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Should an Audio interface be before or after the mixer?


JulianJ
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Dear All,

 

I'm pretty new to all this so apologies in advance...

 

I'd like to be able to record three instruments playing along 'live' to a backing track.

 

I'd like to play the backing track and do the recording on GarageBand.

 

With regard to the signal chain, is it possible/preferable to connect the USB interface before the mixer so that each of the three instruments is recorded as a separate track in the DAW?

 

Most YouTube clips show the mixer connected before the interface.. Surely this would 'sum' everything into one stereo track in the DAW? I want to be able to adjust levels, balance etc after recording.

 

I'd like to use a Behringer UMC404HD interface with my Alto ZMX 862 mixer.

 

Thanks in advance for any help!

 

Kind regards

Julian

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for recording different tracks to a DAW, such as Garageband, etc....

 

you want you audio interface before the mixer, for exactly the reason you mentioned.

 

Is your backing track already loaded in Garageband?

David

Gig Rig:Roland Fantom-08| Yamaha MODX+ 6 | MacBook Pro 14" M1| Mainstage

 

 

 

 

 

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Hmm, so you have 3 additional tracks to record and want to keep them separate...

 

I have that same interface and of course it is 4 channel, so I think you want to go from each instrument directly to each input of the interface, and I question that you'd need a mixer at all with that setup.

 

Edit: Not sure about garageband here...but in Logic I would then arm each of the 3 tracks I'm recording on and set their inputs to be the respective ones from the interface.

 

A mixer is for combining things into a mix, so having it before the interface doesn't help you keep anything separate in the DAW--unless the mixer has enough outputs to feed one instrument to each 404hd channel, and that's when I question having the mixer in the flow at all. If you had 10 keyboards playing live with this interface, then you'd pretty much be forced to mix down those 10 into no more than 4 channels, since that's what that interface supports.

 

Having the mixer after the interface doesn't really do much that I can see, what would you be mixing?

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Thanks Stokely,

 

I'm using the mixer to adjust the 'live mix'. I've found that although the mix sounds OK whilst we are playing it, when I play it back I'd like to be able to tweak the levels....

 

Gotcha. That's a bit different from how I do things so I'm a bit unsure of the best way to accomplish that. While I'd prefer hardware faders I typically just do all my mixing and tweaking "in the box" on the screen once I have tracks recorded. It's just very convenient and you can draw automation, copy tracks to create doubles etc.

 

Edit: One big advantage of keeping everything in the box after you record is that it becomes really easy to generate final mixes as often as you like without having to bring the audio back out of the computer. (Again talking Logic pro, every software is different). I can simply "bounce" the song or sections of it right to WAV or MP3 and boom I'm done.

 

A lot of people really detest "mixing with a mouse" which is what I'm basically doing :) I can't say it is as fun as bending over a big mixer feeling like Mr Sulu but again the convenience really comes into play. There are usb mixing controllers that you can get to bridge the two approaches...my friend has a Behringer one with powered faders. I have a little Korg Nanokontrol that I could probably set up to do mixing. Those are not mixing audio, they are just basically an alternative mouse :D

 

If I understand correctly then, once the four tracks (backing and the 3 others) are done, then the hardware mixer is for doing the mixdown...you'd need the interface to feed the mixer on four channels then.

 

Looking at the back of my 404hd, there are "playback outputs" 1-4 which I've never used, look to be mono though (?) Also there are two sets of main outs, I expect those will have the same two channels on them though (I use the XLR outs to go to my power amp). there are also four inserts, but those would typically be used for devices like compressors during recording....might work to get the sound to a mixer though, not sure.

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Your mixer is not required or helpful in this scenario. Run your instruments straight to the interface, set the gain using the knobs on the front, and if you need to adjust the levels for a "monitor" mix, you can use the faders in your DAW. You can set those faders differently after recording, for the actual mixing stage.
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I'm using the mixer to adjust the 'live mix'. I've found that although the mix sounds OK whilst we are playing it, when I play it back I'd like to be able to tweak the levels....

One solution is to get a 2nd mixer and plug both mixers into the 4x4 audio interface. This will give you 4 separate tracks for your instruments. In other words, the Behringer UMC404HD Interface sits between the two mixers and the computer.

 

Audio Chain:

two mixers -> 4x4 behringer audio interface -> computer

* plug your monitors/headphones into the audio interface.

 

Notes:

- With your equipment - the Behringer UMC404HD Audio Interface is the only way to record 4 tracks - and it needs to be connected directly to the computer.

- The Alto ZMX862 mixer can't record directly to computer, it needs an audio interface. In addition, the mixer only has 2 output tracks.

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That mixer doesn't have an audio interface so whatever mixer output (mono, stereo out) you send to the audio interface is all the Mac/Garageband is going to get it's not going to be separate tracks. If you wanted separate tracks you should of either bought a mixer that has an built-in audio interface, or a audio interface with more inputs.
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