Newbish Query: USB audio straight into the computer?

Hi -

I’m thinking of getting a hard disk recorder, with USB audio outputs. I’ll do remote audio recording, then bring it back to Cubase.

But the only digital input my soundcard has is S/PDIF, no USB.

What is the best way to get that USB audio from the Hard disc recorder into Cubase?

Is there a way to set up a Cubase input bus, using the USB audio going straight into the computer from the hard disk recorder? Or would I have to tell Cubase the Zoom (for example) is what it should be looking at instead of my soundcard?

Thanks, and sorry for the newbish aspects of this.

I don’t understand. If you’ve recorded the material onto the HD device, why do you need to go into a soundcard? Just load the files onto your computer’s HD and then pull them into Cubase for editing. What am I missing?

You should be able to just cut and paste your recordings from the recorded to your harddrive, it probably shows up as external storage when you connect it.

Thank you Mr Roos and Strophoid, that makes so much sense.

Next up is to research if any recorders can do the cycle mode/lanes/takes like Cubase. I can’t imagine recording audio in any other way, but the descriptions I’ve read don’t even hint that this is a function on these devices. Might have to read some manuals.

Thanks again!

That type of functionality would be pretty rare to non-existant on an HD recorder. But, it’s mostly irrelevant too - you’d either have a punch-in on the track (in say one spot that you want to “fix”) which would result in still just one audio track to import, or a whole 'nother take (whether or not you record the entire length of the track being up to you) in which case you would wind up with 2 (or more) tracks (takes) which you would import each into its own lane in Cubase and then you would do what you want from there.

HI Krudler -

Thanks for your post!

I have been getting that impression too, that cycle recording for “takes” functionality isn’t common in hard recorders (if present at all).

I am so used to just staying at the mic and doing that though … I don’t think I would do well leaving the right-brain emotion of singing, going all left-brain to arm another track on the recorder, and then back to the emotion of singing again. What I do now is I sing about eight takes of a verse at a time. I know it’s pretty pitiful sounding, but I’m just an amateur who’s very limited, but wants to get it done …

So cycle recording for takes is out with these things, eh?

Bummer, big time. I guess really if it’s that important to me I will need to go the iPad/Cubasis/interface route … right?

Thanks very much again for your answer!

No, cycle recording is not out with an HD.

Basically, you’re overthinking this.

Most HD’s have various settings (think Cubase Preferences), one of these is usually something along the lines of “New Take = Overwrite or New Track”. So, in your scenario, you could set it to basically create a new .wav (or .mp3 or whatever format the thing records in, most do .wav) file everytime you hit STOP, , and REC again. So, in your example below, you’d wind up with 8 different .wav files for that track which you would import into Cubase, each in its own lane. It’s quite easy actually. I do this all the time (with a Zoom R24).

Now, mind you, you may or may not like the “extra work” of transferring/renaming the files (dependent on the mechanism(s) the device gives you), and so forth, but the cycle recording process is pretty straightforward.

Ok, krudler, thanks for that.

That is great, actually, I can do that. As long as it ‘works’ I wouldn’t mind transferring manually to Cubase.

I actually thought I would probably not want to have to think about hitting buttons between takes (I really do try to clear my mind of everything technical while playing/recording), but I think I could hit 3 buttons like you described and do OK. As long as they r not too noisy so I don’t actually have to walk somewhere to push the buttons.

On your Z24, when you do the process you describe, can you hear a backing track while you do your takes/overdubs? Or is there nothing in the headphones except what is being played at the moment?

The Zoom R24 has 24 different freely-assignable tracks (capability), they have an R16 that has 16 too. Most HDs seem to be in this 16-32 track range, depending on price.

Yes, you can hear other stuff (assuming you so so desire). It depends on what I am doing how I go about it, but let’s say one way or another I have ginned up most of a song with drums, bass, gtr, maybe some other stuff, and sort of mixed it togeher in Cubase. Now I am going to jam a lead gtr or maybe sing some vocals over it. Basically I will export the preliminary mix from Cubase to a .wav file, put it on the Zoom and assign it to a couple of tracks (since it’s a stereo file it goes on two “linked” tracks, one panned L the other R) lets say tracks 1 and 2. Then on track 3 I plug in the mic/instrument/whatever and play away to the accompanying music. When I feel I have it down, I hit REC and record what I am doing. I then copy ONLY TRACK 3 (that I just recorded) and dump it back into Cubase for editing/mixing with the rest of the already recorded tracks. If I have more to do, repeat. If I did cycle recordings, I’ll simply have more than one file to dump back in to Cubase - probably into lanes of a track.

It is basically EXACTLY LIKE recording it straight into Cubase - there is no conceptual difference. The up sides are that I don’t have to sit over by the computer, and don’t have to deal with drivers, latency issues, drop outs, etc. Which isn’t to say these are rampant issues if you go straight into the computer, but I never have to worry about it. Most HDs have a variety of features, in the case of the R24 it also doubles as an audio interface (if I did want to go straight into the computer for some reason) and a control surface (use the faders to control the mixer, etc). It also has a built in drum machine, which is semi-ok as a scratchpad, two built-in condenser mics (again, semi-ok for spur of the moment recording. And of course its got mic pre’s, phantom power, etc. It’s quite portable, so if you had to record something on site that’s awesome, or if you’re going on a trip and want to be able to jam (guitar, for example) the built-in effects while not epic are serviceable for this purpose. Some of the amp sounds are actually pretty decent (although I wouldn’t trade my Marshall in for it). The only thing some might consider a downside is that it’s max recording sample rate is something like 48 khz/24 bit. Eg, you’re not going to be able to record on it at 192khz. But I don’t see this as a problem since 44.1/24 bit is more than good enough.If you use it as an interface I believe it supports the higher sample rate throughput.

Mind you, this isn’t an add for the Zoom R24 - most of the available decent ones will do this stuff, with some variation. It’s mainly about how many tracks/inputs you feel you’ll need, and what other features are relevant/interesting to you (effects, built in drums, audio interface capability, etc). One thing I will say that I find very very useful is the fact that this one has a built in USB port for a thumb drive - which is awesome, because I don’t have to go plug the thing in every time I want to transfer files. Consider this strongly.

Hey krudler - thanks so much!! (Mods - please place my nomination for most helpful replies of 2013 :smiley: )

441./24 is fine by me, that’s how I do it normally anyway.

So really, all that remains for me is choice of recorder. I will start another thread in the hardware section for that. I don’t need a lot of channels/faders/effects … would rather put the same amount of $$ into preamp and A/D-D/A quality. That USB port does sound handy!

Thanks again krudler -

The mic pre’s are more than serviceable. None of these kinds of units are going to be sporting Avalon pre’s anyway. If you did want to do that, you could still put your own mic pre in the chain before the HD and just not run phantom power from the HD, no biggie.

I wouldn’t worry about the A/D D/A converters. At this level that’s the last thing in the signal chain that would make any kind of noticeable difference.

For reference, here’s a song of my friend’s that we recorded - we recorded all the tracks on the HD (Zoom R24) using the onboard mic pre’s (used AT2020, SM57, and some Behringer C2’s for the acoustic gtr for mics). I took all the tracks and just put them into Cubase to mix, etc. Some reverb and a few other effects were added in Cubase.

Oh, and there is an R8 by Zoom - basically the same HD setup as the R24/R16 but it has 8 tracks and only 2 inputs. It’s a good deal cheaper due to the fewer number of inputs.

Thanks krudler!

I will have a chance this weekend to listen to fields of california and hear the R24 in action.

R8 -could be the best mix of features I"m likely to find unless I build one myself - thanks for that tip! Review here for anyone that wants to read about it:

Are you able to track in your Z24 while hearing effects (reverb, etc.) that don’t get printed?
[Edit: I see from the manual that the Z8 can do that, so I’m sure the Z24 must be able to also].

Re: using a condenser mic with my own preamp by plugging in to the combi-jack but turning the phantom power off … I didn’t know about that, thanks for the tip! Is that pretty much something that can be done with any preamp - turn off the phantom power and run the output from another preamp through it?

Here’s a newbie question again: - when the phantom power is turned off, is the signal just passively sent through, or is there some low-level processing unavoidably done?


Not sure about the effects. I do believe there is a way to hear them without “printing” them onto the recorded signal, I’m just not sure about it as this is something I have never had the need to do.

Re: the pre’s and so forth: Well, if you’ve already raised the signal level via an external pre you’re not going to be doing it again when it comes into the HD. The R24 pre’s seem pretty clean and I don’t think impart anything much by way of coloration so I don’t think it would matter, but you can basically ‘shut them off’ (or, more technically, choose not to use them) on a track by track basis. There’s a whole series of effects algorithms which include a ‘mic pre’ algorithm that you can choose from when you configure a track for recording – this is where a lot of the effects, etc, can be chosen (there’s compressor’s and de-essers and stuff like that you can assign to a mic pre, plus weird effects), plus a lot of preset configs you can choose from. I think you can download a pdf of the manual at the Zoom website to get an idea. But basically you could set it to bypass any ‘processing’ or include any level of processing you might want. This probably varies by HD type/model – I didn’t necessarily mean to imply that killing phantom power was universally the same thing as ‘no mic pre’ – sorry about that.

I pretty much always record it as dry as possible and deal with the other stuff in Cubase, it’s easier and more versatile.

Sweet Sound, kruder, creatively and technically - nice soundcloud collection you’ve got there (Have listened to California and Lights Burn Out so far :slight_smile: ).

I’ve moved over to a Zoom R8 thread on hardware, as it’s moved off the original topic of this post now.

Thanks for your help, once again!