Ok, I'd really like to have the capability to use my DAW for recording more acoustic things like drums and live players. I just bought a couple mics and I'm making a small room in the basement just big enough for a large drum kit and or singers, acoustic guitar players etc etc.. So far all the music I have done all happens inside the box (PC). I use a Mackie 1202 to mix all my outboard synths and PC into my monitors. Now I'm out of channels. Is there any reason to buy a bigger mixer? I've thought about a big Mackie like a 24 or 32 channel but maybe I should just be looking at the MOTU stuff with 8-24 balanced inputs. Right now I can only record a stereo pair. I want to be able to do like 16 tracks at a time (with my DAW). I really dont want to learn a whole other machine like VS2480 or equivelants. How are you guys or gals with medium or bigger studios routing all this audio? I guess the way I understand the MOTU stuff is that I can plug all my external stuff into it for monitoring and use all the other analogs as inputs and outputs through the software mixer. Atleast that's what I get from reading. I'd just really like to know what seems like the sensible thing to do. Maybe consoles are becoming a thing of the past. I just really dont know and there is a potential for misspending a large amount of cash. On hands mixing isnt even that important to me. I have a Tascam US428 right now with sliders that I never use. By the way, I use SX if it makes any difference. Thanks in advance.
I would assume that in your case you would want to:
Have enough physical inputs to do what you need to do,
Keep all mixing internal, using a control surface interface-
Then all you need for monitors is a stereo out. All mixing is happening inside the DAW. You might want 8 outs just to have surround capability.
Now myself, I use a 2480 so none of that applies. Well, really it does- the 2480 is my DAW.
Hi Eric, the MOTU audio interfaces do allow a number of analog inputs and outputs as well as professional things like word clock in and out for keeping all your gear digitally synced. The MOTU 828 MKII has 10 analog inputs, and the MOTU Traveler has 8 analog inputs. Both units have ADAT lightpipe in and out, as well as S/Pdif in and out. Both of these interfaces work fantastic, however, the 828 only has two phantom powered XLR mic inputs, but the Traveler has four.
These units are also compatible with Windows PC applications and certainly Mac.
Just a little info for you!
I'm making a small room in the basement just big enough for a large drum kit and or singers, acoustic guitar players etc etc..
I've got some sad news for you, Eric. You'll get horrid drum recordings in a room like that. It will probably work much better for the other uses you mention.
The reason is the saturation of the air. To get a good drum sound, you need enough air in the room so that the drums do not fully saturate the space. In a small room like that, the sound pressure from the "box" is equal to the sound pressure from the drum, so you constantly hear the "box," no matter how closely you mic the kit.
The only solution in a room that size is to have so much absorption that you've literally made the room almost anechoic...we're talking a couple of feet of absorption behind panels in a room that size though. You'd literally need enough depth of absorption that the absorbers literally "burned" the sound away.
Thanks everyone. But I'm still wondering if there is a need for an analog console or could everything just go straight in to the motu interfaces? Bruce, concerning the room. I actually did plan on making the room 100% non-reflective. I know it might not be ideal but with the quality of reverbs available today, I thought that this might work for a lot of applications. What do you think with this in mind? Initially I was thinking of the room just for vocals and acoustic instruments to get a dry recording. Doesnt anyone take this approach for drums? I'm just asking because I just dont know. I appreciate your input on this. Also, about the mixer/interface thing. By the way, the room is going to be about 8' x 12' with a 7' cieling. Lol, it IS small. But I planned on completely upholstering the interior of the walls and otherwise, it is two concrete walls and two wood framed walls with three layers of drywall to keep sound out and in, depending on how much noise we're making.
Bruce, concerning the room. I actually did plan on making the room 100% non-reflective. I know it might not be ideal but with the quality of reverbs available today, I thought that this might work for a lot of applications. What do you think with this in mind? Initially I was thinking of the room just for vocals and acoustic instruments to get a dry recording. Doesnt anyone take this approach for drums? I'm just asking because I just dont know.
It's not actually a matter of "dry." It's a matter of loading up the air.
For an example, imagine that you're recording a vocal track in a box just big enough to hold your head and a microphone that's one inch from your lips.
No matter how close you put the microphone to your mouth, you will still hear the "box" as much as you hear the direct signal, because there is not enough air in the box for the signal to dissipate away from the microphone and allow a greater ratio of direct sound to reflected sound.
Now switch to your "drum booth." Drums are loud mofos. No matter how soft you make those walls, there is no way that the sound coming directly from the drum will be much louder than the sound of the compressed air in the box as far as the microphone hears it. Each "drum" will actually sound like the box, being excited by a different tone, but there won't be a focused character for each of the drums. It will be the character of the box, excited by the drum...even if you put a lot of absorption in it.
Small drum booths are a lot larger than this room, and generally, a small drum booth will have two feet or more of fiberglass in a chamber behind the walls with some diffusion in the room itself to liven things up. These kinds of absorptive chambers literally trap and burn up sound pressure, by converting it to heat as it has to navigate through the labyrinth of fiberglass. Even 4" foam is not going to eat enough sound in a room that size to appreciably reduce the sound pressure at the microphone. It will just burn off some highs and high mids.
You might want to put a little diffusion on the ceiling with your absorption. Diffusers create the same acoustic phenomenon as "lifting" the ceiling a few feet, since they allow reflection, but diffuse it out in different directions (or create a delay by trapping certain frequencies).
This is the main reason that in all those 1970's project studios with "drum booths" you find the drum booth being used as a vocal booth or a guitar booth, and the drums being recorded in the "A" space. It may seem ironic, but the most focused drum sounds generally come from the largest spaces...spaces which are very well absorbed and diffused, but which contain enough air that the reflective content being pushed back into the microphone is minimal, and the direct signal from the kit is maximized.
Thanks for all the info Bruce. Atleast I know what I'm up against. The primary idea wasnt to have a "drum room" but to just be able to record anything acoustically and have an isolated environment to do it. I guess if it doesnt work for drums, it's not the end of the world. I just thought that it being physically large enough to fit a kit, it was ok to record them in too but live and learn. It's secondary purpose is to house my 14 year old boy's drum kit and relieve the rest of the household from his practice sessions. He's really getting good too. Thanks everyone for the responses. Also bruce, what do you think of the MOTU stuff as front end equipment. Will I be able to use extra I/Os as effects sends and returns for external gear? Just wondering.
I'm sure you can (Motu). I don't have any MOTU gear, but my good pal Rip Rowan does, and he loves it and swears by it, as do many other colleagues of mine.
These days, the purpose of analog mixers in a project studio are questionable. Provided you have the monitoring situation worked out, I think a great case could be made for a nice balanced patch bay and a rack of really interesting microphone preamps.
For sure, next time I gear up on the analog side of things, I plan to buy a really nice transparent preamp set, like a TrueSystems Precision 8, then augment that with some individual preamps that have pronounced personality and color. To me, that seems like the better way to go in the 21st century project studio. A big console has really lost much of its purpose. I have a 24/24 board in my studio, which is primarly wasted on monitoring outputs which could easily be routed through some other, more efficient system for playback.