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21231Re: [podcasters] Alesis Multimix Firewire mixers

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  • Stephen Eley
    Aug 1, 2006
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      On 8/1/06, Martin McKeay <Martin@...> wrote:
      > Has anyone tried the Alesis or any othr Firewire mixer? I currently
      > have a M-audio MobilePre, but one of the limitations of USB is that
      > there is a limit to 1 stereo channel to and from the MobilePre. By
      > using firewire, the Alesis Multimix can record each channel on the
      > mixer into it's own channel in your application. Or at least that's
      > the theory.

      Heh. Funny you should mention it -- I transitioned at the end of last
      year from a MobilePre to a Mackie Onyx 1220 with the optional Firewire
      card. That's extreme overkill for what I'm doing with Escape Pod, and
      ordinarily hugely expensive. But there was a promotion going on with
      several retailers at the time, where you could buy the mixer and get
      the FW card for free (a $400 value).

      My major frustration with the MobilePre wasn't the sample rate
      switching described here, or the lack of multichannel. It was noise.
      I was using a Shure SM57 at the time, and to get any sound out of it I
      had to turn the MobilePre's gain up most of the way. And that created
      a definite hiss. It wasn't terrible, but it grated on me more and
      more. My reason for choosing the Mackie Onyx was that the preamps are
      famous for their quiet clarity. I can plug in my condenser mic and
      turn the gain all the way up to +60 dB -- and I'll hear my breath, and
      my clothes rustling, and the air moving, and insects outside through
      the wall, and the traffic from the highway across the river -- but *no
      noise from the mixer*. It's a beautiful thing, even if it's 11 more
      channels than I usually need.

      Anyway. The Mackie's Firewire definitely outputs 14 channels (one for
      each of the mixer's channels, plus a final stereo mix) and it's my
      understanding that the Alesis does similar. I'm not aware yet of a
      USB mixer that can perform this trick. It's not the data speed that
      gets in the way of this, but rather traffic conflicts and CPU
      limitations. Firewire supports an 'isochronous' mode where every
      channel can get its own dedicated chunk of bandwidth; USB has nothing
      like that.

      Will the Alesis work for your Skype calls? Probably. The one time I
      tried to patch my Mackie into Skype, I ran into weird difficulties.
      Skype just wouldn't see it as a device, I couldn't get sound out, etc.
      But that was last year and several Skype versions ago, and it was
      also on a Mac, which was always a redheaded stepchild for Skype. So
      things could be better now. And even if they aren't, you could run an
      analog line through just for Skype input and then catch the digital
      output in your recording program. There's always a way to do things
      by adding more wires. >8->

      Have Fun,
      Steve Eley (sfeley@...)
      ESCAPE POD - The Science Fiction Podcast Magazine
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