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The current trend of Firewire and USB consoles
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elektro80
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 22, 2005 5:05 am    Post subject: The current trend of Firewire and USB consoles Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

There is a steady flow of new budget mixers equipped with firewire or usb ports. So far only the Mackie Onyx series resemble anything like a real substitution for a dedicated audio interface like the MOTO 828 and similar devices. The obvious "problem" with the Onyx mixers is that you only have a stereo "monitor return" from the mixer. This will not do.

So, what about all the others? Alesis, Peavey and others are launching new products that really offers just an alternative to the usual stereo tape out/tape in you all know from the Behringer UB series and similar products. What we are seeing now is that vendors are changing the feature set of low end mixers. This happened last year with audio interfaces when absoluteley everyone just had present a product with 24bit/192khz .

I am not saying the new mixers are bad. What I am saying that buying new gear on a low budget is not easy. One might decide on features that aren´t really that useable in real life. The main issue is understanding your own needs when it comes to signal routing and signal quality.

In most cases when doing multitrack DAW recordings you will want to send the signal more or less unprocessed to the DAW. If the signal is analog you will want to bypass mixer EQs but have the option to use compressors/limiters in order to make the signal recordable.
You guys remember those old recording consoles from the early/mid 80s? What we need right now is sensible gear deisgned to provide decent and flexible multitrack routing to a computer combined with very intelligent monitoring options. The on-board effects sections ( that all low end mixers seems to have these days ) should really be designed to provide sensible effects routing for the monitoring mixes. I am not seeing this right now.

My conclusion is that I am not seeing any mixers on the market designed for guys like us. However, there are a lot of products out there that are showing promising ideas but as far as I know only the Yamaha digital mixers are close to what I think is decent.

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PostPosted: Sat Jan 22, 2005 9:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

I wish the manufacturers would offer these mixers without the FX and put the savings (if there are any) toward other features. The FX that come with these lower end mixers don't sound great. Especially the reverb.

Elektro, other than mointor return, what would you like to have?

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PostPosted: Sat Jan 22, 2005 9:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

I tend to agree with your observations, but the people who introduce these new products know their customers. They go for the biggest market. Right now, that seems to be people who are doing virtually bit of singnal processing on the computer with DAW plugins. Stereo returns is probably not too limiting if you don't have much outboard gear.

What is more of a concern to me is that we are certainly moving towards a surround sound environment, 5.1 typically. Consumer grade sound cards now support multichannel outputs. Why buy a relatively expensive firewire mixer which has less capability in this respect than a $75 soundcard?

This my be controversial, but IMHO more important than EQ on a mixer is some sort of compression and limiting capability on the input strips. You can do EQ and reverb and whatever ammuses you after the recordings are made in a post processing mode, but on a digital system, even a momentary overload in the recording is disaster.

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PostPosted: Sat Jan 22, 2005 9:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

I agree, get rid of the effects, but put compression/limiting on there.
Lots of aux sends and sub outs.
Separate volume control for headophones.
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 22, 2005 12:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

I guess I am asking for a new kind of console.

1. Direct outs from each channel by Firewire. ( And.. the direct puts should also be possible to use as directs in from firewire too.. which means that you easily can assign DAW output channels to any console ins.. ).
2. New analog compressors/limiters that are designed for being transparent. One set each for each channel.. and they shold be able to be paired for stereo channels.. which means that special considerations should be taken to handle a stereo signal well. The CL circuitry should be possible to assign to the direct outs .. or used in the channel signal path. This means that they also should be possible to assigable before or after the channel EQs.
3. The use of DSPs for analyzing analog inputs for obvious problems. .. scanning the channels for hum and earthloops and stuff.. like obvious gain structure problems..
4. The use of DSPs for analyzing analog inputs for phase cancellation problems and the sort of shit you can step into when setting up microphones for recording string ensembles, choirs and drums. This would be REALLY helpful features.
5. Midi switchable analog insert .. so you can sequence on /off analog outboard insert efx.. and yes..throw in some VCAs for crossfades when using the inserts..
6. onboard EFX. but designed for monitor mixes for various instrument groups. Like.. the singer can have his own stereo reverb for his own monitor mix.. very often a slight dose of stereo verb on your own instrument will do wonders for isolating your own performance in the monitoring. Mind you .. this is for monitoring only.. and you might even want to adjust the levels and efx program live by remote control.

I have more ideas too. What I would love to see is a new kind of intelligent console that is just as useful in the studio as for live performances. Consider that musicians like us will tend to use the same gear for performances as we do in the studio.

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PostPosted: Sat Jan 22, 2005 12:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Those are some really nice features. I'd buy one if it existed. I bet Behringer is the company that would make such a thing first. To me, they seem to be the most innovative company these days.
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 22, 2005 12:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

I would buy such a console too.. but i have even more features to suggest.
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 22, 2005 12:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

The Yamha digital mixers do have some interesting features, but they don´t really solve my "problems" well.
I would like to see an anaolog/digital hybrid console that really makes a difference both in the studio and for perfomances. It could even be designed in order to be extended by modules that also could be used as standalone consoles. Adding the problem solveing DSP stuff is not really a big issue. Any intelligent engineer who understands the basic problems of like huge microphone setups for acoustic ensembles could design such a system. Imagine an intelligent console that realy helps you out when rigging and doing the sound checks.

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PostPosted: Sat Jan 22, 2005 2:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Builtin feedback detectors would be nice.
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 22, 2005 2:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Yup... some of the budget mixers already have that and it kinda almost works pretty well too.
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 22, 2005 2:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Yes, I got my precious ears zapped at a concert last night. Not during the performance, but when the so-called sound man was setting up the mics and the mixer. mad, short circuit
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 22, 2005 2:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Shocked Crying or Very sad
Sad story!
Well, I guess that makes my point about an intelligent mixer that actually helps out when rigging and doing sound checks. Such a mixer would walk up to the soundman and kick his ass.

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PostPosted: Sat Jan 22, 2005 3:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

elektro80 wrote:
Such a mixer would walk up to the soundman and kick his ass.


Well, I don't need the mixer to do that, I can take care of that myself. All the mixer should do is shut down the input strip - and maybe shock the sound man. Twisted Evil

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PostPosted: Sat Jan 22, 2005 9:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Sounds like a network-able mixer/daw. I say daw, since it looks like it should have VST like plug-ins for anti-feedback, compression, and, as Jessica Simpson recently taught us, better pitch correction. Might as well add a built-in cross-over for the house PA's, so you could put all that DSP power to use in analysing the room to set better cross-overs and create more friendly reverbs that work with the space instead of against it.

Really, everybody has played in some space, or listened in one, that you can't help but walk out thinking "That place had great sound". Once bads know of a place like that, they tend to gravitate there. Why don't the tools exist for such places at "affordable" prices for smaller clubs?
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 23, 2005 6:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

There is no need for overdoing the feature set. I don´t really need another DAW, just a better console that really makes a difference.

I should add that I don´t really believe in complete integration and in this case such a console could grow to be absolutely nasty and huge. Keep those crossovers and the amps external.

I don´t need VST embedding, just onboard tools that will do the job. During setup it is great to have access to anti-feedback circuitry as well as microphone setup tools and hum detection and stuff. Hmm.. imagine you at setup time also have a signal path gate connected to the setup software that goes.. "I don´t like that cable" and then listing the problems found..

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PostPosted: Thu Oct 20, 2005 7:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Look out! !! BUMP !!

Well since this is firewire (or USB2) equipped, and subsequently designed to be hooked to a computer, a cool solution might include asoftware app that lets you set up the units routing and DSP, fx, limiters, cable checkers, hotdog grillers, etc in your DAW, and then save the settings, which would then work even when not hooked to the computer.

So you have a sturdy case, nice analog pres and faders, a few buttons and a bunch of jacks, with a DSP or two in the middle of it all. You setup the unit however you like with your DAW (routing fx, etc..). Maybe even open source the DSP for Chameleon like flexibility.

this would be the ultimate in flexibility. need all 15 jacks as inputs? so be it. need two inputs and 13 outs?? so be it. want delays on inputs 3 and 4 with these signals being 180 degrees out of phase from channel 1? so be it. and a limiter on the final mix? sure.

so, why not?

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PostPosted: Fri Oct 21, 2005 2:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

This is an excellent suggestion. One feature I would love too in such a device ( and others too as well ) is the ability to check gain on absolutely every input/output/insert point on the mixer as well as on the ins and outs of the internal efx... and by internal efx I am also thinking of the EQ sections. Very few mixers will let you do this in a sensible way.
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 21, 2005 8:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

VcStv wrote:
need all 15 jacks as inputs? so be it. need two inputs and 13 outs?? so be it. ...so, why not?

I don't think we'll ever see bidirectional IO's for two reasons: The first is economy; there would have to be both an ADC and a DAC behind every jack with half of those resources being unused at any one time. Might as well add jacks and have them all simultaneously. The second is that bidirectional IO's can lead to 'dangerous' troubles/surprises if you switch to a preset that reassigns IO directions without making the corresponding changes in jack hookups. Also, since one would have to rearrange the jack hookups, the advantage (mostly convenience) of the IO programmability is kind of lost.

DJ
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Last edited by DrJustice on Fri Oct 21, 2005 8:53 am; edited 1 time in total
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 21, 2005 8:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Now that this has been bumped, and I have since also purchased a Emu 1616 (laptop version of the 1820), it seems like this product (almost) already exists.

The Emu is a break-out AD/DA, but also has a DSP to do things like: Metering, Effects (like compression, verbs, delays, etc), and Mixing. The thing that makes this different from other AD/DA boxes is the PatchMix...All ins & outs, be it from the host or from the "real" world, are treated the same. There isn't a fixed "Host ASIO 1/2 out goes to Audio Out Port 1/2". Routing is done by using sends. So the box *becomes* the mixer. It can even generate test tones for analysis during system checks.

It also has VST plugins that allow a user to send out to a physical device, and return back into the VST chain. Or another VST plugin to send/return to an effect chain in the DSP (reducing CPU %). The only thing it is missing, is control via MIDI of mixing parameters. Ie- you have to reach for the mouse. Effects, however, are automatable via VST. But, it seems to be the #1 request to emu, and they might be working in this right now.

Anyway, I'm very happy with this little box & it's flexibility.
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 21, 2005 8:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

DrJustice wrote:
VcStv wrote:
need all 15 jacks as inputs? so be it. need two inputs and 13 outs?? so be it. ...so, why not?

I don't think we'll ever see bidirectional IO's for two reasons: The first is economy; there would have to be both an ADC and a DAC behind every jack with half of those resources being unused at any one time. Might as well add jacks and have them all simultaneously. The second is that bidirectional IO's can lead to 'dangerous' troubles/surprises if you switch to a preset that reassigns IO directions without making the corresponding changes in jack hookups. Also, since one would have to rearrange the jack hokups, the advantage (mostly convenience) of the IO programmability is kind of lost.

DJ
--


You are right. Bidirectional I/Os aren´t really a good idea in gear like this.

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PostPosted: Fri Oct 21, 2005 9:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

...i know stein won't like this, but....

my solution to this problem has been a harddisk recorder (dps 16). it's not perfect (and also not "current"), but has always worked well for me. i can mix live on the machine, i don't have a computer running, and i can record all tracks dry and remix (and edit) later. all that said, i hardly use the thing anymore because recording (and evaluating and remixing) multitrack just seems too time consuming when i'd rather be playing. i generally have been recording to 2 track and living with a hit or miss. i can (and have) exported wav files from the recorder for processing on the computer.

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PostPosted: Fri Oct 21, 2005 9:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Laughing

Nah.. I am OK. I didn´t faint or something.

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