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  • #16
    Better yet, reply in this thread so we can get some dialog going!


    A much better idea indeed!
    Justin- MacPro, Cubase 4, Steinberg MR816csx, Yamaha KX49, FaderPort, UA LA-610, UAD1-e & lots o' plug-ins

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    • #17
      When you install the MR816csx tools, there are several templates made available, as shown in the first image. Note that you don't have to use these templates; they're just there to give you a starting point if you want one.

      So, I called up the Vocal-Instrument Recording 1 template to see what that involved. It opened up with two mono tracks, three stereo tracks, and the VST Audio Channel Settings for Channel 1 open and ready to go (second image). All the Quick Connect buttons start off lit, as well.

      After determining that the whole Quick Connect thing worked, I thought I'd try a quickie project to see if it really did improve workflow. I created an instrument track, and called up Cakewalk's Session Drummer 2 to provide the "glorified metronome." Then, I plugged my Gibson Dark Fire guitar into input 1, set it to Hi-Z (and it is indeed high-Z; the pickups sounded much fuller and brighter), and for a guitar plug-in, added a Peavey Revalver Mk III Vox AC30-type amp sound. I then plugged a dynamic mic into the second input so I could do vocals, and used a Live 6 GearBox plug-in to apply vocal processing to my voice (I made a preset for GearBox that really flatters my voice, so I use it a lot).

      I have to say it was very easy to do overdubs and harmonies: Pick track, click on Quick Connect button, done. (Well, done except for adding plug-ins within Cubase if needed - the "AI" part of Cubase AI isn't smart enough yet to read your mind and insert the plug-in you want.)

      There are two things about the Quick Connect scheme that make life even easier. First, you can connect to multiple tracks at once. This is something I often do for parallel effects. The second is that it's impossible to get lost, because if you want to know which input connects to which track, when you click on a track, the Quick Connect light for the input that's connected to the track flashes four times. Even better--and this shows someone was definitely thinking of the end user--there's about a half-second delay between clicking on the track and the start of the flashing. So, you can look at the screen, find the track, click on it, then look over at the MR816csx and it will still be flashing.
      Simplicity, my new album project, is now streamable from my YouTube channel.

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      • #18
        Before calling it a night, it's worth noting how the MR816csx handles +48V phantom power. First of all, it really is +48V (+48.2, to be exact). This isn't always the case with interfaces; I've measured phantom power that's as low as +34V in some bus-powered interfaces. As the MR816csx has a real power supply, it has no problem delivering the appropriate voltage.

        Second, each of the eight inputs can have +48V power individually. With many interfaces, you can activate +48V only for particular inputs, or input groups (e.g., ins 1-4 and/or 5-8). Of course, the MR816csx's approach is much more flexible.

        So where are the phantom power switches? There's only one, along with clever ergnomics. If no input has phantom power, the +48V button is not illuminated. If you want an input to have phantom power, you hold down the +48V button and hit the appropriate channel's Quick Connect button. You can do this for as many channels as you like.

        After your assignments, the +48V button remains illuminated to let you know phantom power is being applied to at least one input. If you press the +48V button, the Quick Connect button for any channel with phantom power lights up. In this situation the Quick Connect button is a toggle, so if you hit a lit Quick Connect button, it turns off and removes +48V power. And that's the deal with +48V.

        There's lots more to cover, and I'd like to check out the "morphing" processing next...I've always been intrigued hearing about it at trade shows, now I get to try it.

        It's early in the review, but it's already clear that the MR816csx would be extremely applicable to a solo studio with a couple mics, some instruments, something like a drum machine or keyboard with stereo line outs, etc. You could have all these inputs set up and ready to go at once (and take advantage of the front panel jacks for mics 1 and 2 to swap out different mics); then when you're recording, just click a track and push a button to assign your sound source of choice to Cubase.

        Oh, one last thought: Just in case it's not clear, you can use programs other than Cubase with the MR816csx; it shows up like any other interface, and you can take advantage of many of its features. However, integration on the level of connecting to individual tracks from any given input is restricted to use with Cubase 4.5.1, Cubase AI 4.5.1, or higher.
        Simplicity, my new album project, is now streamable from my YouTube channel.

        Subscribe, like, and share the links!

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        • #19
          Craig, one of the "issues" that I read about this unit is that, yes, you can monitor with the REVX reverb in the monitor path during tracking, which is normal, but, you cannot use the same REVX on playback. Huh ?
          You have to have a seperate instance of another, different plug-in reverb on playback because there is only one instance of the REVX and the REVX currently cannot be routed into the signal path for both talent monitor and playback from the recorded track at the same time.
          Can you confirm ?
          88 keys

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          • #20
            Craig, one of the "issues" that I read about this unit is that, yes, you can monitor with the REVX reverb in the monitor path during tracking, which is normal, but, you cannot use the same REVX on playback. Huh ?
            You have to have a seperate instance of another, different plug-in reverb on playback because there is only one instance of the REVX and the REVX currently cannot be routed into the signal path for both talent monitor and playback from the recorded track at the same time.
            Can you confirm ?


            I will test to confirm, but using hardware plug-ins instead of software does present limitations as well as advantages. The two main limitations of hardware are that 1) you can instantiate only one instance (this makes sense; it's not like instantiating another instance puts another DSP chip in the unit) and 2) you can't do non-real-time bounces, for the same reason you have to bounce in real time if going through an external processor of some kind.

            I'll see if Yamaha has somehow managed to circumvent the laws of physics, but I suspect my statements above apply. I'll also see if there's any way of putting the REV X in a Cubase aux bus, which would be very useful. Or maybe someone from Steinberg has an answer?
            Simplicity, my new album project, is now streamable from my YouTube channel.

            Subscribe, like, and share the links!

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            • #21
              ...and speaking of someone from Steinberg...do you anticipate releasing some sort of SDK in the future that allows manufacturers of other sequencers to tie into the hardware, or manufacturers of other hardware to tie into Cubase?
              Simplicity, my new album project, is now streamable from my YouTube channel.

              Subscribe, like, and share the links!

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              • #22
                Hi Craig,

                One of the things I like about Cubase is that you can do a fast audio mixdown.
                Now if you use fx in an external hardware like TC Electronic Konnekt 24D then this is NOT possible and you have to use real time audio export.

                Do you know if Steinberg has found a way around this with the RevX so that you can use it at fast audio mixdown?

                Cheers,

                Mats N
                - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
                BT King - all my backing tracks can be found at :
                http://nermark.articulateimages.com

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                • #23
                  First of all, it really is +48V (+48.2, to be exact). This isn't always the case with interfaces; I've measured phantom power that's as low as +34V in some bus-powered interfaces.


                  Craig, good to know that the MR816csx delivers the goods in the voltage dept. of its phantom power circuitry.

                  But what did you use to measure it? (And the other units in your studio, for that matter.) Is it simply a matter of taking a RadioShack voltmeter and inserting the probes into the ground and positive-phase pins/sockets (1 and 2, respectively) of the unit's mic input? Or to the pins/sockets of an XLR cable connected to the unit? What voltmeter do you use/recommend for such a task?
                  Jon Chappell
                  Follow me on Twitter: http://twitter.com/jon_chappell
                  Check out my website: http://jonchappell.com

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                  • #24
                    Craig, good to know that the MR816csx delivers the goods in the voltage dept. of its phantom power circuitry.

                    But what did you use to measure it? (And the other units in your studio, for that matter.) Is it simply a matter of taking a RadioShack voltmeter and inserting the probes into the ground and positive-phase pins/sockets (1 and 2, respectively) of the unit's mic input? Or to the pins/sockets of an XLR cable connected to the unit? What voltmeter do you use/recommend for such a task?


                    I just use a voltmeter I picked up at Home Depot - a Sperry DM-4100A. I wouldn't recommend this unit for work with musical electronics, but it's great for around the house testing and is pretty much indestructible.

                    As to measuring, your assumption is correct: I measure the voltage differential between pins 1 and 2. I'd probably get a more accurate reading it I measured it under load, with a mic attached, but I think the no-load measurement is "close enough for rock and roll."
                    Simplicity, my new album project, is now streamable from my YouTube channel.

                    Subscribe, like, and share the links!

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                    • #25
                      Got the following email from Steinberg:

                      Greg Ondo our Senior Steinberg North America GURU created the following document that we have posted on the www.steinbergnorthamerica.com website. You may find this useful.

                      http://steinbergnorthamerica.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/01/mr816_application_guide1.pdf

                      The DSP FX (morphing compressor channel strip and REV-X Reverb) can be used on input (tracking) or during playback (mixing) but cannot be launched at the same time. If one wants to use this during playback, they needs to change the settings to External FX found in the Control Panel with Cubase or Nuendo. The FX can be utilized as an insert, FX channel, etc.

                      I need to confirm this, and I am testing now as I type, but I do believe the FX processing found in the MR series can bounce process in non-real-time. Please allow me to confirm this.


                      I've encouraged anyone from Steinberg who wants to chime in with comments, tips, corrections, or whatever to please do so. I always enjoy the manufacturer interaction aspect of Pro Reviews, I learn a lot that way
                      Simplicity, my new album project, is now streamable from my YouTube channel.

                      Subscribe, like, and share the links!

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                      • #26
                        Craig :
                        I would have thought that this unit would be designed in such a way as to make tracking as conventional as possible.
                        You set-up a mic.
                        You get yer' level.
                        Slap on a reverb/talent enhancer.
                        Record.
                        Playback....uh-oh....no effects ?
                        Uh....O.K. Let me instantiate another plug-in for playback. Now, let's see, was that a plate or a hall ? What was the decay time on that ? Uh? What about pre-delay.
                        Talent :
                        Hmmm....why does it sound different on playback ? Wow, that punch in was wierd.

                        Now, i may be exageerating a bit here, but, hmmm...you would have thought that it would have been thoroughly thought through ?
                        88 keys

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                        • #27
                          Craig/All....

                          Thank you for posting my email.

                          Regarding the need to "switch" the FX (vis he control panel) from tracking to mixing.

                          Should you find that perfect setting that the talent and you as the engineer liked during tracking, but didn't want to print the FX, you can save the setting as a preset (eg. John's Vox Verb.) The preset will show in the preset list (as well as Media Bay) to recall when mixing or any time in the future.

                          The beauty of the MR series is found in the tight integration between hardware and software, not to mention the sonic qualities. The MR series allows you to monitor with the onboard FX, at near zero latency, and the FX control panels are integrated directly into the software - not via a secondary application or window. As well, you can control the FX settings directly from the unit.

                          If I am correct, the reason why the FX cannot run simultaneously during input (tracking) and ouput (mixing) is because of bandwidth limitations.

                          Should any one have additional questions, please feel free to PM me at any time. I will check threads as often as possible.

                          Thanks.
                          Best regards,

                          Brian McGovern
                          Steinberg North America

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                          • #28
                            Thanks for the reply Brian.

                            Is the bandwidth limitation a Firewire bandwidth limitation or something within the unit itself ?
                            88 keys

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                            • #29
                              I will need to check with the engineers about the technical specifics, but I do believe it's a combination of what the FW bandwidth can support and what was needed to accomplish what the engineers desired.

                              Also, Craig is correct that when using the MR-Series FX, say the Rev X Reverb for a mix-down, the mix-down takes place in real-time.

                              Thanks.
                              Best regards,

                              Brian McGovern
                              Steinberg North America

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                              • #30
                                If I am correct, the reason why the FX cannot run simultaneously during input (tracking) and ouput (mixing) is because of bandwidth limitations.

                                Should any one have additional questions, please feel free to PM me at any time. I will check threads as often as possible.

                                Thanks.


                                First of all, if anyone has any questions, unless they are not of general interest (in which case a PM would be more appropriate), please post them here so that we all can learn the answer. What gives Pro Reviews their credibility is the fact that we're not just limiting the review to my opinion, but opening it up to questions and comments from everyone -- users, potential buyers, manufacturers, etc. That way this becomes much more than "just" a review, and we all benefit from each other's knowledge.

                                Now, let me address the "bandwidth limitation" thing. I'm sure someone from Steinberg will correct me if I'm wrong.

                                The object of having a hardware/software combination is twofold. One, when you're limited by hardware, you can use the software and when you're limited by software, you have the hardware to fall back on. Two, there are instances where the two can be integrated to produce something neither can do by itself - like that wonderful Quick Connect button

                                As soon as you use hardware processing, you gain the following advantages:

                                * Virtually no load on the host computer.
                                * Extremely low latency compared to having to monitor through a software processor.
                                * Algorithms that can throw a ton of machine cycles at the processing because they're dedicated to that process, unlike the CPU in a computer.

                                And you gain the following disadvantages:

                                * Can't instantiate more than one instance. Think about it: If you had a rack reverb unit, you could use it while tracking or use it on mixdown, but not both. Hardware DSP within an interface works the same way.
                                * Can't do non-real-time bounces with most DSP. This is discussed in the Duende Pro Review, and on the second page, Shandor posted an ingenious workaround for software that doesn't provide for real-time processing, like Wavelab.

                                Another possible disadvantage is that presets aren't stored with a project the way they are with software plug-ins, because the hardware is external. However, the whole Steinberg/Yamaha Studio Connections initiative is designed to remedy this, and we'll find out if the MR816csx takes advantage of this protocol.

                                So to summarize, I don't think the "use it on playback or use it while recording" issue relates to FireWire bandwidth as much as it does to "silicon bandwidth" - a dedicated DSP chip can't miraculously become two chips.
                                Simplicity, my new album project, is now streamable from my YouTube channel.

                                Subscribe, like, and share the links!

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