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Recording with Presonus Firebox / Cubase Le Woes..


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Hey all,


Ive been playing around with my new Presonus Firebox and Cubase Le for about a week now. Here is my short review: This setup sucks.


Here is my longer review:


The way I 'had' my little mini setup going was simply my S90ES plugged into my mackie 1202vlz pro, and my mic into the mackie with a 32 band EQ and TC M300 as inserts. This worked perfectly. I could just sit down, hit the power switch and go at it, everything set right where I wanted it, sounded great every time. Beautiful.


NOW ... Im tyring to enter the world of recording in which Im very new at. After reading a ton of reviews it seemed that the Firebox was a good choice. Cubase is talked about alot so I figured it would be plenty good enough for me (yes I know Le is the stripped down version, but it came with the Firebox).


So... the new setup is: the keys plugged into the Firebox and the mic plugged into the Firebox, (no Mackie mixer, DBX EQ or TC Electronics involved) Firebox to comp via new PCI Firewire card. M-Audio BX8's hooked to Firebox.


Now I have to sit down, turn on the comp (no big deal) fire up the Firebox mixer, fire up Cubase Le, start a new project, ignore the error messages about not in sync. (seens how it seems to work anyhow), click here-click there-click everhwhere to make sure all the channels and setting are right. Of course now I have to battle trying to get a decent EQ on the Mic. and of course at least some reverb. Ohh ya reverb, what reverb, what Cubase LE has sounds like your in a cambels soup can. Ohh wait, I have to click on monitor track to even hear reverb, ...listen to playback,...wait, have to shut off monitor function or you hear nothing. All this of course aside from tring to battle the pop and click problem, and the 1000+/- other functions that the program does that I havent even begun to battle yet.


Do I sound happy? Refer to short review for answer.


Now I know MAYBE after a few weeks or months Ill have the 'hang of it' better and hopefully most of the 'kinks' worked out BUT, there has GOT to be a better way of doing this than this.


This 'battle' is already sucking the creative energy out of me. I simply want to sit down turn on a power button or two and have it sound great. Then turn on the comp (or something) and hit 'a few' buttons and wa-la, Simply record what I already had set up to sound great.


Now, I dont think I can send two seperate channels out of my 1202vlz (one stereo for the keys, and a mono for the vocals). But Ill have to investige further. It seems doing it out of the mixer (EQ and Effects) straight into recording software of some sort would be much more simplified and easier to adjust settings.


I have tried putting mic directly into EQ to TC then to Firebox. Doesnt really work well. Firebox ins are NOT that hot. You have to practically crank the knobs all the way up to hear anything and what you get then is not such a great sound. Mackie inputs seem much hotter.


All I know is there has got to be an easier way. If anyone has ANY suggestions of hardware/software setups to simplify things Im all ears......


thanks in advance....



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Dan, is your computer a PC or a Mac?


The clicks and pops may be due to simply not having the firewire buffer size set large enough. It may also be a fairly complicated hoark where your FW mixer/interface box is sharing an interrupt (PC problem - doesn't happen with a Mac) and isn't getting enough service priority.


You may like to check out the Hardware Forum at Cubase.net. Someone may have already run into this issue and have the answer/s for you. Try asking your question there as well. Oh, somewhere on the Cubase forums (you may have to search for it) is a link to a website that tells you how to set up a PC properly for use as a Digital Audio Workstation (DAW)....that is, if you are using a PC.


FWIW, you might like to try leaving your system exactly as it was originally, so you can come along and play with the computer off, and simply take a pair of line outs from the mixer output to an input on the PreSonus FW interface box and thence to the computer. That's how I have my studio set up. I have all my instruments/mics feeding a pair of Mackie mixers (with FX sends/returns etc.) and then feed the mixer outputs to a MOTU 828 MKII FW interface.


Hope this helps some. Cheers for now,


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Thanks for your input. I have a PC, P4 2.8ghz with 1 gig of pc3200 ddr ram running in dual channel mode.


Actually the clicks and pops problem I think I can get under control. My bigger complaint is by hooking up my equiptment the way the Firebox seems to suggest; with everything plugged directly into it and using Cubase for your eq, effects etc just seems like a major pain. Granted Im just starting to learn Cubase which I know will take time. It just seems to be tooo much of a battle to get everything working right and sounding right.


With my 'original' setup, with everything running through my mixer, I could just simply sit down and play, with or without the computer on and never have to adujust anything.


The reason I didnt orginally just leave this setup and go out of my Mackie into the Firebox was becasue I was trying to be able to record the keys and my vocals simontaniously (on septerate tracks of course) and I didnt think the 1202vlz could do that. Im going to re-investigage and hopefully I was wrong and it can. You mentioned you have a pair of mixers ??? Perhaps this would be the answer if my mackie wont do seperate simontanious outs, or, perhaps just getting just one mixer that will do that is the answer.

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Sorry to hear your not jiving with the FireBox.


After tweaking everything to get my input levels where I wanted them, I seem to be good to go.


I leave everything plugged in, and just wake up my computer from standby. Cubase is still running where I left it and I can just start playing stuff and recording it.


The FireBox powers itself up and I actually like leaving my headphones plugged into one device for recording, tracking, monitoring, mixing, mastering, etc.


Yes, its not as immediate as hardware recording and mixing, but its close.


The 1202vlz doesn't have channel "inserts" but it does have a seperate Aux bus. Run the Main Outs to 1&2 in on the FireBox, and the Aux Send 1/2 to 3&4 in on the FireBox.


Now, each channel can send its signal to the main L/R with the Main Mix knob, or to the Aux with the Aux1 and Aux2 knob.


Basically, since the main mix is coupled stereo, you have to use the Pan knob if you want to send 4 independent signals to the FireBox, but its definitely possible.


If it were me, and I wanted to use the 1202vlz, I'd run my S90ES into channels 5/6 and my mic into channel 1. Then use the Aux1 on Channel 1 for the mic send and the master on 5/6 for the S90ES send.


Get these levels set so that your normal use gives a nice strong signal to Cubase, possibly adding the +12dB on the advanced FireBox options. Then you should just be able to turn everything on and go.


Don't forget to optimize the settings of the FireBox for your PC with sample rate and latency. My PC is PIII 800mHz - I started out with some pops, but now I'm at cyrstal clear.

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I just looked at a pic of the back of the 1202vlz - you do have channel inserts back there, so there's that. They're pre-fader and pre-eq though, so maybe that's not what you're looking for?


Also, don't forget to turn on Phantom power for the AT2020.

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Glad to hear your setup is working well for you. Its not that I dont like the Firebox, actually I think its more I dont like Cubase. Your right hardware is definalty more immediate. I just want to sit down and play, and if I want to record, NOT have to mess with hookups or a tempermental software program for an hour before I can even record something. I dont want to leave things up and running as you do.


Dont get me wrong, I was actually able to get Cubase working and recording simontaniously the way I wanted (Ive read lots or reviews where people had trouble doing even that, so I feel sorta good that Ive got a bit of a grasp on it), however it just seems to take to long to get setup and also the reverb sounds like crap in Cubase compared to my TC M300. Also this monitor on/off thing Im not quite grasping. If I put more time into it Id probably do ok, but I still would prefer a setup that allows me to just sit down and play without being a slave to the computer. I dont mind using the comp to record, I just dont want to have to fire it up and all the progs, when I just want to sit down and practice.


My goal, (I think) would be basically what you said, run everything into my 1202 mixer, with my dbx eq and TC M300 in the loop as well, and then into the Firebox. If what you suggest will work and the mic channel will record seperatly from the keys, then I might just be good to go. I had just thought that the main outs of the Mackie would send everything (all channels) which of course defeats what I was trying to do.


Im gonna play with the connections and see what I come up with.


Ohh, the one error message that I cant seem to correct in Cubase is right in the begining:


[samplerate could not be set. This may be due to the sampleclock being set to external sync.]


... I have checked and rechecked seemingly everything and cant get rid of this message. However It seems to record anyhow. I also have read in other forums, alot of guys with this same problem.


Thanks for the help. Ill let ya know how it works.

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