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Samfordia

Audio Interface - Understanding Inputs/Outputs

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[font=arial,helvetica,sans-serif]I need a little help in confirming a few things regarding audio interfaces.[/font]

[font=arial,helvetica,sans-serif]Before I confirm exactly which one I will be getting I would like to properly understand how many inputs/outputs I should be looking for. So far all I can think of that I'll need is:[/font]

[b][font=arial,helvetica,sans-serif]Input[/font][/b]

[font=arial,helvetica,sans-serif]- Mic (If using a condenser mic an input with phantom power to energize it will be required?)
- Bass (an instrument-level input, often referred to as a “high-Z input.”?)
- Guitar (an instrument-level input, often referred to as a “high-Z input.”?)
- Synth (Don't yet have one but could very well end up being a Korg MicroKorg)[/font]

[font=arial,helvetica,sans-serif]I'm not sure how many inputs in total that will be as I'm a little confused about the recording in mono/stereo differences.[/font]

[font=arial,helvetica,sans-serif]Am I missing something from this basic list of outputs?[/font]

[font=arial,helvetica,sans-serif][b]Output[/b]

- Headphones
- Monitors
- Speakers (Will eventually be replaced with monitors)
- PC (I'm running an 8gb RAM PC with Windows 10)[/font]

[font=arial,helvetica,sans-serif]It's a little confusing trying to work out exactly what kind of inputs and outputs I need for the various things and I've found myself a little swamped with it all. I was thinking that posting here would help ease that and perhaps set me off on the right road.[/font]

Edited by Samfordia

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The amount of ins/outs you need is largely dictated by your work process for recording;

If you are going to be recording one track at a time in a series of overdubs, then you need either 1 input for mono sources or two for a stereo pair.

If you intend on recording multiple sound sources at the same time then you need more inputs.

You will need 2 outputs for montoring, many interfaces also have a separate headphone socket - you only need more than two outputs if you are going to mixdown/process/reamp tracks through outboard equipment or you need to be able to provide multiple different monitoring mixes for tracking multiple musicians at the same time.

Something with a similar spec to the Steinberg UR22 gives all the I/O you would need for home recording - 2xmic/line ins with phantom power, two outs for monitors, midi I/O, headphone socket for direct monitoring the input signal. The midi functionality is useful for using older midi foot controllers, control surfaces, sound modules and keyboards, although a lot of the newer control devices offer USB connectivity.

edit:Always remember to check for compatibility issues - the Steinberg UR22 is known to have issues with certain mac OS versions - stable operation should be top of the shopping list IMHO

Edited by SubsonicSimpleton

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I should have pointed out that it's highly possible I could find myself in a situation where I'll need to use a mic, synth and bass/guitar at the same time.

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Do you want to record them all at the same time? Or will you be happy, once you've composed or arranged your piece of music, to lay down individual tracks? Record the bass, then the synth, then the guitar, then the vocals, and so on?

Edited by Zenitram

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The reason for needing to have the ability to record them all at the same time is because I often jam stuff out and from improvisations come ideas for tracks. It's used as a reference so people don't forget what it was that they did. This is especially useful if it's a very long session.

Once arranged, though, it will be lay down in individual tracks.

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So you could all go through a small mixer, which goes stereo into the interface, for your jams. That's probably the easiest way to do it.

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It would yes. If you want to record separate tracks at the same time, you're going to need an interface with at least four inputs. Someone will come along soon and suggest something.

Something like the Focusrite 6i6, which has two mic/instrument inputs (1 and 2), and two line inputs (3 and 4).

So... you could plug your vocal mic into input 1, your guitar into input 2, your bass through a preamp or a pedal or something into input 3, and your synth into input 4.

Or swap the bass and guitar round. Or send the mic through a preamp/channel strip/something that outputs to line level, and use the instrument inputs 1 and 2 for guitar and bass.

A Behringer BDi21 is very cheap and quite loud (in a good way) on its line output, so that would work: vox 1, guitar 2, bass 3, synth 4.

Edited by Zenitram

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The Focusrite 6i6 is the one I've been looking at most.

So the bass can't directly go into a line input, but if it first goes through a preamp then that's okay? What kind of connection would need to come from the preamp? Just a regular jack?

Does a condenser mic only need one input?

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I have a similar need for recording 4-track drums, and ended up buying a Fostex MR 8-HD. Note the 'HD' (internal hard drive...), as it's this model that can record 4 simultaneous tracks from any mix of 4 mics or line (guitar etc...) sources. It's an 8 track, but only 4 at a time. Excellent quality sound, phantom power; it does the job for me. I export the WAV tracks to Reaper via USB. No longer made, of course, but can be found for around £100 or so. The important part is the 'HD', with 4 Xlr inputs. Simple enough to use, but a good quality result. Just a suggestion; any good..?

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[quote name='Samfordia' timestamp='1462392622' post='3042730']
So the bass can't directly go into a line input, but if it first goes through a preamp then that's okay?[/quote]

Yes, provided that's what the preamp in question actually does (that is, provided it has a line-level output).

[quote name='Samfordia' timestamp='1462392622' post='3042730']
What kind of connection would need to come from the preamp? Just a regular jack?
[/quote]

Yes. A normal guitar lead, from the preamp (provided it has a line-level output) to input 3 or 4.


[quote name='Samfordia' timestamp='1462392622' post='3042730']
Does a condenser mic only need one input?
[/quote]

Yes, but a condenser mic would need to be isolated from any other sound source, as they pick up everything. A standard SM58 or similar would probably be a better idea.

Which leads to the question: how do you plan for you all to hear or listen to what you're playing, as you play it? Can you describe your set-up, or imagined set-up.

Edited by Zenitram

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The primary use for it would be when I'm alone so less inputs would be fine most of the time.

When with others it would probably be just two people at any one time, as opposed to our larger setup in the rehearsal room that uses something more akin to Dad3353's suggestion.

Ideally, having two headphone outputs with individual volumes would be great.

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I use a Alesis multimix 16 firewire for full 4 piece band recording. 16 individual tracks (8 mic pre amps and 8 high z)

They do a 12 input (4 mic pre amps and 8 high z) and 8 input (4 mic pre amp and 4 high z) and have the benefit of being a standalone mixer. great bit of kit to pick up used and cheep. You may need to buy a firewire card.

http://www.alesis.com/products/view/multimix-12-firewire

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