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Hello All,

I'm putting together a small rack-mount kit and need a USB audio interface for it. I bought an M-Audio M-Track 8 but there were some issues with audio bleeding between tracks, probably due to the signal being too hot coming in, so I'm looking for a replacement. The inputs will be Lectro Wireless, Computer Audio, and audio split from an HDMI input. What I need are:

8x or more Pre-Amps (At least 6 of which are on the rear of the unit)
USB 2.0 or 3.0 interface
Rack Mountable (preferably 1ru)
Hardware Controlled (I.E. Knobs)

I think I've primarily been looking at music oriented interfaces so far so I may need help finding something more capable of handling the types of signals I'll be feeding it. 


Thanks in advance for the help!
-Scott

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It sounds like your inputs are mostly line level, do you actually need 8 mic pres?  Or just 8 inputs?  There are lots of options from motu, rme, Audient, focusrite, etc.  All should work well with a wide range of budget options.

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Hey,

You're right, I probably don't need 8 pres, I'd like to have 4 XLR in's for the 411s and 2 for audio from a TV/Game system and computer audio (All on the rear). The M-Audio was nice because it had two inputs on the front if I wanted to throw in a boom or some other mic. Do you have any preferences in the brands you mentioned? I know a friend of mine has a Focusrite that he says also has bleed issues, probably due to signal strength. 

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Crazy suggestion, but wouldn't a Zoom F8 do the job? If I'm not mistaken it can run as an interface, and you can use it as stand alone if you want. It has eight preamps and combo jacks and some bells and whistles... Just a thought. Have fun

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Hey Olle,

That's a good suggestion and may be the way I end up going if I can't find what I'm looking for but I would like to get a rack mounted solution if possible. I have a Sound Devices 633 but I'm trying to negate it for this set-up so that everything is contained in my 4ru SKB case.

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2 hours ago, Wandering Ear said:

It sounds like your inputs are mostly line level, do you actually need 8 mic pres?  Or just 8 inputs?  There are lots of options from motu, rme, Audient, focusrite, etc.  All should work well with a wide range of budget options.

I looked at your suggestions, it looks like the Audient rack-mount solutions are all mixers and the USB interfaces are just 2 channel units. Its not exactly what I'm looking for but if it ends up being the best solution I'm certainly open to it (I have an old Mbox2 already that I could use as the interface), and the RME units seem to have all front-facing XLR ins or no front panel gain controls. The MOTU stuff looks promising, though. I'm looking at the MOTU 8re USB($549) and the MOTU 8M($1495). Any feedback on these would be greatly appreciated!

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47 minutes ago, Olle Sjostrom said:

I'm sure you can get an F8 into a rack case in some way. You could check with the various usual suspects frequently mentioned on here.

Absolutely, and I'll go that route if the other rack mount solutions don't pan out. 

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If you really want rack mount and an inteface, I'd go RME.  Pretty bullet proof, great drivers and TotalMix works very well.  I have had many diff interfaces over the years from various companies, the most fullproof has been RME (and I have the hallucination that they sound better too).  I currently also have some Focusrite interfaces from the "Scarlett" line.  Much cheaper than RME, and while the little 2 chan bus-powered box has been fine the larger 18-input box has been fussy and doesn't sound as good as RME (to me).    If you really CAN live without the stuff a computer recording rig can do (like edit and mix), I too like the idea of a hardware recorder, esp now that a decent cheap ones exist.

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5 minutes ago, Olle Sjostrom said:

The Joeco then? Can that be an interface?

The JoeCo stuff is really neat! Unfortunately it doesn't look like it has the hardware mixing capabilities I'll need. Also, I don't need a recorder, just an interface as the streaming software on the PC will handle the recording. 

8 minutes ago, Philip Perkins said:

If you really want rack mount and an inteface, I'd go RME.  Pretty bullet proof, great drivers and TotalMix works very well.  I have had many diff interfaces over the years from various companies, the most fullproof has been RME (and I have the hallucination that they sound better too).  I currently also have some Focusrite interfaces from the "Scarlett" line.  Much cheaper than RME, and while the little 2 chan bus-powered box has been fine the larger 18-input box has been fussy and doesn't sound as good as RME (to me).    If you really CAN live without the stuff a computer recording rig can do (like edit and mix), I too like the idea of a hardware recorder, esp now that a decent cheap ones exist.

The RME stuff looks great but it seems to lack hardware knobs/faders for more than 4 channels. My goal is to control all the audio levels from the rack itself so that on the PC I never have to navigate away from the streaming software. 

I just ordered the MOTU 8pre on Amazon. I'll give that a try and get back to you guys. If that doesn't work I'll probably go Steinberg or Focusrite (even though I've heard that might have the same issues as the M-Box). If that doesn't work I may go with a dedicated rack mixer in front of a simple 2-channel USB interface and just give up on a single solution. 

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If you want something higher quality, take a look at the metric halo lio8.  It's dsub connectors so you'd need a breakout, but I've only had good experiences with their interfaces.  I think the motu is probably a good option though.

I have not had good experiences with the Scarlet line from focusrite.

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Motu and RME have software mixers included, maybe that'll help?

MOTU is pretty solid. I had the 8pre for a few years, although I'm sure it was only firewire then. I to have the hallucination that RME sounds better, but I've heard bad things about their Mix software. Although the Octamic does have 8 pots

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17 minutes ago, Constantin said:

Motu and RME have software mixers included, maybe that'll help?

MOTU is pretty solid. I had the 8pre for a few years, although I'm sure it was only firewire then. I to have the hallucination that RME sounds better, but I've heard bad things about their Mix software. Although the Octamic does have 8 pots

Thanks for the advice! The 8pre should be here Monday. Gotta love Amazon: no reason not to just try everything out and return it if it's not what you're looking for.

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I did a great deal of recording with a MOTU Traveler/8pre combo, later two on two laptops linked on TC and WC running Boom Recorder.  This worked very well.  For what we were doing anyhow I did not hear the diffs vs. MH stuff, go figure.  We finally ditched Firewire completely here, location and studio after too many connector etc issues, but I don't blame those on MOTU.  The RME stuff (on USB) has been more solid.  It is true that the RME (and the rest of MOTU) stuff lack knobs, but remember that the knobs on an 8pre are really input trims (ditto Traveler).  You mix on the CueMix software, which they give you.  CueMix is ok but has a very cluttered interface, and the (non changeable) width of the channel strips mean that you can never see more than about 8 channels at once on a laptop screen--you have to scroll to see the rest.  (This wasn't true of earlier versions of CueMix, which worked much better on a small screen.)  The screen for RME TotalMix is much more manageable on a laptop, while showing you more useful info with less graphical fru-fru.  Ditto MH.

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On 2/21/2016 at 1:57 PM, ronmac said:

I use a MOTU 8PRE as a backup and extender to my RME for larger jobs. Nothing glamorous, but it is solid. 

So I got the 8pre and it has the same problem. It looks like I haven't been looking for the correct equipment. What I need is a rack-mount mixer, probably aimed at installations like stage performances and houses of worship, not a USB interface for instruments. This seems like a new topic, not sure if I should start a different thread about rack-mount mixers?

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I was wondering if you were actually looking for a rack mixer, not an interface, but I didn't understand your whole workflow, so I didn't second guess your inquiry.

ART, Rolls, Berringher, lots of companies make small rack mount mixers.  I haven't used any of them though, so I can't help with recommending one over the other.

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3 hours ago, Wandering Ear said:

I was wondering if you were actually looking for a rack mixer, not an interface, but I didn't understand your whole workflow, so I didn't second guess your inquiry.

ART, Rolls, Berringher, lots of companies make small rack mount mixers.  I haven't used any of them though, so I can't help with recommending one over the other.

Yeah, looks like I need a rack mixer. Problems I'm running into are that there aren't enough full-size XLR inputs, no Mic/Line switching, little to no VU metering, or a combination of the three. I ordered the Behringer MX882 since its so cheap. It only does line level but that should be fine for now. 

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Have you looked at the ART MX821S?

Blurb says:

ART MX821S, Microphone-/Line-Mixer with Stereo Out, 8 Mono Channels, 8 independent Input channels with switch for Input Level and Tone Control, balanced XLR- and unbalanced 1/4" TR Connectors on each Channel, 48-Volt-Phantom Power on each XLR-Input (selectable with DIP-Switch), Main Out with balanced 1/4" TRS Jacks and Master Level Control, unbalanced Pre-Fader-Output (RCA) and Aux-Bus-Input (to connect more units), 19", internal Power Supply
 
No USB, though, but then neither has the Behringer.
 
Regards,
John
 

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21 hours ago, soundmanjohn said:

Have you looked at the ART MX821S?

Blurb says:

ART MX821S, Microphone-/Line-Mixer with Stereo Out, 8 Mono Channels, 8 independent Input channels with switch for Input Level and Tone Control, balanced XLR- and unbalanced 1/4" TR Connectors on each Channel, 48-Volt-Phantom Power on each XLR-Input (selectable with DIP-Switch), Main Out with balanced 1/4" TRS Jacks and Master Level Control, unbalanced Pre-Fader-Output (RCA) and Aux-Bus-Input (to connect more units), 19", internal Power Supply
 
No USB, though, but then neither has the Behringer.
 
Regards,
John
 

I had not but I'll keep that in mind for V2! 

Here is what the current build looks like:

This is the 4RU Rack SKB case with the:
-Lectrosonics 411 rack (no 411s in at the moment as I'm using them for another job)
-Behringer MX882 8-Channel Splitter/Mixer
-2RU drawer

The MX882 was an extremely cheap way to get this feature although it is line-level only and has no monitoring built-in. Right now I'm using my old MBOX2 Mini to take the Mono mix feed into the PC but eventually I'll probably switch to something nicer. This is more of a proof of concept than a final build. Thanks to everyone for all the help!

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I'll bet that rig is working just fine.  You could go to a higher end analog rack mixer (I like the Ashly MX508--has EQ, sends, returns better metering etc) but you may find yourself wanting to go with a digital mixer that can either also be your computer interface or can record on-board.    For dialog work, if you only need 8 channels, most of us find the integrated mixer-recorder solution to be less fussy and more rugged.  But you can get lots of work done with what you have until you decide (or, more like, the sort of work you do decides for you) where to go with your rig next.  The biggest weakness I see with this rig is lack of easy TC integration--jam syncing with cameras etc, as well as long-term stable clock.  If you don't need these things then rock on.

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