I have heard nothing but praises for Echo audio and their sound cards. Sounds like the Echo Layla G3 is an excellent high end product. It sounds like it does a lot more than just act as a sound card. If I understand this correctly, the Layla G3 consists of a sound card that is installed in the computer as well as a silver box that contains the I's and O's, etc. etc. Am I correct in my understanding of this?
In terms of a mixer I am not sure of my understanding. I once owned a low end Macki mixer when I used some Roland sound modules. The Macki mixer allowed four lines of input and I was able to adust the volume of each line. Each line contained up to 8 channels, but I was unable to alter the volume of one channel without altering the volume of the other 7 channels on that line.
Are there high end mixers that allow independant volume changes for each track? (each channel?) In otherwords, if I playback a 24 channel orchestra piece (say 12 instruments plus pizz. strings, tremolo strrings) can I have each channel go from GS through a sound card, through a mixer and then modify the volume of each instrument through the mixer before it goes to the monitor speakers or headphones?
Regarding GS, the routing flexibility is excellent. You can stack multiple instruments in one channel. Each instrument has its own volume and the channel has a volume. Then you can send each channel to a strip in the DSP area, where you can add EQ, compression, GigaPulse and other VSTs. You can then send those to Groups and do it again. There are also Aux Returns, and finally, a Master output.
You could conceivably blend GOS, KHSS and VSL violins with each having its own volume and tailoring, then control the overall violin volume with one fader, then mix it with the other string sections and control the level of the overall string section as a group, then control the master level of the entire orchestra.
If you put GigaPulse on every player in the orchestra, you will bring GS3 to its knees, but you can easily apply your effects downstream after the various instruments and sections are mixed.
In pop music you can process each drum separately, then group the kit and put the whole thing in a GigaPulse environment and control the overall kit level. As long as you don't go nuts with processing, it all happens in a single pass in real time.
If there's a critical feature missing from the Studio part of GigaStudio, I haven't found it.
Can't answer about the Echo products, for better or for worse I went with RME.
To answer your second question, GS includes it's own mixer. If you're just mixing down lots of GS instruments to small number of output channels you
don't need any external hardware to do this.
I don't know about your Macke mixer, but most mixers out there allow you to
mix down multiple independent inputs to some number (typically two) output
tracks with some additional submixes along the way possibly.
The RME HDSP card is cute in that it has a digital processor on the board that
allows you to play 24 channel mixing console (it will mix the inputs from the
ADATs along with up to 24 digital outs from the computer) down to any combination of the 24 ADAT outs. I find this handy because I mix in my
old Roland Sound Canvas and a few other things as well as the GS outs.
"Regarding GS, the routing flexibility is excellent. You can stack multiple instruments in one channel. Each instrument has its own volume and the channel has a volume. Then you can send each channel to a strip in the DSP area, where you can add EQ, compression, GigaPulse and other VSTs. You can then send those to Groups and do it again. There are also Aux Returns, and finally, a Master output. "
Jon, I have to laugh at myself! I am so unfamiliar with these terms. Yet, I feel confident that I can learn them in time. I need to read, dive in, read and dive in.
Okay, it makes sense to me that one can mix within Gigastudio and I imagine have another point of control within a sequencer (provided that I eventually use a sequencer). So having a mixer outside the computer could well be redundant.
"Then you can send each channel to a strip in the DSP area, where you can add EQ, compression, GigaPulse and other VSTs"
These terms must be right-hand knowledge to everyone on this forum... except me. But I'll learn 'em. I have a little sense as to what they mean.