Old 08-05-2019, 10:37 AM   #1
CraigG58
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Default Recording directly into REAPER using a USB audio interface

Excuse me if this is a newbie question, but I'm new to USB audio interfaces...

First, my current “one man band” home studio configuration:
  • An aging Tascam DP-32SD recorder, which has 8 XLR inputs and can record up to 8 tracks simultaneously.
7 of the inputs are being used by drum mics, in order to get them onto separate tracks for later DAW tweaking (plugins, panning, automation, etc.). The 8th input is being fed from my mixer, from which everything else is plugged into and recorded separately.

However, I still have a requirement of being able to record 8 tracks at once, as my bass drum sub-kick mic is plugged into the mixer, since I'm out of inputs on the recorder. So, in actuality I'm really using 8 drum mics.

After all tracks are recorded, they are transferred via a USB connection on the recorder over to my PC, to add as individual media items in REAPER.
  • I'm interested in a USB audio interface to totally replace the Tascam, and record everything directly into REAPER.
Unless I'm mistaken, the problem would seem to be the ability to only record one track at a time, since there is only a single USB connection from the interface to my PC. I could certainly be mistaken, but wouldn't that remove the ability to simultaneously record 8 drum mics onto 8 different REAPER tracks?

Anyway, am I going down the wrong path here?

I've been looking at the BEHRINGER U-PHORIA UMC1820 8-channel interface, but the documentation doesn't have much to say on the subject. If indeed that unit won't fit the requirements I've outlined above, perhaps there's another USB interface that would?

Wow, that's a lot of questions, sorry about that.

Suggestions, anyone? Thanks in advance!
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Last edited by CraigG58; 08-05-2019 at 10:42 AM.
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Old 08-05-2019, 11:10 AM   #2
zeekat
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CraigG58 View Post
  • I'm interested in a USB audio interface to totally replace the Tascam, and record everything directly into REAPER.
Unless I'm mistaken, the problem would seem to be the ability to only record one track at a time, since there is only a single USB connection from the interface to my PC. I could certainly be mistaken, but wouldn't that remove the ability to simultaneously record 8 drum mics onto 8 different REAPER tracks?

Anyway, am I going down the wrong path here?

I've been looking at the BEHRINGER U-PHORIA UMC1820 8-channel interface, but the documentation doesn't have much to say on the subject. If indeed that unit won't fit the requirements I've outlined above, perhaps there's another USB interface that would?
Even USB 2.0 is a fairly broadband connection that lets you record dozens of tracks at once, so yeah - UMC1820 should do what's said on the tin, 8 ins and outs at once + digital ones. I think there's at least one drummer on the forums (Glennbo) that's using it for recording his drumkit.
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Old 08-05-2019, 11:28 AM   #3
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Your old Tascam unit may be limited to one channel when used as a USB audio interface but that's it's limitation, not USB's. There are plenty of USB audio interfaces that will let you record up to 32 channels. And you can combine multiple audio interfaces in 'aggregate device' configuration to expand that way too.

PS. Looking at that Tascam unit...
I think it was simply never intended to function as an audio interface with even one channel. It looks like it does stand-alone recording only. The USB connection only lets you put it into target disk mode to transfer files.

PPS. Firewire, thunderbolt, or audio over network would give you higher channel counts too if needed. For 8 - 16 inputs, many USB models will hit the mark.
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Old 08-05-2019, 12:36 PM   #4
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@zeekat:

Thanks much, that's great stuff to know. I really had no idea that a USB 2.0 connection would handle that much bandwidth.

The only thing I wonder about is latency, especially since I normally record at 48/24. The UMC1820 product specs claim “ultra-low latency”, but what that means exactly, who knows. Reading some product reviews around the web, I haven't seen anyone claiming a problem in that department though.

I'll likely go with this unit and see how it works out... Probably will purchase it from Amazon, as they've got a pretty liberal refund policy if it doesn't.

@serr:

I referenced this in my original post:

“After all tracks are recorded, they are transferred via a USB connection on the recorder over to my PC, to add as individual media items in REAPER.”

So, of course it was never meant to function as a USB audio interface. The recorder's USB connection's sole purpose in life is to export/import individual tracks to my PC, and ultimately into the DAW. The tracks themselves are recorded on SD cards, internal to the recorder.

Once again, what I'm interested in is a USB audio interface to eliminate the Tascam completely, and record everything directly into REAPER.
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Old 08-05-2019, 01:00 PM   #5
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You only need to worry about latency if you are running live sound. When you need to hear live sounds in real life in the room along with hearing elements mixed on the computer and output.

If you are just recording and then mixing down after, you'd actually want to set the latency high (512 or 1024 samples) to maximize CPU use for processing instead of low latency.
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Old 08-05-2019, 02:34 PM   #6
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I just received an email from a friend of mine I was querying on the subject, who owns a fully-blown professional studio, also mixes live sound, and is still running an ADA8000. Here's what he had to say, regarding studio recording:

“I changed my setup back to a more traditional way of recording: Mic´s and lines into the mixer, from there to the interfaces. This way I don´t have a problem with latency, which was pretty annoying. I used to have to adjust buffering etc. to get rid of the latency. Now I don´t.

Using the mixer when recording also gives me better control over the gain, and certainly better control over EQ, as the interfaces have only a gain pot per channel, no EQ, not even a attenuation pad on the gain pot.”

The UMC1820 does indeed have an attenuation pad on each channel, but I don't think that would have much to do with latency anyway.

So, as with most things in life, YMMV.

This article has some very interesting, related stuff that I learned a few additional things from:

http://www.basic-home-recording-studio.com/latency.html
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Old 08-05-2019, 04:16 PM   #7
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As for low latency operation like that for overdubbing or even just monitoring while tracking. Even most basic USB interfaces include a low latency mixer built in exactly for doing just that.

You can get the configuration you need for really good bang on the buck nowadays. There might be a few very limited USB devices available on the low end but there's also the opposite and everything in between.

While the mic preamps included in even some of the more affordable units are also better than average, you still want to use care with your analog inputs! Doing something like daisy chaining analog boards to interfaces gets into introducing noise on your inputs.
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Old 08-10-2019, 10:53 AM   #8
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I once grinded out the numbers for USB2. It can handle a bit over 200 streams of mono 24bit audio at 44.1KHz (at maximum, assuming nothing else in the USB). These scale in proportion:
100 streams of 24 bit at 88.2K, for example.

For interface only, I'd recommend an RME with ADAT input.

For console + interface in one, the Soundcraft MTK mixer series. Since you're cramped already with 8 inputs, maybe look at the 16 or 24 channel models. Make sure the model has the MTK suffix, and it'll include one channel of interface for each channel of mixer.
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