n-Track with an external mixer

Hi all. Wonder whether anyone can give some advice to an n-Track newbie. I’m currently using it in the “keyboard and mouse” style, but would eventually like to expand my creativity by hooking it up to a proper mixer. I’ve seen one on ebay http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/Recordi…iewItem and have some questions:
1. Can ntrack recognise mixers like this, and will it allow me to adjust two faders at the same time?
2. Will this enable me to record two tracks at once?

Sorry if my questions appear dumb, still picking up tips and tricks at this PC recording lark. Already had some great advice through this forum though!

If I’m not mistaken, to record more than one track at a time, it is necessary to have more than one input on your soundcard. That is why I think a lot of people use the Delta 1010 and others. With a mixer you can record all the channels at the same time but, if your soundcard has only ONE input, they will appear as only ONE track.

I think…


are you not looking for a mixer to control n-tracks?
if so i think that that behringer wont do it. you need a midi controler than ala the behringer bcf 2000. or the Mackie Control Universal.
those can be used to control software like cubase etc. dont know about n-tracks.
i have the behringer, but i use it to contol my soundcard. when that is what you are after i can see tonight if i can control n-tracks with it.

Thanks guys for the replies. I kinda though that might be the case with a single input sound card. I have an Audigy SE. I may activate the motherboard’s on board sound as well then, at least I should then have the capability to record 2 tracks at once. Am I correct in that assumption?

Thanks again, Daz

i think that is the case, but maybe wait to hear from others …
i also remember seeing a thread that addresses multi track recording…you might try doing a search on that subject.


in the search box you can type this
Noobie question…bear with me…
click ‘This year’ in the search options and it will take you to the thread i was talking about.



2. Will this enable me to record two tracks at once?

You should be able to do that already using just about any card - stereo = 2 * mono channels - left and right.

As for the mixer, it ain’t gonna help with your mixing without having a multi-out card (and then IMO the benefits are tiny compared to the ability to mix/save/automate in digital) - you would want a control surface as suggested above.

Mixers are very handy for connecting stuff up though…


Yes indeed, you’re looking for two separate things here:

1). A control surface, which give you physical faders that control n-Track’s faders. n-Track has some support for control surfaces; I’m not sure if it has full support for any of them, but it does support a MIDI protocol that can do basic stuff like controlling faders and panners. Of course to send MIDI data into your computer you’d need a MIDI interface.
(This is what I understand from reading, but I haven’t done it myself – all too common on the Internet! Anybody back me up or correct me?)

2). To record multiple tracks at once you need multiple inputs. You can use two soundcards simultaneously (or a soundcard and your motherboard’s onboard sound), but they are likely to drift out of sync during the course of the song, making your two tracks drift out of sync as well. If your soundcards have digital inputs and outputs you can connect them together so that they will sync up, and I believe that’s been covered on this forum before.

Hope that helps!


I’m awaiting the arrival of an 8in/8out soundcard with ‘breakout box’, and plan to hook the ins and outs up to my mixer. This scenario expands on Aikan’s post a little, adding a mixer to the idea:

The breakout box I’m getting does not have mic preamps, but RCA jacks (which are “unbalanced”), so to get signal up to line-level, I’m using an 8-channel mixer, with an xlr/mic pre on each channel. I have a phantom-power source for condenser mics, also to be sent though the mixer. The (Tascam M-30, found cheep on ebay) mixer has individual outs for each channel, and Busses-out for grouping some channels if appropriate.

I cable the mixer outs to the (unbalanced) breakout box inputs, which connect to the PC via another cable. The mic signals get recorded into n-Track, or whatever I’m using (probably n-Track).

Signal comes back out from n-Track (in the PC), and returns to the mixer- via the individual outs on the breakout box. The multiple output soundcard gives you lots of choices about where to send your outgoing signal: In most cases you can assign your inputs (to tracks), and outputs- stereo or mono channels- from within a mixer / router window that is part of the soundcard / breakout box ‘bundle’.

A control surface gives you physical faders, knobs, etc which send MIDI signals to the software, moving the on-screen faders and knobs. It looks and acts like an analogue mixer- handy if you get a little crazy after two or three hours of pushing your mouse and doing the ctrl+alt+shft+f5+… And it’s more fun, especially if you get one with lots of assignable knobs and motorized faders, like that Behringer BCF 2000. :cool:

Good posts, guys.

A couple things to consider:

1) Do NOT expect to be able to use two different soundcards to record at the same time, unless there’s a means to synchronize the two. Many aftermarket soundcards have S/PDIF and can clock off it, so with those soundcards you have a way to do it. But built-ins usually do not, AFAIK. If you don’t sync the two soundcards, the tracks will drift off in time during a recording.

2) n-Track fully supports MIDI control surfaces. I’ve never used one, but I bet they’re fun. Probably not worth the expense, though, unless you find something cheap or else you’re rather experienced and time is a premium (e.g., pros). Note that to get the best effect, you want to also configure for low-latency, so that you hear changes take effect immediately rather than up to a half second after the adjustment. In other words, ASIO defaults or tweaked WDM. Sorry for the techno-ese here; you can safely ignore this if you want!

I always thought one of these little babies would be fun:

but $400 is too expensive for my blood (read more HERE and HERE).

3) Look again, that mixer in the first post is not a Berry – it’s a Berry knock-off! Hoisted by their own petard, I’d say! :D

4) It’s handy having a mixer in the studio! I highly recommend the Soundcraft Compact series. Not only is their quality top-notch, but they’re not that much more expensive, and most importantly, extremely well designed for use with a computer-based DAW. It’s obvious how to set them up to handle monitoring and input, with these benefits:
– no possibility of direct feedback
– MUTE on all channels even in 4-bus operation
Unfortunately you don’t get that with comparable Mackie or Behringer mixers. Not sure about Yamah G series – I think with the 6-bus ones you can do it. Yamaha G mixers would be my other contender if I were looking.

Several nice things about having a mixer. First, you can use them for band practice, or a party, or a gig, or whatever. Yes, it’s a nuisance to pull them out of service to do it, which leads to my second point: it’s nice to have more than one mixer! So consider one that’s not a slave to it’s first intended purpose. Third, if you have a number of inputs, it’s nice to leave them all plugged in and select the one you want to record by pushing buttons rather than fumbling cables. This is really only feasible up to 4 inputs or so, after which a patch panel is nice, but often not needed depending on mixer & soundcard physical setup.

If you get a mixer, be sure it has “insert” jacks. You’d want this especially for 8-channel soundcards (or more).

Mixers are also necessary when you want to record more inputs than you have soundcard channels, like sub-mixing a drum kit. Note that it’s far easier/better to go multi-channel and each channel gets only one mike, but nonetheless it’s often the case that this isn’t feasible. When recording a band live or “live in the studio”, you almost always need more than 8 channels – unless it’s a 3-piece instrumental and you only use 4 mikes on the drums. Then 6 is enough!

Note that the vast majority of recording is done one track at a time. Unless you’re a drummer.

Quote (learjeff @ Feb. 20 2006,19:07)
Note that the vast majority of recording is done one track at a time. Unless you’re a drummer.

Yes, it took me awhile to come to the realization that recording one track at a time is the way to go. It allows discretely recording each sound source independently, with no bleed through from other sources. That is, if I’m recording myself singing with an acoustic guitar, there is no way to record my voice without the sound of the guitar. If you apply any effects to the vocal, the guitar sound muddies it up.

The problem I found was that when I recorded the guitar first and then a vocal second, it was missing the “magic” of performing the two at the same time. Some helpful soul on this board mentioned in passing that they started with a “starter” track of vocal + guitar, then recorded a guitar track, then a vocal track, and then deleted the “starter” track. The quality of the guitar playing and the vocal, I find is often better when performed separately.

However, often times singing while you’re playing seems to have a more cohesive, in sync sound to it. That’s what makes this all fun, perfecting the performance.


However, often times singing while you’re playing seems to have a more cohesive, in sync sound to it. That’s what makes this all fun, perfecting the performance.

Because I’m always playing guitar when I sing live, I’ve been known to record vocals with an unplugged electric guitar round my neck - maybe even strumming a few chords - because it feels more familiar and allows me to get into the recording performance more easily…

– Is that a guitar or a pacifier? :p

What I find is I have a lot harder time playing with good timing when I’m using a click track. Yet a click track is so beneficial for 1-at-a-time recording that I rarely do without it. That seems like a contradiction, and is to some extent, but the problem isn’t so much the timing errors (which sound natural) as the corrections (which don’t). Solution? Practice, practice, practice …

Which is the same solution as for the singing & playing problem.

Not that it makes it any easier.

BTW, I also sometimes record a dummy track, singing and playing. Especially for songs where I plan to vary the tempo, using ritards & a-tempos, etc. I play it first naturally and then create a click track, making judgement decisions whether a particular timing change was intended (artistic) or not (fubard) and compensating accordingly. This often requires chopping the original track, which then becomes unlistenable other than as a guideline. Tedious, to say the least, but sometimes that’s what it takes to get that “natural tempo” sound. Well, either that or a REAL musician who can actually play rock steady when they want to. ???

yep. not to mention mic control, good tuning, consistency… if only skilled musicians were the only people that needed recordin’ :wink:


– Is that a guitar or a pacifier?

Well yes it’s a pacifier of sorts… but really it just helps me get in a “more familiar” mood - recording can be soooo sterile. In some respects it’s just another technique - like having dimmed lighting, a comfortable feeling room, nice pics on the wall, etc, all to set the mood in the room to one that makes the performer more comfortable.

But anyway, we digress from the topic…