Audio Interfaces and clipping

Thoughts are much appreciated!

Original Music does indeed seem to switch back ( not the master switch in settings - but the 'in-window one). But regardless, even after switching that back, it seems to drop the level. No idea why yet.

I did manage to get OBS audio working. Needed to change audio monitoring to “Monitor and Output” so that’s one thing sorted. Which is great - because I’ve had enough fiddling for one night :slight_smile:

What kind of sync issues were you getting? I have it technically working - but only as a proof of concept and haven’t tried to make any kind of real life recording. sO I’m wondering what else I should look out for.

Also check out the Behringer UMC range, like the UMC204HD. In some tests/reviews they match or better the equivalent Focusrite.

Cheers,

Keith

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I’ve found that audio clipping and levels for recording and OMs are slightly different. Here’s my experience for OMs. I also have a 2i2, I run my software chain from 2i2 → Ableton (DAW) → OBS → Zoom.

For both, I try to get the interface at the level where it’s a strong input signal but not hitting the red at any point.

In Ableton I balance the signal between guitar/mic, usually by boosting one. Sometimes I boost master channel. This is where I tweak levels. Usually a boost, seldom a downwards adjustment.

OBS I do nothing but take audio and add the webcam. It receives audio via reastream. Sends it out via VB Audio cable. Zoom I run at maximum microphone volume.

One time a while ago, when reading about optimal levels (-whatever db) I reduced the output volume in ableton to try to get it to that. Big mistake. That was the one OM I was way too quiet.

Since then I’ve always tried to have sound coming out of Ableton running at either 0 or +1-2 DB. I found that Zoom will not boost your sound if you are too quiet, but it will quieten you slightly if you’re too loud, but you’ll still have good levels.

You might get a little bit of software clipping, but you’ve got to think about what is clipping. Clipping for massively loud sounds is OK if it brings 99.5% of your performance into a better, more enjoyable volume level IMHO. Being too quiet sucks.

Input clipping though… nope, don’t want that. Well, maybe if I shout into the mic it would do it…

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In terms of sync issues I meant my video was delayed against the sound, and did everything as others normally do. So this issue was only resolved when I applied reastream.

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Same set-up for me, Jeremy, and on same source guidance … K.I.S.S.

My cheapo Logitech usb web-cam has a mic, which is garbage, although the camera is fine for my needs. (A factor to consider is one’s internet bandwidth, mine is very poor on a good day.
Important peeps : Confirm both upstream and downstream. Your IP’s headline figures will unlikely match reality; so run Speedtest, or similar. As long as my acoustic has 6-strings, BT over Copper will never (ever) better 1Mb upstream and 4Mb downstream. So quality video is a waste of time and it will not help the Zoom audio stream either.

My Boss Amp has two channels which I plug into my Focusrite 4i4 Gen3 that runs through my PC (Win10) via usb. I have the ASIO audio drivers installed.

I just select Focusrite for audio in the Zoom audio-list, and PC web-cam from the video-list.

I have tried, but have “crashed and burned” with OBS thus far: so it is not in the signal chain, but I don’t think its absence affects my OM Zoom session much … dunno tbh, because I don’t really understand OBS … :man_shrugging: :pleading_face:

As for avoiding clipping I just use the “traffic light halos” on the Focusrite gain control knobs … mainly green, with an occasional drift into amber, and avoid any red on both Guitar and Voice channels. My acoustic guitars have pick-ups, and I tend to use a dynamic mic for voice (I also have a condenser mic, which seemed to be a good idea at the time ! … although it works well while playing/singing “unplugged” with a bit of trial and error on mic positioning.

I monitor an OM Zoom performance with earphones plugged into the Focusrite.

I try to remember to ensure that Zoom’s “Original sound for musicians” is ON, otherwise everything above is a waste of time and effort … :upside_down_face:

Youlean loudness meter is mentioned above: it is a good tool, particularly for optimising for Zoom, FB, YT, etc , but think I need to get my small brain engaged with OBS or my DAW (Reaper) to use that to good effect.

Any questions … I am not your man … far better resources above my play-grade in here … :wink:

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Thanks JK.
My setup was Stereo inputs (already mixed) => 2i2 => Zoom.

Currently introducing OBS into the audio mix. I could do a DAW to if I had to - but will try first without. I gather that I’m going to have better success if I can control my volume somewhere between the AI and Zoom regardless of exactly how. I think next time round I’ll spend an extra minute or two during soundcheck to tweak levels as opposed to just ‘can you here me? good.’

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@Elixir1253

Colin (that is right? All the names and user names can addle my mind), you don’t need to use OBS. You should be able to be just fine taking audio and video from the AI and webcam directly into Zoom as you describe.

You’d only need OBS if you want to make use of more audio sources, which are not routing through your AI to be combined into an aggregated stereo input into Zoom by the driver. For example, playing over a backing tracked being played in a music player or playing an electric guitar plugged into the AI with a digital amp in a DAW.

Personally I opted to use OBS into order to make videos for AVOYP without needing to make use of a DAW. And having figured that out, it is just a simple step to route my video and audio through OBS to Zoom.

But if you are interested, I suggest start off by making recordings in OBS. You’ll need the ASIO plugin installed in OBS. Then you can select your audio inputs from the AI. What may be a benefit is that you can set levels independently in OBS for each input channel of the AI. As is your vocal/guitar balance is controlled by the level of the input (guitar volume, how loud you sing) and the gain knobs. It may be an improvement to be able to adjust that balance in OBS.

If you can make recordings then the next step for a live OM is to make use of the camera feed from OBS by turning that on, I think it is called virtual camera. And install a virtual cable that can be used to take output from OBS to serve as input to Zoom. That is described in the OM Events area in a topic.

But really no need unless you find achieving a decent level and balance in Zoom to be a challenge. I don’t recall that was an issue when you performed.

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David, thanks for taking the time to give comprehensive feedback; very helpful.

I don’t, as yet, have a need for additional signal sources like backing tracks; it’s just me and my guitar. That said, I have decided to focus more of my playing time on AVOYP and can see merit in getting to grips with OBS basics (even Reaper too) while my input set-up is relatively simple.

Just to update, thanks to the advice I’ve received on this subject, especially from @Majik and @RobDickinson I’ve more or less decided to get myself either the Behringer UMC204HD or the Steinberg UR22 MKII Value Edition based on specs and reviews, although of course it’s tempting to go for the Focusrite 2i2 simply because of the massive user base with not a bad word to say about it. I believe @Majik uses a Behringer, but does anyone have experience with Steinberg equipment?

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If your still tempted by the 2i2 you can get the gen 3 at a good price.

Thanks Greg, all three interfaces are around that price point - which was a factor in making the shortlist!

Thres going to be very little difference in terms of audio quality between the good ones… 0.00002% thd wont be hearable…

I would think about inputs and capabilities you need

  • how many/what type
  • What headphones it can drive
  • can it cope with the mics you want(?)
  • how easy is it to use
  • what software does it come with

I dont expect there to be a big difference between all that either its a pretty competitive market

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Yeah, of the three on my shortlist, the focusrite seems to be the only one that doesn’t have a midi input/output (which I don’t really need at the moment, but my piano has midi output so possible future use) and the Behringer seems to be the only one that doesn’t come with a massive software bundle, but I’m quite happy with the software I’ve already got - licensed copy of Reaper, OBS, Shotcut for video editing, and Zoom (of course!)

I’ll continue to ponder, and update here when I actually buy one, when my credit card recovers from the impulse purchase I made last night - a 5w tube amp for just under a ton!

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If you end up doing a lot of music in reaper or whatever being able to sequence midi on the keyboard might be good.

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As @RobDickinson says, at this price-point there’s going to be almost no difference in quality.

As I have said before, all of these devices far exceed what the best recording studios in the world had back in the 60s and 70s (and much of the 80s) and all for less than around $100 per input.

From the point of view of bundled software, in my experience it’s not really worth having. Most of it is either stuff you won’t use, or that you can get elsewhere.

Sure, I can see why it’s helpful as a new user it seems good to have quick and easy access to software apps, and the “lite” versions of DAWs they give away in these bundles can seem like a good starting point. But these versions are usually very restricted versions and, if you aren’t careful, you can end up getting “trapped” in an expensive ecosystem.

IMO getting something like Reaper (or Ardour) is the wise choice: you are paying a relatively small amount for a fully-featured app, knowing you aren’t going to suddenly hit the restrictions and have to pay to upgrade go further.

Cheers,

Keith

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I disagree with this bit, I use the bundled Ableton Lite I got with my Focusrite almost every day. Haven’t yet needed to do a recording with more than 8 tracks and it has WAY more stuff built in than Reaper (which I paid for, so ironically reaper ended up costing more).

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I sit corrected.

Cheers,

Keith

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Thanks guys, I’m finding this incredibly helpful in clarifying my thought process.

The way I’m thinking now, is I’ve got a shortlist of two, the Focusrite gets bumped for lack of MIDI. JK @jkahn I take your point, but I still tend to agree with Keith @Majik on the bundled software - I already have a paid-for copy of Reaper so another “free” DAW would be redundant. I suppose it will come down to price, then maybe if they’re more-or less the same price perhaps the freebies will tip the balance. I’d still like to hear from someone who’s used Steinberg gear though.

EDIT: After further research (looking at reviews on Amazon) I see that the Steinberg has more than double the poor reviews of the Behringer (18% 1-3 star vs 7%) which is a factor I find more compelling than the free software.

Thanks again for your help guys I’m going to get the Behringer :smiley: :+1:

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