An interface with decent inputs

Discussions on sound production outside the synthesizer such as mixing, processing, recording, editing and mastering.
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koneyn
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An interface with decent inputs

Post by koneyn » Fri Dec 30, 2011 1:01 am

I've got one (hopefully) simple problem. My DX7 simply sounds great when connected to a small mixer, especially with a touch of reverb from it's integrated FX unit. The sound can be really convincing, with strong character. Especially with the bass patches, I get goose bumps sometimes just by playing one note repeatedly.

Pretty much all that is gone when I try to record it through EMU 0404 PCI. The sound just turns out thin and lifeless, especially the aforementioned bass sounds suffer, becoming somewhat woody and without proper bottom end.

A friend has the same interface and the same problem with recording output from his Elektron Machinedrum.

Now, do you guys have any specific recommendation for an interface (preferably USB) with at least half-decent inputs? I don't need lots of them and I don't need loads of other options - just one of those smaller pieces but with some extra effort put into building a good input.

For example, I came across highly praised Line 6 Pod Studio UX2, still it's aimed at guitarists and I am not quite sure how the performance could be affected if I just plug in a synth instead of guitar in it? Is there some big difference in the type of signal or it could maybe do a good job?

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Re: An interface with decent inputs

Post by Stab Frenzy » Fri Dec 30, 2011 3:26 am

The 0404 is actually a pretty nice interface. Sounds like you're distorting it when you go through the mixer and you like the sound of that, and you're missing the distortion when you're recording direct. Plug the outputs of the mixer into the interface and see how that sounds.

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Re: An interface with decent inputs

Post by themilford » Fri Dec 30, 2011 8:31 am

I use Motu at home and the studio. My buddy got the Ultralite Mk3 and loves it.

If I have real money I would get RME or Apogee stuff.

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Re: An interface with decent inputs

Post by koneyn » Fri Dec 30, 2011 11:23 am

I wish I had it, too, hehe ;]
As probably most oh hobbyists today, I'm on a quite tight budget, let's say anything over 300EUR would be way too much. Like I said, I don't need lots of I/O, so I'm hoping to find something of good quality but basic options.

Mr. Frenzy, your suggestion sounds reasonable and I haven't thought of it before. Mainly because I actually doubt that the mixer colors the sound so much. The difference is really too noticeable and not only in my case - the friend I mentioned has a completely different mixer yet he gets the same result. The thing is, I know from experience that the sound when I connect interface output directly to monitors and the sound that goes from interface via mixer to the same speakers isn't really different, or if there is some difference, I just can't hear it.

But who knows, I might give it a try anyway, thanks!

By the way, I used to connect the output of DX7 to the input of Korg ESX some time ago... the worst result ever, again completely different and in a quite unusable way, again mainly for the bass sounds.

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Re: An interface with decent inputs

Post by samuraipizzacat29 » Fri Dec 30, 2011 1:42 pm

koneyn wrote: Mainly because I actually doubt that the mixer colors the sound so much.
It does. I HATE my behringer mixer (and room acoustics) for exactly that reason. It makes everything sound cold and dead. I have the e-mu 1616 (which are the same ad/da converters and pci card as the 0404) and I constantly give it a shining recommendation for its features at its price point. I think it does a very good job of recording exactly what's flowing through its inputs.

If all else fails, grab a mixer with an optical output and run it into any interface you get. That way you'll reduce any additional noise in the main output of the mixer.

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Re: An interface with decent inputs

Post by koneyn » Fri Dec 30, 2011 11:52 pm

Hmmm, but the problem is quite opposite, synth-to-mixer sounds great, synth-to-interface sounds dead.

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Re: An interface with decent inputs

Post by samuraipizzacat29 » Sat Dec 31, 2011 12:39 am

Stab Frenzy wrote:The 0404 is actually a pretty nice interface. Sounds like you're distorting it when you go through the mixer and you like the sound of that, and you're missing the distortion when you're recording direct. Plug the outputs of the mixer into the interface and see how that sounds.
exactly. that's the point of this ^ Your mixer will definitely affect the sound it processes. Especially since it sounds like your mixer is digital, since it has included effects. Your view of this coloration could be positive or negative - it's subjective. You could always record directly into the interface and color it with vst effects or the like.

the e-mu 0202, 0404, 1616 family of products has among the highest quality of ad/da converters available, along with a great signal/noise ratio, and a frequency response / dynamic range that is better than the popular cards of greater value. Just saying.... :)

also: being a former owner of a dx7iifd, I don't remember ever being inspired by its low-end response. I'm willing to bet it's an agreeable coloration by your mixer.

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Re: An interface with decent inputs

Post by koneyn » Sat Dec 31, 2011 12:54 am

It's not digital, just a Behringer Xenyx 1002FX ;]

If that is the case, Behringer should actually advertise it ("... making your digital synth sound fat!") :)

Thanks a lot people, I'll give it a try!

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Re: An interface with decent inputs

Post by samuraipizzacat29 » Sat Dec 31, 2011 1:04 am

ah - "3 band british EQ". That there be your answer - the mixer is intended to color your sound. It's a bit of a cheap digital frill to attempt to make the mixer sound good. It's no different than using a vst of similar quality. Yet- if it sounds good, it sounds good so go for it.
http://www.behringer.com/EN/Products/1002FX.aspx

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Re: An interface with decent inputs

Post by Shreddie » Sat Dec 31, 2011 8:49 am

koneyn wrote:Hmmm, but the problem is quite opposite, synth-to-mixer sounds great, synth-to-interface sounds dead.
What does synth-to-mixer-to-interface sound like?

The fact is that most interfaces above a certain price point/level of quality shouldn't be that much different (and should be pretty accurate) so changing your interface may not solve a thing as the 0404 isn't a bad interface. What it might be is that subtle distortion from you mixer is what you like the sound of.

I know that my mixer colours the sound slightly in comparison to my interface which is very clean and crisp.

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Re: An interface with decent inputs

Post by koneyn » Sat Dec 31, 2011 11:13 am

Shreddie wrote: What does synth-to-mixer-to-interface sound like?
I am yet to try it, got somewhat of a cable shortage at the moment ;)

Maybe I should be more precise about routing options I have tried so far:

a) synth > mixer > monitors = thick and warm, the best sound to my ears anyway
b) synth > interface > mixer > monitors = thin and cold
c) synth > korg esx > mixer > monitors = very boxy

And without the synth, just by playing back some quality music interface > monitors sounds virtually identical to interface > mixer >monitors. And that is the reason why I didn't take the mixer as a "coloring component" into account.

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Re: An interface with decent inputs

Post by cornutt » Sat Dec 31, 2011 4:04 pm

Could it be an impedance matching issue? Maybe the output of the DX7 is a bit weak, and the input of the 0404 loads it down more than the input of the mixer does. Do you know anyone who has a direct box that you could borrow?
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Re: An interface with decent inputs

Post by samuraipizzacat29 » Sat Dec 31, 2011 4:21 pm

samuraipizzacat29 wrote:ah - "3 band british EQ". That there be your answer - the mixer is intended to color your sound. It's a bit of a cheap digital frill to attempt to make the mixer sound good. It's no different than using a vst of similar quality. Yet- if it sounds good, it sounds good so go for it.
http://www.behringer.com/EN/Products/1002FX.aspx
^ did u google your mixer and see this?

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Re: An interface with decent inputs

Post by koneyn » Sat Dec 31, 2011 5:19 pm

Yes, well before I even bought it, but like I've (repeatedly) said:
koneyn wrote:And without the synth, just by playing back some quality music interface > monitors sounds virtually identical to interface > mixer >monitors.
If it doesn't seem to affect recorded music at all, why would it affect the synth that much - unless if it was because of the inputs?

That's why I started the thread, thinking that the inputs were to blame, because everything else sounds fine as long as they are not in the equation.

And I'll try different routing that has been suggested, my previous post was there only to clarify the tried variations.
Last edited by koneyn on Sat Dec 31, 2011 5:23 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: An interface with decent inputs

Post by themilford » Sat Dec 31, 2011 5:19 pm

cornutt wrote:Could it be an impedance matching issue? Maybe the output of the DX7 is a bit weak, and the input of the 0404 loads it down more than the input of the mixer does. Do you know anyone who has a direct box that you could borrow?
I was just thinking the same thing.

Get a decent DI.. Like the Radial Pro. If you have the bucks get the Radial J series stuff... Is the DX7 stereo. Radial makes a few stereo DI as well.

Or if you have a decent buffered effects pedal you could plug the DX7 into before going to the Interface or mixer might also help.

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