Audio interface and/or USB mixer?

Anything about hardware musical instruments.
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ATN69
KVRAF
1976 posts since 5 Oct, 2015 from Swedish / Living in Hong Kong

Post Thu Sep 12, 2019 3:26 am

Hi all,

I have a number of a noob questions for all of you that use a DAW with a lot of hardware. Up until now I been working 100% in the box with software and plugins only. I recently bought myself a JP-8000. I connected it to my computer with a USB/Midi interface cable, and I connected the audio L/R into channel 1 & 2 on my audio interface. I use a Focusrite Scarlet 2i2. Everything works fine :wink:

I have FL Studio and there I can see the audio input 1 and 2 from the scarlet 2i2 listed as "audio input 1 & 2" in the mixer of the DAW, but I only have 2 inputs on the 2i2. Now, let's say I want to get more hardware synths. I am thinking to get some Behringer synths, maybe Novation Peak and perhaps a Virus Ti2. I need more audio inputs and I want to be able to "see them" in the DAW mixer as separate inputs.

Are there any USB mixers out there that works like the scarlet 2i2 and other USB interfaces, where each audio input become listed in the DAW mixer as well?

I been looking at Scarlet 18i20 because it is supposed to have 18 inputs? How does that work? Would it be possible to buy the 18i20 and theoretically have 9 synths connected to it (stereo) and each audio input from the interface mapped in the DAW mixer?

I see many studios with loads of hardware and I basically wonder how they do it, and how they split up everything going into the DAW?

Finally, I have not been working with MIDI for quite some time. I know its possible to daisy chain each synth but at the same time I wonder if a separate USB midi interface for each synth is a better idea?

Cheers!
Win 10 -64bit, CPU i7-7700K, 32Gb, Focusrite 2i2, FL-studio 20, Studio One 4, Reason 10

NTO
KVRist
242 posts since 8 Feb, 2011

Re: Audio interface and/or USB mixer?

Post Thu Sep 12, 2019 4:48 am

External mixers can offer benefits depending on the application. 8 drum mics to one daw input for instance.

Usb mixers w/independent paths to your daw inputs can equal big bucks.

This guy was using one from soundcraft that seemed not too bad in that regard <$400 street as I recall (for 12 i/o).

https://forum.image-line.com/viewtopic. ... 0&t=209793
Last edited by NTO on Thu Sep 12, 2019 4:54 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Unaspected
KVRian
911 posts since 4 May, 2012

Re: Audio interface and/or USB mixer?

Post Thu Sep 12, 2019 4:52 am

I use an audio interface with an optical in so that I can attach a preamp bank, such as Octopre, thus expanding the number of available inputs in my DAW.

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foosnark
KVRAF
4768 posts since 9 Jan, 2003 from Saint Louis MO

Re: Audio interface and/or USB mixer?

Post Thu Sep 12, 2019 5:05 am

ATN69 wrote:
Thu Sep 12, 2019 3:26 am
I been looking at Scarlet 18i20 because it is supposed to have 18 inputs? How does that work? Would it be possible to buy the 18i20 and theoretically have 9 synths connected to it (stereo) and each audio input from the interface mapped in the DAW mixer?

I see many studios with loads of hardware and I basically wonder how they do it, and how they split up everything going into the DAW?
The 18i20 (and similar interfaces by other manufacturers) has 8 analog inputs on board (with preamps, level controls etc.), and up to 10 more using external devices that connect with an ADAT cable. That might be a Behringer ADA8200, Scarlett OctoPre, Scarlett PRO40 in standalone mode, some of the Expert Sleepers hardware for Eurorack, etc. -- but whatever it is, will show up in your DAW as belonging to the main interface.

Some "stereo" synths are mono except for the effects. So you can easily get away with using them in mono and adding VST effects, and save on inputs that way.

ATN69 wrote:
Thu Sep 12, 2019 3:26 am
Finally, I have not been working with MIDI for quite some time. I know its possible to daisy chain each synth but at the same time I wonder if a separate USB midi interface for each synth is a better idea?
You don't necessarily need a separate interface for each synth, but I wouldn't use a long daisy chain (even assuming most of your synths have THRU ports...) If the synth has USB MIDI I'd choose that over DIN where possible.

Another option, if you need particularly tight timing, is something like Expert Sleepers USAMO -- it uses a plugin that sends MIDI over an audio output, and decodes it for sample-accurate timing. A lot of audio interfaces that have plenty of inputs, also have more outputs than you probably need.

User avatar
ATN69
KVRAF
1976 posts since 5 Oct, 2015 from Swedish / Living in Hong Kong

Re: Audio interface and/or USB mixer?

Post Thu Sep 12, 2019 5:23 am

And this is why I love KVR. Thanks guys for giving me the information I was looking for! :)

The sound craft mixer seems to be an option to get enough inputs, and I guess there are more alternatives like that out there. Now I know what to look for and compare with I might find more similar USB mixers. $400 is not that much and I saw they have a 16 channel version as well.

Interesting information about bigger audio interfaces. I never had any need for anything larger than my 2i2 so I have no experience of larger interfaces. This seems to be one way to go as well. I never knew there were audio interfaces with optical IN for expansion. I will read up on that.

Cheers!
Win 10 -64bit, CPU i7-7700K, 32Gb, Focusrite 2i2, FL-studio 20, Studio One 4, Reason 10

User avatar
Forgotten
KVRAF
3121 posts since 15 Apr, 2019 from Nowhere

Re: Audio interface and/or USB mixer?

Post Thu Sep 12, 2019 5:31 am

Don’t discount Behringer USB mixers. They fall in the budget price range, but they are actually pretty good.

Septimon
KVRist
281 posts since 8 Mar, 2008 from Berlin

Re: Audio interface and/or USB mixer?

Post Thu Sep 12, 2019 5:34 am

ATN69 wrote:
Thu Sep 12, 2019 5:23 am
I never knew there were audio interfaces with optical IN for expansion. I will read up on that.
It‘s called „ADAT“. Most Interfaces advertised with 18 or up channels Indeed only have 8 analog ins + ADAT plus SPDIF (Stereo digital in) the newer Behringer ADAT Interface has MIDAS preamps and is very good value.
I don‘t See the advantage of a USB Mixer over an Interface but that‘s Personal workflow obviously.
Presonus studio live (500€) might be an option also

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Unaspected
KVRian
911 posts since 4 May, 2012

Re: Audio interface and/or USB mixer?

Post Thu Sep 12, 2019 8:05 am

Septimon wrote:
Thu Sep 12, 2019 5:34 am
ATN69 wrote:
Thu Sep 12, 2019 5:23 am
I never knew there were audio interfaces with optical IN for expansion. I will read up on that.
It‘s called „ADAT“. Most Interfaces advertised with 18 or up channels Indeed only have 8 analog ins + ADAT plus SPDIF (Stereo digital in) the newer Behringer ADAT Interface has MIDAS preamps and is very good value.
I don‘t See the advantage of a USB Mixer over an Interface but that‘s Personal workflow obviously.
Presonus studio live (500€) might be an option also
Indeed, Midas preamps aren't to be sniffed at.

I favour banks of preamps and would kit out a professional recording studio this way (if I owned one) - likely much to the dismay of old tutors, but I don't see the need for large form consoles.

JCJR
KVRAF
2727 posts since 17 Apr, 2005 from S.E. TN

Re: Audio interface and/or USB mixer?

Post Thu Sep 12, 2019 9:11 am

Depends on intended workflow. I like to be able to play a stack without having to run every input discretely thru the computer. Can even run the mixer with computer disconnected.

I mostly work out songs with din midi sequencer tracks and hardware synths. Finally record the synths as audio tracks into daw, plus asst audio tracks such as bass or guitar. Then do a daw mix and render to disk.

I like small analog USB mixers with 16+ analog inputs. Or compact rackmount digital mixer with USB audio. My room is too small for a big console.

If using multitimbral hardware synths, then numerous USB computer input channels don't always offer benefit.

For silly example my last song had midi horn tracks of 1 Bari sax, 2 tbone, 2 trumpet. 5 horn tracks total played on V3 Sonority XL midi module.

That module can do 4 analog outputs but I only use stereo outs.

So after the song was "finished" ready to mix, I solo the bari sax midi track and record audio. Then solo TBone 1 midi trk and record audio. Then solo TBone 2 midi trk and record audio, etc.

In that case 16 or 32 discrete computer inputs would not speed up the process. All 5 midi tracks share a stereo multitimbral synth and therefore have to be recorded one at a time regardless how many computer inputs are available.

Well sure a single mixed stereo stem of all 5 midi horn parts could be recorded in a single pass if one doesn't want separate audio tracks for mixing.

lectropunk
KVRian
592 posts since 26 Sep, 2011 from new ross wexford ireland

Re: Audio interface and/or USB mixer?

Post Thu Sep 12, 2019 9:14 am

Google soundcraft signature mtk mixers they are awesome and they have a audio interface and 12 channels and 24 models I highly recommend them

JCJR
KVRAF
2727 posts since 17 Apr, 2005 from S.E. TN

Re: Audio interface and/or USB mixer?

Post Thu Sep 12, 2019 9:19 am

On the other hand if a person has a big tabletop of drum machines sequencers and mono synths and likes to do long space jams twiddling knobs on numerous droning synths.

That might beg for separate audio tracks for each instrument. So the big space jam can be mixed afterward. If you could only record 1 or 2 mixed stereo stems then it might cause regrets not being able to adequately "fix it in the mix".
Last edited by JCJR on Thu Sep 12, 2019 1:16 pm, edited 1 time in total.

ehdyn
KVRist
198 posts since 2 Aug, 2007

Re: Audio interface and/or USB mixer?

Post Thu Sep 12, 2019 12:44 pm

Zoom LiveTrak is another good option..

https://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail ... r-recorder

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