So I've recently started helping out at a local community centre, which has a recording studio. Specifically, it has a live room and a control room, with an A&H Zed 436 36-channel analogue mixer and a Mac Mini running Logic with a PreSonus Quantum 2626 interface (8 in, 8 out). There's also a 28-in, 4-out analogue snake running from the live room into the control room.
I've done years of live sound on a wide array of desks and a wide array of genres, so I know how to operate both mixers and DAWs, but I've never really worked in a studio and I'm not sure entirely how the routing should be structured. I can figure out the snake by myself, but I'm unsure how the two processing chains on the mixer and Logic can really work together. It feels like one or the other would be fine, but having them both produces two conflicting mixing environments.
Currently my thinking is to have the interface outputs running into a couple of stereo channels and four mono channels on the mixer, so we can have the master output from Logic coming in on a stereo channel, plus a few more stereo/mono channels for anything else we want to send to the desk.
On the input side of the interface, I have four direct post-preamp outputs on channels 1-4 (for direct recording pre-EQ) plus the four group outputs (so I can choose any channel to be recorded by assigning it to a group). I think this gives the most flexibility as we can include the mixer processing chain, if desired, using the group outputs, but we can also just use the clean input (at least, on the first four channels).
I guess what feels wrong is that, in the simplest scenario (recording on direct channel outputs and mixing in the DAW), the mixer isn't really being used. We take the input audio directly from the mixer preamps into the audio interface to be recorded, work with it in the DAW, then play it back into the mixer (because that's what the monitors are connected to). In this flow, none of the actual mixing capabilities of the mixer are actually getting used - the same workflow could be achieved by ignoring the mixer entirely, and the interface is nice enough that that wouldn't be a reduction in quality either. I'm sure a smarter workflow exists in 'real' studios, but I'm also conscious that the Zed 436 is a live-oriented console, so perhaps it's just a square peg in a round hole. Perhaps the real solution is to invest in a couple of ADAT ADCs though, so we can get every channel in the mixer into the interface. That still skips the mixer EQ etc though, so I feel like a few post-EQ interface sends would be useful too.
I guess my main questions are:
- What is the most sensible setup to use in order to make the most of both the mixer and the interface?
- Am I right to feel like the mixer is a bit of a square peg in a round hole in this context?
Would be really interested to hear some thoughts on this from people more experienced than I in this realm - TIA! 😅