Digital Recording, FireWire(IEEE 1394) with mixing boards, etc.

We’re trying to set up a decent home studio and are a little clueless on the current state of home recording.

We’ve got an “old timey” 16 channel mixer feeding two channel into a TASCAM 428 that connects to our computer using USB and the software we’re using is Cakewalk Home Studio XL.

Limitations: This gives us basically 2 tracks to work with and eliminates manipulation of the individual tracks since they have been mixed down into left and right already.

What we want:
Apparently there are now mixers that use Firewire (IEEE-1394) to connect to the computer. That’s all well and good, a web search tells me I can pick up a Firewire card for around $50. Here’s the question: With one of these fancy-smanshy mixers, will Cakewalk be able to read each channel (16? 24?) on the mixer as a different track? For instance, with the TASCAM it recognizes A:B and C: D and can map each input to a different track. If not (and god, I hope not. Cakewalk is not cheap) are there other products that can read multiple tracks at once?

And please ask for additional information if I’m lacking in detail. TIA.

I think I understand your question. But let’s see.

In short, the answer is yes.

Let’s say you bought a MOTU 828mkII. This isn’t a console like you would expect, its more of a digital/analog converter with mixing as a added bonus. But it connects to your computer though firewire.

It has 8 ins and 8 outs.

Let’s say you want to record 6 tracks. Each of those 8 inputs should show in Cakewalk as a line in. So you just set Cakewalk to record input one to track one, input two to track two, etc.

Cakewalk is inteneted to mix down internally. So you’d then take those 6 track, set your levels, add FX, and record the mixdown to another wav file. BUT,. if you want you can output those 6 tracks to any of the MOTU 8 outputs you want, run them through a hardware console and mixdown old school. All the routing of track output is controlled through software, so you could output tracks 1, 2 and 4 out of output 1, track 3 out output 2, tracks 5, 6, 7 and 8 out output three.

The same holds true if you record 32 tracks in cakewalk. You just route them out the MOTU anyway you want.

Motu aside, I think this is how most firewire mixers/in-out devices are designed. The software controls in the ins and outs.

That said, I don’t know how Cakewalk Home Studio XL is set up. I’ve used Cakewalk studio versions 3 through 8 and I’m currently using Sonar 2. It allows for pretty much any set up and routing you can think of. I’m not sure what limitations Home Stduio XL might have.

Mackie’s new Onyx mixers have an optional FireWire card that will deliver each channel individually into your computer via a single FireWire cable.

Ah, technology. It’s a good time to be a musician.

Actually, the Onyx was the one that we were looking at!

And thanks Seven, the more I though about it the more I realized it wouldn’t make any sense for such technology to exist if Cakewalk couldn’t recognize each channel. I’m just so used to seeing the 4 inputs from the TASCAM on Cakewalk that having
Channel 1
Channel 2
Channel 3

Channel 16

as options for track source seems alien.