Multi track vs. USB

moxman

Silver Member
Trying to get better at home recording..
I have a Mackie ProFX12 (USB out) mixer and a pile of decent mics for recording my kit at home for a band project.. trying to decide..
Should I spring for a digital multi track for a pile of cash.. or just work on getting my levels optimized for the one-shot one-track USB experience?

I love the flexibility of multi track.. USB is unforgiving.. if your levels are off it's hard to fix in post..
In terms of sound quality, would you say a multi-track drum recording is waay better than a well balanced USB output?
Thanks!
 

johnjssmith

Junior Member
The biggest bang for your buck would be an audio interface with an appropriate number of inputs, which you would connect to your computer to record the separate tracks in a DAW to mix and edit and re-do and overdub at your leisure.
 

mikyok

Platinum Member
The biggest bang for your buck would be an audio interface with an appropriate number of inputs, which you would connect to your computer to record the separate tracks in a DAW to mix and edit and re-do and overdub at your leisure.

Agree, interface to DAW. Reaper is an inexpensive one to run and pretty idiot proof. Tons of tutorials online.

Laptop, interface and some decent mics and away you go!
 

doggyd69b

Well-known member
Trying to get better at home recording..
I have a Mackie ProFX12 (USB out) mixer and a pile of decent mics for recording my kit at home for a band project.. trying to decide..
Should I spring for a digital multi track for a pile of cash.. or just work on getting my levels optimized for the one-shot one-track USB experience?

I love the flexibility of multi track.. USB is unforgiving.. if your levels are off it's hard to fix in post..
In terms of sound quality, would you say a multi-track drum recording is waay better than a well balanced USB output?
Thanks!
If you decide to go digital the Presonus mixers (or rack units) are great and not overly expensive. The reason I am recommending them is because a lot of other mixers digital or not, will tell you the have x number of inputs (for XLR) but in reality only 16 out of 20 will be XLR and the other 4 will be just TS which is not going to work for some mics. If your budget is limited, the rack unit is reasonably priced and it has either 24 or 32 actual XLR/TS combo inputs right in the front of the unit, comes with Studio one and many great pluggins... If you can afford it the Studio live consoles are even better because you have a full fledged mixer but also an audio interface that allows you to have separate tracks and you can record straight to the console as well... You can do that with the ZOOM Live Track L-20 as well , which is a more budget interface/mixer I would recommend.
 

doggyd69b

Well-known member
OP has some terminology mixed up. I’m fairly confident the mixer in question only runs a stereo mix to USB, regardless that USB transport in and of itself isn’t the reason for that.
which is something you have to look for when you shop for USB mixer vs Digital mixer...
 

beatdat

Senior Member
Go for a multi-out mixer. They cost more, but you won't regret it. 2-channel (ie. stereo) mixers are on the way out, if not already out-of-date. I'm not saying they're obsolete or even useless, but, for recording purposes in today's day and age, they're only as good as the player, the engineer, the instrument, the room, etc. I don't know if you have that all covered on your end.

What do you and your bandmates think?
 

doggyd69b

Well-known member
I’m sorry but what do you think the difference is between “USB” and “digital” mixers?
The difference is that a lot of USB mixers while converting analog to digital just give you a stereo out to the PC while digital mixers give you multitrack.
 

drumnut87

Well-known member
if youre wanting to do home recording for any project, one of these works brill, you can have separate tracks into your DAW and they work better than a stereo out of a mixer as you have more control over the levels and signals :)

 

bongoman

Junior Member
The difference is that a lot of USB mixers while converting analog to digital just give you a stereo out to the PC while digital mixers give you multitrack.
A lot of USB mixers _don’t_ have that limitation, so it’s not helpful to confuse USB with stereo.
 

Justinhub2003

Well-known member
I used to have that mixer. And it really annoyed me that it didn’t show all the channels in my DAW. Just left and Right

So initially upgraded to a tascam, then a behringer xr18 and now a focusrite Scarlett 18i20

The 18i20 is by far the best I’ve used. But all were better then the Mackie.


I say go for something with the ability to edit all channels in your DAW
 

moxman

Silver Member
I should have mentioned.. the Mackie USB output on my proFx is just stereo L/R output... which is why I'm thinking multi-track. I originally bought it for $250 for band practices with my Mackie powered speakers. Seems to be a pretty good digital interface.. and I've got some good results with it recording drums, but like I said it's unforgiving.. you have to get everything set just right, nail the take and hope for the best.
The multitrack mixers are a big investment for sure - ranging roughly from $750 for the Focusrite 18 (6 XLRs), the Zoom R16 for $500 (8XLRs), and the Presonus for lots of $$. I only need 8 XLR inputs so the Zoom 16 is looking interesting.. with output to an SD card for 8 tracks.
 

Justinhub2003

Well-known member
I should have mentioned.. the Mackie USB output on my proFx is just stereo L/R output... which is why I'm thinking multi-track. I originally bought it for $250 for band practices with my Mackie powered speakers. Seems to be a pretty good digital interface.. and I've got some good results with it recording drums, but like I said it's unforgiving.. you have to get everything set just right, nail the take and hope for the best.
The multitrack mixers are a big investment for sure - ranging roughly from $750 for the Focusrite 18 (6 XLRs), the Zoom R16 for $500 (8XLRs), and the Presonus for lots of $$. I only need 8 XLR inputs so the Zoom 16 is looking interesting.. with output to an SD card for 8 tracks.


Do you want to only mix on the mixer itself?

You can get 8 input usb interfaces that come with apps for either iPad or the Mac/pc for mixing.

The Behringer XAIR XR18 has multiple functions in that it’s a mixer, but a lot of people later on use it for in ear monitors.
 

moxman

Silver Member
That's pretty cool.. for only $550. Only 6 XLRs but I can get by with that for drums.. looks like 16 1/4"TRS for vocal guitars/bass/keys.. vocal mics I'd need XLR/TRS adaptors for 4 mics.. so in theory I could record my 7 piece band..multi-track to a DAW using 18x18 USB..
.. and the iPad wireless monitoring is awesome. Most of the sound guys have been using that tech for years.. but it would be great for recording a band at home.. no more reaching around and craning the neck to twiddle the faders on the board or running to the computer to press 'record' etc...
 

Justinhub2003

Well-known member
That's pretty cool.. for only $550. Only 6 XLRs but I can get by with that for drums.. looks like 16 1/4"TRS for vocal guitars/bass/keys.. vocal mics I'd need XLR/TRS adaptors for 4 mics.. so in theory I could record my 7 piece band..multi-track to a DAW using 18x18 USB..
.. and the iPad wireless monitoring is awesome. Most of the sound guys have been using that tech for years.. but it would be great for recording a band at home.. no more reaching around and craning the neck to twiddle the faders on the board or running to the computer to press 'record' etc...


The Module I have is the below and has 16 inputs that accept either 1/4 or XLR. So you should be able to get your entire band easily.

I used a Mac, So Im using a Focusrite Scarlett 18i20 for my Earthworks mics (2 OH, kick, snare, 4 toms) and then in the Mac Im combining it as a single interface with the XR18 which gives me another 16 inputs to create 24 total.. So I use Bass, Guitar, My 2nd kick, My sub kick, and the my other 2 snare mics (top and bottom SM57), so if you do use a Mac, you do have the option to kind of fuse two interfaces together.

But that said, the XR18 is a great device and is really versatile.

I have the Rack mount version (but its not mounted) but I know there are other versions.

 

mrmike

Silver Member
In terms of sound quality, would you say a multi-track drum recording is waay better than a well balanced USB output?
I would say probably not. There are examples of how to get a good two track (stereo?) recording from Matt Chamberlin and Mike Johnson on youtube. Having said that if it's more tracks that inspire you to experiment then sure your mixes will most likely improve.

EDIT: If you can isolate the bass drum signal to one side and the rest of the kit to the other then at least you could could process the bass drum separate and remix in your DAW.
 
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moxman

Silver Member
Cool I'll check it out thanks!
I am getting some pretty good results using the 2 track stereo USB. It forces you to get the levels right.. which is good.
But yeah If I had a multi track mixer outputting to multi tracks in a DAW it would be a lot more flexible..
 

Justinhub2003

Well-known member
Cool I'll check it out thanks!
I am getting some pretty good results using the 2 track stereo USB. It forces you to get the levels right.. which is good.
But yeah If I had a multi track mixer outputting to multi tracks in a DAW it would be a lot more flexible..


I was getting good results with mine as well. That said, when I was able to EQ each individual drum, it opened up a lot more opens. Something as simple as EQing the Bass drum without it effecting the entire kit was a big deal.

This is all relatively new to me. As I just got into miking/recording drums on my own in the last 18 months. But in that 18 months I’ve went through a lot of gear to finally end up feeling good about my setup.

I started off with the Sabian Sound Kit that Records 3 mics straight to Sd. Then Samson drum mics and mackie mixer, then upgraded to tascam interface then behringer XR18 then finally the Scarlett 18i20.

Same goes for mics, I went from the Samson mic kit, to All SM57’s/AKG D112/Samson overheads to a really good mic set from Avantone. Finally I’ve settled in on Earthworks DM20’s on toms, Sm57 + DM20 on snare, Akg D112 on kick + Avantone Pro Subkick + Earthworks kick Mic and Earthworks SR25 as overheads.

I think overall gist is.... this is a deep deep rabbit hole. Where youre never really satisfied
 
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