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Line mixer vs. "regular" mixer

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  • #16
    Huh. I never thought about that. I wonder if any 'combo' mixers have mic/line switches that actually bypass the mic pre instead of padding it.
    ComputerMusicGuide.com

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    • #17
      :thu: Thanks!

      Imo, a live mixer doesn't have to be the very best money can buy. Yeah, there are some cheap junk boxes that no one should use (my first rig mixer was a Tapco), but any reasonable piece should be good enough for PA.
      ComputerMusicGuide.com

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      • #18
        I like the Rolls RM65B... small, light, flexible, reasonably priced, and I think volume faders are easier to work with on stage than knobs

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        • #19
          Yeah, I wasn't really considering Alesis. Durability is a big factor, and that brand name just sounds alarm bells for me, however justified that might be.

          I'm also not concerned with MIDI or any on-stage computer hookup. I'm running a retro-1970's kind of feel, not even using any MIDI interface. The only instrument I have with a menu screen is the Korg Z1 -- I like being able to look at a set of knobs and know exactly what the setup is. As a result, while the "audio interface" boxes certainly are powerful (and impressive), I imagine they're overkill in functionality and complication for my purposes. Even if they cost about the same as less featured non-computer units, I think I'd be happier with a simpler physical interface. Good to know about them, though, added to the list of "things I didn't know before". That's why I ask questions here, to learn.

          So it seems likely that a conventional 1U rackmount line mixer is what I'm looking for.

          From a quick peruse of Sweetwater, I'm looking at about $500 for Rane SM 82S or $570 for Ashly LX-308B. That's about what I expected, and I don't begrudge paying that especially since they'll handle as many stereo synth channels I'm likely to want in the foreseeable future and so it's for the long term.

          Still, money saved is money saved if it doesn't hurt the sound or the reliability. What about older units, any gems that aren't in production now? For example, how is the Roland M-120 in durability and sound compared with the Rane or Ashly? Certainly enough of those floating around eBay for just the price of a new Alesis.

          Martyn Wheeler (playing synthesizers/organ like it's 1973 in England)

          now: Fredfin Wallaby
          was: The Gonzo Symphonic

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          • #20
            Rane and Ashly are both very good quality choices. I've owned a lot of Roland gear over the years and always had good luck with it. Took a quick look at the Roland specs. Unlike with the Alesis specs, Roland isn't trying hide anything. (For example, Alesis tells you the THD, ie distortion, at only one freq, whereas Roland specifies a wide range of freqs. There may be different distortion amounts at different freqs. You can always tell when a company is trying to make a product seem better than it is, by what info is omitted in the specs).

            Bottom line: I suspect the Roland is a solid and reliable unit. Spec-wise, it's not quite what the other two are, but close enough that you'd need good full-range speakers and a full freq source (highs like cymbals, and low bass notes) before you may notice differences.

            One word of caution: I buy a lot of stuff on Ebay. I generally trust the "Ebay stores" that have lots of good feedback. Had no problems. The private individual auctions can be chancey. Some people sell things on Ebay which have developed a slight defect. These people apparently figure it's better to dump a lemon on someone half-way around the country because you're not likely to show up at their door, and it's easier to get away with it. I've gotten some really great transactions, but I've also gotten several private transactions where there was a defect that wasn't revealed ahead of time. And invariably the seller always has an excuse like "it worked for me" or "I never used that feature so I don't know anything about it not working".

            P.S. The Roland has mono inputs, not stereo. But it is a stereo mixer, so you can use 2 ins for one keyboard, and pan them L and R.

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            • #21
              One more thing to add: It wasn't until I got the MOTU Ultralite that I had a mixer with a digital input (SPDIF in), My Fantom XR has a digital (SPDIF) output, but with the previous mixer I used the Fantom's (analog) audio outs instead.

              I was surprised how noticeably the Fantom sounded cleaner and "sharper" using the digital out. (It makes sense. But I just didn't think it would make a big difference). From now on, I'm definitely going to be wanting a digital output on my digital synths, and also a digital input on my mixer.

              Something to think about.

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              • #22
                I used one of these for years and it worked great:




                Very clean, and 12 channels, with effects loop and Monitor Out. Only word of caution on any of these units: support your cables! Do not let them hang with all their weight from the inputs. Space is tight inside one-rack-space units, and there isn't a lot of support for each jack. It's easier to break a solder connection.


                These mixers are legendary. I have an ancient one that I retired, and would never sell it. For live use now, I use the mighty Ashly LX308B.
                <div class="signaturecontainer">Moe<br><br>---<br><br>It puts the SINES in the basket, or else it gets the hose again.<br><br><a target="_blank" href="http://www.hotrodmotm.com">http://www.hotrodmotm.com</a></div>

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                • #23
                  Rane and Ashly are both very good quality choices. I've owned a lot of Roland gear over the years and always had good luck with it. Took a quick look at the Roland specs. Unlike with the Alesis specs, Roland isn't trying hide anything. (For example, Alesis tells you the THD, ie distortion, at only one freq, whereas Roland specifies a wide range of freqs. There may be different distortion amounts at different freqs. You can always tell when a company is trying to make a product seem better than it is, by what info is omitted in the specs).

                  Bottom line: I suspect the Roland is a solid and reliable unit. Spec-wise, it's not quite what the other two are, but close enough that you'd need good full-range speakers and a full freq source (highs like cymbals, and low bass notes) before you may notice differences.

                  One word of caution: I buy a lot of stuff on Ebay. I generally trust the "Ebay stores" that have lots of good feedback. Had no problems. The private individual auctions can be chancey. Some people sell things on Ebay which have developed a slight defect. These people apparently figure it's better to dump a lemon on someone half-way around the country because you're not likely to show up at their door, and it's easier to get away with it. I've gotten some really great transactions, but I've also gotten several private transactions where there was a defect that wasn't revealed ahead of time. And invariably the seller always has an excuse like "it worked for me" or "I never used that feature so I don't know anything about it not working".

                  P.S. The Roland has mono inputs, not stereo. But it is a stereo mixer, so you can use 2 ins for one keyboard, and pan them L and R.


                  It is a reliable unit. But the jacks are plastic, and can break with too much cord weight. Mine is in the shop as we speak, getting 5-7 channels re-soldered, because I want to start using it again.

                  It has two effects loops. There are 1/4 inch and XLR Main Outputs. It also has a Monitor Out, and a Monitor Mix In, which I used to use for a click track years ago in a band.

                  Also know that it is deep, about 11.5", so you will need a 17" rack depth, and it helps to have some right-angle 1/4 inch plugs. It's also not light, since it has a built in power supply, and it's a pretty solid piece at 8lbs, 10oz.

                  Here is the Owner's Manual.
                  <div class="signaturecontainer"><a href="https://twitter.com/ArtScienceSound/status/208313686459293697" target="_blank"><font color="blue">&quot;I remember when dubstep was just called &quot;LFO-Locked-Filter-On-Square-Wave-Bass-Synth&quot; in the '60s&quot; - Alan Parsons</font></a><br />
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                  <font size="1">Kurzweil PC3<font size="2">♦</font></font><font size="1">Alesis Fusion 6HD</font>♦<font size="1">Alesis Quadrasynth+Piano (3)</font>♦<font size="1">Alesis QS7.1 (2)</font>♦<font size="1">Alesis QSR</font>♦<font size="1"> Alesis S4+</font>♦<font size="1">Alesis DMPRO</font>♦<font size="1">Evolution MK-461C</font>♦<font size="1">Rhodes Mark II Stage 73</font>♦<font size="1">Roland JX-8P</font>♦<font size="1">Kawai K1 &amp; K1m</font>♦<br />
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                  • #24
                    Yep. Nearly all of the problems I've had with Roland gear has to do with plastic jacks (which are minor repairs). I've had worse problems with other brands. (And admittedly, given the amount of transportation my gear takes, I do tend to stress it).

                    Everything running into my mixer (except the XLR mic) is also mounted in the one rack, so I use very short length cords (like one meter), which never get unplugged. (Plastic jacks tend to break not just because of the weight, but moreso from the stress of plugging/unplugging cords repeatedly, or just physically jostling a connector when your hand is poking around inside the rack. I don't need to stick my hand inside the rack since everything stays connected). Even the power strip is rack-mounted, and I bought a bunch of 3 inch power cords for AC connections. If someone doesn't know what a rackmount power strip is, here an example: http://www.amazon.com/CyberPower-CPS1220RM-Rackmount-Power-Strip/dp/B00077IPGM/ref=sr_1_4?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1312662675&sr =1-4 It mounts in your rack just like any other rackmount gear. Then all the other rack gear plugs into this one bar using short AC cords like this: http://www.amazon.com/Cables-Go-03114-Outlet-Extension/dp/B0002J1KRQ/ref=sr_1_16?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1312662968&s r=1-16 Then to power up your rack, you plug in only the one AC cord of the rackmount power strip.

                    And while we're also slightly off the OP's question, but still worth considering: For audio cables, I stay away from the cheap crap like Hosa. That stuff breaks too easily. And I don't waste my money on "gold-plated" stuff per se (because this "gold-plating gives you better sound" stuff is bogus marketing crap), or other PR nonsense. But I do want cables that are solidly made (ie, thicker wires, heavier duty connectors). Don't buy Monster cables. Besides being overpriced, that company has a notorious rep for trying to stifle better competitors via threatening bogus lawsuits.

                    Another thing: I've got a couple Gator rackmount cases. After awhile of use, the latches start to loosen, and then the front/back covers fall off when you lift/carry it. Very annoying. I tried a more expensive SKB brand instead, who have lifetime guarantees on their latches. Problem solved. Worth the slight price difference.

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                    • #25
                      Id rather use a regular mixer. The Yamaha MG series is a fave of mine for good qaulity low price mixers with 10 or more channals.
                      Life for its own carnal pleasure.<br><br>Synths: Novation KS4 &amp; Maudio Venom. Guitar: BC Rich It Warlock.. Bass: BC Rich Warlock. Sight: Aerial lasers by Omnisistem &amp; Chauvet,. Geometric lasers by Extreme.

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                      • #26
                        I'll echo j_e_f_f_g's comments about the option to use an audio interface as a stand-alone mixer. Quite a few of them are designed with that task in mind, and as he points out, the main differences in terms of using them live relates to how many button presses you need to do to make adjustments on the fly, and also, any extra features like onboard DSP.

                        In general, I think these are at their best when used in a more or less "set-and-forget" context; if you really need to adjust levels, it's probably faster to do it at the synths.
                        _____________________________________________
                        There are now 14 music videos posted on my YouTube channel, including four songs by Mark Longworth. Watch the music video playlist, subscribe, and spread the links! Check back often, because there's more to come...

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                        • #27
                          Don't know why you cats are dogging Alesis mixers; I've banged good sound in & out of mine for 4+ yrs now without a hitch . . .
                          an expert on what it feels like to be me
                          & you are who you google
                          http://soundcloud.com/mrnatural-1

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                          • #28

                            If you don't mind an external "line lump" power supply, you might consider a Rane SM82 (earlier, non-"S" model). They often sell for under $200 on eBay -- I got one a few months ago for $129, including shipping. If you decide to go that route, beside the usual eBay precautions, make sure that the power supply is included, since it has an atypical plug.

                            The Ranes have Expand In/Out jacks, which allow addition of another unit if you ever need more than eight stereo inputs. Make the connections and you wind up with more inputs, but still just a single stereo output. That can provide 16 stereo stereo inputs in just 2 rack spaces (or 24 in 3, etc.).

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                            • #29
                              Craig, yeah, the "audio interfaces", when used as live mixers without a computer, are more suited to people who "set once and then forget". Of course, if a guy uses a computer on a gig anyway, then he can use the graphical mixer software. It looks just like a real mixer (on the computer screen) with graphical sliders, knobs, meters, etc arranged in "channel strips". But you operate it with a computer mouse, instead of your fingers (unless you use a touchscreen like I do). We could use some tutorials here on Harmony Central about this sort of stuff, because I think a lot of guys would really like these small, versatile setups (especially if the guy wants to use VSTs live, or master his own recordings). But it sounds like a lot of people don't know where to begin. (I get the impression a lot of people aren't even aware that these $500+ "recording interfaces" have such full-featured hardware mixers built-in. Obviously, that's easy to overlook because there aren't visible, physical "channel strips" on the exterior of the box).

                              I'd be willing to help out with putting together some tutorials, if there was some spot to post them (where they wouldn't be "buried" in some hard-to-locate forum thread). Also, I've not seen a nice, independent comparison of the features on "recording interfaces", such as which ones can be operated standalone. HC should look into doing that.

                              P.S. At the risk of looking like a complete suck-up, I have to say Electronic Musician was my fav mag when you were editor, and then went to hell afterward (although never as boring/useless as Keyboard Player). And the Peavey DPM SP is still the best user manual I've read.

                              Mister N, it's not that everyone who buys a $200 mixer has it burst into flames during a gig. And it's not that expensive gear never breaks down. But there is a difference in the quality (such as tolerances, and materials) of the components in, and build construction of, for example a Rane mixer versus that $200 Alesis. Granted, a consumer can't always "see" those kinds of differences if he's just looking at labels on the external knobs, or just counting the number of sliders. But those differences are there, and if you're going to make recommendations, it's the responsible thing to note them, especially if making a recommendation to a pro musician. For example, if the guy makes $200 playing a gig, that's the price of the Alesis. But if he doesn't understand why this one mixer costs $300 more than this other mixer with the same amount of knobs, don't you think he'd appreciate an explanation why that could be, and a suggestion "For the price of 2 gigs, you could have xxx model which is a better build, and will likely serve a gigging musician better"?

                              Granted, manufacturers publish "specs" to tell consumers things that aren't apparent just by looking at the external box. But even there, you have to be careful. For example, I noted how Alesis' specs are more ambigous, tell you less, and are undoubtably tailored to avoid revealing weaknesses, than other specs like the ones on that Roland mixer. (Or for an even more dramatic differences between the level of accuracy in specs, compare what details companies like Rane, A+H, Ashley specify versus what that Alesis mixer's specs omit), Presumably, a guy asks for a recommendation on HC because he's hoping he'll get info from someone who has no life, like Craig Anderton, and therefore reads lots of specs (and knows when a company is "showcasing" its superiority versus a comapny that's struggling to make its product look better).

                              Bottom line: I don't have any grudge against Alesis. (Have a QS8. Love the keybed feel, Mediocre sounds). I'm saying "that alesis isn't as good quality as these other choices, and for the price difference, I think the other choices are the better buy for a gigging musician" because that's my conclusion.

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                              • #30
                                In any event, I use a MOTU Ultralite Hybrid for my mixer, because it takes up only half of one rack space, allows 2 mics to be plugged into it (along with 6 additional mono 1/4" line ins, and 1 stereo SPDIF in), and has built-in EQ, compression, and digital reverb. It also functions as a 24-bit digital audio interface to a computer (via USB or firewire), for audio recording/playback with DAW software. (It additionally functions as a computer MIDI interface, but MIDI input is erratic on Windows OS).

                                http://www.motu.com/products/motuaudio/ultralite-mk3


                                Do you like the onboard reverb, EQ, and compression?
                                <div class="signaturecontainer"><a href="https://twitter.com/ArtScienceSound/status/208313686459293697" target="_blank"><font color="blue">&quot;I remember when dubstep was just called &quot;LFO-Locked-Filter-On-Square-Wave-Bass-Synth&quot; in the '60s&quot; - Alan Parsons</font></a><br />
                                <br />
                                <font size="1">Kurzweil PC3<font size="2">♦</font></font><font size="1">Alesis Fusion 6HD</font>♦<font size="1">Alesis Quadrasynth+Piano (3)</font>♦<font size="1">Alesis QS7.1 (2)</font>♦<font size="1">Alesis QSR</font>♦<font size="1"> Alesis S4+</font>♦<font size="1">Alesis DMPRO</font>♦<font size="1">Evolution MK-461C</font>♦<font size="1">Rhodes Mark II Stage 73</font>♦<font size="1">Roland JX-8P</font>♦<font size="1">Kawai K1 &amp; K1m</font>♦<br />
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