DIs for laptops Log Out | Topics | Search
Moderators | Register | Edit Profile

Alembic Club » Miscellaneous » Archive: 2005 » Archive through April 16, 2005 » DIs for laptops « Previous Next »

Author Message
groovelines
Advanced Member
Username: groovelines

Post Number: 227
Registered: 4-2003
Posted on Friday, April 01, 2005 - 12:16 pm:   Edit Post

There are remedies for desktop/tower PCs, I've a number of SoundBlaster-type cards for those. What I'm looking for is a DI that will let me take audio from a mixer into a laptop. Most DIs made for converting computer audio, Whirlwind for example, are designed to convert computer audio to a useable signal for a mixer input. I haven't seen any that work the other direction.
I don't want to get into why we use laptops, it's fairly complicated, but I'm kind of stuck with using them.
A typical set up would be: PA and/or mic(s) to mixer (Mackie 1402: mic or line level out) to laptop.
I've had great success with older IBM platforms - they have a line level in. But the newer Compaqs the company has saddled me with only support mic level inputs and matching impedences has been a nightmare.

Any suggestions?

thanks in advance,
Mike
matthew90046
New
Username: matthew90046

Post Number: 9
Registered: 1-2005
Posted on Friday, April 01, 2005 - 12:56 pm:   Edit Post

Iíve done similar applications with my 1402. I got a cable that went from the main XLR outs of the 1402 to stereo mini and pushed that little button next to the outputs to make it mic level. It worked, but didnít optimize the sound. The big disadvantage with using the computers mic input is that you are doubling up your pre and adding more noise.

If youíre just using a stereo mic Iíd recommend the Rode NT4 stereo mic. Itís very nice for the price. That mic comes with both XLR and stereo mini cables and can plug directly into a mini disk, computer, etc. The mic is also battery powered (no phantom power needed) so you donít need the Mackie.

If youíre using multiple line/mic signals and need a mixer I would get a ProTools Mbox or something similar. With a Mbox you use the XLR outs of the board and go into the computer digital, thus bypassing the cheap mic pre built into the computer.
bsee
Senior Member
Username: bsee

Post Number: 822
Registered: 3-2004
Posted on Friday, April 01, 2005 - 1:27 pm:   Edit Post

Mackie has some new mixers out that support firewire. They come with enough software to get going, but I think they are fairly expensive. I have been considering a Boss BR1600CD as a portable recording platform, but may wait and go the firewire/laptop route when it becomes more common.

If you're only looking for one or two channels, you can probably get an outboard USB hookup, too.

One last thought is that you investigate something like the Neuros Audio product. It's a HD MP3 player available with up to an 80 GB drive last I looked. It has a line in and records to MP3 or WAV on the fly. (neurosaudio.com)

-Bob
groovelines
Advanced Member
Username: groovelines

Post Number: 228
Registered: 4-2003
Posted on Friday, April 01, 2005 - 3:23 pm:   Edit Post

Thanks for the feedback. After reading your responses, I think I should expand my definition on how/why I'm using the laptop.
We've begun using a number of SW apps that permit you to record and "produce" a live video capture with snychronized audio and graphic insertion. Mainly using freeware such as Microsoft Producer and Encoder and a relatively inexpensive product called Camtasia. The uper level execs at our company have been making requests to record live events for live streaming, "webcasting", and eventual on-demand viewing across a network.
When hosting or producing the show from our studio or campus, we can capture and process on high-end (cough,gag, wheeze) PCs. However, when we travel, laptops are the default platform.
I have used a product developed by Sonic Foundry, Vegas Video, that works well with both desktops and laptop platforms for recording audio only. Works great with line level inputs, mic inputs are another problem.
I prefer, as most of us would, using balanced signals. Unfortunaltely that's not something that platform makers usually consider. As you would expect the recording controls on the Microsoft side are wanting and Camtasia is slim as well. I wouldn't expect them to be robust.

I've used both the XLR Mains from the Mackie - set to line level out, and the unbalanced headphone signal into a line in port, it's usually the best. However platforms that only suport mic level ins are the problem. I think that's where a DI would be useful for no ther reason than to convert the impedence.

Bob - I have used the newer Mackie with Firewire outputs in a broadcast studio environment and yes it's an expensive board. Although, if your working in a full-blown DV edit environment it's a dream come true. Unfortunately for me, it's bit too beefy for a portable/flyaway solution.

Again, thanks for the input and I apologize for not making myself as clear I should have. I will however take your suggestions inot consideration for home audio recording set ups.

thanks,
Mike
bsee
Senior Member
Username: bsee

Post Number: 825
Registered: 3-2004
Posted on Friday, April 01, 2005 - 3:51 pm:   Edit Post

And the software doesn't support USB for the audio stream, or is the USB capacity pegged taking the video? Would something like a Tascam US122 work to pass the audio to the laptop via the USB?

-Bob
groovelines
Advanced Member
Username: groovelines

Post Number: 230
Registered: 4-2003
Posted on Saturday, April 02, 2005 - 3:44 pm:   Edit Post

Right now, no, USB is not supported. Although I do like the idea.

Mike
byoung
Junior
Username: byoung

Post Number: 42
Registered: 12-2004
Posted on Monday, April 04, 2005 - 3:11 pm:   Edit Post

Mike,

I don't think this had been mentioned directly, but what about using a USB sound card?

This would plug in to the USB port, but the actual D-to-A conversion happens outboard, and the device shows up as a "regular" soundcard to Windows.

Something like the Creative Labs Extigy:

http://us.creative.com/products/product.asp?category=1&subcategory=207&product=585
http://us.creative.com/products/product.asp?category=1&subcategory=207&product=9637

If you're looking for a little better quality, maybe M-Audio can help:

http://m-audio.com/products/en_us/MobilePreUSB-main-1.html

This actually sounds like it can do *exactly* what you want-- balanced input, USB interface, etc.

Also, you could try a PCMCIA (stands for People Can't Remember Computer Industry Acronyms!) sound card like the Creative Audigy 2 Notebook:

http://us.creative.com/products/product.asp?category=1&subcategory=204&product=10769

That does have a line-in, apparently.

Hope that helps. I'd get the M-Audio, if it were me. If I can verify that it works with Linux, I might get it for recording at church when we install our new sound system.

Brad
groovelines
Advanced Member
Username: groovelines

Post Number: 231
Registered: 4-2003
Posted on Tuesday, April 05, 2005 - 10:52 am:   Edit Post

Brad and Bob,

Wow, thanks for the tips, both the M-Audio device and the US122 look promissing. Two great solutions, thanks. I've got some testing to do on an antiquated (3yrs old) laptops. Time to hit the boss up for some capital.....

I'll let you know how it goes if I make the purchase.

Mike

Topics | Last Day | Last Week | Tree View | Search | Help/Instructions | Program Credits Administration