Digital mixers like the Mackie DL16S vs. USB Interfaces like Focusrite 18i8 Scarlett?

This old topic is closed. If you want to reopen this topic, contact a moderator using the "Report Post" button.
I have always wanted to use Apple's Mainstage software and my Focusrite 18i8 Scarlett as the Mixer and Effects unit for a PA System.

I'd like to plug my Shure SM58 into the Focusrite USB interface that plugs into my MacBook Pro. Then run the main L & R outs from the Focusrite out into two Powered Speakers... and Poof! instant rehearsal PA system.

I have been told by many people that a USB audio interface that was designed for recording into a DAW would not work well, or even at all, as a "digital mixer". Recently, however, I have seen the market starting to fill up with "digital mixers" like the Mackie DL32R, DL32S, DL16S, etc. They call these things "digital mixers"... but all they really seem to be are audio interfaces... that have a 'computer' and some DAW-like software running. To me... that the same thing as using a Focusrite USB into Mainstage, then into Powered speakers.

Am I wrong?
The big difference here is latency.

When you're recording into a DAW, you don't mind so much if it takes 50ms to process the audio in the DAW.

Live, you'll mind that a lot.

Live mixing desks are expressly designed to make sure signal passes through as quickly as possible, so their internal "computer" is designed and built to be relatively lightweight (in terms of outright processing power), but able to move lots of simple things quickly.

Your laptop hasn't been optimised in that way. It might still be able to do the job, but I'd do a lot of testing before using it in that way.

One last thing - if you're going to take a laptop to run your sound at a gig, make damn sure you've got a backup. I'm a live sound engineer, and I can't count the number of times that a laptop problem has made an act start late, so that their set has been cut short.

It looks bad on the artist and (to some extent) the venue - they weren't asked to come back.

Even if your backup is a basic analogue mixing desk and an MP3 player to play backing tracks, make sure you can have something half-decent up and running within a few minutes of the laptop going down.

With interfaces produced in recent years, the interface latency is 2-3 ms.
If the latency is one way to DAW, is still about 10 ms.
Both ways is about 20 ms.
That horrible 50 ms is the Yamaha PCI DSF card.
If direct output from interface is sent to speakers, there is no latency.

This old topic is closed. If you want to reopen this topic, contact a moderator using the "Report Post" button.