Archive for the ‘Focusrite’ Category

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Soundcard Buying Guide

October 21, 2009

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We understand that the Soundcard market can be a little daunting if you don’t know exactly what you are looking for. With various connection methods such as USB, Firewire, and PCI it is difficult to find the one for you.

This guide should give you an overview of the world of soundcards and hopefully help you someway in choosing the right one for you. Please remember that you can always call us if you ever need help or advice on 0844 815 0888.

The difference you find with soundcards to mixers is that where as a mixer will just take an analogue signal and keep it as analogue. A soundcard converts the analogue to digital. The price of soundcards can sometimes be determined by the quality of the AD converters and mic pre amps. For example the quality of the RME AD converters is better then the ones found on the M Audio soundcard range, although how much better is negotiable.

Tascam US122 M

Will the soundcard on my computer not suffice?

Whenever a customer questions this at Dolphin our response is always to let them try it out first with the onboard soundcard. There is no better way of learning how much of a difference good AD converters can be then to use really bad ones. The onboard soundcard (or internal soundcard) is installed for alert sounds, games and MP3s but when it comes to recording audio and transferring to digital you really do need a better soundcard. Interference from the transformer, hard drive and so on will always inhibit the quality

On board soundcards don’t offer multiple inputs which rules out any larger scale recording of bands or primarily drums. They also suffer from large amounts of latency (glitches in the audio recording) which you will need to overcome via getting a better soundcard. This latency is caused by the onboard drivers not being capable of fast transfer speeds. You really need something with ASIO 2 drivers, which most external soundcards support

 Saffire Pro 24

Focusrite Saffire Pro 24

How Many Inputs and Outputs do I need?

In today’s market there is a soundcard for everybody. We always ask customers to think into the future. Will there ever be a time that you will want to record more than two inputs simultaneously. This might be drums, a live recording, a band or the fact that they will have many instruments and don’t want to keep plugging and unplugging cables. If the answer is yes then we recommend 8 inputs. Unless you have a specific reason we would recommend that you have all 8 inputs via XLR and mic pre amps. You may not want this if you are using your own Pre Amps or you specifically need jacks.

 ProFire 2626 High-Definition FireWire Audio Interface

M-Audio ProFire 2626 High-Definition FireWire Audio Interface

If your music work will mainly be you and overdubbing other parts later, you can work happily with one or two inputs which is how a large amount of souncards are designed. Many people realise that they only need two inputs and if that is the case there are many options for you. Solutions range from just a small box that you connect to your computer, MIDI keyboards with soundcards built in (for the musician on the move) to guitar FX modeling solutions that you can connect straight to your computer. More and more manufacturers are seeing the need for combining an audio recording solution with their products.

 POD Studio UX2 Pro Tone Recording & Modelling Interface

Do I need a special Soundcard to use Pro Tools?

In a nutshell “Yes”. DigiDesign software will only work with Digi Design hardware. They obviously do very expensive HD systems for the medium to large studios, but they also have a more budget range of audio recording solutions. They have the Digi 002 and rack version for someone who wants 8 simultaneous inputs into ProTools. Anyone just wanting 2 inputs they have the ever popular MBOX and new MBOX Pro.

Digi Design MBox 2

Digi Design has recently bought M Audio, a smaller company that specialises in soundcards. Since doing this they have allowed users to run Pro Tools on M Audio soundcards. To do this you must purchase software called M Powered and have a soundcard that is compatible and you have a Pro Tools system.

Digi Design 002 Rack

Soundcard Connectivity with Computers

The ever popular question about what connection you should go for is asked by customers every day at Dolphin Music. Firewire is probably the most popular type as of today due to its fast data transfer speed, you will find that M Audio firewire interfaces as well as Presonus are very good. USB 2.0 which is actually slightly faster is also popular with the Mbox 2 Micro , Steinberg CI2 and Apogee ONE using it.

Back in the last century when we started all this USB and Firewire were but a twinkle in some technician’s eye. It was all about PCI cards which are going as string today as they have done. PCI (or PCIX – new versions) can offer faster data transfer but are also more processor dependent. Famous PCI soundcards are the likes of the M Audio Delta range and the older MOTU range of soundcards.

M Audio Delta 1010

It would be rude to talk about connectivity and not mention PCMCIA. This is a method of connecting directly to laptops. Just think PCI for laptops. Due to USB and Firewire it is becoming less popular but some still believe it to be the only true way of getting true recordings onto laptops. This is debatable and we just don’t have the time!

Free Software

All soundcards will come with software that will allow you to control the routing of audio within your soundcard. You will need this software to interface with your recording software. It basically allows you to interface with your soundcard as if it were a mixing console.

Presonus Inspire

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Pro Tools Integration for Liquid 4PRE is here

April 1, 2009

Liquid 4PRE’s eagarly awaited Pro Tools TDM/RTAS control plug-in is now available. The plug in can operate alongside Liquid 4PRE’s standalone control application ’Liquid4Control’, and provides integrated remote control via Pro Tools software and hardware, including Icon and Venue systems.

As a Pro Tools TDM/RTAS plug-in, it brings a host of other benefits, including comprehensive automation and session integration. This enables, for example, automated gain control of all four pre-amps and full recall of all pre-amp settings (including emulation choice), as part of the Pro Tools session.

Focusrite’s LIQUID4PRE™ four-channel microphone pre-amplifier utilizes The Liquid Channel™’s proven Liquid™ technology , marrying a hugely flexible analogue front end with cutting-edge dynamic convolution DSP to deliver the sounds of 40 vintage and classic microphone pre-amplifiers across all four channels. Augmented by fully digital controls, remote software control over Ethernet and integrated Pro Tools plug-in control software, LIQUID4PRE provides the ultimate fluid multi-channel front-end.

Download Liquid 4PRE’s Pro Tools TDM/RTAS plug-in free here

Links:

Focusrite Liquid4Pre

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Noel Gallager and Focusrite combine for TCT live sessions

April 1, 2009

Oasis songwriter teams up with Focusrite and Gareth Johnson to record and mix live sound for Teenage Cancer Trust…

Noel Gallagher Teenage Cancer Trust gig

Noel Gallagher at his Teenage Cancer Trust gig

Gareth Johnson is no stranger to recording live music. For years now he’s been drafted in for live mixing duties for the likes of Kasabian, The Who, Kaiser Chiefs and Duffy. Now he’s adding Noel Gallagher to a CV that’s littered with A-listers from the cream of major record labels and a stack of independents too.

For the last four years Gareth has also been involved with the Teenage Cancer Trust (TCT) gigs, an annual outing for the charity that sees them pack the Royal Albert Hall (RAH) for a week of stellar performances from some of the biggest stars of the day.

As a part of raising awareness for the week-long festival, which kicked off  March 24th, Gareth has been drafted in to capture the sound of rock‘n’roll once again.

To coincide with this year’s concerts, Noel Gallagher released the recordings of his performance at TCT RAH in 2007. The Oasis singer and songwriter performed a selection of Oasis’ greatest songs, as well as some of his favourite tracks by other artists, including There Is A Light That Never Goes Out by The Smiths and Butterfly Collector with Paul Weller.

The new live disc, The Dreams We Have As Children, was released digitally and as an exclusive covermounted 11-track CD with The Sunday Times.

Over the years Gareth has become a tour-de-force on the live circuit, assembling a rig that he can rely on to get the best results – the artists he’s recording are global superstars, so there can be no compromise and no second takes.

Gareth and his Liquid Mix

Gareth and his Liquid Mix

“To capture the performance we use Focusrite Octopre preamps. I chose them because they’re reliable and neutral enough to leave scope for a wide range of mix options.”

“Then for mixdown, I need to be able to instantly recall settings on complex mixes with high track counts, which is where Focusrite’s Liquid Mix comes into its own. Working with racks of traditional outboard on projects like this would be a massive pain, but with Liquid Mix it’s just not an issue.”

“Basically Liquid Mix has revolutionised the mix process by enabling me to introduce some great tones and colour into my mixes. No patchbays, no dodgy cables – just a virtual rack stocked full of the finest outboard known to man!”

Using Liquid Mix also means I can keep costs to an absolute minimum, which is essential when working with the TCT. So the whole rig consists of Focusrite Octopres at the front end, then into the Macbook Pro (and Logic) before bringing in the Liquid Mix. Finally I run the audio through an external 16 channel summing box before taking a stereo mix back into the computer. Of course good monitoring is always important, and for this I use my trusted KRKs.

“The Liquid Mix is a real solution for a very real problem. Yes, of course I want bottomless pockets to buy loads of great outboard for my studio, but that’s just not going to happen. I can, however, afford the Liquid Mix, which is much more convenient and packs just as much of a punch. Ultimately, what we have here is a revolutionary product.”

“Dynamic convolution is a great asset in the studio. I own a few of the units that have been emulated on Liquid Mix, and while it’s nice to look at a rack full of expensive outboard gear, in the context of a large multi-track mix you would be hard pressed to tell the difference between the emulation and the real thing.”

“Liquid Mix is a great way to get character, colour and tone into your mix, and really useful for getting elements to jump out in the mix. I used API 550b emulations on the guitars, I love the 1176 on the vocal, while for the strings I opted for the Massive Passive emulation. Then I used the SSL G series comp to glue the mix together. And the results? Well, they’re just awesome.”

Links:

Liquid Mix at Dolphin

Teenage Cancer Trust website

Oasis Myspace page

The Complete Noel Gallagher Gear Guide

To view Oasis gear available at Dolphin Music, please visit the Oasis Artist Page

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Midge Ure’s great adventure with Liquid Mix

November 13, 2008

The former Ultravox front man, Live Aid organiser and Masterchef runner up (!) embarks on a new solo album and a whole new Canadian adventure with Liquid Mix in his backpack.

Midge Ure and Liquid Mix

After fronting the uber-successful synth rock outfit Ultravox in the ’80s, it would have been easy for Midge Ure to sit on his pile and retire gracefully. But that was never going to happen, so a quick stint at changing the world followed as he helped organise Band Aid, writing the second best-selling single in UK chart history (Do They Know It’s Christmas?) along the way.

Midge has since enjoyed success as a solo artist and is still gigging around the world to this day – but even that’s not enough. Recently he embarked on his biggest adventure yet: building a new home in the wilds of Canada – but thanks to his laptop and Focusrite’s Liquid Mix, the music continued.

“We’ve had a stint living in Canada, north of Montreal,” he says on a flying visit back to the UK. “We built a log cabin on a lake and I took the family over there – big changes, but fun! I went to finish off a new solo album I’ve been working on for the last three years as well. My studio over there is what the Americans would call a ‘studio lite’: a Mac laptop and a few key bits of gear.”

And one of those choice bits of gear is Focusrite’s Liquid Mix, which Midge chose for its quality and portability…

“The whole idea of the Liquid Mix is that it sits in your backpack and you can take it and use it wherever you happen to be, so that’s what I’m doing! I use the Liquid Mix to keep my set-up as minimal and portable as possible because I come back here [to the UK] for quite a few gigs. Now I can take my set-up, put it in a backpack and off I go, which has always been a dream of mine. The idea is to use all that dead time – waiting in airports, travelling on planes, sitting in hotel rooms – and being able to utilise it. So I need a set-up that sounds great and does what I want – and that’s where Liquid Mix comes in.”

So what else attracted Midge to Liquid Mix, aside from the portability aspect?

“When you read interviews with other engineers raving about something, you think ‘hold on a second, if they say it’s good then I’m going to check it out’. And that’s how it works with me as well. Plus, of course, Focusrite have such a good name and track record – they’re never going to put something out that’s substandard.”

And much to Midge’s satisfaction, it turns out his hunch was right.

“Plug in the Liquid Mix and it’s instantly useable – and everything you do suddenly sounds better,” he says. “Whether it’s the EQ or compressors, it just beefs up your sound, giving your music a quality that just isn’t there with my standard sequencer package. Without naming names, it [Midge's sequencer] has all the EQs and compressors in there, but Liquid Mix just sounds better.”

View Focusrite Liquid Mix page for more info.

For further information about Midge Ure, head to www.midgeure.com  

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The new generation of Focusrite multi-channel firewire audio interfaces.

October 8, 2008

This year’s AES show in San Francisco sees the launch of Focusrite’s new multi-channel firewire audio interface, the Focusrite Saffire PRO 40. It is the best sounding interface in its class, attentively designed with today’s project studio in mind.

Focusrite’s unparalleled pre-amp legacy forms the foundation of this new interface, with eight award-winning Focusrite pre-amps. These are combined with the very latest in firewire interfacing technology to deliver seamless integration, excellent routing flexibility and rock-solid driver stability.

With Saffire PRO 40, sonic integrity reigns supreme. The eight Focusite pre-amps ensure low noise and distortion, whilst quality digital conversion and JetPLL™ jitter elimination technology ensure pristine audio quality as your audio flows between the analogue and digital domains.

Alongside the eight Focusrite pre-amps are a host of i/o options; 10 analogue outputs, ADAT i/o, stereo SPDIF i/o and 2 virtual ‘loopback’ inputs for routing digital audio between software applications – ideal for capturing online audio. Every channel features phantom power, with the first two channels also featuring -9dB pads for additional headroom. Front panel 5-LED metering for each analogue input offers accurate viewing of levels.

Saffire PRO 40 comes with a Suite of Focusrite plug-ins. All-new Focusrite Compression, Reverb, Gating and EQ VST/AU plug-ins provide a significant upgrade from standard sequencer effects, bringing a touch of class to your session. Focusrite’s established xcite+ bundle is also included. The bundle includes Ableton Live Lite, Novation’s Bass Station soft synth and over 1 gig of royalty-free samples.

Saffire PRO 40 Control, the zero-latency 18 x 16 DSP Mixer/Router software provided with Saffire PRO 40, sets a new standard at this price point for audio interface control. It features unparalleled output routing and monitoring, as well as intuitive one-click set-up solutions, a clear and concise mixing layout and large on-screen metering for inputs, outputs and submixes.

Two independent headphone buses are provided, each with their own level controls available on the front panel. A dedicated stereo monitor mix output features pads for improved sound quality when connected to active monitor speakers. An ‘anti-thump’ circuit protects your monitor speakers from spikes when booting up or shutting down. Front panel controls include a main monitor dial with dim and mute switches, all of which fully integrate with customisable software to cover every possible monitoring need, providing a set of controls for any set-up from basic stereo to full 7.1 surround.

Saffire PRO 40, shipping November 2008, costs £349 inc. VAT, and will be available to purchase from all good Pro Audio retailers…including Dolphin Music, of course!

View product page for more info:

Focusrite Saffire Pro 40 FireWire Audio Interface

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Focusrite assume worldwide distribution of Forte Suite plug-in

October 8, 2008

As of October 1st 2008, Focusrite assumed worldwide distribution of their finest Pro Tools®-exclusive EQ and Compression plug-in, formerly distributed worldwide by Digidesign.


The Focusrite Forte Suite is a channel strip plug-in based on the now-legendary Focusrite Forte recording console of the mid 1980s. Utilizing virtual vintage modules, Forte Suite brings Focusrite’s sonic signature to Pro Tools through sophisticated modeling of the ISA 110 EQ and ISA 130 dynamics processors (including compressor, de-esser, and noise gate), the key modules from the acclaimed Focusrite Forte analog console. It also includes surround modes as well as graphical representations of EQ, compression, and related module curves. And its interface components closely resemble the ISA series modules treasured by audiophiles the world over.

Along with offering a host of powerful processing tools including a six-band EQ and a multi-channel compressor, gate, and expander, Forte Suite also features a sidechain input and frequency filters for the dynamics processors.

The Forte Suite can perform both as a channel strip plug-in and as individual ISA 110, ISA 130 dynamics, and ISA 130 compressor plug-ins. In addition, the ISA 130 compressor supports all Pro Tools surround formats.

View Focusrite Forte Suite 

A 14-Day trial that gives you all of the functionality of the full retail version will be available to download from www.Focusrite.com 

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Qemists prescribe Focusrite!

September 3, 2008

For The Qemists, there’s just one way to get that killer sound – a pair of Liquid Mixes and the ISA 430…

The Qemists’ Dan & Liam.jpg

For Brighton-based production trio The Qemists, rocking the dancefloor is simply a question of creating massive, peak-time bombs… and their secret weapons of choice? Focusrite’s Liquid Mix and the ISA 430: “Focusrite have an immense reputation for high fidelity products.”

So says Liam Black, one-third of The Qemists – Drum & Bass production outfit for the legendary Ninja Tune label. They may have started out as a traditional rock band over a decade ago, but a mutual love for the exploding Drum & Bass scene of the late 90s has seen our production trio become renowned for tearing up dancefloors the world over with their three-man, 2-deck, 2-laptop set-up.

These guys know just about everything there is about getting big sound – how else do you get to live-engineer the likes of Basement Jaxx, Kano and Lady Sovereign?

And from their Brighton-based studio they’ve remixed the likes of Coldcut, Cooper Temple Clause and Roots Manuva, while their tracks have garnered huge support from such heavyweights as Zane Lowe (Radio 1), Andy C and Pendulum.

In the studio they need to be sure they’re getting the very best quality signals into their PC set-up, which is why you’ll find the legendary Focusrite ISA 430 Mk.II permanently strapped across the front end. “We needed a real workhorse for our recording setup – and what’s better than an ISA 430?” Liam suggests.

“We needed a really high quality channel strip for recording the live aspects of our album – guitars and vocals and the like… and this thing is the business – it makes cheap mics sound great and great mics sound just fantastic. But it’s not just the sound – the ISA 430’s routing capabilities are also really useful. To be able to switch the order of the processing is great – it’s amazingly versatile.

With those signals tracked to perfection, Liam turns his attention to the mixing process, and because their projects often contain around 100 tracks they reach for the Liquid Mix to process the more important parts within a song…

“We really needed more DSP, and Liquid Mix  is the only thing out there that can emulate so many different modern and vintage compressor and EQ models for a sensible price. The Liquid Mixes are used as extra dynamics and EQ processing in our two PC-based production studios. It’s the quality that counts – if you use cheap EQ and compression on parts that sit high in the mix… well, that never works out particularly well, especially with vocals.”

“So not only do we have the Liquid Mix’s 32 channels of whatever vintage or modern EQ or Compression you can imagine, but there’s also the scope to make up your own processors from the best bits that you like. Really, what more could you want!?”

“So when we’re producing we’re now able to make sure that the real core elements of our songs can run through a huge choice of really high quality plug-ins. This in turn makes the whole mix process far less problematic – mainly because of the quality of the EQs and compressors, but also due to the fact that the computer isn’t taking quite as much of a hammering as it would do without the Liquid Mix!”

“We did some mixes at a top London Studio recently, and they had just about every bit of gear going. This was the first time we had experienced analogue gear on such a large scale. But ultimately we were amazed at just how close the Liquid Mix  sounds when compared to the original hardware. But sometimes we thought the Liquid Mix  sounded even better, especially in terms of background noise.”

More info:

Focusrite Liquid Mix 16 (Firewire Mix Processor)

Focusrite Liquid Mix

Focusrite Liquid Mix Expansion Card

Focusrite ISA 430 Mk II

Look out for The Qemists album, Join The Q, out January ’09.

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