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Can a computer with an audio interface be used as a Live Audio PA mixer?
Can a computer with an audio interface be used as a Live Audio PA mixer?
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Old 21st March 2019, 07:11 PM   #1
Dolmetscher007 is offline Dolmetscher007
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Default Can a computer with an audio interface be used as a Live Audio PA mixer?

I have been a one-man-band for quite a while, just writing songs and recording them into my MacBook Pro running Logic Pro X using a Focusrite Scarlett 18i8 audio interface.

I have decided to start an actual band finally, and now have a drummer, a bass player, and a second guitar player. Problem is... I don't have a PA, nor a ton of cash to buy one. I have done a good bit of reading up on PA systems, and it seems like I would be better served to invest the bulk of my budget on the power amplifier. I would really love to bypass having to buy a Live sound mixer. I really love the processing power that I can get using my Mac/Logic/Focusrite combo. I would not use Logic, but switch to using MainStage, which has the same audio processing effects etc just much simpler and without recording features.

Can anyone tell me of any problems I might run into using a computer with an interface AS my mixer just for band practices so I can sing into a mic? The two things I am most concerned about are headroom and feedback.

I'd rather buy a nicer $1,200 power amp, and a $600 power amp so that I can afford to buy a $600 mixer with onboard reverb, eq, etc.
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Old 23rd March 2019, 12:05 AM   #2
VolunteerSoundGuy is offline VolunteerSoundGuy  United States
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Ultimately, you'll be better off with a dedicated mixer that is designed for that task alone. Better reliability, parts integration, workflow, etc.

But yes, you *can* use a DAW as a live mixer with effects, etc. Of course, the caveats above will apply, and the burden is on *you* to keep latency down to something acceptable, but it does work.

Assuming 24-bit, 48kHz converters or better, and good analog front/back-ends, there's no difference at all in headroom or feedback. That part is all in how you adjust it, where you put and aim the mics and speakers, etc.

Last edited by VolunteerSoundGuy; 23rd March 2019 at 12:08 AM.
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Old 23rd March 2019, 12:49 AM   #3
indianajo is online now indianajo  United States
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I have my doubts. Disk drives aren't meant to be banged around on the road and computer displays are a bit fragile, IMHO, too. The plugs in and out of a computer are non-roadworthy, too. Wait til you snap off a stereo 1/8" phone plug shaft in the socket.
People usually start a band with mixer/amps at about 100 W/ch. There are a lot of those on e-bay, needing repair. This is diyaudio after all. Might be harder to find one with reverb and graphic equalizer, those aren't low end features. Biggest problem with repairing one is getting all the knobs & pot fasteners off to get the cover plate off. Most parts are cheap but slide pots of a particular oddball size might have to come from the OEM, and be expensive. Look at newark & digikey for what length stereo log pots they sell before you bid on anything broken. I just scored a 5 channel mixer amp for repair for $60, all rotary pots (cheap generic), mono out 75w, think maybe one of the channels the input protector is blown. I've played a crowd of ~60 on keyboard with a amp of 35 w/ch.
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Last edited by indianajo; 23rd March 2019 at 01:13 AM.
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Old 23rd March 2019, 01:17 AM   #4
conanski is offline conanski  Canada
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dolmetscher007 View Post
I have done a good bit of reading up on PA systems, and it seems like I would be better served to invest the bulk of my budget on the power amplifier.
No. You would be better served by acquiring a device that can mix all the inputs you need for the band with all the processing you would like in the way you would like it in a format that can be stored and recalled which these days would mean a digital mixer. This isn't a lot different than a DAW with a multi input interface except that the mixer has features that are required for live sound applications. When you need a PA system hire one.. simple as that.
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Old 23rd March 2019, 10:08 PM   #5
bob4 is offline bob4  Finland
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There is a german daw like mixing software optimized for live audio mixing. Forgot the name.

......and it is windows based........ Iirc
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Old 24th March 2019, 11:52 AM   #6
chris661 is offline chris661  United Kingdom
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I'd argue you'd be best served by hiring sound in a few times. Find out what the professionals use and what works, and then buy that. The wrong product at the right price is still the wrong product.

For starting from scratch, I'd recommend you go for active speakers unless you've got really good reasons not to.

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Old 24th March 2019, 01:56 PM   #7
turk 182 is offline turk 182  Canada
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have you looked at Behringer X Air Series 18-Channel, 12-Bus Stagebox - Long & McQuade Musical Instruments
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Old 24th March 2019, 02:21 PM   #8
VolunteerSoundGuy is offline VolunteerSoundGuy  United States
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Quote:
Originally Posted by turk 182 View Post

Owww! Sticker shock! Try this instead: Behringer X Air XR18 – Thomann United States
Same thing, still new, much lower price direct from Germany, the manufacturer's home country. I use it in several different systems and love it!
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Old 25th March 2019, 03:02 AM   #9
Enzo is offline Enzo  United States
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How many channels you need? Digital mixers with work surface controls have been around for a long time. USB snakes can use Wifi instead of huge cables of wire. You can walk around the mix with an ipad instead of running back to the station.

Call them at Sweetwater or someplace and discuss your needs. Don't decide based on a few ads you see.

When I was a touring sound man, I would have loved to tweak my mix on a computer tablet device.
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Old 26th March 2019, 11:19 AM   #10
Damo s is offline Damo s  United Kingdom
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There's constantly a bucket load of second hand PA equipment for sale on facebook market place (I spend far too much time browsing). The good quality makes are not cheap, but if you aren't too bothered about having great quality (although good enough) there are options a plenty. I've also seen loads of mixers for sale too but I don't know much about them. If your budget is tight that is where I would look.

I picked up a second hand pair of peavey full range speakers for 100 quid of FB market, which are driven by a second hand amp that cost me 150 quid. Something like this, along with a mixer would be perfectly adequate for your needs.
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