Thursday, October 6, 2011

A Journey of Discovery

Or: "Live Sound Mixing in the Box".

So. It turns out that when you use ASIO drivers (and hybrid monitoring "on" in Samplitude) you can actually use the thing as a live sound mixer.
Mixing "in the box" is not an entirely new idea. SAC is built for it.
Now, facing the cold hard reality that a Yamaha 01V is only $2400, it might be tempting to say that getting a computer, some interfaces, and hoping they all work isn't really worth the trouble. The 01V has 12 microphone inputs and a bunch of outputs. You don't need a computer, you don't need a monitor, and the preamps are usable. You don't need to worry so much about it crashing (although I've had one fail 100% on me once -- had to go back to the rental house).
To use a completely in-the-box system you'd have to get at least one audio interface. Probably two. The MOTU UltraLite is about $550. Of course that's really only 8 inputs and 8 outputs. And only two of those inputs are mic preamps (and they're kinda meh but maybe no better or worse than the Yamahas).
If you happen to have an UltraLite and a computer (which I do) then you're maybe thinking this whole task is a tad more feasible.
Plus, in many cases we just don't care about microphone preamps. The preamps are going to be on the stage, sending us line-level signal up to the FOH position.
What I've used with success is a signal chain like this: mic preamps on stage going to an Aviom system which went down a Cat 5 cable to the FOH position. That's. Hmm... Oh, here are my notes. I imagine I was coming into the Yamaha board with one Aviom card from a master station, and then feeding the headphone stations directly with some channels and via a mix for other channels.
Note that Behringer makes a vastly cheaper (and that's probably in every meaning of the word "cheaper") version of the Aviom system. I do, however, like the user-side of the interface better. Even the master station is more readable.
What Behringer doesn't make now is a D/A box for its Powerplay system. They just make the A/D box. Now, if you could run one Cat5 and have inputs and outputs appear on both sides, life would be good. Even if we had to run a pair of Cat5's (one for each direction) I'd be fine.
So the whole point of this is that we can use our favorite effects (including, er, Autotune) while mixing live just with a computer and an interface or two.

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