Saturday, April 11, 2009

A New-to-Me Way piece of hardware that I like.

I recently won an eBay auction for an Alesis Multimix 8 Firewire mixer/audio computer interface.
I really wasn't to happy with the Mac laptop- M-Audio combination (USB) that I had been using.  The Fast Track Pro had only two mic inputs and I was getting some random noise every once in a while.  The mics I was using needed phantom power and I wonder about USB supplying that and it didn't come with a power supply.  I also wonder about USB vs Firewire throughput, but I am not an engineer. 
I guess I just wanted something with a little more.  More imputs, more power.  I didn't have to hurry so a bargain on eBay was worth waiting for.
I was a little concerned about some people's thoughts on the Alesis drivers, but most of the negativity seemed related to Windows installers.  The feedback online was "LOVE it" or "hate it."  I went with "LOVE it."  Figuring most of the "hate it" was from users that didn't install their own software very often.
The unit arrived and I gave it a try.  
Alesis went out of their way in the manuals to say that you should download the latest drivers.  That made tons of sense.  How long did this sit on a shelf?   Who knows if the disc inside was even close to current?  If there was anything to be fixed in the drivers, the drivers online would have the fix.
Alesis went out of their way to write a friendly manual and offered many tips on set-up.  I like this approach even if the product is something an expert should be able to handle.  The manual isn't a terribly long read, was written in plain English (without being condescending.) and it is worth the read.
Anyway, I've got it hooked up to Garageband for quick recordings in rehearsal.  I plan to give the included DAW (Cubase) sometime, but I need to make some room on the too small hard drive first! 
This unit isn't huge.  Everything you need for a field recording should fit in a laptop bag.  The larger number inputs does offer some flexibility, so I think I will be using the Fast Track less (as in maybe selling it.)
Digital stereo playback will make kids believe what you have been telling them.  It has helped this week when spring fever has started kicking in.  Fire up a recorder and the kids will try harder to make their best tone and blend.  Try it in your rehearsal sometime!

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