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Digital mixing desks.


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After much debating about the way forward to get up to speed and ditch my analogue desk, I am looking for a digital desk.

 

Can anyone advise me on one for about 1000 quid?

 

I looked at sum mixers and in the box solutions but am a bit old school and fancy a few faders.

 

I need 18 - 24 tracks.

Any help would be much appreciated.

 

Cheers,

Dan.

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I agree with David.

 

Digital mixers only give the illusion of faders, they are really still summing on a digital mix bus, same as the computer (and rarely as good).

 

A control surface will give this same illusion from within Logic, and a summing box will allow you to get the 'analogue mix bus' sound I guarantee you will miss when you ditch your console (assuming it's not a Mackie).

 

Unless you're spending $100k+ (or whatever) on a Sony Oxford, digital desks are pretty much a universal bust IME.

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Thanks for the replies to post.

The thing is, I tried setting my Mackie to zero to see if I could do a mix just with

the computer, but I didn't have enough room to balance the mix.

 

In other words when the bass drum was just peaking on the led's on the MOTU, the HH wasnt loud enough, so I turned down the level of the bass drum and lost all the colour of it.

 

With a desk I can get the sound I like and then set the level on the desk.

I assume a digital mixer will give me that extra scope whilst remembering different mixes.

 

Is this true or am I doing something really stupid.

 

Cheers,

Dan.

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I could never figure out what the proper operating level of a Mackie desk was supposed to be, even after many years of using them, so don't think you're alone in that...

 

I would not assume, however, that using a digital mixer is going to be any better that mixing ITB as far a headroom goes.

 

Hearing a little more of your situation, I think you should spend your 1000 quid on a nice control surface, a really high-end 2 channel DAC, and a nice passive monitor controller (like an SPL or a Coleman). ITB mixes on a good quality system are the way to go with your budget, IMHO.

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Thanks for the replies to post.

The thing is, I tried setting my Mackie to zero to see if I could do a mix just with

the computer, but I didn't have enough room to balance the mix.

 

In other words when the bass drum was just peaking on the led's on the MOTU, the HH wasnt loud enough, so I turned down the level of the bass drum and lost all the colour of it.

 

With a desk I can get the sound I like and then set the level on the desk.

I assume a digital mixer will give me that extra scope whilst remembering different mixes.

 

Is this true or am I doing something really stupid.

 

Cheers,

Dan.

 

I agree with you, I set up my analog mixer today and was pleased with the extra headroom beyond what Logic can give. I liked it too much and I need to add another audio interface.

 

In addition to that, a controller would help out with the mixing and automation.

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a really high-end 2 channel DAC, and a nice passive monitor controller (like an SPL or a Coleman). ITB mixes on a good quality system are the way to go with your budget, IMHO.

 

Thanks very much for the post, but I have to say that went right over my head. I did google the items listed but it still was confusing.

 

Would you mind expanding on it a bit? I still don't understand how anything can be better that an automated desk, I still cant see how you can balance mixes without the extra headroom that a desk can give.

 

Further more I looked at the Apogee stuff some1 suggested but I have a MOTU 24 track sound card so no need right?

 

Sorry I am quite nontechnical.

Dan.

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Depends what you need from a desk- digital or otherwise.

My last desk did have built in automation, which I used with Cubase.

It couldn't be used as a control surface with Cubase.

 

My current desk (01V96) can be used as a controller to control the faders in the Logic mixer, so that's what I went for, because the 01V had so many other features that suited my set up.

 

Having said that, I have seldom used it as a control surface. Despite being a luddite (gimme faders etc) I really got used to using the mouse to control Logic's mixer with it's built in automation- which if you'd told me that a few months ago I'd have said it'll never happen!

 

Anyway- couple of points that may or may not mean anything to the way you work.

Although it doesn't have automation, the wee 01V does have scene memories. These are great for setting up , um, scenes! I've one for recording a mic, one for recording a DI guitar and mic, etc. You could set one up as a starting point for each song, then make changes in logic?

If you do get a desk with built in automation, that means the automation data will not be included in the song- it'll be in the desk. Now, hopefully you'll be able to get the automation out of the desk as a file to save somewhere for the future, but it'll still be a seperate file. Might not be a big hassle for you?

If you decide to use the automation in logic, if you want to start moving parts around, to different tracks, or cutting out a chorus, etc. you have the option for the automation to go with the moves. This is great. But, if you use your desk's internal automation, and you want to move something in Logic, you have to remix the bits, or try getting into editing the automation in the desk- which is no fun!

 

Good luck with whatever choice you make!

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Thanks for that Kwackman.

 

If I could persist for just one more question.

All I really need is a desk that remembers levels.

 

I have been convinced by this forum that the eq's etc inside Logic are cool and better than my Mackie. I have tested it out a/b ing the 2 and it works.

 

I am now working with singers and rappers so need to recall mixes as they take so long to get ready to sing on my stuff.

 

In other words I want to keep working on different songs and recall the different mixes when I need to.

 

So from a desk I need good quality sound and the ability to remember mixes.

 

Sorry, not very good at writing, does this make sense?

 

Cheers,

Dan.

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Hi Dan,

 

Your question makes perect sense- but my answer is yes and no!

 

In the scene memory the desks layout (Fader settings, routing, EQ, dynamics) are stored.

These can by recalled with the press of a button.

So yes, the desk I'm talking about (01v96) will remember your fader settings.

 

BUT,

Scene memories won't remember fader moves within a song. e.g. if in the first chorus you lift a vocal track by 6db, that won't be saved. When you recall your scene memory, the fader will be at it's old lower level.

To do this you need automation (sometimes called dynamic automation) where the desk would be sync with Logic (usually by timecode) and when you start moving faders during your song, the desk will "record" all your fader moves (and loads of other stuff like EQ, dynamics, depending on the desk) and will play these back next time.

So no, the 01V96 will not remember fader settings if they move during the song!

 

Confused? There's more!

The mixer in Logic can have it's faders controlled by the faders on the 01V. So, if you have that vocal track on logic, you can move a fader on the 01V and you'll see it move the fader on your Logic screen. This time Logic is recording your fader moves, and when you play it back, the faders on Logic will replay your mix, but because the 01V is now acting as a control surface, the faders on it will also move to reflect the mixer in logic.

 

I've used mixer automation for years now, on Yamaha desks, in my day job. (02R, 02R96 and the lovely DM2000).

I'm fairly used to it, and am getting a bit too old to learn new tricks!

So, in my home studio, (01V96) I was very keen to use the desk as a control surface.

But, for actually mixing, I just use the Logic mixer and use the mouse. I find it a lot less hassle.

I use the 01V scene memories to recall a recording scene with 1 mic, another for recording with a mic and DI, etc.

 

It's really down to what you need a mixer to do.

 

Above when I've used the term 01V, I mean 01V96. The old 01V is a different beast!

 

Hope this hasn't muddied the waters too much?!

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look

if you have analog mixer you have your computer working as a tape machine. you convert signals to analog and send them to an analog mixer.

 

if you have digital mixer your computer works as a tape machine, you DONT convert the signals to analog (you send them digitally), and then you send them to a digital mixer which is nothing ELSE but a WORSE computer.

headroom? 24bit probably. if something clips at 0dbFS, it clips. you cant go over.

you can recall mixes!

 

if you have controller your computers works as a mixer/tape machine and generally has better quality and flexibility, also you can recall mixes as they are stored directly on the project. the layout is the same as your digital mixers.

more FX flexibility (much more)

Headroom? 32bit float. if kick drum clips at +5db, you lower the main level so the main level doesnt, and it doesnt matter if the kick does.

 

what you actually want is a DIGITALLY CONTROLLED ANALOG MIXER. that is expensive...

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I bought mine second hand....

 

The latest version has got extra software FX in it that were extra in the older version.

 

Before buying, please check out other reviews and other similar desks!

The 01V96 suits me, but won't suit everybdy.

 

Sound on Sound's web site is good for checking reviews.

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You should read Ploki's post, he's spot on...

 

Mackie mixers are not known for their headroom, and I'll bet money you were clipping yours pretty hard in the kick drum example, whether the meters showed it or not.

 

Yamaha digital mixers will not give you more headroom than the computer, and the analogue electronics they use on those cheap ones are pretty nasty. I've used the 02R96 a bit and found it to be sterile sonically and very unforgiving for mixing rock. And, as Ploki said, why buy a bunch of (inferior, IMO) digital EQs and dynamics units when you already have Logic?

 

I think you should spend your money on a good 2 channel interface, a good monitor controller, and a control surface, and learn to mix in the computer.

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Thanks for the posts everyone.

As usual unbelievably helpful and knowledgeable.

 

I now understand what the deal is (am VERY slow when it comes to techy stuff)

 

I have just two more questions which is totally fine if no reply as you have all been V generous.

 

1. is the Apogee interface suggested as good as my MOTU as I find the 896HD to be faultless in terms of replicating beautifully my analogue modules when recorded.

 

2. I don't fully understand why I need a monitor controller.

 

Cheers

Dan.

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The Apogee will almost certainly sound better than the MOTU, but if you're happy with the MOTU, you should keep using it until you're not.

 

Brings the other stuff (controller and monitoring station) right into your price range, too.

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