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Digital mixer for both stage and studio?


Beedster
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We're a small acoustic band so a little late to the digital mixer party, but having realised that we need better monitoring and want to record multiple tracks, and having read a lot of threads on here and elsewhere, it seems not only that a digital mixer is going to make life a whole lot easier on stage, but that in many cases it will be equally useful for recording in the studio possibly making traditional studio interfaces redundant? Where on this journey is this tech at present and which mixers represent the best option for stage and studio use?

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The Soundcraft Ui-24 is probably overkill for your needs, but if the smaller versions of the same have the same multitrack recording features (you'll have to look that up) then from my point of view it's a complete no-brainer.

 

As a stage PA it's way, way, WAY easier to operate than the Behringer XR18, and you can do multi-track recording in any environment in a matter of seconds so long as you have a suitably formatted memory stick.

 

If you can get to Harrow (unlikely) then come and have a play.

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3 minutes ago, Happy Jack said:

The Soundcraft Ui-24 is probably overkill for your needs, but if the smaller versions of the same have the same multitrack recording features (you'll have to look that up) then from my point of view it's a complete no-brainer.

 

As a stage PA it's way, way, WAY easier to operate than the Behringer XR18, and you can do multi-track recording in any environment in a matter of seconds so long as you have a suitably formatted memory stick.

 

If you can get to Harrow (unlikely) then come and have a play.

 

All I can say is 'great minds.....' Jack!  Looks like the Ui16 and the Ui24 are pretty different beasts, one review suggested the only similarity are the handles :) 

 

Do you use your in the studio also?

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Spent yesterday afternoon doing exactly that ... running some test recordings to check the new soop-dooper pickup against my existing Schaller 411 and using the Nadine condenser as a benchmark.

 

Setting up "the recording session" took nearly five minutes from a standing start (i.e. with the closed mixer rack case on a shelf in the studio). With 24 channels available (two of them Hi-Z) it's a doddle to do this stuff and you end up with lowish-level but completely raw stems that can then be processed in a DAW in whatever fashion you choose.

 

 

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57 minutes ago, Happy Jack said:

Spent yesterday afternoon doing exactly that ... running some test recordings to check the new soop-dooper pickup against my existing Schaller 411 and using the Nadine condenser as a benchmark.

 

Setting up "the recording session" took nearly five minutes from a standing start (i.e. with the closed mixer rack case on a shelf in the studio). With 24 channels available (two of them Hi-Z) it's a doddle to do this stuff and you end up with lowish-level but completely raw stems that can then be processed in a DAW in whatever fashion you choose.

 

 

 

That's what I wanted to hear, although why are the stems low level?

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3 minutes ago, Beedster said:

 

That's what I wanted to hear, although why are the stems low level?

We've struggled to get a handle on that so far. My research suggests that the recording level is set purely by the Gain on each strip, but that doesn't seem to be borne out in practice.

 

It's easy enough to add make-up gain in the DAW (and of course you can't get rid of clipping if you've recorded at too high a level in the first place) but I'd prefer to have a stronger signal from the start.

 

We've only been working with this sytem for six months so we're still learning.

 

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No comment on particular models, but what makes a mixer good for the studio is having as many output channels as you plan on recording with. That makes a two channel mixer that's adequate for the stage not so great for recording. But if you have a mixer with eight or more outputs sooner or later you'll find a use for them on stage.

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11 minutes ago, Happy Jack said:

We've struggled to get a handle on that so far. My research suggests that the recording level is set purely by the Gain on each strip, but that doesn't seem to be borne out in practice.

 

It's easy enough to add make-up gain in the DAW (and of course you can't get rid of clipping if you've recorded at too high a level in the first place) but I'd prefer to have a stronger signal from the start.

 

We've only been working with this sytem for six months so we're still learning.

 

 

Thanks mate, I'm sure there'll be a workaround for the levels, is it just recording levels or do you have the same issue live?

 

BTW, re clipping, that's what I thought! I recorded a 40-min vocal track about 6-months ago and was horrified when I went to process that it was clipping about 80% of the time and was very noticeable (a commercial voiceover). I searched through the various audio forums and came across Izotope RX 10 which not only fixed it but opened up a huge new World of options for troubleshooting dodgy audio, most of which I had never dreamed of (I was trained in the 80's and still see audio through an analogue lens)! OK, it took around twice as long to clean up the track as it did to record it, but given the embarrassment of having to ask him to repeat the recording, it was a huge win, and if it left any artefacts, I can't hear them.   

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2 minutes ago, Beedster said:

 

Thanks mate, I'm sure there'll be a workaround for the levels, is it just recording levels or do you have the same issue live?

 

Live, the multitrack levels are noticeably higher which inclines me to think that the Level sliders are involved somewhere along the line but - curiously - the stereo recording system remains at very low levels regardless. You can record using both systems simultaneously with no drama at all.

 

There's clearly some basic stuff that I'm missing (or misunderstanding) but since none of it is life-or-death I've not yet invested a lot of time in exploring.

 

At a typical gig I still use the same system I've used for years ... take a feed from the Headphones Out on the desk into my Zoom H4 and place the H4 where the mic capsules can pick up the drums clearly. If I haven't got the H4 with me for some reason then I take a stereo recording on the Ui-24 and marry it to room sounds from the various Q2 devices being used by @Silvia Bluejay for video recording - that yields a very similar result. We always have a DrumCam so there's always a decent soundfile available that's dominated by the drumkit.

 

If I have reason to believe that I will need to either re-mix the sound or make up for an under-recorded source, then I use the multitrack recorder and process the whole thing in post. Gosh, doesn't it feel grown-up to be doing things "in post"? 🤣

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  • 4 weeks later...
On 22/02/2024 at 13:42, Beedster said:

We're a small acoustic band so a little late to the digital mixer party, but having realised that we need better monitoring and want to record multiple tracks, and having read a lot of threads on here and elsewhere, it seems not only that a digital mixer is going to make life a whole lot easier on stage, but that in many cases it will be equally useful for recording in the studio possibly making traditional studio interfaces redundant? Where on this journey is this tech at present and which mixers represent the best option for stage and studio use?

Having gone through a similar quest myself, I eventually opted for the Allen & Heath CQ20. Now like the Soundcraft UI24, it has lots of inputs and outputs and does multitrack recording.  Sadly the Ui12 and Ui16 only record the main mix to a stereo pair. You could probably get away with the CQ12  although it does lack a few features. 
 

In all fairness, I almost went for the Ui24 but is is really overkill for my needs.

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Me and my band use a zoom l12 for rehearsals, in ears and occasionally live. Apart from it being slightly plasticy feeling, functionally it works great ( the monitor mixing took a few goes to get my head round but its actually very simple). I've got it in a flight case which it never leaves so not got a huge concern over breaking it, and so far very good. A much cheaper option especially if you're wanting to go IEMs as this will also be your headphone amp, and more "traditional" as it has actual faders. 

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1 hour ago, Elfrasho said:

Me and my band use a zoom l12 for rehearsals, in ears and occasionally live. Apart from it being slightly plasticy feeling, functionally it works great ( the monitor mixing took a few goes to get my head round but its actually very simple). I've got it in a flight case which it never leaves so not got a huge concern over breaking it, and so far very good. A much cheaper option especially if you're wanting to go IEMs as this will also be your headphone amp, and more "traditional" as it has actual faders. 

I think that is a good mixer and I would not worry about the plastic case.  I have had a number of Zoom products. And the plastic cases were not an issue.I wanted more inputs and a stagebox type mixer.

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On 20/03/2024 at 21:07, Elfrasho said:

Me and my band use a zoom l12 for rehearsals, in ears and occasionally live. Apart from it being slightly plasticy feeling, functionally it works great ( the monitor mixing took a few goes to get my head round but its actually very simple). I've got it in a flight case which it never leaves so not got a huge concern over breaking it, and so far very good. A much cheaper option especially if you're wanting to go IEMs as this will also be your headphone amp, and more "traditional" as it has actual faders. 

 

It's certainly a good value bit of kit. Are you using it with IEMs?

 

We found ours fine with wired IEMs but unusable with our Xvive wireless IEMs due to the lack if shielding from the relatively cheap plastic casing.

 

We subsequently swapped to Soundcraft MTK12 which works well, is multitrack and still decent value.

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2 hours ago, Al Krow said:

 

It's certainly a good value bit of kit. Are you using it with IEMs?

 

We found ours fine with wired IEMs but unusable with our Xvive wireless IEMs due to the lack if shielding from the relatively cheap plastic casing.

 

We subsequently swapped to Soundcraft MTK12 which works well, is multitrack and still decent value.

 

 

There's a bit of bleed out the main outputs which is a pain but nothing that makes it unusable! Apparently the later models don't have that problem. 

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1 hour ago, Elfrasho said:

 

 

There's a bit of bleed out the main outputs which is a pain but nothing that makes it unusable! Apparently the later models don't have that problem. 

 

Mine was a brand new around Dec 22. Not sure there's been a newer model since? Our issue was shielding rather than bleed from the main outs.

 

Are you guys using wired IEMs with it?

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