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Some advice on upgrading small home set up please.
Old 3rd March 2014
  #1
Here for the gear
 
🎧 10 years
Some advice on upgrading small home set up please.

Looking to upgrade my gear and hoping for some advice! Forgive me if I say some stupid things / ask some stupid questions I do know a little – I think I am just confused!!

Currently I have an old music PC which I record and sequence on (built in soundcard,) a Behringer MX 2642A mixer, some active monitors, two Technics 1210s and a Vestax PMC005 dj mixer, a cd player.

I am looking to use a laptop in place of my old PC; I would need an external soundcard but don’t know if I should go for a new mixer with a built in soundcard.. I don’t need too many channels as most parts are created using virtual synths etc played via midi but I need to be able to record vocals and guitars (usually as solo tracks..) I need an output for my active monitors, and also to play vinyl via my dj mixer – which I am also thinking about upgrading as I want to be able to incorporate digital files into my mixing via Serato / Traktor or similar..

So to be try and be clear of what I am asking:

Should I be looking for a soundcard and a mixer or a mixer with a soundcard (bearing in mind I wish to record vocal and guitar parts, trigger using an external keyboard and plug my active monitors in..)
And is there any way to combine upgrading my dj set up into this??

I am looking to have good quality audio (with my vinyl remaining an analogue signal) with as little equipment as possible, with cost being a strong factor (say a budget of around Β£3K or less if possible!!)

Thanks in advance for any advice / product suggestions.

Paul
Old 4th March 2014
  #2
Deleted 1846071
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I would start with a Mackie Onyx mixer with FireWire. It is inexpensive, it has very clean sound quality, and it has the routing capabilities you need to connect all your gear and record to your computer.

The only catch is that it doesn't have a MIDI port, but it looks like you wouldn't actually need it since you're using virtual synths.

I would hold off buying something more expensive until you're absolutely sure what gear exactly you need to purchase.

I don't know anything about DJ gear, can't help you there.
Old 4th March 2014
  #3
Deleted 1846071
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I just saw that you want to trigger MIDI from external keyboards. How are you triggering MIDI currently? Using a USB adapter?
Old 4th March 2014
  #4
Lives for gear
 
🎧 5 years
You'll get a better sound with a good audio interface than with a mixer's integrated soundcard, you just need enough inputs.

the Steinberg UR 824 is very good (preamps, converters, latency)
https://www.google.fr/search?q=stein...g+ur824+review

With a pair of Eve-Audio SC207 you'll be just fine.
http://www.musicradar.com/reviews/te...nitors-575163/
Old 4th March 2014
  #5
Gear Nut
 
conflict151's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
you can buy an external soundcard (interface) with enough inputs and outputs that you can use and integrate your current mixer. I would suggest not needing a mixer, but with all your sources, DJ mixers, Cd player, etc........ you can still use your mixer for monitoring before and after you record something. something like a universal audio apollo or an RME fireface 400
Old 4th March 2014
  #6
Here for the gear
 
🎧 10 years
Thanks guys - I really appreciate you taking the time to give advice!

Yummerz: yes I use a usb adapter; I just use a keyboard to play the soft synths etc..

So just to make certain that I am clear in my thinking an audio interface acts as a soundcard for my laptop but is stand alone and does not require to be connected to the laptop to work? So for example I could plug my dj mixer into it and listen to vinyl without involving the laptop and the audio signal would remain analogue from the needle to my monitors..?

To record vocals I would need an interface with the correct input and a pre amp..? Oh yes and phantom power..

Sorry, pretty boring basic questions but I think I am starting to have some idea!

Last edited by PVB; 4th March 2014 at 11:01 PM.. Reason: extra info
Old 5th March 2014
  #7
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3rd Degree's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
As said, you can either buy a mixer with a built in card to make it interface with your computer, or buy a separate interface and use it with a mixer. I do the second as it gives a bit more control, you can pick your mixer and interface separately.

One thing to consider if you go this route is making sure that you have direct outs that are post fader and post EQ if you plan on using your fader and EQ in the process. That's not just an analog mixer, many mixers that have a card built in send tracks pre fader, pre eq.

If that doesn't mater, you can always use your inserts on the mixer as a direct out which is usually pre fader, pre eq.

Sorry, I hope I am not confusing you but I know way to many people who had a bunch of hardware samplers, bought a mixer to eq and level each output, only to find that the direct outs were pre fader, pre eq, so when they went to record, the mixer didn't do anything for them that they wanted it to do.


On another note, you don't have to actually record through the mixer either. You can record each track through an interface and send it back to the mixer afterwards. Or you can ditch the mixer all together and use a digtal mixer in a DAW.

I kind of do a combination of all of the above, depending on what stage I am in my process, as well as what I am deciding to use at any given time. That's another reason I prefer an analog mixer and a separate interface.
Old 6th March 2014
  #8
Here for the gear
 
🎧 10 years
Thanks 3rd Degree!

Could someone just confirm that an audio interface runs independently of the laptop - as in it does not need the laptop to be plugged into it for it to work (though it supplies the laptop with a soundcard when it is connected..)

Also if I was playing vinyl via my dj mixer plugged into the audio interface and then my monitors would this be an analogue signal or would the audio interface 'digitise' the signal?

Thanks!
Old 6th March 2014 | Show parent
  #9
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3rd Degree's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by PVB ➑️
Thanks 3rd Degree!

Could someone just confirm that an audio interface runs independently of the laptop - as in it does not need the laptop to be plugged into it for it to work (though it supplies the laptop with a soundcard when it is connected..)

Also if I was playing vinyl via my dj mixer plugged into the audio interface and then my monitors would this be an analogue signal or would the audio interface 'digitise' the signal?

Thanks!
Some interfaces work stand alone, some do not. Which in particular?
Old 17th March 2014
  #10
Here for the gear
 
🎧 10 years
Umm, Im not sure.. I have been searching for 'standalone audio interface' to try and find some products but not much seems to come up.. So with some audio interfaces they would need to be connected to the laptop with the laptop on for them to work??
Old 17th March 2014 | Show parent
  #11
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3rd Degree's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by PVB ➑️
Umm, Im not sure.. I have been searching for 'standalone audio interface' to try and find some products but not much seems to come up.. So with some audio interfaces they would need to be connected to the laptop with the laptop on for them to work??
My M-Audio 2626 has a standalone mode. Remember that an audio interface is a device that allows you to interface with a computer so running stand alone is often not taken into account.

Just out of curiosity, why do you need it to run in standalone mode? You already have a mixer so that will do what you need without it ever going into the digital realm.
Old 17th March 2014
  #12
Here for the gear
 
🎧 10 years
Im trying to upgrade my system to get better sound quality; so Im thinking of upgrading my desk but then I dont use my desk for much but routing (any mixing I do inside my DAW) so it begs the question do I need a desk.. but then I dont really want to have to have my laptop on to play a record and then Im not sure if I have my turntables going through my audio interface is that changing the signal to digital at any point..??
Old 17th March 2014 | Show parent
  #13
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3rd Degree's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by PVB ➑️
Im trying to upgrade my system to get better sound quality; so Im thinking of upgrading my desk but then I dont use my desk for much but routing (any mixing I do inside my DAW) so it begs the question do I need a desk.. but then I dont really want to have to have my laptop on to play a record and then Im not sure if I have my turntables going through my audio interface is that changing the signal to digital at any point..??
Unless the interface has a passive signal, it will convert your analog signal to digital, then the digital signal back to analog. With a quality interface, I would be surprised if you can even hear a difference, however. I don't know of any interfaces that don't route things through the converters, even in standalone mode. That's what they are designed to do.
Old 17th March 2014
  #14
Here for the gear
 
🎧 10 years
Would that be the same with a desk with a built in audio interface do you know? I appreciate your comment regarding not being able to hear the difference; I am asking this more out of curiosity I guess..
Old 17th March 2014 | Show parent
  #15
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3rd Degree's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by PVB ➑️
Would that be the same with a desk with a built in audio interface do you know? I appreciate your comment regarding not being able to hear the difference; I am asking this more out of curiosity I guess..
I don't know enough about desks that can be used as interfaces to know. I would try downloading some manuals of specific desks you are looking at.

My gut tells me it's going to be easier to find a board that has 100% analog monitoring. Reason being that some are analog boards with expansion cards while others are based off an analog board to begin with. I would think they would just piggy back off what is already there but I can't say for certain. I do think the likely hood of this would be higher, I would make sure you check the manual before you buy.
Old 17th March 2014
  #16
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🎧 10 years
Thanks 3rd Degree; I appreciate your help. As you spoke about I guess I shouldnt make it an issue if Im not going to be able to hear any difference! (It just seems a bit crazy if you are making a point of listening to something on vinyl to then convert it to digital.. )
Old 17th March 2014 | Show parent
  #17
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3rd Degree's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by PVB ➑️
Thanks 3rd Degree; I appreciate your help. As you spoke about I guess I shouldnt make it an issue if Im not going to be able to hear any difference! (It just seems a bit crazy if you are making a point of listening to something on vinyl to then convert it to digital.. )
Well, one thing you can do to make sure you don't corner yourself in the short run is either run everything through your mixer first, or run your outs from your daw, into your DJ mixer. If you are using a 2 channel, you can only use one turntable while using your daw but it's simple to use that way. Just flip the switch to line. If you have an open channel, even better. Then route your outs to your speakers and you can avoid any digital stage.
Old 17th March 2014
  #18
Here for the gear
 
🎧 10 years
Im actually thinking of upgrading my dj mixer and so was trying to think how I could incorporate this into my set up - almost as a (small) desk.. and then some dj mixers seem to have audio drivers as a feature - does this make them audio interfaces albeit with limited input / outputs??

There is no problem connecting my active monitors to the dj mixers main outs no?
Old 18th March 2014 | Show parent
  #19
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🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by PVB ➑️
Im actually thinking of upgrading my dj mixer and so was trying to think how I could incorporate this into my set up - almost as a (small) desk.. and then some dj mixers seem to have audio drivers as a feature - does this make them audio interfaces albeit with limited input / outputs??

There is no problem connecting my active monitors to the dj mixers main outs no?
DJ mixers interface various ways with computers. A lot of mixers have a traditional setup but pair it with software so you can mix with time encoded vinyl but do all the features off the mixer (no mouse). I am sure that some would record as well. I would avoid all that if you don't want it and just get an regular interface.

A quality DJ mixer should be as good as most regular mixers at the same price.

Running monitors out of a DJ mixer is no issue.

It's not uncommon for Hip Hop beat makers to only use a quality sampler, quality turntable setup, quality monitors and track out to a computer/mulitrack recorder.
Old 18th March 2014
  #20
Here for the gear
 
🎧 10 years
It would seem to make some kind of sense to try and buy a good quality dj mixer rather than a dj mixer, mixing desk and audio interface..

Although there would be issues with using a mic requiring phantom power and possibly recording any guitars..

Do the boxes that supply phantom power affect the sound? Im presuming they do if you are going thru them.. and if I was using a Line 6 guitar pod could I then put this through the dj mixer??

Thanks!
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