thinkpad T41 connection

i have a T41. The sound card only has mic and headphone connections. Can you connect a preamp or mixer or mbox to the USB port?

You should be able to use any USB type soundcard of which the Mbox is just one of many (its an expensive one as you are also paying for Protools with it).

See models by M-audio, Presonus, Edirol, etc find reveiws online in back editions of Sound on sound magazine.

USB can be a bit click and pop prone with some combinations of gear, would be interesting to hear of some-one using the same laptop as yours successfully.


thx Nick.

my goal is to be able to use my T41 plus something (preamp? mixer? mbox? etc) to do home recording (1 vocal & 1 guitar), and also to do live and multi-track recording of my 5-piece band (2 guitars, bass, drum, 3 vocals). I’ve havent had much luck trying to find 1 piece of not-too-expensive equipment that will do both. I guess that’s because I only need 2 mic inputs at home, but 8-10 for the band.

Hi , USB 1 is only reliable for up to maybe 4 simutaneous inputs.There are a couple of USB2 interfaces check out MOTU 828 which is available in USB2 or firewire versions. Motu 828 gives 8 analogue inputs and if you added Behringer ada8000 you would have 16 inputs.
General opinion seems to be that firewire interfaces are better than USB.If your laptop has a pcmcia slot you could get a pcmcia to firewire card.
I have no personal experience of this, hopefully someone who does will reply to you.


MOTU 828 mkII has 10 ananlog inputs. Original MOTU 828 is firewire-only, and has 8 inputs. Both support ADAT, which gives you 8 more channels at 16 bit depth. (That’s an ADAT limitation. ADAT also has a 24-bit mode where you get 4 channels per ADAT cable; I don’t know whether MOTU supports that mode.)

The T41 definitely supports USB2.0, as do any current models of audio interfaces.

You find that 8 channels just isn’t quite enough for good live recording, with that many pieces and vocals. Even 10 barely cuts it. The main reason is you need more than one channel for drums, and you also need at least one room mike – 2 is much better. Without enough input channels, you have to submix the drums, which is VERY hard to do live. Even with good isolation headphones there’s way too much bleed to get the mix right, and you can’t fix it later.

Also, there’s a cheaper way than an ADA8000, if you already have a mixer with enough mike preamps, and that’s to buy an old “blackface” ADAT unit on ebay for about $100 – sometimes less, especially if the tape drive is busted, and use it for line level to ADAT conversion. Still, you’re up to over $600 and that’s not including all the drum mikes! (Of course, that’s a huge bargain compared to the old days.)

BTW, if you get a docking port replicator for your T41, that has a line in jack. Cost/performance-wise, you’re way better off getting an audio interface, maybe something simple like the M-Audio Transit to get started ($80). But if you’re thinking of getting a dock anyway, keep that in mind. It’s definitely handy, but I doubt it’s cheap.

You say 5-piece band but list only 4 pieces … which is correct?

For home recording, you’ll need a small mixer or mike preamps, or else a soundcard with built-in mike preamps (which most soundcards have). The M-Audio Transit doesn’t have one, so you’d at least need to get a Behringer UB802 mixer. (Don’t get the UB502, which doesn’t have phantom power.)

For live recording, it’s a bit more complicated, and depends on (a) what the house PA mixer has, (B) how much the house sound guy will let you get in his hair, and © whether you need to submix to squeeze into 8 channels.

The best method is to have a snake splitter which you insert between the house’s snake end and their mixer, to feed your mixer. After that, and once the two of you finish arbitrating over mike setup, you’re out of each others’ hair completely.

The second best method is for you to take “insert” feeds from each channel on the house mixer – if it has them, and if they’re not being used for other purposes (like limiting). If you need to submix, then you feed these channels to your mixer, though most you can send directly to your soundcard (the ones you don’t need to submix). If you don’t need to submix, then you send ‘em directly to your soundcard.

The worst method, if you need to submix, is to try to use the house mixer for two purposes at once. This is a recipe for disaster unless the house sound guy is really savvy and willing to go way out of his way to help you do the recording. You will definitely be in each others’ hair, and the results for both recording and house sound will most likely suffer as a result of necessary compromises.

Great info guys–thx. We have 4 instruments and a lead singer. We have a great practice facility, a separate “barn” with carpeted walls. i’ll need awhile to try to understand what you have advised, but will try to learn this biz over the next few weeks. Thx again!

our band uses an allen & heath MixWizard 16.2DX. It has 16 channels. We also use a Zoom recorder/CD-burner. But we don’t know how to connect the mixer to the Zoom. So, to record, we just plug 2 condenser mics into the Zoom, bypassing the mixer entirely. I looked at the mixer at the allen & heath site (you have to look at their Old Products list), and there’s 2 outputs (L & R), with what looks like an XLR connection. The Zoom has 2 inputs. Do you think we could cable the mixer and the Zoom together?

If the zoom has line inputs, yes. You’d need to consult the mixer documentation to wire an adaptor to go from XLR-balanced to 1/4" unbalanced (or whatever the zoom has). (Presumably the mixer is balanced – that’s generally what XLR outputs on a mixer are).

A great way to record a practice or a gig is to drive one channel from the board – e.g., the house mix or the monitor mix, usually mostly vocals in either case – and the other channel from a mike in front of the stage (where it won’t get too much from mains or monitors, and will pick up the instruments well).

When you play it back on a typical home stereo, you adjust the balance knob until it sounds good. Not only do you get a nice sounding mix with an interesting stereo image, you can also hear all the parts better than other fast/easy methods. Plus, on a gig, you can hear what the sound guy is doing for you (or against you).

Of course, it’s not good enough for distribution, and horrible in headphones. But highly recommended for simply hearing what it is the band & sound guy are doing, and trivial to set up.

Thx Jeff. We’re practicing this sunday pm, so will check all connections then.