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Studio Recording: Signal Flow


Kenny.

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Okay, I've got just about every piece that I'll need to finally complete my studio. Now, I was just wondering specifically how everyone's set up their system: specifically from going keyboards to monitors. Is it Keyboards -> Mixer (desk) -> (USB out to) DAW (Logic, iMac) -> Monitors? I see this as working, until I want to practice for a performance from my keyboards without opening my DAW, ect (while still projecting audio through my monitors)... I also see it as working if I toggle from plugging my interface from the headphone out of the computer (for recording), and straight out of the mixer (for practicing).

 

Any help appreciated. I'm a total newbie to this (as I'm sure you can tell). Also, I can post some pictures of the new setup, if anyone wants to see. :)

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Try this:

Keyboard Audio out to Mixer Audio in

iMac (or interface) Audio Out to Mixer Audio In

Mixer out to Monitors

 

I assume that the USB is digital audio from your mixer (or interface). This will still go to the iMac USB in.

 

This will allow you to play keyboards with or without the iMac turned on.

Yamaha Motif XF6, Yamaha AN200, Alesis Micron, Sonar X3, Arturia Microbrute, Behringer Model D, Yamaha UX-3 Acoustic Piano, assorted homemade synth modules
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I thought about that too, but I have a Behringer Q1002USB doing the mixing, and I don't think there are mute buttons on each channel for it. Will I be constantly fiddling with knobs if I do that?

Probably not. Using the Behringer's "Control Room" and "Headphone" outputs for monitors and cans, respectively, will allow you to use the mixer's monitor assignment switches to handle your most common monitoring situations without creating feedback loops. Check out section 2.3 of the Behringer's manual for more info.

 

Like piano39, I'd suggest hooking up everything to the mixer (keyboards, cans, and studio monitors), and using its facilities for all monitoring. Once you set up the iMac so its OS X system sounds play through the USB audio connection, you shouldn't have to use the iMac's headphone outputs at all.

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Keyboards, guitars, vocals into Alesis MultiMix8 mixer. Mixer out to inputs of Steinberg UR22 Audio Interface, outputs of UR22 to RCA ins on mixer. Monitor out of mixer to BX8 studio monitors. I've got several empty channels still on the board for when friends come by or I need to plug in my live rig (audio out of my laptop into mixer).

 

Seriously looking and lusting at the PreSonus Studio Live mixer (even though the MM8 serves my needs just fine).

 

Kronos 88 | MODX7 | Wavestate | Crave | KeyLab 61 | CPS SSv3 | MacBook Pro | MainStage | More VSTs than I'll ever figure out

 

www.thehenrysmusic.com

 

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The signal to your monitors should be coming from your interface (or mixer, in this case) rather than the computer itself. On most interfaces, it's just a matter of switching your monitoring to the inputs rather than what's coming back from the computer. Whatever is coming through the inputs (your keys) will pass straight through to the monitors, leaving your computer/DAW out of the equation. On my particular interface, there's dedicated button right on the front panel that switches between monitoring inputs and DAW, but YMMV.
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Traditionally, The mixer takes care of the various signals being connected right, the ground being stable, hum and noise prevented, etc. Then there's the mix out, monitor out and recording out, and the recording monitoring question, so some channels can be switched from normal input to multi track recording inputs, etc.

 

With a computer, most mixing of the digital in-computer signals takes place in software, so that part isn't done by an analog mixer anymore (except in special cases). Also, in most traditional mix situations there's room for effects, and separate provisions for the monitoring and the recording mix.

 

In this time when many instruments are digital and the recorder has been turned into a computer with AD/DA interface, other questions should receive priority, such as what does a casual user or expert hobbyist prefer as work flow, what gives the best signal integrity (preventing multiple AD/DA conversions, using the best pre-amp for the job, making the best use of the available AD/DA channels into an out of the workstation/computer for effects and multi track recording).

 

It's important not to forget experimentation: try out what sounds good and works proper, more than searching for some formalistic formulation of the synhts+computer+monitors system.

 

T.

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It's important not to forget experimentation: try out what sounds good and works proper, more than searching for some formalistic formulation of the synhts+computer+monitors system.

Theo, I agree with that observation in general, but I also think we should try to avoid boggling the OP's mind here. He's asked a very basic question about how to configure monitoring in a desktop recording rig built around an iMac and a small mixer with an internal 2-channel USB interface.

 

The signal flow for recording here is a given; and the decision space for monitoring options is small. The question Kenny asked has a straightforward answer. I don't think anybody's offering a general proposition about how to design home studio systems--or at least, I wasn't :)

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Lots of great advice here, I appreciate it! So, I've just ordered a cord that will take the stereo 1/4" from my mixer, and go to the stereo RCAs on my monitors. NOW, does this mean I take the MAIN outs of my mixer, or do I use the Control Room outs? And after I hook all of that up, I assume there will be a USB On and Bypass button I have to figure out - I'm no longer using any Ins/Outs of my Mac; just USB now.
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...does this mean I take the MAIN outs of my mixer, or do I use the Control Room outs? And after I hook all of that up, I assume there will be a USB On and Bypass button I have to figure out - I'm no longer using any Ins/Outs of my Mac; just USB now.

I would suggest using the Control Room outs, which will allow you to conveniently adjust headphone and monitor listening levels without affecting the the mixer's main output level, and also conveniently monitor the iMac's USB audio output with a single button push (the one labeled TO PHONES/CTRL RM in the USB/2-TRACK section of the mixer) .

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In my setup it goes instruments to mixer(the keyboards go in direct to the mixer while the guitar goes to a PodXT and then the mixer), mixer to interface, interface into computer. On the output it's computer to interface and then to the monitors. If you go back through your board you are actually listening to what your DAW mix sounds like run through the mixer ;)

 

Bill

http://www.billheins.com/

 

 

 

Hail Vibrania!

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On the output it's computer to interface and then to the monitors. If you go back through your board you are actually listening to what your DAW mix sounds like run through the mixer ;)

In Kenny's setup, though, the mixer (Behringer Q1002USB) *is* the interface!

That's correct. I thought it would be much easier having them both contained in one unit. Thank you again to all the contributors of this thread (especially slowtraveler)!
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Still I'd recommend to try out what the difference is between putting your keyboard(s) into your monitors directly (supposing the levels and impedances allow you to, which should be the case), putting them (and maybe your favorite microphone) through the analog mixer, and listen also with headphones to some favorite patches, and finally, routing the some mix through the USB interface and back somehow to headphones and monitors, and pay attention to the differences. And if you mixer is digital (I don't know most Behringers), check out what happens if the digital computer connections must connect, so a computer output with a external interface, connected "live".

 

These experiments should for intelligent enough people not take longer than a few hours or so, and are worth while, and if some of that sort of quality determination is to much for people, then why bother talking about and dealing with such complicated subjects as synthesizers and computers in the first place ?

 

T.

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... if some of that sort of quality determination is to much for people, then why bother talking about and dealing with such complicated subjects as synthesizers and computers in the first place ?

Some people deal with synthesizers and computers mainly for the purpose of making music, I believe. There's nothing wrong with technical experimentation and/or navel-gazing, but, Theo, the question you've posed is absurd on its face.

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The hub of my home studio is an older Soundcraft Digital 328 mixer and a MOTU 828 mk3 audio interface. I have all my "permanent" collection of keys, the Rhodes, Minimoog, Nord Lead, Arturia Microbrute, plus my bass, plugged into mixer channels. The Soundcraft is connected to the MOTU via lightpipe, so I can record from any or all of the inputs directly into Logic. My live keyboard rig has its own mixer, so for practice at home, I plug from that mixer into the Soundcraft, which is not ideal, but if I am recording from any of the live boards, I have enough open channels that I can patch it directly into the Soundcraft. I also have an older Emagic 8-port MIDI interface, and all the keys with MIDI go into that and into Logic.

 

I use 2 sets of stereo analog outs from the MOTU patched into the 2-track returns on the Soundcraft, and from there I can route everything to my monitors.

 

I learned recording in the latter-part of the tapre era, and I still like the idea of a mixer as the heart of the studio. I lucked into the Soundcraft a few years ago at a terrific price, and it's been great, good conversion, even for its age, really nice mic preamps and very flexible routing. If/when I ever replace it, it would be with another digital board.

 

Turn up the speaker

Hop, flop, squawk

It's a keeper

-Captain Beefheart, Ice Cream for Crow

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