multitrack recording hardware

im new to multitrack recording and before i dump money into a equipment i was wondering what all i need. i already know that the computer can do it. but im not sure what external hardware i should get. all i need is a firewire or usb mixer that is compatable with JACK right? i was looking at either the Peavey PV20 or Alesis MultiMix 16. will i need anything else besides one of these to multitrack?

there can be no simple answer to this question. you don’t need a device like that to multitrack - a simple multichannel audio i/o device like the M-Audio Delta 1010 is really quite sufficient. For some purposes, having an outboard hardware mixer can be helpful. You also cannot do multichannel recording (i.e. more than 4 channels at once) using USB. Alas, as i said, there are no specific answers to this question - peoples needs, resources, priorities all vary dramatically.

No simple answer is correct…To elaborate on Paul’s answer to give you an idea.

Think about your needs, what you are recording, how many channels you need to record at a time.(need being the operative word)

Many people do simple overdubs (record a guitar, then record the vocals, then record some percussion e.t.c…). In which case a microphone, channel strip (mic preamp with some extras) and decent 2 channel soundcard will do the trick.

If it is line level devices (primarily synths and samplers, but not guitars, mics, basses e.t.c…), You could get away with a multichannel device 4,8 or more channels depends on your budget and needs (if it is sequenced material it is only a budget issue - more channels=less takes). Of course even with line level instruments it is nicer to have a mixer with individual channel outs. As a great price for quality trade off, I highly recommend the M-Audio Delta 44 (I ama proud owner of a Delta 1010 and used to have a Delta 66)

If you are doing full blown recording of bands or other groups then you probably want to get an 8 channel card and need a mixer with individual outs to be able to capture each mic/instrument in it’s own channel. Preferably the mixer would also have insert points as well for hardware limiting and compressing.

If it is a band situation, then while you don’t need limiter compressors to start, they make life a hell of a lot easier when recording to the digitial domain… If a signal clips on recording it is too late for a software compressor/limiter to be able to get rid of the clip, but a hardware solution will get rid of the clip before it hits the Analog 2 Digital Converter.

The mixers you mention above only offer stereo(dual mono) recording to the PC, so don’t really offer true multichannel recording, but would be fine for overdubs. The Mackie Onyx series with the Firewire add-on card does offer individual channel recording, but I’ve heard they aren’t a great mixer per-se (different impedances on different channels e.t.c…), and it is probably cheaper to get a decent 8 channel card (Deltas go pretty cheap on Ebay) and a decent project mixer (in the budget range I recommend Soundcraft and Yamaha as brands to look for in terms of price vs quality and reliability)

Anyway … I hope this helps a bit … Good Luck

thx a bunch, i was looking at a delta 1010 a while back and then had somebody tell me that a firewire mixer would be cheaper and do the same thing. i think i will go back and rething the delta. thx again

I have used a Delta 1010 with great success to do the Fedoras first album, it worked great. However I have upgraded to using a Mackie 1640 mixer with Firewire card. All 16 tracks (pre-eq) at 96 khz plus the stereo final mix is available over Firewire, as well as two tracks of return for monitoring. It works beautifully with Jack and Ardour. I am easily able to track all 16 at once with my dual Athlon 64 rig, not a hint of a glitch.

It’s pricey though and only makes sense if you need a great mixer as well.