#38: “What Should I Buy – Digital Mixer Or Dedicated Audio Interface?” (Plus Bonus Content: Get Featured On The Podcast)

#38: “What Should I Buy – Digital Mixer Or Dedicated Audio Interface?” (Plus Bonus Content: Get Featured On The Podcast)

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"What Should I Buy - A Digital Mixer Or A Dedicated Audio Interface?"

This is one of the most popular questions. People are wondering if a digital mixer with a lot of channels and all the bells and whistles can be a great alternative to the common, dedicated audio interfaces on the market.

It's not an easy question to answer, as they're designed for different tasks (or combinations of tasks). But it's true that both can theoretically be used as a recording interface.

So let's break down the features, pros and cons and see if we can find a clear winner for your situation!

Bonus Content: Get Featured On The Podcast!

I'll start this with a question:

What’s the best thing about DIY-recording?

The obvious answer:

It enables musicians to put their music out fast, regularly and on a budget. It removes barriers and makes great sounding productions something everyone can have for their band now.

But there is more to it:

A whole new community and movement has developed around the topic. Passionate DIY-engineers and home recording musicians from all around the world are exchanging ideas, helping each other out and sharing their knowledge, experience and, of course, their music!

It has become a social experience, an opportunity for people to get to know like-minded peers and form friendships. Which makes for even better music, because people get inspired by each other, help each other, collaborate and grow together.

We believe that the creative freedom, the diversity in today's music, the fresh ideas and the community that came with DIY-recording are the best things about it. And we don’t believe in competition. At all. We believe in collaboration. A rising tide lifts all boats.

That’s why we want to make the podcast and this whole project less about us and more about you, the community, the self-recording bands out there. We want to give inspiring people a voice and a platform. We want you, your ideas and philosophies on recording to be heard. And we want your music to be heard! We want to talk to experts and professionals and hear their advice, just as much as we want to talk to passionate hobby recording enthusiasts.

So here are four things we’ll be doing from now on:

  1. We’ll be doing podcast interviews 
  2. We’ll be doing Q&A episodes and broadcast your ideas!
  3. We’ll be doing „ask the community“ episodes
  4. We’ll be featuring your music on the podcast!


Listen now to hear how this will work and how you can be a part of it!


Related Episodes:


Automatic Episode Transcript — Please excuse any errors, not reviewed for accuracy (click for full transcript)

TSRB Podcast 038 - "What Should I Buy - Digital Mixer Or Dedicated Audio Interface?" (Plus Bonus Content: Get Featured On The Podcast)

[00:00:00] Benedikt: [00:00:00] People get inspired by each other. They help each other out. They collaborate and they grow together. So we believe that the creative freedom, the diversity in today's music, the fresh ideas, the community that came with. Yeah. Why recording are the best things about it? This is the self recording band podcast.

The show where we help you make exciting records on your own. Wherever you are. DIY style. Let's go. Hello. Welcome to the self recording band podcast. I am your host Ben at the time. And today I'm here without my friend and co Malcolm Owen flood. Unfortunately, Malcolm is out there busy. He's not able to be with us here today, but I'm going to do a solo episode.

I'm going to put out an episode every single week, no matter what, and it's going to be helpful and valuable, hopefully still. So this is me. So though it's going to be a shorter one, but I'm going to answer a popular question that comes up a lot and that is, should I buy. [00:01:00] A dedicated recording interface, like focus, right?

Stanburg audience, universal audio Apollo or something like that. Or should I go with a digital desk for my home recording setup? Like the Berenger X 32 or Soundcraft. Um, or like there are a couple of these digital desks with a lot of inputs, a lot of bells and whistles, a lot of features and a built in recording interface.

What should I use now? There is no clear definite answer, at least as long as we're talking about like entry level recording gear or like mid-level recording gear. So once you go to the high end interface is preempts and converters. Those are definitely going to be better. Than the digital, then most digital desks.

But when we're comparing affordable interfaces to those desks, it's hard to say actually, because quality wise, they will be pretty close the conversion and the pre-amps will be pretty close. The interface is the dedicated interfaces might have a slight edge here. The ones that I've tested, I like those a little [00:02:00] more sonically compared to most digital desks that I've heard.

When it comes to converters and preamps, but it's going to be very, very close and it's not a make or break thing. So to me, it's more about the feature set and what you're trying to do with it and convenience, of course. So when we look at it, the main differences are the, uh, the amount of channels, the routing, the ease of use the stability, and then things like latency and workflow.

Yeah. Things. So. When it comes to amount of channels, the desks, clearly when you can have 32 channels and like the X 32, the Beringia X 32, for example, the very popular desks. You can have like 16 channels. If you go with an X air or something like that. So that's very affordable and it's got 16 channels, 16 pre-amps um, a couple of outputs for monitor mix is a built-in interface.

So you get a lot for your money there. So when it comes to inputs and just the amount of stuff that it [00:03:00] has. The desks when, when it comes to. Features recording, dedicated recording features the interfaces when, because usually they go, for example, when it comes to sample rate, they go up to 96 or 192 kilohertz sample rate.

So if you're dealing with multiple, like different sample rates in different projects and you need higher sample rates, some of the digital desks can't do that. The X 32, the popular. Uh, one that I mentioned a couple of times now, I think goes up to 48 kilohertz, which is fine if you don't eat more, but if you need more, um, you can't do it with that desk.

Whereas the interfaces go up to 192, oftentimes also latency and stability. At least the ones that I've tested the interfaces were better. So I got lower latency with my recording interfaces than with the desk that I tried. When it comes to stability, I had some issues with some of the digital desks. So interfaces might also be slightly better here.

It's just dedicated for like [00:04:00] dedicated devices for recording. I think that's, that's the main difference when it comes to versatility and things you can do and like flexibility. The desks are really good option. Like for example, if you have a band and you want to use the desk for pre-production for rehearsals, you want to send signals to your PA and record simultaneously.

You want to do in ear monitoring and all that. Th th those desks are awesome. You can cue monitor, um, outs. Uh, you can, you can use compression and cue without recording it. So you can like have a great sound and UPA, but still record the dry signals at the same time. Um, you can just use them as interfaces when you are, uh, recording the real thing, or when you're doing pre-pro.

So very flexible things. You can take them to your live gig and do your monitor mix. There you can Cordia live show so you can do basically everything with it, life and recording wise. So those things for [00:05:00] bands, I think are a really, really great option. If you are recording a lot and you're not using it for your band as much, I probably go with an interface and then some preamps to get as many channels as you need.

But that's going to be a little more expensive than like an ex air or something. So I know, um, it's, it's difficult to answer. It's it's not really an easy thing, but bottom line, I'd say. If you have the budget and if you don't need the live features, the monitor pass and all that. And, um, if you just want stable, solid conversion and drivers and like low latency and good pre-amps and all that go with the recording interface and an eight ad preamp or something like that, you can add to it.

If you need more channels, if you are. In need of a lot of channels. If you need monitor paths that you can queue and compress and like all of that, if you need like a live sound, that's going to your PA at the same time, if [00:06:00] you want to record your live shows and an easy way, if you want to do your monitoring on stage, something like that.

If you do all of that and then want to use it for recording as well, then go with the digital desks. The differences in like Sonic quality again will be very small. So I'd say if you already have a digital desk like that, just use it, just try it. If it's stable enough, if it gives you low enough latency, if you don't need higher sample rates than just use it, that's totally fine.

Just use it. And if you are limited by your desks, if you feel like you need more quality, more stability, lower latency, or higher sample rates by a recording rig by recording interfaces. If you don't have anything right now, if you're just starting out. Think about the features about what you really need about your budget and then make a decision from there, but just know that it's not, that one is clearly better than the other.

It's more about features, workflow, stability, things like that. Channel count, all that stuff. That's that's the volume more important? Then the actual converter quality of preempt, because when people [00:07:00] ask this question, they usually ask about sound quality about quality of convert, converters and preamps.

And I'd say that's the least thing to worry about. The more important things are the features, the workflow, the channel amount, the latency, the stability. If you are on your own. Like recording yourself and with program drums and maybe vocals and a guitar, or like if you have like a, um, a home recording music project that doesn't require a full band live, then I'd always go with a recording interface because you don't need as many channels at once.

And like one or two great channels will be enough, maybe four. I don't know. But, um, I don't, I wouldn't deal with it like a clunky recording desk or a digital desk that has a lot of things you don't actually need. All right. Hope that was helpful. That's basically it. That's my answer to this question. Um, I'm sorry that I can't declare a clear winner here, but I.

I hope it helps you think about the right things and especially like look [00:08:00] closely at the specs, the latency and the sample rate and all that. And maybe look up some user experiences on the internet when it comes to stability, workflow issues, stuff like that. And that's really what you should focus on, and then I'm sure you can make a great decision at the right decision for your project.

Now, talking about your questions, listen to questions. There is another very important thing that I want to talk about on this episode today. If you are an email subscriber, you already know. Uh, what I'm about to say, if not, this is going to be very important and pretty cool. You at least I hope so pretty helpful for you because we're going to do a couple of things, new things in this podcast.

So I'll start this with a question. What's the best thing about, yeah, we're recording. The obvious answer is it enables musicians. To put their music out fast, regularly, and on a budget, it removes barriers. It makes great sounding production, something everyone can have for their band now, right. Everyone can record.

Right. And [00:09:00] everyone can make rate's sounding records, which was not the case decades or even couple of years ago. So that's that, but there is more to it than that a whole new community and movement has developed around the topic. Passionate. Yeah. Why engineers and home recording musicians like you from all around the world are exchanging ideas, helping each other out and sharing the knowledge and their experience.

And of course their mood, their music also. It has become kind of a social experience and opportunity for people to get to know like-minded peers and form friendships, which makes for even better music because people get inspired by each other. They help each other out, they collaborate and they grow together.

So we believe that the creative freedom, the diversity in today's music, the fresh ideas, the community that came with. Yeah. Why recording are the best things about it? And we don't believe in competition at all. We believe in collaboration, a rising tide lifts all boats, right? So we believe that you should go to as many [00:10:00] resources and online education platforms as possible, or at least find the ones that are suitable for what you want to do.

That's the more important thing. And we don't believe in competition here. We're not afraid of losing our jobs. We were happy to see more and more people recording on their own and mixing on their own and all that. So we think that's just a good thing. And that's why we want to make this podcast and the whole project, the self recording band, less about us and more about you, the community, the self recording bands out there.

We want to give inspiring people, a voice and a platform. We want you, your ideas and files and philosophies. On recording to be heard. And we want your music to be heard. We want to talk to experts and professionals and hear their advice. Of course, just as much as we want to talk to passionate hobby recording enthusiasts.

So here are four things we'll be doing from now on. We'll be doing podcast interviews. That's the first. So on this podcast, we're going to talk to inspiring people from the audio community. Who are true experts [00:11:00] and specialists in their field. And if you want to hear a certain person, just let us know.

We'll try to make it happen. Just email podcast@theselfrecordingband.com, let us know who we should interview. And if it's reasonable and realistic, we're going to try to bring those people on. Then the second thing is we'll be doing Q and a episodes and broadcast your ideas. Now here's the thing we won't just read and answer emails, like subscriber questions via email, but we want to feature your voice and your project and band on the show.

So we've included a voice recording feature on our page, on our website. Where you can leave a question for us, or like a question for us to answer, or you can send an idea or thoughts or your advice or input on any topic. And whenever we feel like it fits the episode, we're working on, we'll include those sound snippets, those voice recordings that you can leave, that you can leave there.

In the episode. So your voice, your actual voice will be on the show. And we will answer your question or [00:12:00] comment on it, or just share your advice with the community. So you can be an active part of this podcast from now on. If you want to do that, make sure you subscribe to our email list. So go to the self recording band.com and download one of our free downloads.

And you're going to join the email list and you're going to be sent a link. To this page where you can leave your voice message and get featured on the show. This isn't exclusive thing for our subscribers, because it's a way for us to say thank you. And to give back for being a part of our community in our little world here.

So our subscribers get the chance to be an active part of this podcast. Everyone can still listen to the podcast of course, and get all the value there, but to be an active part of it, you'll need to subscribe or you need to join. The Facebook group it's free. It's a completely free community. You can do that as well.

We'll put the link in the Facebook group. So if you're a member of that Facebook group, you can leave voice messages as well. You get the link and you can do that. But just to be clear, we will still be listening to [00:13:00] every single one of you. So even if you don't want to join the Facebook group, or if you don't want to subscribe to the email list, for whatever reason, you can still ask question, request, guests, leave feedback, contact us, whatever you want.

You can do that through email, just email to podcast@theselfrecordingband.com. And we will read all of these. We will answer as much as we can, and we will definitely consider your questions for the podcast. So that stays the same. We've always done that and we'll, we will continue doing that. That's just, uh, I just wanted to let you know that.

So the voice recordings being an active part, like your voice on the podcast, that's exclusive for subscribers and community members, but we're still open and very interested, um, to all questions and feedback and emails and all that. So we still love you just as much as we always did. I just wanted to let you know that.

It's really just that we want to offer something extra, some reward for people who subscribed, [00:14:00] because that way we can keep in touch and we can help you in the long run. Versus somebody who just finds the podcast listens to some episode and then disappears so we can help our subscribers in the long run, get real results and improve over time.

That's the main motivation for us to get you subscribed. And also just for practical reasons, we have limited space in that app that we're using to collect voice messages. So I don't know how many of those we're going to get, but we need to limit it somehow. I'm sure you understand. Now that's point number two, your voice on the podcast, then we'll be doing ask the community episodes.

I'm not sure about the title yet. I'm not sure if it's going to be called ask the community, but what we're going to do is we think it's a great idea to collect advice and opinions on important topics from the ones who are observing the DIY recording community every single day. And those people are the admins.

Our popular home, recording Facebook groups and online forums. We figured that those [00:15:00] people are observing and watching our community every single day. They see all the posts or the threads or the struggles or the problems and the solution to those problems. Of course. So we bring them on to share with us what they've learned from their groups.

So we all can get a better understanding of common problems and hear possible solutions to them. That's number three and number four. We'll try to feature your music on the podcast and sort of review it or give feedback on it. This will require you to step out of your comfort zone. And we're not sure if people will actually be bold enough to take us up on that, but we feel like we need to showcase what our audience is capable off while helping the community at the same time here.

So you can send a songs, demos, rough mixes, final masters, whatever you have, as long as there is some DIY component to it. And we will include it or at least snippets of it. In the show and comment on it. Rest assured we're not here to make fun of anyone and we're not here to, just to discourage you. We believe that every [00:16:00] artist has a special something that we want to find and highlight.

So we can be positive. We want to show you what we think is working already. And we will also show you what we think could be improved. This can be sonically. But it can also be about the arrangement or the songwriting. It's going to be super helpful for you to know whether you should focus on recording production, mixing, mastering, or writing or arranging in order to improve the results you're getting.

And if you're a song and production of simply awesome. We've got to say just that, like, we've got to just say that it rips, you know, so again, we're keeping it positive, but helpful. It's going to help you with your song and it's going to help the whole community. So every song played on the show has the potential to be discovered by a new audience.

Or new possible collaborators from within the community. That's another benefit. And your podcast listeners will hear what we, as the DIY community are able to pull off. So if you want to do that again, sign up for our email list and then simply hit reply on one of our emails and send us a download link to your music.

Please do not send like MP3 attachments, anything like that, [00:17:00] just download links. Now here's the thing that point number four, here, your music on the podcast. We're not entirely sure how, and if that's going to work because of two reasons, first of all, we need you to send us your stuff. So I'm not sure if people will take us up on that, because again, it's going to require you to be bold and step out of your comfort zone to let your songs get publicly critiqued in the podcast.

That's the first reason. And the second reason is it's kind of difficult from a legal standpoint, like playing music on a podcast, you get all sorts of licensing problems potentially. So we'll need to figure out if and how this will work maybe. And hopefully there's a way to do it. Just like under the fair use and excitation principles.

So, because we're not going to play entire songs, we're just going to play snippets and we'll comment on them. So it has an educational purpose, but we need to talk to collecting societies and copyright protection organizations first and make sure that this is going to work. If we can make it work, [00:18:00] if it can be done without us getting into trouble.

We're going to do that maybe with just accepting royalty free music, that could also be a way to do it. Um, but like if it's at all possible, we'd love to do that. And we'd love to showcase your music and help you improve here. Now, again, as I said, everyone can learn from what we're putting out there on the podcast, but being an active part of any of these things, it's an exclusive opportunity for our community members.

Meaning that voice messages and songs can only be submitted. By our email subscribers or members of a free Facebook group. So please share the podcast and free downloads the website with your friends. And once they've discovered the value in this platform, they hopefully going to join us and become an active part of it as well.

That's the only way. We can really help a lot of people and improve their music in the long run, as well as make our community even more valuable for all of us. So it's not about excluding anyone. We will always continue to put out free, valuable content for everybody, regardless if they're a subscriber or [00:19:00] not, but we want to do something extra.

We want to provide extra value as a way to say, thank you for our loyal. Subscribers and group members, because we need an act of community. We need people to ask questions. We need people to share the music. We want to hear your advice, your ideas, your perspectives, your way of doing things and hearing things.

We need an active community. Um, that's like engaged and sharing things. That's what we aim for. It should be more about you, less about us. So we're trying to reward action takers here. People joining our community and being active. That's why we make this exclusive. If you don't want to join, feel free to just keep listening to the podcast and keep watching videos or reading articles.

Uh, it's going to be just as valuable if you're just learning from those things. But if you want to become an active member, we'd love to see you. In our community. And if you haven't checked out our free downloads, that's a great way to start. So you can download our free [00:20:00] 10 step guide to successful DIY recording, our free essential gear guide or our free mic placement cheat sheet on our website, the self recording band.com and you can join the free Facebook community.

Those are all great places to start and you can become an active part of it. Now that's it for today. Let's see how that goes. I'm looking forward to this new chapter here at the self-reporting band. We're looking forward to, uh, include you more. On this platform and hear your voices, your opinions, your questions.

And of course, we will keep doing what we've always done. We will keep doing these regular podcast episodes, but every once in a while, as soon as we have enough questions or input from you or enough music that we can talk about, we will sprinkle in these community episodes. The more, the better. All right.

Thank you for listening. See you next week. Bye [00:21:00] .

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