1

I just acquired an A&H MixWizard WZ3 16:2, and tonight i'm picking up a Focusrite 18i20. In planning to connect everything up - and buying the necessary cables - I've read several posts about the different ways to do it (including this post). The general gist of the responses I've seen have all been "There's no one right way to do it. Depends on your gear and what you're trying to accomplish."

I've given you the gear, so here's the goal. I'm in a band which is made up of four old farts and a drum machine, and I want to start recording our practices in a mixable format. In a perfect scenario, I'd like to be able to record four vocals and five instruments simultaneously. If the magic number is 8, though, I could sacrifice one of the vocal tracks for recording (sorry, Randy ;-) ).

My initial thought is:

  • Plug the mics and instruments into the Focusrite
  • Connect the Focusrite line outs via TRS 1/4" cables to the line in jacks on the MixWizard
  • Connect the Focusrite to the PC via USB
  • Connect the MixWizard main LR outs to our RMX 850 via XLR cables, then from the amp to the speakers.

My reasoning for this is

  • the preamps in the Focusrite are most likely better than those in the A&H.
  • this seems to be the easiest and a relatively inexpensive option
  • I'll lose the built-in effects of the A&H, but who cares, right? That's what DAW plugins are for. We basically just use reverb on the vocals.
  • None of our mics require phantom power at present. One nice feature of the MixWizard is being able to add phantom power to a single channel.

So my first question is does this logic sound valid? And the second question is whether or not there's an easy way to get that 4th vocal track included for a total of 9 tracks?

Bonus question: if we were to bring in a mixture of phantom and non-phantom powered mics, would that tip the scale toward going through the MixWizard first?

Sorry for the long read. I tend to be detail-oriented... :-/

Thanks in advance!

Edit: I'm looking to make mixable recordings of our rehearsals, so the mixer is for the live sound. The reason for recording our rehearsals is twofold: first, as we work out new songs, it's helpful to have recordings we can listen to in between practices (I worked out a solo in my head driving to NC that way a few months ago). Plus we keep forgetting the intro to this, or the transition in that medley, etc. It's a way to reinforce the arrangements.

The second reason is that once we have a song worked out, I'd like to record a flattering but still representative version of our live act to make a demo CD for when we start shopping for gigs.

When we get to the point where we want to make a studio recording of one of our originals, then I won't worry about the mixer.

  • Also note there is a beta site sound.stackexchange.com for more specific sound type questions. – Richard Barber Feb 4 at 17:11
  • I'm a bit confused why you need the mixer at all...? The straightforward setup seems to be - plug everything into the focusrite, get it recorded in the DAW, then mix it in the DAW. – topo morto Feb 4 at 17:26
  • @RichardBarber Oops, I didn't realize that. Is there a way to move this post there? It does seem like a more appropriate forum. – Pete K Feb 4 at 18:53
1

The Focusrite has 8 input channels, with 8 mic preamps. Phantom power is only switchable in groups of 4 channels, but this really isn't an issue.

You don't need the mixer. You can record straight into the Focusrite, mix 'in the box' and monitor from a pair of the Focusrite's outputs, straight into the power amp and speakers.

Save the mixer for live gigs.

(You COULD use the mixer to combine two (or more) of your sources into one channel. As you say, you really need 9, but you only have 8.)

  • This sounds logical. My concern is that I won't be using the world's fastest PC, and I don't know what the latency would be if I add in a few plugins. And I suspect it would be more of a hassle getting the mix right on the PC rather than on the board. Does that make sense? I might give it a try though. – Pete K Feb 4 at 18:51
  • 2
    Latency is of no consequence. Simply don't listen to the sound via the recording setup, only off the live mixer. I'm not sure how you are going to channel-split though, neither box seems designed to do that. – Tetsujin Feb 4 at 18:56
  • 1
    Latency is only an issue when monitoring an input WHILE RECORDING. It will affect you equally whether you feed inputs through the mixer then to the Focusrite, or directly into the Focusrite. (Latency while recording can be completely bypassed anyway. Tell your audio sequencer program to 'direct monitor'.) – Laurence Payne Feb 4 at 19:02
  • @Tetsujin Laurence said I didn't need the mixer and I was explaining why I thought I did (for live sound, as you say). I don't understand what you mean by channel-split though. LaurencePayne but if I use the mixer for live sound, then I can record without using the monitor, right? I thought the Focusrite would forward the signals both to the direct outs as well as the USB out simultaneously. I guess I'll figure it all out when I get everything together. I appreciate your feedback. – Pete K Feb 4 at 22:00
  • If you insist on cluttering up your recording setup with the mixer, you can feed the Focusrite from the Direct Outs of 8 of its channels. If you want a mixer-based 16 input, 8-channel recording system return the MixWizard and change it for an 16:8 (8 output busses)mixer. Or, if the 16:2 mixer is useful for live work, admit that you're only going to use 8 of its inputs when recording then realise that it's only really getting in the way! – Laurence Payne Feb 4 at 23:39
0

Have you thought of using a patch bay, with those points normalized to the better pres, and patchable back to the on-board pres for effects usage?

Phantom-powered mics such as condensers tend to have a very good frequency response, so when you do add those to your mix, you'll want phantom available where needed. In the old days mix panels would have a (+48V) button for phantom power. We would always bleed off the voltage by turning off the channel phantom before unplugging the mic from the channel, so as to not risk damaging the microphones' sensitive capacitors and other gear in the audio path.

With how much expect to record simultaneously, and realizing one musician may require more than one mic to record, plus ambience tracks, you should have more than 8 channels. Unless you are very clever in your original mic'ing plan, capturing more than one musician per track. It is harder to control the mix from the board because you lack the channel separation.

  • I hadn't thought about a patch bay. Per my edit above, I'm not looking to make studio quality recordings yet, just record our rehearsals. So everyone gets one and only one mic (and maybe Randy doesn't get one at all. lol) We did a live recording a few months ago with 8 instruments/mics going into an old Turtle Bay card I have, and I didn't get the mix right, and had no way to fix it after the fact. That's why I'm going through this whole process. – Pete K Feb 4 at 18:57
  • If the Turtle Beach card was 8-input, feeding 8 seperate channels of audio to 8 tracks in a computer DAW program, you could have mixed it at your leisure. If it was a 2-input card, fed from the L & R outputs of a mixer, you made all your mixing decisions at the mixer, just as you would in live performance. (Out of interest, what Turtle Beach card do you have that suits a modern computer?) – Laurence Payne Feb 6 at 15:54

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.