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Cubase DAW + outboard gear

borisb2

Active Member
Hi.

question about studio-setup..

At the moment I am using only 1 workstation for composing and mixing (Cubase on Win10, HP Xeon Workstation with 64GB RAM). From earlier days (I produced EDM-music many years ago) I still have a lot of analog mixing gear as well as synths that are just there catching dust at the moment. Things like Tascam M3500 mixing console, 19" outboard gear (valve compressor, exciter etc.) + various synths like microwave, matrix 6R etc..

So the question is, what audio interface would I need to include a bunch of these I/Os to work in realtime with Cubase? Is that a realistic task? Could 1 computer still handle all that while playing back all the libraries? (at the moment the workstation is on 30-40% peak CPU usage running a bigger orchestral track ..

Could I even start dreaming of mixing some of the tracks analog on the console before bringing back into DAW?

Thanks for pointing me in the right direction
 

BGvanRens

Member
From what I know audio streams itself hardly use CPU resources especially not with proper drivers. Any interface with sufficient I/O could work, depending on what route you go perhaps an RME PCIe card can be interesting. Either using ADAT or MADI. Of course you'd need to add convertors to it to have A/D and D/A conversion. So it can become quite pricey depending on how much I/O you need and the amount of channels and of course the quality you are looking for.

But it is definitely possible to do so! I myself am in the process of running outboard synths/workstations along with my PC. Not as much gear as you seem to have though.
 
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borisb2

borisb2

Active Member
Well yeah, its a lot of stuff - although I‘m not sure what actually would be worth reactivating. That’s something I have to figure out. I did have a look if someone is interested in an analog Tascam console - but it seems that I wont get much for that. So I figured I better keep it (was pretty pricey) - althoguh it‘s quite big 😋
 
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borisb2

borisb2

Active Member
Any interface with sufficient I/O could work
.. after some initial thoughts I would probably need 20 OUT (routing out 8 stereo buses + extra Inserts for analog processing etc.) and 20 IN (bringing in various synths + returning channels from the console) .. what about latency in that case? After reading a bit it sounds like USB wouldn't be the best choice if I need a lot of I/O..

In case I would go for PCI (RME or something similar), what converter would be a good choice to not let pricing shoot through the roof with 20 I/O?
 

BGvanRens

Member
USB has never been a favorite for most people who don't need mobility due to it's technical design. But there is plenty possibly with USB 2 and 3, well over 100 channels.

However alternative is PCIe, which could be receiving/sending ADAT, MADI or even Dante (or any other networking audio protocol). Depending on clock frequency you'd wish to use. As this influences the amount of channels transferred through 1 cable of ADAT or MADI. I'd make my decision based on that.

In theory the cheapest option from the top of my head with be RME Digiface USB and a bunch of Behringer ADA8200's(limited to 44.1/48khz, higher frequencies won't work) for up to 32/32 IO. People seem to love the Behringer convertors for it's bang for the buck...but I am not sure, about those. There are more pricier alternatives though.
 
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borisb2

borisb2

Active Member
Thanks for these infos..

Last question: if I would go for USB2/3, using also 2 external USB SSDs for the libraries at the same time, do I have to make sure to use a different USB controller/HUB for the I/O channels?
 

synthetic

Senior Member
USB Audio interfaces don't use a lot of bandwidth. Even the USB3 ones aren't pushing USB2 limits unless you're using high sampling rates. Presonus has an interface with a bunch of line-level IO I think?

An RME PCI with an external ADDA is the fastest system I've found. I use a (vintage?) SSL Alphalink over MADI with the RME. You could also look at Focusrite RedNet stuff and Apogee Symphony, but those get into big bucks.
 

Shiirai

Avian Member
Personally, I really like MOTU stuff though it's out of my budget at the moment. Used to have the 828 MKII and loved it. I do recommend looking into their interfaces. They have interfaces that carry the specs you require.
 
As has already been explained, as long as you have enough inputs and outputs, there really is no reason why you can't run a bunch of outboard gear into your mix. Question is, what outboard gear do you have that is worth the bother?

Those old Tascam consoles where a decent low budget solution for small project studios and home recording. As such, I'm skeptical they have much to offer in the way adding to your mix.

But if you have any good compressors, EQs or, most deliciously, saturation or Distortion type units, then by all means, patch them in.
 

mixtur

Member
I would probably use an external mixer for the synths, and look for an interface with a good dsp hw mixer for the processors. This would give you a lot of routing options and low latency. Maybe something like a MOTU?
 

Prockamanisc

Senior Member
If you've got Thunderbolt on your computer, I'd do an Apollo 16. If you have multiple synths running in, I would get an TRS or XLR switch so that you can just have the single channel that you want to record coming in, and not have to waste multiple inputs that are all doing the same task.
 
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borisb2

borisb2

Active Member
using HP Z440 workstation - it doesnt have Thunderbolt - but I guess there would be a pci-card for that

Searching around a bit it looks like its USB/Thunderbolt all the way in these days - no more PCI .. but I'm still not clear about latency. As an example: if I play an instrument in DAW, route its output from DAW out to analog world, mixing/analog processing it, convert it back into the DAW and monitor it - would I notice any latency additional to the 5-15ms coming from the MIDI-driver? Would there be difference between using an USB interface and PCIe in that case?

Those old Tascam consoles where a decent low budget solution for small project studios and home recording..
I wouldn‘t consider 13000.- low budget 😋.. but you won't get more than around 1000.- for a used M3500 these days - thats why I thought to keep it
 
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Prockamanisc

Senior Member
There is still PCIe, but most of what you'll see nowadays is USB/TB, yeah. I think the Apollo adds .8ms of a round-trip delay when going through external gear. I heard that when bandmates are playing in a room together, there's 6ms of delay between them. But either way, Cubase compensates.
 
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borisb2

borisb2

Active Member
did you mean .8ms or 8ms? well, even 8ms would be ok .. if it's really round trip ..

was reading in a forum something about tascam US-20x20 having high latency (whish is too bad because that looked interesting as well) .. but that sounded like noticable latency which must be more than 20-30ms? ..

Its too bad that you know the latency and how it feels only after you bought everything, set it up and test it .. thats whty I want to check as much as possible before deciding
 

Prockamanisc

Senior Member
Cubase sends a test tone through the external device so that it can calculate how long it takes and compensate accordingly. I remember it said .80, and I'm pretty sure it was milliseconds.
 

rgames

Collapsing the Wavefunction
if I play an instrument in DAW, route its output from DAW out to analog world, mixing/analog processing it, convert it back into the DAW and monitor it - would I notice any latency additional to the 5-15ms coming from the MIDI-driver?
Yes - there's latency every time you cross from analog to digital or digital to analog. In practice, though, it's not really an issue these days as long as you have a properly configured system with decent drivers.

Would there be difference between using an USB interface and PCIe in that case?
PCIe likely still has lower latency but it's a *tiny* difference these days. So I wouldn't worry about it.

Any time the latency discussion comes up I like to point out that people have been playing acoustic instruments for a few milennia and they can have latencies of hundreds of milliseconds (e.g. bass instruments). Plus, if you plug in a guitar and walk around on a stage, you're changing the latency by many dozens of milliseconds because sound travels about 1 foot per millisecond. So for every 10 feet you move you add 10 ms of latency. I don't recall ever hearing a guitarist compmlain about that effect. Same thing in an orchestra - if you're playing harp on the far left and you're listening to perc way back on the far right there can be 50-60 ms of latency between you and them. But it all sounds fine to players and audience...!

So bear those facts in mind when looking at latency numbers. Latency used to be an issue back in the early days of digital when latencies were much higher. But it's really not an issue any longer. Pretty much all latencies are "good enough" these days.

rgames
 
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