Old 10-15-2019, 06:36 PM   #1
Trismos
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Default Mic gain in Reaper with an 18i20

Hello

We have an amateur set-up with a Scarlett 18i20 into a laptop. I seem to be having issues figuring out mic gain with this - nothing seems to control the level of the mic inputs. Shouldn't the physical gain knobs on the 18i20 do this? I assume the volume knobs in Reaper are for mixing the output and wouldn't control mic gain correct? I'm using a wide variety of mics including a few MXL for room mics, an AKG D112 and/ or a Shure Beta 52, an SM57, a Shure drum-set mic kit. I've tried (or think I've tried) all the various options including phantom power for the MXLs, pads etc. Any thoughts would be appreciated.
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Old 10-15-2019, 09:15 PM   #2
serr
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Yeah it would be the trim knobs on the interface. They're analog mic pre gain controls. That unit doesn't have digitally controlled pots. And you are correct that Reaper doesn't have any way to link control to the mixer faders - even if they were digitally controlled pots (which they aren't).

So...
You adjust the mic preamp trim and the signal on the meters on the Scarlett doesn't change? The preamp knobs truly have no effect? And you see the same thing on the channel meters in Reaper - the signal just sits where it is mirroring the interface meters?

Have you tried more than one channel? (Rule out a blown channel.)
Sounds like you've tried multiple mics. Probably tried at least a couple xlr cables at this point?
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Old 10-16-2019, 01:22 AM   #3
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Just to start at "Zero"...

Can you describe the exact channel that is seemingly not functional?

In addition to that, can you insert an existing file into said channel and get a signal when you play it back?
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Old 10-16-2019, 11:50 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by numberthirty View Post
Just to start at "Zero"...

Can you describe the exact channel that is seemingly not functional?

In addition to that, can you insert an existing file into said channel and get a signal when you play it back?
None of the channels respond to the gain controls no matter the settings on the 18i20 (though I will qualify this by saying "as far as I can tell"). Wherever the mics are placed determines how much volume they get. I have an opportunity tonite with no one around to get back to the basics a bit. We've been having the oddest problem trying to get our bass signal to show up in a track as well even though we can see the virtual meter on the Reaper track and in the Mix control software seemingly as loud as everyone else. It just refuses to show up in the track as an audio signal. I've even tried running his cabinet line out into the 18i20 and I can see a signal but don't get anything on the track. Doing something dumb here for sure.
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Old 10-16-2019, 03:29 PM   #5
serr
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The new issue with what sounds like a routing mistake aside...

You are connecting a microphone with an xlr cable to a mic input on the 18i20 right?

You've really tried all the mic input channels?
Tried a different cable?

The gain knob doesn't affect the level at all? And you're sure you're turning the correct knob?

Sorry for the "is the unit plugged in" type questions here but we kind of need to rule out the obvious.

Aside:
Do you have any little mixing board or perhaps another audio interface with a mic input that you could use to test a mic and cable? That would hard rule that variable out.

Did you purchase the 18i20 used and is this the first time you're trying to shake it down?

Probably should have asked this first:
Is there perhaps a line/mic switch on those xlr inputs? And could that switch be set to 'line'? Such a feature would bypass the trim knob.
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Old 10-16-2019, 04:09 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by serr View Post
The new issue with what sounds like a routing mistake aside...

You are connecting a microphone with an xlr cable to a mic input on the 18i20 right?

You've really tried all the mic input channels?
Tried a different cable?

The gain knob doesn't affect the level at all? And you're sure you're turning the correct knob?

Sorry for the "is the unit plugged in" type questions here but we kind of need to rule out the obvious.

Aside:
Do you have any little mixing board or perhaps another audio interface with a mic input that you could use to test a mic and cable? That would hard rule that variable out.

Did you purchase the 18i20 used and is this the first time you're trying to shake it down?

Probably should have asked this first:
Is there perhaps a line/mic switch on those xlr inputs? And could that switch be set to 'line'? Such a feature would bypass the trim knob.
They are XLR. I purchased the 18i20 new and it's not given me any grief for the most part. Cables are all in very good condition and I have a number of spares. I am getting a good input signal on all of the channels (except this bass issue which I've used two different cables and mics and tried the line out option but again there's something else going on there). Going upstairs to work on it shortly.
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Old 10-17-2019, 09:27 PM   #7
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On the "Could Be Something Dumb..." front...

Is there any chance that this is an issue on the "Audio Device" setup front?

Just from seeing a few clip of folks discussing "Setup" of devices, it feels like quite a few that are more than two channels with only enable inputs "One" and "Two" when the setup is at where it defaults to.

Since you seem to be saying that it seems fine on the Focusrite's monitoring mechanism, kind of feels like it could be that.

In addition to all of that, the "Reaper" channels "Monitoring" buttons. Could you go into what those look like when you are running into this issue?

Also -

Good Luck.
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Old 10-17-2019, 09:34 PM   #8
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Just so it is in the thread for reference, here is a video on the control software that Focusrite provides. If it's something simple/dumb, there might be answer(or something that will shed some light) in this video.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FUlooITi3Eg
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Old 10-18-2019, 06:49 AM   #9
serr
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Here's the bottom line.

The computer and the actual computer interface part of the audio interface aren't even in the equation for this.

The issue is between the mic, mic cable, and mic preamp.
If the mic and cable are qualified as working but the preamp gain knob truly has no effect on the signal level as monitored on the units meter, the only answer is the gain knob is broken.

That's really it.
It's after that preamp that the now line level signal would get digitized and then sent as data to the computer and now all the other systems come online.

If turning that gain knob isn't making the signal level change, the gain pot is broken.

You mentioned "I am getting a good input signal on all of the channels".
So you do get signal but the gain knob just doesn't change the level at all?
If yes, the gain knob is broken or disabled.

I tried to look the unit up and see if there were line/mic switches on those inputs. Don't see any.

Obviously pointing to all the gain knobs on all xlr input channels being broken is beyond suspicious! Hence the questioning returning to "Are you sure you're telling us everything correctly?" kind of questions.
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Old 11-04-2019, 12:00 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by serr View Post
Here's the bottom line.

The computer and the actual computer interface part of the audio interface aren't even in the equation for this.

The issue is between the mic, mic cable, and mic preamp.
If the mic and cable are qualified as working but the preamp gain knob truly has no effect on the signal level as monitored on the units meter, the only answer is the gain knob is broken.

That's really it.
It's after that preamp that the now line level signal would get digitized and then sent as data to the computer and now all the other systems come online.

If turning that gain knob isn't making the signal level change, the gain pot is broken.

You mentioned "I am getting a good input signal on all of the channels".
So you do get signal but the gain knob just doesn't change the level at all?
If yes, the gain knob is broken or disabled.

I tried to look the unit up and see if there were line/mic switches on those inputs. Don't see any.

Obviously pointing to all the gain knobs on all xlr input channels being broken is beyond suspicious! Hence the questioning returning to "Are you sure you're telling us everything correctly?" kind of questions.
Yeah it can't be all the knobs unless there's some kind of bypass I have going.
So I have cleaned up all my cables and have everything organized - know exactly what's going where. Had the guys over playing last night and this is what's going on: If I have my record monitoring in Reaper on (which we don't normally do) and the sound is coming through the front end, I can use the gain knobs to control the volume of the individual channels, but the signal to Reaper seems to bypass anything volume control related. Unfortunately we can't put very hi res pics here but the two attached show a pic of Reaper and the last channel 8 where the bass player is playing and you see a signal. The channel is turned all the way down in the Reaper software and also all the way down on the physical gain knob of the 18i20. This particular pic shows I have channels 5-8 with the instrument switch on but I've tried it both ways and all that should do is simply pad the channel more anyways. I suspect as numberthirty has suggested that it's something to do with the Scarlett Mix Control software but that's essentially only supposed to be for your 18i20 outputs for headphone or monitor control.
Pretty frustrating affair that seems like it should be straightforward.
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Old 11-05-2019, 06:10 AM   #11
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On FocusRite interfaces you need to boot their MixControl App. If you don't have it, download the latest. That gives input control and monitoring controls. Reaper will see the interface without it, but you need to have the app running.
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Old 11-05-2019, 06:17 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vdubreeze View Post
On FocusRite interfaces you need to boot their MixControl App. If you don't have it, download the latest. That gives input control and monitoring controls. Reaper will see the interface without it, but you need to have the app running.
I'll give that a try - I've had Mix Control before but seriously, it just adds another layer of confusion. If it needs to be running though then so be it. Won't get to it for a bit though. Thanks for your input.
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Old 11-05-2019, 06:49 AM   #13
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I'll give that a try - I've had Mix Control before but seriously, it just adds another layer of confusion. If it needs to be running though then so be it. Won't get to it for a bit though. Thanks for your input.
I agree with the added level of confusion but it's not too bad. And it's what everyone else does as well when they don't put the full functions of the inputs on the hardware. MOTU and Metric Halo are two other interfaces I use and they both do the same. In order for certain aspects of the signal flow to change you have to change it in their extra app.

Once you get used to MIxControl, it's pretty transparent and valuable. Quickly assign and vary extra headphone mixes, toggle monitor mix settings, etc. Easier than doing it within Reaper. You need to use the monitoring button on Reaper tracks to assign if you're hearing the Reaper faders or the MixControl faders.
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Old 11-05-2019, 07:54 AM   #14
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Think of it like the interface has a little mixing board built-in and has it's own little DAW app to control it.

At one point you said: "I can use the gain knobs to control the volume of the individual channels"

So it sounds like those analog inputs are working!

"but the signal to Reaper seems to bypass anything volume control related"
Right. Because Reaper is a mixing board patched in after those analog stages. It is NOT a control surface FOR your interface's built-in mixing board!
However... the Scarlet mix control app is! THAT is the software you can use to control the built-in mixer on your interface. Mind you, it's not going to control those initial analog inputs' gain knobs. The input gain is adjusted old school with those trim knobs.
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