Interfaces - How Much Do They Matter?

Discussion in 'Recording/Live Sound' started by crumjack, Jul 4, 2019.

  1. drfrankencopter

    drfrankencopter Member

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    When I'm recording I am mindful of both the sonics and the performance; but I will let performance trump sonics in a heartbeat. I need to play the producer role in addition to the engineer one. And part of this is managing the vibe of the session and getting the best from the talent. Yes, its up to the performer to do the performing, but its up to the engineer and producer to make sure that they are not an impediment to getting that performance.

    I'm not going to interrupt the flow of the session to go on a search for the best preamp. I'd rather get the take and press on; especially if the talent is 'on'. By contrast, if there's a lull in the mood, sometimes you can take advantage of that and lift it by running through your options and finding a more inspiring sound.
     
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  2. batsbrew

    batsbrew Member

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    ideally,
    you are good enough to have figured all that out in advance,
    and wouldn't even be talking about it!
    heheh,
    that's the goal, anyway.
     
  3. LoudBadRocknRoll

    LoudBadRocknRoll Member

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    Hi Tim,

    I have that exact mixer and found the analog parts to be reasonably good but the Mackie converters+firewire to largely suck. Traktion DAW kinda sucks, too. I messed with OS settings (The Google tells all) until the clicks went away (with Windows 7), but the sound was always dark and weird. Playbacks of saved mixes (on the same system) never sounded like when you were mixing! Not to mention Mackie has a crap track record of supporting older hardware with driver and app updates.

    So I shelled out for an RME UFX. The converters are transparent and latency is low. The Mackie mixer has the DB-25 analog outputs. For less than $100 I bought a decent 8 channel DB-25 to TRS breakout cable. The same approach would work with any decent interface with 8 line inputs. For me, I like it because I don't need 2 boards. Because I do a lot more jamming than recording.

    But the comments above about the drivers are really true, ime. I chose RME precisely because they have a great track record of supporting the hardware with software updates. Total Mix is a PITA to use, tho. So, I might choose differently if I were to do it again today. But I am very happy, overall, with the sound quality.

    Also, I'm not happy with Pro Tools, either. I'm leaning towards Motu DP (because a bandmate uses it), PreSonus Sutdio One (curious about looping UI, might be good for demos). Or Reaper looks good, too, actually. But that's another thread ... :--)

    --Charlie

     
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  4. LoudBadRocknRoll

    LoudBadRocknRoll Member

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    I think mic position is huge. Especially if you have half decent mics, etc. Even when close mic'ing a guitar amp, it's worth playing with the angle (perpendicular to the cone?) and radial position (how close to the center?) to get the tone you want (brighter, less bright, depending). On any acoustic sources, it's absolutely huge. You use your best pair of matching mics for drum overheads. But also take the time to tune the position to get a balanced picture of the kit. Since the kit has an asymmetrical layout for most drummers, the mics may not be spread evenly either. So don't do it by eye. And so on and so forth ...

    Yes, the song and performance matter the most. But we're discussing recording here. :--)
     
  5. Crowder

    Crowder Dang Twangler Silver Supporting Member

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    Legend has it that Springsteen made "Nebraska" on a Tascam cassette four-track with the intention of making demos for the Born in the USA sessions. They tried to re-do the songs in the studio but couldn't better the feel of the original demo performances, so they just transferred the four-track cassette performances onto tape in the studio and mixed and mastered those.

    I'm not sure if it's 100% true but that's the way Bruce has told it in the past.
     
  6. toddincharlotte

    toddincharlotte Supporting Member

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    Thanks for the inputs. I just need to upgrade my interface. Need a good mid-grade piece. Did not like the Focusrite stuff. Maybe I'll just spring for an Apollo. Need USB though, I have a Windows 10 platform.
     
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  7. portsider

    portsider Silver Supporting Member

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    This is a great thread. I record all our band practices with a Tascam 16x8.
    I like the recordings I get from it. We aren’t in a recording studio and I’m going for a more informal sound. We don’t mic anything but the vocals.
    I was freaking out over all the technical talk until I realized we were talking apples and oranges .
    I really want to take the band to a pro studio just to compare the results. I’m sure there’ll be some sonic improvements but I’d like to hear how the overall result differs.
     
  8. IGuitUpIGuitDown

    IGuitUpIGuitDown Member

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    Win10 on Thunderbolt. Apollo Duo II interface.

    I had to have the correct manufacturer’s mobo installed in my custom pc that had a built-in Thunderbolt port. Never could get an add-on card to work. Not one single time, regardless of Asus tech claims.

    Talk to UA before buying an Apollo for Win10. NOT the mobo company.
     
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  9. Jim Roseberry

    Jim Roseberry Supporting Member

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    FWIW, The Asus Thunderbolt EX3 is absolutely rock-solid here.
    Have used it with many different Thunderbolt audio interfaces...
     
  10. pipelineaudio

    pipelineaudio Member

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    I'm doing static distortion tests with a single frequency, but other THD and IMD tests with full sweeps. Frequency response is done both with a full sweep and a multitone. Its pretty comprehensive. Not that there won't still be God of the Gaps arguments by the faithful, but I'm trying to take into account what these devices will see in real life
     
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  11. pipelineaudio

    pipelineaudio Member

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    Do you have any, I mean one scintilla of evidence to back that up? Thats why I started doing these tests, I can only ever find claims, not hard numbers
     
  12. jmoose

    jmoose Member

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    Not this **** again...

    Seriously?!

    Yup. Recording music, tactile multiovertone instruments w/multi octave scales has everything to do with single frequency blasts.

    In reality what you do has zip to do with actually making records.

    Thought we went over this a couple months ago? You made an offer to put up or shut up & prove that people can actually hear differences yet, when I put up a place and said get your ass to NY you punked out. Probably because 'ya don't make records and know you'd get your ass handed to you on a platter by people who do and can hear differences.

    Why is it so hard for you to accept the simple fact that someone can replace an interface, or a preamp or a mic or anything else in the chain and say that yeah... it made a difference? People do this in studios all over the world everyday. They plug in A vs B and do hear differences that affect their workflow and overall enjoyment or lack thereof.

    What doesn't happen in studios is people sitting around blasting 1kHz tones and looking at FFT plots, that's propeller head stuff that has zilch to do with what actually happens when someone sets out to document their musical art.
     
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  13. batsbrew

    batsbrew Member

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    it's called experience.
    being in pro studios
    running my own home studio

    talking with professional mixers.
    not mixing it up that much with home recordists,
    who get these wild ideas that interfaces don't matter.

    trusting my ears.

    etc, etc, ad naseum.
     
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  14. toddincharlotte

    toddincharlotte Supporting Member

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    Yeah, I have USB 3.0 but no Thunderbolt. Don't want to go down the adapter/mobo swap rabbit hole. I know Apollo makes the USB connect interface, haven't heard much about it.
     
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  15. pipelineaudio

    pipelineaudio Member

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    Nobody here claimed that

    Nonsense. Your desire to be ignorant has no bearing on my making records

    I can't travel for health reasons and anyone here who knows me will tell you that.

    So go suck a wall socket, bully

    Strawman

    Non Sequitur
     
  16. pipelineaudio

    pipelineaudio Member

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    So that would be a "no, I will just spout unsubstantiated claims with no evidence"

    This is why I'm doing these tests
     
  17. Stokely

    Stokely Member

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    Not interfaces, but I did have an experience with preamp differences over the weekend. I have custom iems that sound pretty decent, and was able to use them at a sound company gig (usually I just use their wedges, don't want to complicate things). Wow...the instruments sounded far more clear than usual. Our normal live board is a cheap-ish allen and heath, it's simple and works well but compared to the Yamaha at this gig (I didn't have time to worry about checking the model, we were in a hurry to set up) it was like a blanket taken off everything. Mind you, my mix ended up sucking but that was because the sound guy wouldn't adjust anything LOL (and I HATE HATE HATE when these people throw mounds of compression on my keys...I almost couldn't play in time! Next time I'm going to use my own monitor mixer to combing the monitor feed with keys directly to avoid this....)
     
  18. batsbrew

    batsbrew Member

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    knock yourself out!!

    heheh,
    meanwhile, i'm wrapping up tracking a 10 song album.
    get er done.
     
  19. Timseel

    Timseel Member

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    Hi Charlie,

    Thanks for the reply. I use Adobe Audition as my DAW. If I record on my own which is most of the time, I may use drum machines, MIDI controlled keyboard racks and the like etc. And jam along with sequences I've made and like to have multichannel recording. I suppose I could get away with less inputs but not really looked in to it.

    I hadn't thought of using the 25Dsub output, I have a mate coming over tonight who is over the top when it comes to this sort of thing (I glaze over once he gets going) and I'll mention it to him and see what he comes up with too.

    I only use the mackie to get the recording done, once it's in the PC I use a coaxial digital output from a card I installed that runs to my HiFi amp and mix from there.

    It sounds fine and I have no playback issues, I've done it like this from the very beginning. I would record and save to a hard drive, close down and take the hard drive to my listening room where another PC is hooked up and sit in the middle of the room to mix.

    I wonder then if the issue could be the Firewire card on the PC..both that and the digital/coaxial card were just off the shelf/Ebay purchases to give me the connections via PCI Express cards....

    I will need a new PC soon anyway as Windows 7 is about to be unsupported.

    Cheers

    Lee
     

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