Just Starting Out w/Mixcraft 8. Some Basic Questions

Support and feedback for Acoustica's Mixcraft audio mixing software.

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Thomas
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Just Starting Out w/Mixcraft 8. Some Basic Questions

Post by Thomas » Thu May 24, 2018 3:41 pm

I'm just starting out with an AMD Athlon II X4 645 3.1GHz CPU, 10 GB Ram PC, with onboard Realtek high definition audio chip and a Mackie Profx8 mixing board. I started with Tracktion 7 but wanted to look for a more user friendly option and online reviews/comments say that Mixcraft is that. For starters, is there a definitive answer for which audio driver to use with my setup? I'm assuming it's a choice between WaveRT and ASIO. I have ASIO 2.14 (ASIO4all the latest version?) that I downloaded for use with Tracktion. BTW, Tracktion literature says ASIO is the way to go, but it seems Mixcraft defaults to WaveRT.

2nd, is the sound processed through my Realtek chip or is it all done through software emulation? I'm assuming it's done through hardware because I figure drivers are not required for a software emulation setup.

3rd, with my Mackie mixer, I read posts saying there are limits how many tracks can be recorded simultaneously based on it's 2 channel stereo output. However, it is an 8 channel mixer. Can I record 8 channels simultaneously? AFAIK (which may not be much), most music is produced using multi tracks and mixed down to 2 stereo channels for end user consumption. What, if any, would be the limits imposed on me by the Mackie?

Edit: I should have mentioned that I just downloaded the trial, but am ready to buy the Pro if nothing gets in the way. Also, not sure where to post this. Moderators, please move to another area if this is not the right place.

Thanks!
Tom
-Tom
Mixcraft 8 Pro Studio 64-Bit
Windows 10 64-Bit
AMD Athlon II X4 645 3.1 GHz 10GB Ram 7200RPM? HDD
Behringer UMC404HD v4.59 interface

MiltonRob
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Re: Just Starting Out w/Mixcraft 8. Some Basic Questions

Post by MiltonRob » Fri May 25, 2018 12:27 pm

1. ASIO is the way to go, but you really should get a proper audio interface. The onboard audio isn't going to cut it.

2. What do you mean "is sound processed" through the realtek chip? The audio stream would go in and out through it, what kind of processing are you asking about?

3. No.. It's a mixer not a multi-channel interface. If you're looking for something like that it would be the Presonus StudioLive series, or buy a multichannel audio interface, something like Focusrite Scarlett 18i20 (just an example of a lower cost 8 channel interface).

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Thomas
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Re: Just Starting Out w/Mixcraft 8. Some Basic Questions

Post by Thomas » Fri May 25, 2018 1:02 pm

Thanks for the reply MiltonRob.

1. So, I you're saying the Mackie mixer is insufficient as an interface? As far as the on board audio chip, are you considering this as an interface? I thought the interface was the hardware that I plugged the mics and various instruments into. I.E. mixing boards, Focusrite Scarlett 18i20 (which you mention in point 3). So an extra soundcard (hifi 24 or 32 bit) plugged into the motherboard is recommended?

2. I meant whether the sound is processed through hardware (onboard chip) or bypassing the chip and going thru software emulation entirely. Sorry, this may be obvious stuff to the well informed, but I am at the ground floor and am not taking anything for granted. So it sounds as though it's processed through hardware.

3. I don't necessarily need all the hardware controls, so the Focusrite might do. So, with the Mackie, I can plug in mics and instruments. Am I going to be limited to recording one track at a time? I'm trying to understand what exactly my limitations are with my current setup. Again, sorry If I'm being obtuse, but this is all new to me.
-Tom
Mixcraft 8 Pro Studio 64-Bit
Windows 10 64-Bit
AMD Athlon II X4 645 3.1 GHz 10GB Ram 7200RPM? HDD
Behringer UMC404HD v4.59 interface

rrichard63
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Re: Just Starting Out w/Mixcraft 8. Some Basic Questions

Post by rrichard63 » Fri May 25, 2018 6:50 pm

I'm going to assume that your Mackie mixer is hooked up to your computer using an audio cable to the Realtek line input jack, and not using a USB cable to one of the computer's USB ports. If that's true, then (1) you can't get 8 tracks into the computer at once, only a stereo mixdown of however many Mackie mixer channels you are using. And (2) the only input processing the Realtek chip does is to convert analog audio to digital audio. Many of these chips can do some other kinds of processing (reverb, EQ) during playback -- converting digital back to analog. When using them with Mixcraft (or any DAW), you want to make sure these effects are turned off in Windows Control Panel.

Most people use the term "audio interface" to refer a device that (1) converts analog audio to digital and sends it to a computer, and (2) converts digital from the computer back to analog and sends it to an amplifier and speakers (or headphones). The Realtek chip is an example of the interface that is built in to almost all PCs. It's okay for watching movies or listening to records. It's less okay for recording.

To make things confusing, many interfaces have digital mixers built into them, which are controlled from software on the computer. And many recent analog mixers are also interfaces. Basically, if the mixer has a USB connector, then it is also an interface. You have to read the specs for the particular model to know how many tracks/channels it transmits to and from the computer.

Is any of this helpful?

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Mark Bliss
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Re: Just Starting Out w/Mixcraft 8. Some Basic Questions

Post by Mark Bliss » Fri May 25, 2018 7:34 pm

There are so many possible configurations of gear and setup that its very hard to be specific when answering some of these questions.

I would add this:
You can generally consider the term "interface" interchangeable with "sound card" for all intents and purposes as it applies in this situation.
In addition to what has been mentioned already, the "interface" generally allows you to input various signals at the appropriate levels, convert low level signals such as mic level, often instrument level as well- to a common "line level" signal, as well as the mentioned analog to digital conversion on the way into the computer, and Digital to analog signal on the way out and a line level signal for studio monitors as well as a headphone level output, usually with various controls for those levels going in and coming out.

The stock soundcard provided with a computer generally has a relatively low quality mic input with no hardware level control, lower quality preamp to raise the mic level to line level, no instrument level input, lower quality analog to digital converter on the input side, etc, etc.
Its simply not designed for this kind of use.

The clincher is that with a dedicated device, designed for the purpose, you will also get an audio driver (ASIO) that is designed to minimize "latency" for overdub recording.
Latency is the delay between what you play and what you hear, caused by the time it takes to convert analog to digital, process in the computer, send back through a digital to analog conversion and back to your monitoring solution.

And you should know that generally, using an interface and its ASIO driver "overrides" or bypasses the computers on-board soundcard.

I am not specifically familiar with your mixer. Many of them are only capable of mixing the multiple inputs to one stereo output as mentioned, so if you want a multi channel simultanious input to the computer/DAW, these are often not the thing you want for that.

Its hard to make recommendations for these things, not knowing exactly what you intend to do.
Many people use one or two channel interfaces. This can be a reasonable solution and far more economical choice for some. Others either need more channels, usually for recording bands playing together, or live drum recording, or simply because they prefer having a rig setup with multiple options, instead of configuring for each potential situation every time...... Some of this would pivot on your studio space and whether the user had or needed provisions for isolation, acoustic treatment, etc, etc.

Warning, this is one deep rabbit hole......
But I hope that is helpful somehow. And BTW, welcome and don't hesitate to ask questions here. Its been an unusually good place for that historically speaking. 8)
Stay in tune, Mark

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MiltonRob
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Re: Just Starting Out w/Mixcraft 8. Some Basic Questions

Post by MiltonRob » Sat May 26, 2018 7:42 am

No need to apologize, we all started off at some point and had a million questions at some point just like you. There may be someone just like you out there wondering the same thing but afraid to ask, communities like this are great for that :)

1. Personally speaking I wouldn't use the Mackie as an interface. It's designed for "live" mixing not studio based work. As someone mentioned earlier this can be a bit of a rabbit hole, and unless you love spending money it's better to think about what you're trying to achieve and plan accordingly. That can involve a lot of research into how to record, and mic up everything. As an example, for drums you could use the Glyn Johns method (google it for more) of using only four mics, or you could mic the living snot out of everything and easily end up with 16 channels of audio.

2. In terms of the processing, if you're referring to effects, such as compression, eq, reverb, etc that is all done in the CPU, unless you are using outboard gear for that. Again, rabbit hole warning ahead ;-)

3. With the Mackie it outputs a stereo pair, so you could do 2 at a time. What I would recommend is start playing with your current setup. Grab a guitar or keyboard, record some songs, nothing crazy, just to familiarize yourself with the process. Learn the ins and outs of the software, and then start looking at what isn't working for you and start addressing that. Look up MixCraft University on YouTube, those videos are great! It won't come overnight, it will take time. A couple of years ago at 46 I ended up going back to College night school and took a series of courses to learn how to do it properly... It is very addicting ;-)

Rob
Thomas wrote:Thanks for the reply MiltonRob.

1. So, I you're saying the Mackie mixer is insufficient as an interface? As far as the on board audio chip, are you considering this as an interface? I thought the interface was the hardware that I plugged the mics and various instruments into. I.E. mixing boards, Focusrite Scarlett 18i20 (which you mention in point 3). So an extra soundcard (hifi 24 or 32 bit) plugged into the motherboard is recommended?

2. I meant whether the sound is processed through hardware (onboard chip) or bypassing the chip and going thru software emulation entirely. Sorry, this may be obvious stuff to the well informed, but I am at the ground floor and am not taking anything for granted. So it sounds as though it's processed through hardware.

3. I don't necessarily need all the hardware controls, so the Focusrite might do. So, with the Mackie, I can plug in mics and instruments. Am I going to be limited to recording one track at a time? I'm trying to understand what exactly my limitations are with my current setup. Again, sorry If I'm being obtuse, but this is all new to me.

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Thomas
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Re: Just Starting Out w/Mixcraft 8. Some Basic Questions

Post by Thomas » Sat May 26, 2018 12:26 pm

Thanks for the welcome and information guys. It is definitely helpful. Just some more background: I'm an old(er) dog trying to learn some new tricks. My son is the musically educated one in the family and in the school band. I am basically dabbling in electric bass and Karaoke (wanting to add recording) hoping to get some enjoyment and not knowing where it may lead me. Personally, I am limited to vocals and rudimentary bass lines and need to look elsewhere for the other parts.

As far as setup: I currently have the mixer plugged into the PC via your typical USB printer cable, not into the Realtek. From what I'm hearing, the mixer can do 2 discrete channels simultaneously to the DAW. So, I can run left channel balance all the way to the left and right channel balance all the way to the right for maximum separation? If I know what I'm working with, I can try to see if 2 channels is sufficient for starting out. Also, doing 1 track at a time is definitely doable with my current setup it seems. As time goes on, I may develop the need for more simultaneous tracks and would like to know my options.

If I want to improve my interface, it sounds like I can upgrade my sound chip to a separate sound card? I've seen the hardware page recommendations (which seem outdated). The M-Audio Delta 1010LT PCI Interface seems to have the mic and instrument connectors right on the board. Can this do discrete multi-channels to Mixcraft? If so, this can take care of two problems at once: 1. upgrading the poor onboard chip and 2. having a proper multi-channel interface. Perhaps someone can recommend a newer one that's still available and has Windows 10 drivers. Keep in mind, my budget isn't all that large. Not written in stone, but maybe a couple hundred bucks.
-Tom
Mixcraft 8 Pro Studio 64-Bit
Windows 10 64-Bit
AMD Athlon II X4 645 3.1 GHz 10GB Ram 7200RPM? HDD
Behringer UMC404HD v4.59 interface

rrichard63
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Re: Just Starting Out w/Mixcraft 8. Some Basic Questions

Post by rrichard63 » Sat May 26, 2018 12:52 pm

What is the model number of your Mackie mixer/interface? It would help me to be able to look that up.

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Thomas
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Re: Just Starting Out w/Mixcraft 8. Some Basic Questions

Post by Thomas » Sat May 26, 2018 6:16 pm

rrichard63 wrote:What is the model number of your Mackie mixer/interface? It would help me to be able to look that up.
I have the Mackie Profx8 version 1.
-Tom
Mixcraft 8 Pro Studio 64-Bit
Windows 10 64-Bit
AMD Athlon II X4 645 3.1 GHz 10GB Ram 7200RPM? HDD
Behringer UMC404HD v4.59 interface

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Mark Bliss
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Re: Just Starting Out w/Mixcraft 8. Some Basic Questions

Post by Mark Bliss » Sun May 27, 2018 7:19 am

Thomas wrote: I'm an old(er) dog trying to learn some new tricks.
You should find you fit in fine around here. 8)
Thomas wrote: I am basically dabbling in electric bass and Karaoke (wanting to add recording) hoping to get some enjoyment and not knowing where it may lead me. Personally, I am limited to vocals and rudimentary bass lines and need to look elsewhere for the other parts.
So you would need 2 channels. Maybe more later.
Thomas wrote: From what I'm hearing, the mixer can do 2 discrete channels simultaneously to the DAW. So, I can run left channel balance all the way to the left and right channel balance all the way to the right for maximum separation?
Experiment with that. You may find it works acceptably, or you may find it is full of hassles.
Thomas wrote: If I want to improve my interface, it sounds like I can upgrade my sound chip to a separate sound card?
Effectively, you would most likely be "bypassing" it and using a dedicated audio driver (software) designed for the purpose.
Thomas wrote: I've seen the hardware page recommendations (which seem outdated). The M-Audio Delta 1010LT PCI Interface seems to have the mic and instrument connectors right on the board.
Yeah, a bit dated.
That M-Audio PCI card is legacy hardware. Probably out of production for years. Probably hasn't had a driver update in many Windows versions.
And even if you found a good used one, it only has the connections, but no controls. It really wasn't designed for the typical modern home/casual studio use.

I'd suggest looking at modern USB interfaces from various suppliers, including Focusrite for example, and comparing features. An inexpensive two channel to get you started would be well within the budget you mentioned and you could use the experience gained to make better decisions if you find you wish to upgrade later.
Again, the interface simply bypasses the on board sound card and substitutes a dedicated audio driver for recording.
*BTW, there are MANY brands to choose from, I just mentioned Focusrite because its a common recommendation. Too many......
https://us.focusrite.com/usb-audio-interfaces
Stay in tune, Mark

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Thomas
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Re: Just Starting Out w/Mixcraft 8. Some Basic Questions

Post by Thomas » Sun May 27, 2018 12:23 pm

As far as I can tell, My motherboard has a Realtek ALC888S-VD audio chip(with only one physical S/PDIF out), which according to the Realtek website supports 97dB dynamic range playback and 90dB dynamic range recording. Not sure how good that is. I've seen dedicated card go over 100dB

http://www.realtek.com/products/product ... ProdID=288
-Tom
Mixcraft 8 Pro Studio 64-Bit
Windows 10 64-Bit
AMD Athlon II X4 645 3.1 GHz 10GB Ram 7200RPM? HDD
Behringer UMC404HD v4.59 interface

rrichard63
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Re: Just Starting Out w/Mixcraft 8. Some Basic Questions

Post by rrichard63 » Sun May 27, 2018 9:58 pm

Since you already have the Mackie, I wouldn't feel any urgency about replacing it with a different 2-channel interface. Until, that is, you find yourself needing to record more than two voices + instruments at once. Or unless the Mackie's software drivers start to give you trouble on your computer. (One advantage of the Focusrite brand is that a lot of people seem to find the software pretty reliable.) Plus, you may have other uses for the Mackie as a mixer.

The difference between a 90dB dynamic range and 105 or 110dB dynamic range would be material in a professional studio but is unlikely to be material to you at home. I'm willing to bet that the Mackie's mic preamps and analog-digital converters will be fine for quite a while.

The ProFX8 should provide good separation between the left an right channels for recording two tracks at once. You do that by panning one channel all the way to the left and the other channel all the way to the right -- each mixer channel has its own pan knob. VERY IMPORTANT: when you are recording in Mixcraft, make sure the switch labelled USB THRU is off (in the up position). Read the parts of the ProFX8 V1 manual under the headings "USB Input Level" and "USB Thru" (pages 22-23) very carefully.

Finally, the Realtek chip has nothing at all to do with whatever is attached to your USB ports.

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Mark Bliss
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Re: Just Starting Out w/Mixcraft 8. Some Basic Questions

Post by Mark Bliss » Mon May 28, 2018 7:01 am

Agreed.
Mark Bliss wrote:
Thomas wrote: From what I'm hearing, the mixer can do 2 discrete channels simultaneously to the DAW. So, I can run left channel balance all the way to the left and right channel balance all the way to the right for maximum separation?
Experiment with that. You may find it works acceptably, or you may find it is full of hassles.
The only reason I mentioned the interface is in response to the question "so if I wanted to replace"

Not sure why the Realtek keeps coming up, as previously described- it is essentially irrelevant if you are using another device for Input/output. They work well for what they are intended, but if you are using the Mackie/ASIO configuration, the Realtek is out of the picture.

I'd say use what you have and see how it works for your needs. I suspect working out settings and determining whether monitoring latency is acceptable for recording as desired will be the key issues.
Stay in tune, Mark

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rrichard63
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Re: Just Starting Out w/Mixcraft 8. Some Basic Questions

Post by rrichard63 » Mon May 28, 2018 3:36 pm

What Mark just said.

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fredfish
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Re: Just Starting Out w/Mixcraft 8. Some Basic Questions

Post by fredfish » Thu May 31, 2018 7:06 am

Thomas wrote:Thanks for the welcome and information guys. It is definitely helpful. Just some more background: I'm an old(er) dog trying to learn some new tricks. My son is the musically educated one in the family and in the school band. I am basically dabbling in electric bass and Karaoke (wanting to add recording) hoping to get some enjoyment and not knowing where it may lead me. Personally, I am limited to vocals and rudimentary bass lines and need to look elsewhere for the other parts.
Hi Thomas - you are getting some great advice here (as usual on this website).

Just as a suggestion have a look at the website www.karaoke-version.co.uk - you can download hundreds of Karaoke tracks and if you go to the "Custom Backing Track" you can download each part separately (EG Bass, Drums, Vocals, Guitars etc) and therefore remix to your hearts content. Each track costs £1.99 (You get a free download for every 10 tracks) - for your £1.99 you can download all the parts. To be honest the singing on the tracks is of variable quality - but you would want to get rid of that anyway!

If you want more info let me know.

Cheers

John

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