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Mixers(carvie, mackie, yammie)- how much do they add to the sound

Discussion in 'Recording Gear and Equipment [BG]' started by FungusHumungous, Apr 8, 2004.

  1. So I'm on a tight budget, still in HS, and starting a mini digital recording studio via an Mbox(pro tools) and a Dell(soon to be modified).
    What I can do is(because Mbox has only 2 Ins) hook up a mixer to the Mbox(and then to ProTOols)...

    So I've begun to search for affordable mixers with 10-16 tracks, eq, enough
    I was getting kind of dissapointed looking at used Mackies and Yammies with prices around 400$.
    But lo and behold my Carvin magazine came(usually I don't spend too much time with this catalogue but this was different). In the Pro Sound Section I found the Sm162, a 16 track mixer, 8 xlr's, 8 1/4's, 3band eq, basically I could ask at a very reasonable price(*so I think)-250$.

    My question is- How is Carvin in regards to the quality of its Pro Sound equipment and does it truly matter(forget that I'm poor) how much I spend on a mixer/does mixer quality matter if I have decent mics/decent recording program/decent skills?

  2. adam on bass

    adam on bass Supporting Member

    Feb 4, 2002
    New Braunfels, Texas
    Endorsing Artist: Spector, GK, EMG and D'Addario
    For the money it's better than Peavey. Their power amps are great. Not to much experience with the boards. I would try to get something with direct outs as well, it's helps it signal routing.
  3. nonsqtr

    nonsqtr The emperor has no clothes!

    Aug 29, 2003
    Burbank CA USA
    Hi Fungus, what's your application? Are you doing mainly MIDI stuff, or are you overdubbing yourself in your home studio, or are you recording band practices? The answer to your question (your general question, not the one about the Carvin) depends on which of those you're doing.

    The audio software in your computer is supposed to let you record one (or two) tracks at a time, which is adequate for most purposes (unless you're mic'ing live drums). Depending on the software, some of it may let you sync to MIDI, and some may not, so if you're using a drum machine you'll need to set up your computer if you need the capability to sync it with the live audio. But typically you'd only be recording one instrument (or voice) at a time, unless you're doing a choir or a live band or something like that.

    At playback time, your audio software is supposed to let you mix together the "virtual tracks" you've recorded this way, however many of them you end up with. In other words, there should be a mixer "built in" to your audio software. If there isn't, then you can probably upgrade your audio software, or get some freeware audio mixers that have this capability. I'm not sure how many tracks ProTools will handle, but as I recall it's "a lot", maybe 16 or maybe even 64.

    So in that context, how were you planning to use a live mixer?

    Okay, then the other part of your question is, yes any mixer will color your sound. There isn't an audio device in existence that won't color your sound. The question is, do you like the color that your devices are giving you? For mic pre's in mixers, the Mackie VLZ pre's are generally recognized to be among the better pre's in the "reasonably priced home studio device" area of the market. Carvin's are "okay", they're not the best but they'll do the job. Don't expect production quality results from this kind of setup though, it's good enough for prototyping and demos and such but it won't get your guitars sounding like Eric Clapton's or Jeff Beck's. For that you need a slightly better mic pre (one of the higher end jobs, like maybe an Avalon, or a Focusrite Red, or maybe one of those vintage pre's you see in the lunchboxes, like Neve's or API's).

    So anyway, maybe you can tell us a little more about your application?
  4. Mbox features Focusrite mic Preamps...(not sure if I can bypass Carvin's preamps for the Mbox's Focusrites...)
    I intend to record a whole band with live drums, if possible I'd like to do mostly live or live drums and bass recorded together.

    Pro Tools LE offers 32 tracks of mixing.
    What I guess I'll be using the mixer itself for is not mixing or coloring my sound, but only as a device in which I can record multiple mics/instruments into...
    if i can bypass the carvin mic preamp and fool around with the sliders, and do all my mixing/tone control/EQ via pro tools I will be very happy.

  5. Droog


    Aug 14, 2003
    Someone stated earlier that you may want direct outs. I would disagree being as you only have 2 inputs and the stereo buss on a mixer has 2 outs, get my point? Direct outs would be and are very usefull when you have multiple inputs (i.e. 8, 16 or 24) to your recording format, PC in your case.

    If you need 8 pre-amps (XLR's on mixers) I would strongly suggest saving for a Mackie 1402. Or get a used one if you can. The XDR mic pre's they use blow carvin and yamaha out of the water. You are going to be doing all your mixing and eq'ing and what have you in Pro Tools correct? Then in my opinion your analog front end should be as good as you can afford. If it sounds like ass going into your computer, its gonna sound like ass coming out. Also the focusrite pre's that digidesign uses on there LE system suck alot, so if have a decent mixer its gonna sound better than the MBox pre's. Go line level into the Mbox.
  6. thanks and keep the advice coming


    PS_ it seems i could pickup up a goodlooking 1402 on ebay for under 300$ if im pacient for 50$ difference from what i hear it would be worth it.
  7. zombywoof5050


    Dec 20, 2001
    With the mixer you will be able to plug in multiple mics/instuments and then record them but you will still only be able to record two tracks at a time. So if you record all those instruments at once, they will be stuck together on two tracks and you wont be able to use Pro Tools to do anything to the individual instruments. You will need a sound card with enough inputs and the ability to simultaneously record each instrument on it's own track if you want to be able to do anything worthwhile to each individual instrument with the computer software.

    And Droog,
    The 1402 has only 6 XLR inputs.
  8. I don't think I follow...
    I can only record 2 tracks at a time because even though there are 6 xlrs,etc. there are only 2 sends....


    PS- maybe its not a mixer that I want, I assumed it would be the easiest way to simultaneously record a bunch of tracks at a time and send them to pro tools via my Mbox...but maybe not.
  9. zombywoof5050


    Dec 20, 2001
    In order to simultaneously record a bunch of tracks, you have to have a sound card with a separate input for each track that you want to record. I don't know even what an MBox is but I'm assuming it's some type of soundcard or interface for recording into your computer. If that's the case, and if it only has 2 inputs, then that means you will only be able to record 2 seperate tracks at once. If you intend to do any remixing or adding of effects to 'each individual instrument' using the computer software, then you need to record each instrument onto it's own track on the computer, and for that you need a soundcard with a lot more inputs unless you want to record each instrument (or two since you have 2 inputs, unless you are recording stereo instruments like synth which will use both tracks) one-at-a-time.
  10. My advice, get a MOTU 828 and any mixing board....Out of the mixing board, into the 828s 8TRS/2mic inputs, and you are set.
  11. Droog


    Aug 14, 2003
    Thats exactly right. It does not matter how big your mixer is, or how many mic pre's you have. Hell you could have a 32 channel board with only a stereo (2 track) out put and if you only have 2 inputs to your computer guess how many tracks you can record? Thats right, 2. Its your recording platform/interface that dictates how many tracks you can simultaneosly record.
  12. nonsqtr

    nonsqtr The emperor has no clothes!

    Aug 29, 2003
    Burbank CA USA
    Hi Fungus, sorry for the hiatus (I just keep telling myself, "work is a good thing"). :)

    Okay, so here's some of my experience with live recording. Firstly, getting a decent two track live recording in a rehearsal space is extremely difficult (even with the best mixer in the world). It's not anything like mixing a board at a live show, the reason being that the results are decoupled from the performance (in other words, you have to listen to the results "after" you do the recording, there's no way to faithfully monitor what's going into your computer, unless you have another room dedicated for this purpose). Your best bet might be to just take two area mics, point them "away" from the drums, and spend some time positioning them so the results are decent.

    Optimally, one would like a separate mic on each individual instrument. So let's say that's bass-guitar-keys-vocals, and 8 mics for the drums, so you're already up at 12 tracks. If you had the capability of recording 8 tracks simultaneously, you could capture all the voices and instruments, and do a "pretty good job" with the drums. So that would be a Motu, or maybe an mAudio Delta 1010, something like that. Those may run in the 5 to 800 dollar price range, which might be comparable to what you could expect to spend for a decent mixer. Or, a Roland VS-2480 might be just what you need. Just a thought... (I use a Fostex VF-160 for our band, it's 8 simultaneous tracks, so we end up with 3 drum mics).

    And finally, all FocusRite mic pre's are not alike, I wouldn't bother trying to bypass the Carvin pre's to get at the Mbox pre's. The ones you want are in the Red series or the ISA ProducerPacks. Or, you can build your own if you're handy with a soldering iron, check jensen-transformers.com for some helpful tech info.

    If you want to get started "right away", I'd go with the area mic method. Again, it might take a while to find out where exactly to position the mics to get the best recording, but if you put a little "X" on the floor with some tape, and return the mics to the same position at each rehearsal, you can get some fairly consistent results. Expect to have to do a little post-processing (maybe some EQ) with this method.

    Then, you might want to keep your eyes and ears open (and check eBay occasionally) for a used VF-160 or one of those Roland porta-studios so you can upgrade when the time comes, occasionally you can find good recording toys for decent prices, and it's good to be able to jump on them when they become available.
  13. The whole multitrack recorder box things(vf-160) was an original choice but i was told to not waste my money on that sort of product as I was told that if i was interested to producing a simple pro-tools setup would be very helpful. I was even told that these boxes were used by older guys to record band practices- just as you suggest.
    This unfortunately is not what I want to do.
    I want to record a semi-professional sounding demo to send to university's production and sound engineering as well as to learn the rudiments of protools/mixing etc.etc.

    So I guess I will stick with the Mbox, buy a mixer some mics and try my hand at it...
    The whole live band recording was just a hope of mine(due to the advantageous nature of it) but using the technique of recording drums, then bass, then guitar, then vocals will not stop me from learning about mixing and recording and protools so I will "deal."

    Thanks again,
  14. PS- if a mackie 1402 has 2 sends per channel but I only have 2 Ins on the Mbox, how would I connect the two?


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