Forum: n-Track Studio Discussion Forum
Topic: audio interface suggestions needed
started by: John Lucic

Posted by John Lucic on Jan. 25 2013, 4:52 AM
I could use some suggestions for brands and models of audio interfaces. Less expensive (under $300?) would be my preference.
I have n-track 7.0.0, build 2983 on a Windows 7 PC.

My first use would be to transfer some of my old 4 track cassettes onto n-track so that each track from the cassette has its own corresponding track in n-track. Then I want be able to manipulate each of these 4 tracks separately to add volume drawing, effects, EQ, then remix these old tracks digitally. These would be OK in 16 bit.

My second use for the audio interface would be to record guitar, bass or vocals, one at a time in mono or two at a time stereo (two mono tracks), in 24 bit with either 44100 or 48000 sampling frequency.
Posted by TonyR on Jan. 25 2013, 9:49 AM
Hi, John.
Below are the three inter's that I've used. They're all well trusted and easily within your price range. Notice they all have MIDI which may not be on your check-list but could be essential when it comes to syncing your 4trk tape machine with n-Track.

< http://www.thomann.de/gb/m-audio_delta_audiophile_2496.htm >

< http://www.google.co.uk/products/catalog?q=echo+mia+midi&rlz=1C1CHFX_enGB516GB516&um=1&ie=UTF-8&cid=999604279279507133&sa=X&ei=ukUCUd1YpZ3RBcWwgZgH&ved=0CDUQ8wIwAQ >

< http://www.thomann.de/gb/focusrite_saffire_6_usb.htm >

The concept of syncing tape with digital will only be possible if your 4trk has SMPTE midi time code capabilities or at least midi but then you'll need a separate MTC/SMPTE unit.
So, first things first - which model of 4track are you using?
Failing this scenario, it will be possible to to import each track and then sync them manually. This could get tricky and may depend on how good the drive-belts and motors are in your 4trk tape machine.
The rest is a doddle.
Posted by Mark A on Jan. 25 2013, 11:01 PM
Hey John,

You can get away with a two input (stereo) interface to transfer 4-track stuff into n-track (and end up with 4 separate tracks).

Checkout the first section in one of the FAQs:  http://ntrack.com/faq.php?category=6&showAll=1

I have used this myself and it works really well.  So if you already have a 2 input interface this would mean you could get started on transferring your stuff and give you something to work on while researching/saving for the new audio interface.  

Even if you don't have a 2 input interface they are really cheap on ebay.... really cheap.... in fact I've seen 4 input interfaces like Delta 44s and things like that go really cheap - awesome interface btw.

And on the subject of recording guitar/bass/vocals, I'd suggest looking at 8 or 16 inputs as a minimum even when recording one at a time as those interfaces are pretty cheap nowadays.  I have a Tascam US-1641 (discontinued now) that does 16 inputs via USB.  Been rock solid.  

And you'll be thankful for the additional inputs when your imagination starts working...... "I wonder what a room mic would add?"  "How about micing the bottom of the snare?" "I think I'll try DIing the bass AND micing the cab and combining the tracks"....

Anyway, just my two cents.

Mark
Posted by John Lucic on Jan. 25 2013, 11:15 PM
Tony,
Thank you for your help! My 4 track cassette is a Yamaha M120 (early to mid 1990s). It does not have a MIDI out, just 4 audio mono outs.

While I appreciate and will make note of your interface suggestions, I should have been more specific. I think I am looking for an external audio interface. Furthermore, I was looking at 4 in and 4 out (is out via USB?) with hopes that n-track would be able be set up to record the 4 tracks from my cassette, simultaneously. That way they would all be recorded at the same speed. Three models I imagine might work for this are:

< http://www.guitarcenter.com/Alesis-iO4-4-Channel-24-Bit-Recording-Interface-106861602-i1828024.gc >

< http://www.guitarcenter.com/Akai-Professional-EIE-I-O-Audio-MIDI-Interface-With-USB-Hub-106700560-i1826039.gc >

< http://www.guitarcenter.com/Akai-Professional-EIE-PRO-24-bit-Audio-MIDI-Interface-with-USB-Hub-107732505-i2370623.gc >

The Alesis had bad reviews whereas the two Akais had good reviews. I'm just not sure if they will do what I'm looking for.

With some of my 4 track tapes, I have recorded two of the four tracks, then the other two of the four tracks into n-track; but even if I line them up to start together, two of them are always slightly shorter or longer than the other two (so the drive belts or motors do run at slightly different speeds with each playing). With some of the songs I have been able to splice and sync two of the tracks (like vocal tracks or guitar fills which have sections of rests) so it sounds OK (the speeds between the sets of 2 tracks aren't so different that I can notice pitch discrepencies).

So, given all that info, if you can shed any more light, I'd welcome it. Thanks again.

John
Posted by TonyR on Jan. 26 2013, 12:05 AM
Cool, it sounds like you're getting there. I'd go with Mark on this one, more in's is the way to go with this as you have 4 out's. Just run all 4 in and lock them to a grid (if the Yamaha displays some kind of bpm it wll be easier). This would enable you to shift them around as one to create lead-in/intro space.
I look forward to hearing it.
Posted by Mark A on Jan. 26 2013, 6:24 AM
Quote: (John Lucic @ Jan. 26 2013, 11:15 AM)

With some of my 4 track tapes, I have recorded two of the four tracks, then the other two of the four tracks into n-track; but even if I line them up to start together, two of them are always slightly shorter or longer than the other two (so the drive belts or motors do run at slightly different speeds with each playing).

Yes, that's what you would expect and the FAQ I linked to above gives you a technique of lining up the starts, checking the difference in end points and doing a time stretch of one of the tracks.  The time stretch changes that are needed are to the track are small and, in the grand scheme of tape wow, flutter, and drive speeds (as you've noticed), are nothing to worry about.

I've done this many, many times with a 4-track and two input interface.  In fact my four track was also a Yamaha MT120.  This does work.

Hope this helps and doesn't confuse you further. :-)

As for your query about INs/OUTs and USB.  Yes, USB handles all the communications with the PC (in both directions).  You just plug you guitar (or whatever) into the jack on the interface and the interface transmits it over USB to the PC.  When you hit "play" the reverse happens at the audio ends up at the output jacks (or headphone jacks) of the interface.
Posted by dontcare on Jan. 26 2013, 5:50 PM
I know on Yamaha's MT4XE model there was a sync out on #1 Tape out.

this could be routed to a FSK to midi converter to sync to drum machines and midi sequencers.

something like this:

< http://planetbotch.blogspot.co.uk/2012/04/midiman-smartsync-how-it-worked.html >

check and see if the M120 has the FSK "sync" out on #1 tape.

YEP! according to the < http://www.yamaha.com/yamahavgn/Documents/ProAudio/MT120.pdf > it does.

dontcare  :cool:
Posted by dontcare on Jan. 26 2013, 5:59 PM
they can be had pretty cheap:

< http://www.ebay.com/itm/Midiman-SmartSync-song-pointer-sync-box-/251218172511?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item3a7dc51a5f >

dontcare :cool:
Posted by John Lucic on Jan. 26 2013, 6:11 PM
Mark, Tony and dontcare,

You have all been a big help. Thank you.

I think the FAQ that Mark sent on transferring from a 4 track analog multitrack recorder is going to be a very good way for me to try initially. I believe the the free wave editor, Audacity has a "Change Speed" effect, which changes tempo (length) and pitch of a track, and will allow me to fix the minicule difference in lengths of the two pairs of tracks that I transfer from my Yamaha 4 track tape recorder to n-track. What an ingenious FAQ! An inexpensive way to go too!

I have loved using n-track and using this great forum for years.

Thanks so much.

John
Posted by dontcare on Jan. 26 2013, 11:52 PM
I think Ntrack has that ability too,

to change speed/tempo and pitch of tracks.

there is a box somewhere 1.0x can be adjusted to any speed, 1.01x etc.

dontcare  :cool:
Posted by TonyR on Jan. 27 2013, 11:14 AM
Quote: (dontcare @ Jan. 26 2013, 4:52 PM)

I think Ntrack has that ability too,

to change speed/tempo and pitch of tracks.

there is a box somewhere 1.0x can be adjusted to any speed, 1.01x etc.

dontcare  :cool:

Yep.
And n-T offers the choice of which has priority over the other, "speed follows pitch/pitch follows speed".
Posted by John Lucic on Jan. 27 2013, 6:20 PM
I believe you are correct. I think I found it in n-track just after my last post; under "Track"..."Special"..."Time Stretch."  

What a great program n-track is.
Posted by John Lucic on Jan. 27 2013, 6:35 PM
Tony (or anyone else too),
What would be the advantage of choosing "speed follows pitch" or "pitch follows speed?"
Posted by TonyR on Jan. 28 2013, 1:12 AM
you might want to stretch the length without changing the pitch or vice versa.
Posted by dontcare on Jan. 28 2013, 2:01 AM
I like it better without changing pitch,

but then again I am not making any chipmunk albums this year  :D

dontcare (aka jerm)  :cool:
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