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How do I route my external effects processor?

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  • How do I route my external effects processor?

    Im using a Focusrite Clarrett 4pre & all my ins/outs are taken up.
    I want to use an additional preamp to route my analogue delay unit (stereo).

    Can I use the zoom u-44 via the spdif ins & outs of my clarett to achieve this?

    thanks in advance ツ

  • #2
    The delay unit has analog ins and outs so it needs a line level source in and line level out.

    You can connect the optical out of the Zoom to the optical input of the 4pre.
    The problem you have is how to connect the effects unit to the zoom. You need a spare set of analog in's and outs to do anything with it.
    The Zoom has two line outs to feed the effects unit and two line level ins to return the signal. The problem is that only leaves you the external mics as inputs for recording. The other problem is this unit isn't being used as the main interface so its only sending out to the 4pre. Its a one way send and in order to loop the effects unit into the daw so you can play tracks through the effects unit you need a 2 way DAW connection.

    You could connect the effects unit to the zoom then use some other stereo preamp or mixer to feed into it. The inputs on the effects unit are only line level so any mic plugged in would be super weak because a mics output is weak. You could likely plug an instrument straight into the effects unit but its impedance will be off and the signal weak. Instruments need instrument level which is hotter and if you crank the gain on the effects unit it will be noisy.

    For tracking you ideally want the unit before the interface. You'd need a mic preamp or mixer with an effects loop before the interface.
    If you want to use it for mixing you need an interface with an extra set of send and returns because the interface acts like a mixer. Within the DAW you set up a buss send to the outs (3&4) going to the effect, and then the effect units outs go to the 4pre inputs (3&4) and get routed to new tracks and/or buss. You then loop tracks playing back through the interface converting them back to analog> through the effects unit> Back through the interface to digital> then mixed with the music.

    Because of computer latency on a round trip converting D/A then A/D you will have some pre delay added which you wont be able to get rid of. There will also be a certain amount of loss with two conversions and whatever analog losses and added noise associated with the preamps of the interface and effects unit. If the effects unit is high quality and unique then it may be worth using it. I used to do this when I first converted to digital. As time went on and the quality of plugins got better, it wound up being a waste of time. I have scores of reverb/echo impulses made from the best echo/reverb units made, Eventide, Alesis, Yamaha, all the coveted studio units. They nail the sounds so well it made the use of hardware loops unnecessary.

    I do use various effects when tracking. I use guitar preamp/modelers that have a full array of effects I can dial up. I don't bother with vocals. I add the effects when mixing. Any effects you track with you're stuck with so I try and limit what I use to only make the musical performance comfortable. I do all the fine tweaking using plugins when mixing.