music, guitars & other obsessions

New DAW Setup

After going over tons of threads on the web, searching for suitable solutions, and second hand items for sale, I think I have finally reached a decision, in the process, I also discovered, all my existing PC’s, soundcards were out of date and basically unusable for what I want to do.

The basic requirement is to do OTB mixing, so taking the multitrack WAV files and sending them to an analog mixer and record the final mix back to the HD. I also look at using digital mixers such as the Sony DMX R100, the Yamaha DM1000, but the Sony is very old and gets no support from Sony at all, while the Yamaha 0nly has 16 channels. Anyway, even second hand, these digital consoles can still cost more than $1500 – a bit more than I want to spend.

So now the setup is Macbook Pro, i7 Quad Core, at least 2GHz with 16GB RAM and SSD for the music files and another HD for the OS. RME Digiface USB, which connects the Mac to the AD/DA via ADAT ports. And finally, an old Alesis HD24 ADAT recorder, which will be used just for the AD/DA duties, with the option to record to disk if needed.

For the analog console, I will try and restore the Soundcraft 400B which I picked up for just $60, but will most likely upgrade to something better later. There are certainly many interesting vintage console for sale! Hope all this turns out to be worth the effort.

The plan is changing again… Since I was still intrigued by the idea of better integration between the mixing console and the DAW, I kept looking at the alternatives, which led me to the Yamaha N12, but not able to find one at a reasonable price here, the search took me to the Mackie Onyx 1640i, while it is not as well integrated as the Yamaha N12, it does offer 4 more channels, plus it is also a much newer model (still in current production).

The decision is reached, when I managed to track one down not far from me, anyway, if I do decide to go for it, then I can skip the RME Digiface, the Alesis HD24, and the Soundcraft 400B, not to mention all the cabling that are required to get the whole shebang hooked up. Instead, all I need is a Firewire cable between the Macbook Pro and the 1640i – it couldn’t be simpler! As far as the cost is concerned, it should work out a bit cheaper, but more importantly, I think it will be much easier to setup and use in practice, so we will see…

[Update] 5/24/2017

I went to Salamanca to pick up a Mackie Onyx 1640i mixer yesterday. Using Mario’s old Macbook Pro i5 for the test, I had to pick up a Firewire 800 to Firewire 400 cable, luckily, one of the shops around Arguelles had one in stock. Anyway, I plugged in the cable, and the Mac immediately regconized the 1640i, so my worry about the driver was over-blown. It also helped that the Macbook Pro is running Mavericks (OS 10.9), anything newer probably wouldn’t have worked.

Going to try a multitracks mix today, keeping my fingers crossed, as there are numerous issues to overcome – CPU, memory, disk speed and not the least, the DAW, which is Reaper, not sure how well it integrates with the Mackie… Well, it all worked without a hitch, now the fun begins.

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