Creating a recording console from an old computer (part one)

11 januari 2020

Why would I create a recording console from an old computer? The main reason is: Because I can :). And, at the time of writing, we are in the middle of the corona crisis and it seemed like a good time to create something nice on a budget.

This is part one. When my new gear arrives, I’ll give you part two.

I like an old fashioned workflow. Record the way you want it to sound (or at least very close to it) so there is minimal tonal shaping in the mixing phase. It forces you to make choices early in the process and stick with them. I like that. The best and coolest way to do that is with a couple of (vintage) preamps, compressors and mixing console.

Downside: You need al lot of space and money to do so. Both of them is not something a lot of musicians have. So I decided to fake it.

The rules

 

  1. Work with what I own, only buy new stuff if necessary
  2. Don’t spend more than € 350,–

Two simple rules.

 

Soundcraft 400B vintage mixing console

The Challenge

 

I have been playing around with a vintage Soundcraft 400b for recording but in my new house I’v got no room for one in the studio and it’s not my console. So I needed another solution. I still want to use the 400b for mixing (I do have space for a separate mix room).

I wanted at least 6 channels in ánd out (preferably 8) since the audio interface on my recording computer has 8 channels too. Being on a very tight budget, that left me with one option the Behringer UMC 1820 . Eight channels for € 199,–.

Now it’s time to see what the old iMac from 2010 has got to offer.

The old iMac

 

And there it is: Problem #1. It is not possible to update OS X so I can use the latest Logic pro X. Why is dat a problem? Logic has vintage EQ’s at no extra costs. Since I am trying to emulate a vintage console, that is a must have. Time for a new plan.

There is no budget for a new computer so let’s get into the world of vintage plugins. I ended up with the Slate Digital Virtual Mix Rack. € 139,– of my budget but ready to emulate a vintage console on my old iMac.

 

Setting up the “console”

 

Eight channels out. 6,3 mm jacks no XLR. So I needed one more thing: A multicable. So I got one for € 14,90.  Everything is setup, got close to no latency while testing. Time for the real thing. Will it work while recording 2 mics + di for the acoustic guitar and a vocal mic? Let’s find out.