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Should I buy a mixer or stand alone audio interface for my home studio?


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Hi Everyone

 

I want to start my own little studio at home. However I'm quite a novice at recording audio and engineering.

 

My goal is to record professional sounding music but at a low budget. I purchased a midi keyboard, a condenser mic, cables, monitors and I'm currently shopping for an audio interface.

 

I saw a couple of them online like the IMG Stageline MXR-40 and the Midiplus Smartface 2. Both products are cost effective. But I'm not sure whether I should use a mixer or a normal standalone interface.

 

Which one would be ideal?

 

Please advise.

 

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If you are going to record yourself by yourself then a 2 channel interface will give you all you need and be small.

You are going to need audio conversion to digital in any case. There are some mixers that provide that and there is some convenience in being able to plug in various things and have them ready to go. 

 

You can always go bigger later but starting out you might want a simpler system so you can learn it and navigate it. 

I have both a Presonus Quantum TB2 8 channel interface and an SSL 2+ 2 channel interface. Currently I'm using the SSL and it's been great. It sounds wonderful, is USB class-compliant for Mac and easily installed for Windows. The second headphone out can also be connected to your home hi-fi system via RCA cords, giving you a reference system with the touch of a knob. There is a Stereo/Mono switch as well, very nice for checking out your mixes in mono. 

 

There are some nice 4 channel interfaces too, it's a "buy nice or buy twice" situation so read all the reviews online, ask questions and get something good to start. 

Welcome to the MPN forums and welcome to our Recording forum, great first post! Cheers, Kuru

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It took a chunk of my life to get here and I am still not sure where "here" is.
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A mixer doesn't necessarily have the capabilities that an audio interface does and the quality of the pres, etc aren't necessarily as good, so I would definitely go with an audio interface. And you can't really buy a bad one. Focusrite, Steinberg, Behringer, etc all make very good units even at the lowest prices. 

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10 hours ago, bill5 said:

A mixer doesn't necessarily have the capabilities that an audio interface does and the quality of the pres, etc aren't necessarily as good, so I would definitely go with an audio interface. And you can't really buy a bad one. Focusrite, Steinberg, Behringer, etc all make very good units even at the lowest prices. 

There are some inexpensive interfaces I would avoid. Just for one, the Presonus Audiobox, the smallest one - has a high noise floor (I picked one up in mint condition in the box at a pawn shop for a very fair price, took it home, tested it and then read up online regarding the noise. Took it back 2 days later).

 

The Presonus gear just a bit up the food chain is much better and not to be avoided. I owned a Steinberg UR22 MKII and got good use out of it but on contacting the company regarding the timeframe for an update of the software to support Apple Silicon and getting some vague bla bla bla, AND being passed from the US to Europe and back to the US, I sold it and bought the SSL 2+ because it is USB class compliant for Mac so it will work on all of them. That is a value added feature worth considering, the software and how often they update it. I think anything that is currently ported to Windows should be useful for a good long while. Do your research!!!!

 

I suspect Steinberg will simply introduce new models instead of updating all their old software, others may take the same path. It's sort of a tricky time to buy right now but I'm happy with my choice. 

It took a chunk of my life to get here and I am still not sure where "here" is.
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3 hours ago, Mr Gee said:

Wow thank you so much for the tips.

 

I managed to get myself the Behringer UMC202 at a local music store. It didn't burn a hole in my pocket shuuu lol

Time to jump in with both feet! 

The things to spend money on if you have the funds are a quality microphone and good monitors. Headphones are nice, some folks can mix with them. Speakers are better. 

If you can find used gear in good condition you can save a lot of $$$$.

I've got some nice mics but in the lower $$ range it's hard to beat a Blue Encore 300 for an all-arounder, I found a used one around $80 delivered on eBay. Cost is a bit higher but I love my Heil PR-40 as well.

If you can solder and like to make things, check out Microphone Parts, my best mic by far is their T-67 kit with the Platinum transformer. That was almost $500 but it will stand up against mics that cost several thousand dollars. I took my time, 3 sessions and it was done. 

 

Speakers? I've had a few and heard many. I really like the Yamahas MSP5 speakers, they will not steer you wrong when mixing. 

It took a chunk of my life to get here and I am still not sure where "here" is.
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48 minutes ago, Mr Gee said:

I'm currently using the Presonus 3.5 BT monitors. They are not bad for the price but I think I will upgrade at a later stage when my finances improve.

 

Right now I'm reading this article > https://beveey.co.za/2022/09/19/home-studio-set-up/

 

It gave me insight even though, there isn't much detail.

Tape Op magazine is a free subscription. You can choose to get a hard copy, or a digital copy. LOTS of great information every month. I recommend it, I've learned the answers to questions I would never have thought of asking. 

 

I also recommend you keep an eye on craigslist. I got my Yamaha speakers from an ad on craiglist. The seller had just bought a pair of Genelec monitors and the Yamahas were well used but he had a spare so it was 3 speakers for $100 and they sound fantastic. I've also bought other fine items at great prices, a like new Heil PR40 was $185 locally. 

Just remember, craigslist is for the swift. If you want it, go fast!

It took a chunk of my life to get here and I am still not sure where "here" is.
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