I need a bit of help on a basic computer setup

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Member Since: Mar 02, 2005

To let you know ahead of time I'm completely new to recording, so I have basically no idea what I'm doing.

I have a mixer, which I am plugging several instruments into (microphones and direct outs). I need to hook up the mixer to my computer which has an M-Audio audiophile PCI soundcard installed. Specifically, how do I connect the mixer to the soundcard? The soundcard has two sets of what look like RCA plugs (one red, one white), midi plugs and two plugs that say L and R (Left and right, I assume). Is it possible to connect the mixer and soundcard with what I have? If so, how do I connect them? If not, what more do I need to connect them?

I'm using a demo version of cubase, and thusfar It isn't recieving any kind of signal from the mixer, so I figure I'm not doing something right with the mixer or the soundcard. I'm also very computer-inept...


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Czar of Midi
Since: Apr 04, 2002

Mar 12, 2006 05:18 pm

The card should be as follows. On the card there are as you stated 2 sets of red and white RCA jacks. One set will be marked outL and outR and the other should be marked inL and inR. You will want to come from your mixer's outputs to the cards in's.

And depending on how you are monitering your signal from the PC you can either use the out's to go directly to a set of moniter speakers if they are powered or into an amp for the moniters. The alternative is to go back into a stereo input or 2 seperate channels of you mixer and then you will be able to use headphones from the mxier if that is you monitering method.

The breakout cable with the midi jacks and the other 2 RCA jacks is just that, midi i/o jack's and the s/pdif digital in and out for the card.

Since: Apr 03, 2002

Mar 12, 2006 05:21 pm

For future reference, please fill out your gear profile so we know what gear you have. Having "a mixer" doesn't really help much...specific models and such can help a great deal.

Since: Mar 02, 2005

Mar 12, 2006 05:50 pm

So once I've connected the mixer and the soundcard how can I get the signal into a recording program? I tried any number of things with cubase and didn't have any success. Also, could I use my computer's speakers for monitoring?

Sorry about not providing enough information; I didn't think it would be important. I have a Behringer Eurorack UB1204.

Thanks a lot for the help!

Czar of Midi
Since: Apr 04, 2002

Mar 12, 2006 09:06 pm

I would suggest using the outputs of the 2496 card though to go to your computer speakers. That will insure you get proper playback timing from the system.

As for getting the sounds into Cubase, you need to go into the options or preferances for the audio in Cubase itself and select the drivers so they will be able to be used. Then in your track view you will be able to open and choose either of the 2 inputs in the i/o section of each track.

Hope this helps a little.

Since: Mar 12, 2006

Mar 12, 2006 10:38 pm

Just a little more info on your components; it just so happens that I use the same card and a Eurorack mixer. The rca output on your mixer should be labeled "tape out." Conversely, the input is "tape in." I think you know how to connect these to the back of the card. One extra bit of info, though: The "MIDI outs" on the breakout cable can also be used to output the final signal to a device. So you could have your main outs on the card going to the "tape in" on your mixer and another pair of rca's going to a reciever, powered monitors and what have you. This way you can use the signal from the mixers "headphones" and "control room." As for using your computer speakers, you would have to have an 1/8" to rca adapter. But, the output on the Audiophile is made to be "line level" and so I don't know how it would work with regular computer speakers. I don't know why you'de want to, either. If you have any alternative, use it.

You need to find a good recording program now. Ask around, read reviews. You probably don't need Pro-Tools at this level, but you want something that has multi-track recording. In order to take advantage of the Audiophiles features, be sure the software supports 24-bit recording. In fact, (you can read my thread and find why I'm saying this) call M-Audio and ask them if a given version of software will work with the card!

Czar of Midi
Since: Apr 04, 2002

Mar 12, 2006 10:46 pm

Jastang, you do know that midi is only data, as in note on and off information. Also note nuber and velocity and such. It has absolutly nothgin to do with the audio section of the card. As well the other RCA jacks are s/pdif, which is digital i/o and means it cannot be hooked into an analog i/o of any kind.

As well, using the tape in or out will defeat the gain stages of the mixer.

Also, most computer speakers today have their own amplification built in, so yes you can hook them directly to a line output. You will however need to use a 2 RCA to 1/8" female jack if the speaker set is supllied with an 1/8" plug only.

Since: Mar 12, 2006

Mar 13, 2006 12:07 am

Haha. Well, first of all I wasn't thinking when I said MIDI refering to the rca connections on the dongle cable. I had never read much about S/PDIF protocol, so I just did so. I will tell you that it works on anything I've ever connected it to. From a cheap all-in-one stereo to a Denon A/V reciever and even looped it back into the main inputs to record my own output. (Good for recording songs off the internet, if you have the rights, of course). Weird that I've been running a digital in and out to an analog L/R in and not having any problems. Don't you think? I wonder if it's adapting to my idiocy by sending an analog signal through it. ???????????

The Main outs on the Euroracks are 1/4" and the ins on the card are rca, so I simply used the tape-out for the sake of simplicity. There's a button that sends the signal from "tape in" into the main mix and/or to send the main mix to the "tape out". So I don't know about gain stages, but they respond just like the main in and out when you route it that way.
There could easily be more to it that I don't know, but that is what I got out of reading the manual and playing with it.

Czar of Midi
Since: Apr 04, 2002

Mar 13, 2006 06:41 pm

Ya, you can use the tape out if needed. It just bypasses the gain stage of the channels. But for using tape in to moniter anything that wont work well. Because pushing the button for running tape input through the mains should cut off all other channels on the that particular mixer. If it doesnt then something is amiss with it.

I agree that is very strange indeed that you are actually getting a digital in and out to function like it is a stereo analog pair, very odd indeed. In all my days, I have never seen a digital output send an audible signal to an anlog input, or the other way around either.

Since: Mar 12, 2006

Mar 13, 2006 08:03 pm

No, me neither. It's a blatant contradiction in signal types. I know my little stereo I have hooked up doesn't read any digital input at all, so the card must be transmitting analog. It's possible, I suppose, that it sends a parallel analog signal just for purposes like this. After all, if you were using it correctly and had it going into digital input, it would just discard the analog signal, so no harm done. I'm betting that I'm getting an analog signal from the S/PDIF out into the Left rca In and it's outputting the signal in mono. I don't use them as monitors, so I may just not have noticed that it wasn't stereo. Beats me.

I don't know what "gain stages" are as you're referring to them and how/when that comes into play.

Prince CZAR-ming
Since: Apr 08, 2004

Mar 13, 2006 08:14 pm

gain staging is setting the amount of input 'gain' or preamplification on the mixer's microphone input.

this stage is the first 'volume' setting, though it isn't a volume, per se. It is only to regulate the amount of incoming preamplification.

You want to set the gain to be high enough to get the largest signal to noise ratio (most signal vs background noise) but not too high as to clip any part of the incoming signal. Clipping in this case is bad, and can't be undone later in the computer.

in more complex setups, there can be a few more levels of gain staging, so each part of the chain has it's correct level of amplification, but in this case, only the mixer gain (or trim) would be set.

After the gain is set correctly, then faders and such can change the volume, but the incoming signal strength is already set.

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