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Old October 8th, 2011, 02:26 PM   #1
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Cubase 6, M-Audio Fast Track Ultra 8R and Live Recording

Hi all,

I've been thinking of putting together a live audio recording solution for bands so that I can get a multitrack audio master when I do a multi camera shoot of a gig. The band I am working with at the moment uses a Soundcraft Live desk with direct outs on all the channels. I'm thinking I need a 16 way loom to take each source from every channel and patch it into my recording system. I want the recording system to be as good a quality as I can get, reliable and yet (as always) as cheap as possible. Here is my proposed solution:

My video edit box, running Cubase 6 or a suitable older version of Cubase
2 x M-Audio Fast Track Ultra 8R
16 way loom (jacks) connecting the desk from direct outs to the 2 x M-Audio racks

Does anyone have any experience of using Cubase with the M-Audio Fast Track Ultra 8R? More specifically, using two of them on the same system?

The Fast Track Ultra 8R is a single rack unit module with 8 ins and 8 outs. It connects to a PC via USB2.0 and by all accounts allows you to record on all the ins at the same time. The edit box I am using is fairly powerful as of course, it's a video edit box. What I am wondering is:

1. Which version of Cubase would allow me to record 16 tracks from 16 external sources all at the same time for up to 2.5 hours?
2. Will I be able to get that much data through two USB2.0 ports on my edit box? I know you can with one 8R but would two work?
3. How reliable is this going to be? I don't fancy having to deal with a multitrack recording with lots of dropouts because of USB2.0 bandwidth issues.
4. If a lesser version of Cubase (than the latest) will do the job, where would I get it from and what version would it be?
5. Would ProTools be a better option?
6. If it works on my desktop edit box, would the same solution work just as well on a decent laptop? That would make the system so portable it's untrue!

Here is the M-Audio Fast Track Ultra 8R:

M-AUDIO - Fast Track Ultra 8R - High-speed 8 x 8 USB 2.0 Interface with 8 Preamps and MX Core DSP

Any DAW or computer based audio experts out there that have done something like this? I quite fancy the idea of having a digital 16 track portable studio! :-)


Kind regards,

Andrew
Carillon Video - Professional Wedding Videographer & Wedding Video Production Services in Bolton, Manchester & all over the UK
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Old October 8th, 2011, 03:51 PM   #2
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Re: Cubase 6, M-Audio Fast Track Ultra 8R and Live Recording

I can't say with the M-audio, but I have used two similar setups - dual Soundscape 8 in 8 out cards and currently my portable rack has a Tascam 1648 interface in it.


There is however, a snag when you want to run multiple audio interfaces. To do so you need to use the ASIO drivers - this will let you run multiple devices at the same time. The snag is latency - however, as you are only recording, this probably won't matter too much. Using the proper drivers gives latencies that allow real time monitoring - it's about 5ms on my machines here - ASIO is about 20ms.

Your idea is sound, and pretty well there's no reason not to go for version 6 - little point not buying the current one.

In practice, there are a few snagettes with doing what you intend. The main one is that the person running the desk will frequently adjust the channel gains while the show runs and this buggers your levels too!

I have my portable system built into a rack, with a pull out monitor, and the PC is a Carillon - in a great sturdy case. It's also got a few other rack gadgets in there, and I can wheel it in and be recording pretty quickly. Originally, I was going to use a removable drive I could then stick into the machine in the studio, but as I now always backup my files, I simply make sure Cubase is set to record the files into the machines hard drive and then dump the folder into a portable USB drive, then use that to get the files into the studio machine. It's quicker than using a network connection - or at least, seems to be!

I used to use an Alesis HD24 but being able to see waveforms on the screen is much better.

I made one severe cock-up. The system Cubase uses to do the routing needs you to allocate each input channel to the relevant track - and the mistake I made just once, was to forget to do this, assuming the previous default setting was correct. What actually happened was that it recorded input number one to all recording channels and as I was seeing waveforms creeping across the screen, I knew it was recording - BUT it took two songs before I suddenly noticed they were all identical and it clicked.

I loved recording to the HD24 hard disc machine this way, but going direct to cubase is much, much better - and you are ready to edit straight away. My system has been rock solid - the only software on it is cubase and sony soundforge - nothing else.

So the only snag I can see is the multiple driver issue - and that will take a bit of fiddling with, and depends on the drivers that come with the m-audio. M-audio have been steinberg friendly for years, so there's a chance they could have already built the driver to stack the inputs - but I don't know.

Best wishes
Paul
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Old October 10th, 2011, 05:29 AM   #3
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Re: Cubase 6, M-Audio Fast Track Ultra 8R and Live Recording

Hi Paul,

Thanks for your reply. There is some great info in your post. :-)

I guess the very fact that Tascam make an interface that has 16 inputs on USB means the USB2.0 interface can deal with the bandwidth required for 16 inputs. I assume you record on all 16 inputs at the same time with your Tascam?

Latency wouldn't be a problem I don't think, because I'm not monitoring and playing along. I am simply piping out all 16 channels from the desk into the multitrack. The only time latency would be a problem is if using two A to D interfaces, they had different latencies at different times. Then it would make it impossible. I guess that depends on the reliability of the drivers.

I've been checking out the block diagram for the LX7 mixer and you're right... the direct outs are post gain and post EQ. However, they are switchable pre / post fader, so I can switch them to pre fader so that my live mix doesn't impact my recording levels. Luckily, it will be me doing the live sound so I can ensure the gains are correct.

I'm getting excited now I think I've found a workable solution! :-)


Kind regards,

Andrew
Carillon Video - Professional Wedding Videographer & Wedding Video Production Services in Bolton, Manchester & all over the UK
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Old October 10th, 2011, 08:08 AM   #4
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Re: Cubase 6, M-Audio Fast Track Ultra 8R and Live Recording

Just a thought ... Firewire interfaces can be often be cascaded. I have an Echo AudioFire 12 and an AudioFire 8. Each has two Firewire ports on the box. If I daisy-chain them, plugging one into the computer's Firewire port and the other into the 2nd Firewire port on the first interface, DAW software sees the pair as a single 20 channel interface. No multiple driver issues to worry about.
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Old October 10th, 2011, 10:04 AM   #5
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Re: Cubase 6, M-Audio Fast Track Ultra 8R and Live Recording

The basic concept is sound. I have a large format Yamaha 32 input desk, and I actually use the inserts - but in a crafty way. The 3 cable looms, (3 x 8ch) go into the insert sockets, and then on a panel on the back of my recording rack, are separate in and out on a patch bay. The feed to the recorder is taken from the top socket - so it means I still have access to inserts on the desk, via the patch. The reason is my mixer doesn't have direct outs.

The only other slight problem for me, is that I tend to set my input gains a little lower than many people, because I've always found that no matter how well you set them, the musicians always play louder. The desk is pretty noise free, pre-amp wise, so for the PA it has plenty of headroom - however, this actually gives me a little less level to the recorder than I'd like. It doesn't cause any real grief, but is sometimes a battle when mid song you really want to give the preamp a tweak, but can't!

One thing I have done is invest in a UPS for the computer - it's critical not to lose power, and it's proved it's worth a couple of time now. Enough time to be able to save the file and shut down if necessary.

Other tips? Cubase really needs you to remember to name the tracks before your record. I frequently end up with audio files with numbers attached rather than bass guitar - just because I was lax and started recording before adding the track names. It's a pain trying to match audio files to the right track afterwards when you are certain track 12 was the rack tom, when it wasn't!
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Old October 11th, 2011, 04:19 AM   #6
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Re: Cubase 6, M-Audio Fast Track Ultra 8R and Live Recording

Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve House View Post
Firewire interfaces can be often be cascaded. I have an Echo AudioFire 12 and an AudioFire 8. Each has two Firewire ports on the box. If I daisy-chain them, plugging one into the computer's Firewire port and the other into the 2nd Firewire port on the first interface, DAW software sees the pair as a single 20 channel interface.
Hi Steve,

That's interesting.... I assume you're using a Firewire 400 interface? If so, USB2.0 has a higher bandwidth (480Mbps as opposed to 400Mbps) than Firewire, so that's a good example of being able to get more than 8 channels of digital audio through two USB2.0 cables. :-)


Kind regards,

Andrew
Carillon Video - Professional Wedding Videographer & Wedding Video Production Services in Bolton, Manchester & all over the UK
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Old October 11th, 2011, 04:27 AM   #7
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Re: Cubase 6, M-Audio Fast Track Ultra 8R and Live Recording

Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul R Johnson View Post
The only other slight problem for me, is that I tend to set my input gains a little lower than many people, because I've always found that no matter how well you set them, the musicians always play louder.
That's fairly normal for a live band. In all the years I have been doing sound for bands (a lot longer than video!) I've been either setting my gain correctly during the soundcheck, only to have to pull everything down in the first ten seconds of the actual gig because they're playing louder or I do the right thing and leave myself 6dB of headroom for just that eventuality. Good old adrenaline!

Quote:
One thing I have done is invest in a UPS for the computer - it's critical not to lose power, and it's proved it's worth a couple of time now. Enough time to be able to save the file and shut down if necessary.
I keep telling myself I need a UPS just for the video editing side. It's a nightmare when you lose power in the middle of a big project!

Quote:
Cubase really needs you to remember to name the tracks before your record. I frequently end up with audio files with numbers attached rather than bass guitar - just because I was lax and started recording before adding the track names. It's a pain trying to match audio files to the right track afterwards when you are certain track 12 was the rack tom, when it wasn't!
That wouldn't be a problem for me. I know all the tracks vs channels that the band use. I'm their sound engineer all the time, so I kinda chose the setup the way I wanted it. Still, it's a good point, especially if I had to pass a multitrack project to someone else. They wouldn't have a clue.

Thanks for all the tips guys. :-)

If anyone comes across any info regarding the M-Audio Fast Track Ultra 8R and being able to use two of them stacked on one DAW, let me know. That's the missing piece of the puzzle!


Kind regards,

Andrew
Carillon Video - Professional Wedding Videographer & Wedding Video Production Services in Bolton, Manchester & all over the UK
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Old October 11th, 2011, 04:41 AM   #8
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Re: Cubase 6, M-Audio Fast Track Ultra 8R and Live Recording

Quote:
Originally Posted by Andrew Prince View Post
Hi Steve,

That's interesting.... I assume you're using a Firewire 400 interface? If so, USB2.0 has a higher bandwidth (480Mbps as opposed to 400Mbps) than Firewire, so that's a good example of being able to get more than 8 channels of digital audio through two USB2.0 cables. :-)


Kind regards,

Andrew
Carillon Video - Professional Wedding Videographer & Wedding Video Production Services in Bolton, Manchester & all over the UK
Yep, Firewire 400. Unlike USB, daisy chaining of multiple devices is part of the firewire spec and the driver see's both devices as a single unified device.
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Old October 11th, 2011, 05:22 AM   #9
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Re: Cubase 6, M-Audio Fast Track Ultra 8R and Live Recording

Thanks Steve. :-)
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Old October 11th, 2011, 05:31 AM   #10
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Re: Cubase 6, M-Audio Fast Track Ultra 8R and Live Recording

Just found this:

M-AUDIO - Knowledge Base

It basically says:

Quote:
It is not possible to use more than 1 M-Audio USB Audio Device attached to the same computer. M-Audio does not currently support the installation of drivers for multiple M-Audio USB Audio Devices on the same system. There are driver file names common to all M-Audio USB Audio Devices, and installing drivers for a second device will overwrite files necessary for the currently installed device, and can result in this device no longer functioning properly. If you would like to switch between diferent M-Audio USB Audio Devices, you must uninstall the drivers for the first device before installing and connecting the second.
So the question is.... does the above text refer to two identical 8Rs on the system or different models of M-Audio devices?


Kind regards,

Andrew
Carillon Video - Professional Wedding Videographer & Wedding Video Production Services in Bolton, Manchester & all over the UK
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Old October 11th, 2011, 05:52 AM   #11
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Re: Cubase 6, M-Audio Fast Track Ultra 8R and Live Recording

Looks like it's not possible....

Dual Fast Track Ultra 8r?

Grrr. :-(


Kind regards,

Andrew
Carillon Video - Professional Wedding Videographer & Wedding Video Production Services in Bolton, Manchester & all over the UK
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