Mixer for... Mixing

edited July 2016 in Filmmaking

Found what I was looking for. Now an open discussion thread on the topic(s) of audio if necessary..

Hello, I'm looking to buy a mixer for hardware adjustments instead of moving sliders in the software. Is this a thing on the cheap, or is this 'pro' grade only? 

I want to be able to control the faders in the software by using hardware faders.

I'm into sound design, and it would really help, because I feel like I can justify spending money on one, but still don't want garbage.

I want a few faders but are there any people here that use hardware mixers, and know if there are any cheap entry level mixers worth getting? 


  • Triem23Triem23 Moderator

    Sorry, you want a hardware mixer to mix a final track to import to your computer, or you want a hardware interface that controls your software? 

    If the latter, what's your software? 

    edited July 2016

    I want to be able to control the faders in the software by using hardware faders, does that make sense?

    Right now just Audacity, but I've seen Reaper mentioned here a few times so I'll give that a shot if it's really necessary to make this happen.

    From what I understand, MIDI to an external audio interface to USB to PC is going to work and will control the software faders right?

    Updated OP.

  • If your choices are Reaper and Audacity, go with Reaper.  It is, hands-down, the far better editor if only for its non-destructive nature and ability to tweak effects without altering the existing waveform.

    That said, I know jack about mixing hardware.  There's a pretty good Recording forum over at Ultimate-Guitar.com with a bunch of Reaper/ProTools/etc. users who might be able to give you a good breakdown of your options.

  • Triem23Triem23 Moderator

    You're almost right. An AUDIO MIXER interface sends digital audio signals to/from PC a MIXER CONTROLLER (or AUDIO CONTROL SUFACE) is hardware controls to send data to software. 

    That said, yes, some audio cards do have MIDI ports. Some audio mixers can double as mixing controllers. And a lot will just use USB instead of MIDI. 

     Now, I am out of touch on this tech, so I just provide some links that should be useful

    http://ehomerecordingstudio.com/daw-control-surfaces/ ;

    This  Akai is sexy. 



  • That Akai is so sexy. I believe that's what I want. Just to be sure before buying I'll research some more. 

    I do know that MIDI to USB to Audio interface should work, but you're saying it doesn't?

    3 devices:

    PC, external audio interface, audio controller

    audio controller -> audio interface -> PC


  • Triem23Triem23 Moderator

    Oh, no, it will work. Just saying the audio interface probably uses MIDI, while a lot of controllers probably default to USB. 

    The Send All on that Akai probably makes it the best option for non-motorized faders. That Berringer looks pretty good for an inexpensive control with motorized faders. 

    Motorized faders are neat. It's fun to watch them slide around on playback. 

  • "Motorized faders are neat. It's fun to watch them slide around on playback."

    *PLUS* hours of fun for cats!  ;^) 

  • Aladdin4dAladdin4d Moderator

    Tagging @Sarasota because this is his world 

    What you're really after is a MIDI control surface and you want to make sure it's going to work properly with the DAW of your choice because some may not or will only partially work. As an example look at the Novation Launch Control XL  It'll work great with Ableton Live but what about Reaper or Nuendo? Ummmm maybe, maybe not or sort of  after a lot of control mapping. 

    There is more or less a standard protocol for control surfaces, MCU, Mackie Control Universal, so you probably want something that emulates it well or you could just buy a real Mackie MCU Pro  and never worry about compatibility ;)

    Yeah it's expensive but luckily there are some budget options that might work for you. Surprisingly some of the better ones come from Berhringer like the BCF 2000  and it's rotary sibling the BCR 2000  A step up from that are the X-Touch  and X-Touch Compact.  Even though they're Behringer they're pretty decent especially when you consider price vs features.

    Another option is to go minimalist with a PreSonus FaderPort.  Even though it might look limited it isn't. There are a whole lot of people that swear by the FaderPort and will never use anything else. 

    Depending on what you already have or need you might want to take a look at a Zoom R8  or Zoom R16  These are multi-function devices and are multi-track recorders, samplers, control surface and audio interface all in one. The R8 is an 8 track recorder with two mic/line inputs and the R16 is a 16 track recorder with 8 mic/line inputs.

    @Triem23 The Behringer BCF 2000 is fully supported by Vegas and I'm pretty sure the X-Touch units are too but I haven't tried one. 


    edited July 2016

    So I'm going to upgrade my audio setup and don't want to look back or have regrets, so these are the products I have in mind.

    Akai MIDIMix

    Sennheiser HD 558

    And any of these 4, how do I find out which is better, they all have USB for the controller, and they all have phantom power should I need that in the future, and they all have headphone jack, and so on... maybe recording foley or what not later?

    The Akai should be compatible with my future gear, regardless of which of these I choose, right? 

  • Aladdin4dAladdin4d Moderator

    Quality wise the audio interfaces are all about the same (all good) with the big differences being the number of inputs, MIDI In/Out and the bundled software. The Focusrite interfaces will come ProTools First and some plugins but the Solo is just one input and neither one has MIDI In/Out. The PreSonus will come with Studio One Artist  and the M-Audio ships with Ignite by AIR. Both have MIDI In/Out. 

    As to whether or not the Akai MIDIMix will work for you depends on your choice of DAW. Officially it works with Ableton Live, Cubase, Logic Pro and Studio One. If one of those is your DAW then you should be ok but if you're using anything else you'll probably be on your own in getting it to work. 

    EDIT: You can get the Akai MIDIMix to work with Reaper


  • Novation Launch Control XL looks promising. Better faders too.

    Now when it comes to MIDI, these guys use USB directly to the PC, where does the MIDI come in, translated via USB as MIDI inputs?

  • Aladdin4dAladdin4d Moderator

    There's no translation there's a real MIDI hardware interface on the other end of the USB connection and USB has always been able to handle MIDI communications.


    The Launch Control should work with Ableton Live, Cubase, Logic and Pro tools


    edited July 2016

    I've decided to wait until Christmas for the Christmas sale before buying new gear. I wish to thank everyone for helping me out on such short notice. I'd imagine waiting for days on the audio forums, because generally that's what happens..

    Okay to keep discussing if anyone else has topics. I've found what I want though.

  • HarHar
    edited July 2016

    I'm using two different outboard hardware controllers in my studio.
    First is a USB-based Akai MPD26 which I use primarily for pad control of percussion, but also make use of its set of faders and knobs for mixing in Cakewalk Sonar. Setting this up was fairly straightforward and it works just fine, though to be honest I find the MPD26's fader resolution to be not quite as accurate as I'd like (i.e. dragging the fader up and down doesn't sync up as smoothly with the software fader as I'd prefer)....I usually end up just using my mouse and/or working out fader automation using envelopes. The knob resolution though is perfectly serviceable. It also has some basic transport controls, but for some odd reason I can't seem to get it to function consistently so for when I need to do that remotely I use my Tranzport., Which brings me to....

    The other is a much older non-USB (partially...I'll explain) wireless Frontier Tranzport unit that I use mainly as a remote transport control when I"m recording vocals at a distance from my main desk in the studio, i.e. in my vocal booth, or as far away as my bathroom if I want that "true tiled room reverb/singing in the shower" sound.  ;-)  It doesn't have mixing functionality per se, but it is pretty nicely fleshed out as far as being able to handle standard DAW transport functions, easily jump between tracks and marker points, arm/disarm/solo/mute tracks, see the input levels in real-time, etc. Being an older pre-Bluetooth wireless unit, it has it's own standalone USB receiver.
    Sadly, it seems Frontier went out of the audio business some years ago (their website now says "The world's best iOS Music Video App: Video Star!" with a link at the bottom saying "Looking for our old audio products?"). It's a shame as it's a wonderful controller and I'd have a rough time recording vocals without it since I work alone.

    Another more recent option these days is using apps like TouchDAW for remote/wireless control using a tablet or smartphone. I'm kind of curious about trying this out, but wonder about fader resolution and accuracy; the video demos I've seen for it so far look kinda laggy, but a bit over-enthusiastic about the simple fact of "Ooooh, lookie!! I slide my finger on my phone and the fader moves in the software too! Yay!". LOL

    About the PreSonus FaderPort - I had bought one a few years ago but for reasons unknown it refused to work with my system even though its specs said it should. I tried contacting their support via both email and phone multiple times and got zero response from them (voicemails every time I tried to call and no call backs; no replies from emails), so sadly I had to send it back and I'm not likely to buy anything else from them because of the lousy support. That said, I know other people who have had great results with the FaderPort.


  • edited August 2016


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