mixing, processing, recording, editing and mastering.
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Should I get an analog mixer? If so, which one?

Post by Dubersive » Sun Jun 20, 2010 9:55 pm

Hey all,

I'm pretty new to the sound production scene, and have recently acquired a few nice pieces of analog gear. So far, I've got an SH-101, a TR-606 and 707, and a x0xb0x. I have been planning on buying a Saffire PRO 40 for a while now, and I'll need to buy some nice monitors as well. All of this will be routed into my desktop/laptop to be recorded in a DAW (Reaper).

Now, I've been wondering if I should also go ahead and buy a nice analog mixer, just to tie everything together, and to give me the ability to mix by hand. I've been looking at some of the Mackies, the Alesis Multimixes, and Yamaha. I'm really not sure what to get considering my current level of experience with production (newbie) and amount of equipment.

Should I buy a mixer? Do you have any recommendations?

Or should I just stick with my audio interface and Reaper for now?
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Re: Should I get an analog mixer? If so, which one?

Post by Stab Frenzy » Mon Jun 21, 2010 2:30 am

An analogue mixer won't really add a great deal, as the Sapphire has a no latency DSP mix engine anyway so you don't have to worry about latency from your soundcard. Going through any of the mixers you mentioned would cause a drop in sound quality compared to going straight to the interface, and if you're recording into a DAW you'd just want all the channels at unity anyway, so you wouldn't be able to 'mix by hand' anyway.

If I were you I'd save the money you might spend on a desk and put it into getting better monitors, you'll notice a bigger difference that way. :thumbleft:

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Re: Should I get an analog mixer? If so, which one?

Post by Dubersive » Mon Jun 21, 2010 11:21 am

Stab Frenzy wrote:An analogue mixer won't really add a great deal, as the Sapphire has a no latency DSP mix engine anyway so you don't have to worry about latency from your soundcard. Going through any of the mixers you mentioned would cause a drop in sound quality compared to going straight to the interface, and if you're recording into a DAW you'd just want all the channels at unity anyway, so you wouldn't be able to 'mix by hand' anyway.

If I were you I'd save the money you might spend on a desk and put it into getting better monitors, you'll notice a bigger difference that way. :thumbleft:
Thanks the informative reply :D
I went to Gearslutz.com, asked this same question and basically got snubbed. The community here seems more willing to help the new guy.

I'll just stick with my Saffire then. As for the monitors, I was thinking of getting some ADAM A5X's - do you think those would do the job alright? I've heard they are very good.
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Re: Should I get an analog mixer? If so, which one?

Post by jeeroj » Mon Jun 21, 2010 11:52 am

Hi, I have a similar setup to you and just recently got an analogue mixer. I love it mainly for the ability to 'play' it live. It's great to be able to bring instruments/channels in and out of the mix.

so i agree with stab's suggestion if it's just for recording, however, i've not had as much fun having a tiny acid rinse-out as i do now i have a mixer to play with.
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Re: Should I get an analog mixer? If so, which one?

Post by Dubersive » Mon Jun 21, 2010 3:08 pm

jeeroj wrote:Hi, I have a similar setup to you and just recently got an analogue mixer. I love it mainly for the ability to 'play' it live. It's great to be able to bring instruments/channels in and out of the mix.

so i agree with stab's suggestion if it's just for recording, however, i've not had as much fun having a tiny acid rinse-out as i do now i have a mixer to play with.
I guess what it comes down to for me right now is necessity. I want an analog mixer for the exact reasons you mentioned, but if I can a great workflow without a mixer, then maybe I should hold out on it for a while.

So I guess what I would like to know is if it's a huge pain in the a*s to work just from an audio interface and having a mixer makes things infinitely easier, or if the addition of a mixer is purely a luxury.

Stab also said it would lower the audio quality, considering the mixer's I was looking at buying. May I ask what kind of mixer and audio interface you have?
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Re: Should I get an analog mixer? If so, which one?

Post by th0mas » Mon Jun 21, 2010 5:09 pm

Dubersive wrote: So I guess what I would like to know is if it's a huge pain in the a*s to work just from an audio interface and having a mixer makes things infinitely easier, or if the addition of a mixer is purely a luxury.
Only you are going to be able to answer that question, so once you get the audio interface if you hate the lack of a hands-on mixer you can always buy more stuff to solve your problems :lol:

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Re: Should I get an analog mixer? If so, which one?

Post by Dubersive » Mon Jun 21, 2010 5:33 pm

th0mas wrote: Only you are going to be able to answer that question, so once you get the audio interface if you hate the lack of a hands-on mixer you can always buy more stuff to solve your problems :lol:
This is true! I'll probably end up buying a mixer at some point down the road, regardless of what is said here, lol.

But would I have to buy a really expensive one to preserve the audio quality of my Audio Interface?
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Re: Should I get an analog mixer? If so, which one?

Post by jeeroj » Mon Jun 21, 2010 7:20 pm

Dubersive wrote: I guess what it comes down to for me right now is necessity. I want an analog mixer for the exact reasons you mentioned, but if I can a great workflow without a mixer, then maybe I should hold out on it for a while.

So I guess what I would like to know is if it's a huge pain in the a*s to work just from an audio interface and having a mixer makes things infinitely easier, or if the addition of a mixer is purely a luxury.
yes necessity rules over all purchases eh?! ;)

it was no real trouble to work with just the interface - having a mixer just makes it easier to turn channels down as you play. If you are recording via firewire then you can edit tracks in your DAW to bring them in and out. Like i say, it's more for me to play my hardware live than anything.

Dubersive wrote: Stab also said it would lower the audio quality, considering the mixer's I was looking at buying. May I ask what kind of mixer and audio interface you have?
I've got the presonus fp-10 and an old Yamaha mixer, the mx200-12. If i'm using the mixer I'll send a stereo out from that to the fp-10.

I only really make silly acid so for me audio quality isn't as necessary and a bit of dirt can help the sound.

Having said that, at some point I'd like to get a better mixer, mainly to have extra features...
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Re: Should I get an analog mixer? If so, which one?

Post by meatballfulton » Mon Jun 21, 2010 8:25 pm

I use the Saffire Pro 40 standalone as an 8-in mixer driving my monitors. It's a lot smaller than any mixing board (one rack space, no wall wart) and no need to repatch anything to record. Plus it sounds great =D>

I don't miss pan/EQ/FX sends at all when I'm just playing; when I'm recording that's done "in the box" at final mix time anyway.
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Re: Should I get an analog mixer? If so, which one?

Post by Tchammosaur » Mon Jun 21, 2010 9:56 pm

I've got about the same number of instruments you do, and I find my analog mixer extremely useful. Everything goes through it, including the output of my sound card, and the output of my Wii... It goes out to the monitors. When sketching music, it's very useful. The instruments are always plugged into it. When recording, I use an insert cable after the preamp stage of the mixer and run that into the sound card. Super easy. Honestly I can't imagine working without it. As much as I like working with software and my otherwise minimal setup, having a real tangible object that everything goes through before hearing anything is almost a necessity in my setup. The noise floor that it adds before the sound goes to the monitor is a very small price, considering how much it facilitates my work.

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Re: Should I get an analog mixer? If so, which one?

Post by Dubersive » Tue Jun 22, 2010 12:05 am

Thanks for the replies so far everybody :D
jeeroj wrote: yes necessity rules over all purchases eh?! ;)

it was no real trouble to work with just the interface - having a mixer just makes it easier to turn channels down as you play. If you are recording via firewire then you can edit tracks in your DAW to bring them in and out. Like i say, it's more for me to play my hardware live than anything.
I do plan on buying a Novation Remote SL MKII at some point. I suppose I could just use that as a mixer-controller for the DAW.
meatballfulton wrote:I use the Saffire Pro 40 standalone as an 8-in mixer driving my monitors. It's a lot smaller than any mixing board (one rack space, no wall wart) and no need to repatch anything to record. Plus it sounds great =D>

I don't miss pan/EQ/FX sends at all when I'm just playing; when I'm recording that's done "in the box" at final mix time anyway.
I'm glad to hear it works well as a little mixer! I've only heard good things about the PRO 40, it really seems like one of the best interfaces you can buy at its price-range. I will be living in a relatively small house come next month too, so I will need to preserve space. I don't think that will last long though. I love hardware too much :P
Tchammosaur wrote:I've got about the same number of instruments you do, and I find my analog mixer extremely useful. Everything goes through it, including the output of my sound card, and the output of my Wii... It goes out to the monitors. When sketching music, it's very useful. The instruments are always plugged into it. When recording, I use an insert cable after the preamp stage of the mixer and run that into the sound card. Super easy. Honestly I can't imagine working without it. As much as I like working with software and my otherwise minimal setup, having a real tangible object that everything goes through before hearing anything is almost a necessity in my setup. The noise floor that it adds before the sound goes to the monitor is a very small price, considering how much it facilitates my work.
Exactly why I was considering buying one - ease of use, and smooth workflow. But I guess since I'm just starting out, I could wait a little while and save up for a really good mixer like an Allen & Heath.

How much noise floor does it add? Is it easy to lower the amount of noise generated?
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Re: Should I get an analog mixer? If so, which one?

Post by b3groover » Tue Jun 22, 2010 2:26 am

I have a Soundtracs Topaz 32 channel mixer. Direct outs on all the channels means I can have channels 1-24 always connected to my three Presonus Firepods. As a previous poster mentioned, it's very handy to have all your gear plugged in and ready to go. I also record full bands (with drums, guitars, bass, etc.) and use the mixer to create headphone submixes for the musicians.

The Topaz is an older mixer, but are known for being relatively inexpensive but very good sounding boards. The EQ is actually useable and there are plenty of routing options. I originally bought mine with the intention of pairing it with my Scully 2" 16 track analog deck, since the mixer is a split-channel design but have yet to get that tape machine fully functioning. Even so, the board has proven it's value to me. I use the last 8 channels as auxiliary inputs for my CD player, turntable, iPod, etc.

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Re: Should I get an analog mixer? If so, which one?

Post by skweeegor » Tue Jun 22, 2010 2:56 pm

I think even if I went all in the box, I'd still keep an analogue mixer around for that sweet, sweet distortion you get by overdriving the channel. Better sounding and less noisy than any distortion pedal I've tried.

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Re: Should I get an analog mixer? If so, which one?

Post by Dubersive » Tue Jun 22, 2010 4:45 pm

It's so damn tempting! I know I don't need it, but from everyone's replies it sounds like it makes the creative process so much better.

I will get one at one point in the future, I've decided. Maybe sometime later this year. But how do I know which one suits me the most? It's not like you can try them out at the stores - you need to bring all your gear. I've heard Allen & Heath is the best at making mixers, but they give me sticker-shock. Is it worth it to save up for a really expensive mixer?

@b3groover: does Soundtracs make newer mixers similar to the Topaz? I haven't really heard of that brand before, and none of my online go-to stores have them. I'm getting tired of getting all my gear through eBay is all. Such a pain in the a*s.
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Re: Should I get an analog mixer? If so, which one?

Post by th0mas » Tue Jun 22, 2010 5:05 pm

Dubersive wrote:Is it worth it to save up for a really expensive mixer?
Totally up to you. There's been great music made with shitty equipment, and shitty music made with great equipment.

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