August 8, 2012
Routing and Listening
My mobile (is it mobile still? I fear by now the gear will fill the trunk of my car to capacity… ) recording studio is growing. Studio monitors are the latest addition. I found out you can’t really pipe the synthesizer‘s output over to a guitar amp and out of the amp’s speaker. Technically, you can, of course, the FireWire Audio interface provides all connections you could wish for. There’s a different frequency response intended with a guitar amp than you’d need for mixing and mastering. Studio monitors go much lower and strive for a neutral response across the range. You won’t (and don’t want to) get that out of a tube amp even if you run it as clean as possible.
They do seem to deliver on their name’s promise. Speakers are a 8-inch woofer and a ribbon tweeter and of course they are active monitors. Input is by XLR or TRS plug cable and on the back they have switches to engage one high-cut and two low-cut filters. These are helpful to compensate for room acoustics and placement specifics. Studio monitors should be placed in an equilateral triangle with the apex at the listener and an angle of 60° there. Right now I can’t position them in this way, but their sound and stereo image still seems ok to me. These monitors don’t seem to be so sensitive to placement, perhaps because their bass reflex channels end at the front side.
So now I can listen to the synthesizer’s stereo output without headphones on. The Saffire Pro 14 FireWire audio interface routes in- and outputs in the following manner:
Input 1 takes an instrument cable from my guitar.
Input 2 takes a XLR cable from my Shure SM57 microphone which is listening to the guitar amp. This is my preferred method of getting an authentic guitar tone into the system.
Input 3 and 4 take the left and right stereo outputs from the synth by instrument cable.
The headphones get two ouput channels.
Output 3 and 4 are fed directly by input 3 and 4 and of course are on Monitor 1 and 2 channels as well.
Plus, there are lots of internal routing possibilities to my DAW software and monitoring software on my Linux laptop.
With such a rat’s nest of connections (see lead image), it is easy to shoot yourself into the foot. For example, it pays to switch off the studio monitors if you’re recording the guitar amp with the mic if you don’t want to blow up everything with feedback…