Connecting out board gear


Well-Known Member
Feb 16, 2014
Gear owned
DM 3200
So recently bought a Roland A-90 and Yamaha KX-88 and I had to rearrange the room to get these keyboard to fit. In doing so I thought it was time to move all the out board gear with in reach of the DM 3200. I had all the out board gear connected to patch bays priviously and now I thinking I want to connect some stuff if not all directly. I've had the mixer 10 months now and read as much as I can on this forum. I am hoping to clarify some of the stuff I've read. Here are some examples of what I'm asking: Some here have explained that they only need so much gear, connect directly, the use of soft inserts, Aux/Sends, etc. Is the patch bay really no longer needed in you're set up?

Just to give an idea of my work flow I record Drums, Bass, Guitars, Keys, and vocals simultaneously (about 16 tracks at most) at first. These tracks get recorded in a Alesis HD24 but then they are transfered into DAW and for the remainder of the session most continues in DAW to do re-takes/overdubs. I use a Motu 2408 to interface the DM3200 and the HD24. I do use the IF-FW card to interface the DAW.

Here's is list of the out board gear I am using: UA's 2-1176, 2-610, 2-LA2, 2 Golden Age Pre-73 and some other misc pre's and comps (ART's/DBXs/Presonus (the UA limiters list I do use as front end inputs). For EFXs I use 2 Leixcons MX200, Aphex 204, DBX 3BXIII, Eventide Space and various stomp boxes.

So how are you connected? How do you think I should? Would I still be able to create a effects chain using mutliple outboard gear if I do it that way? What are Pro's and Con's? I just need enough information for the light to come on.
There are more qualified individuals here who could offer you detail but I believe it will start with the recommendation of getting the analog expansion card. I have one in my DM3200 and it's how I connect all my external preamps. Curious why you bother recording with the HD24 when you have the firewire card installed and DAW software? You say the remainder of your tracking is done using your DAW software so why not use it for the entire process?
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I use the HD24 because it is rock solid as PC has let me down many times when doing heavy tracking. Some time it was glitches, Sometimes crashes, Even Power trips and outages. The HD24 has only let me down once and it was my fault I exceed the tracking time limit of 3 hours.
I want to purchase a analog expansion card, I made the mistake of purchasing 2 adat cards, which didn't create the workflow I was after. Luckly I only paid $180 a piece and now I want sell 1 if not both.

I assume the out board gear is connected directly or are you using a patch bay?
Does the analog expansion card have direct outs as well?
Yes I connect them directly to the card. Patchbay would definitely allow my setup to be more flexible but it's something I've worked around by utilizing the XLR stage box in my live room as my "patchbay". One day I will do a patchbay but for now I can at least patch any mic to any preamp connected to my analog card. Yes 8 I/O via DB25 cables. Cubase and PC here since 2009 and never had a crash or stability issues. Only thing unstable in my studio is me :)
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Haha yeah i need some sort of stimulants to keep things running steady. Can I connect the out board gear without the analog card? Use the M/L's and bypass the internal preamps?
Haha yeah i need some sort of stimulants to keep things running steady. Can I connect the out board gear without the analog card? Use the M/L's and bypass the internal preamps?
Yep using the 4 Assignable Sends and Returns. Analog card expands that functionality.
Oh only the 4 assignable send returns, Can not use the 16 channels and bypass the preamps? I use a stage box too. Had it wired to the preamps then preamps to patchbay.
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I suppose you can.. but you're bringing a preamp into a preamp unless you use the correct INSERT cable and bypass the preamp section if you want to bring your external pres into a physical DM3200 channel. Analog card allows you bring in signals without using the onboard preamp real estate.
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How can I use soft inserts? I know this is done on the last tab of the routing page. But how exactly does someone want to use this? Is this for effects or preamps or both? Pre or post or both?
Oversimplifyingly put: The DM consoles are essentially giant, digital patchbays. With a complement of analog inputs/outputs, most outboard gear can be arranged as permanent connected fixtures to the mixer. Then, it's a just matter of internally switching routing schemes - something a digital mixer can do in its sleep (with the assistance of a knowledgeable user.)

Soft inserts are just that; 'virtual connections.' Compressors and dynamics processors can be routed into other channels without the engineer impersonating a 1948 vintage Bell Telephone operator. Instead of spending a Saturday afternoon with the patch bay on the workbench, 25 connectors in need of cleaning, your hair on the floor, frantically pulled out while you're searching for that ONE bad connection, you'll be happily on your yacht sipping a Daiquiri because you finished mixing the client's album a month earlier than it would've taken you with that f***ing patch bay. :LOL:

(NOTICE! This post is intended for humorous purposes and shouldn't be taken too literally. :arrow: )

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Yeah patchbay has been taking alot of my time. I want to minimize their use if not do away with them completely. So with soft inserts can I do something like:
Feed channels 1-2 to the Inserts of Channel 15-16 which have a lexicon connected via TRS cable?
do away with them completely

A stellar concept, sir. :)

To your question: yes, you can do that. However, you might ask whether that's going to give you the best results. Personally, I'd rather have my outboard Lexicon routed to an Aux/return. This way, I have better control of the stereo effect, and the added benefit of auxing the Lex into other channels as well. 'Verbs and delays are often better utilized as aux/sends instead of inserts because of the increased control you can obtain.

Soft inserts are good for side-chaining and dynamics triggering, in my opinion. But since there's more than one way to route signal, that's all it is - just my opinion. :)

What else works good as soft inserts? Eq? Exciter? Harmonizer? Etc? Which fx?
Harmonizer? Yes
Exciter? You mean like that Aphex(tm) atrocity? (Unless you're remastering 1977 cassette tapes to DVD - in which case there are better plug ins - you'd best relegate that X-Cider to doorstop duty) :)

Outboard EQ? Yes.

An insert is usually the best option when you wish to extract signal from a source channel, effect it with something, then return it back to its channel, married to the effect. An Aux is a better choice when a 'blend' of an effect and the original source is desired.

That makes perfect sense. As far as exciters I have an Aphex 204 aural exciter with big bottom and an old DBX 3BXIII 3 band dynamic range expander. These are similar to Sonic Maximizers, but with more range and control. I use them quite often but very subtly to create strange sound from something normal.
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Everything the gents above have said, but I'd add....

If you want to use a few of your external devices / FX in series (on the one channel) an external patch bay (in conjunction with the DM) is better for this. You would probably connect your DM analog I/O card to the patch bay also. I won't go into the normalling setup as you'd know which units you use in sequence and which are logical to have (semi) permanently patched.

The DM's aux send ports are better used for units that you may send a few instruments too (e.g. reverb / echo), though they can be used as soft-insert connections also.

The hard inserts are good for units that add colour to your DM pres (external line amps etc).

The only limitation I can find with soft inserts is that you can only insert one item unless you daisy chain them externally - thus the use of an external patch bay is of value.

You would probably connect your DM analog I/O card to the patch bay also.

freaking awesome like a sidecar that's the ticket I will be needing some of that.

It looks like I will be purchasing the analog expansion card. With this am I able to take a track from DAW route the audio through the the outboard gear I have connected to the analog card and track back into the DAW?
Sorry for my previous 'Aphex' rant. I used to use Exciters all time in the bad ol days of analog. When I put together my first home studio, I had a bunch of outboard, and an Aphex Exciter (without 'BigBottom') was in the rack. Truth be known, I developed a fundamental hatred for it, but only after I'd had a chance to see how it ruined the signal. The moment of shock occurred when I heard what I thought was a great mix - on a friend's $5000 audiophile system. OY! VEY! :eek:

So, in my warped world, even 'subtle' use of that type of harmonic distortion is a contradiction in terms. I've found that there are better plug in solutions available, constructed of more accurate algorithms, and controllable to a greater degree. But even they can be detrimental on some things.

For what it's worth, the original Aural Exciter concept was utilized in airport public address systems - an application where it REALLY worked well. :)

.....With this am I able to take a track from DAW route the audio through the the outboard gear I have connected to the analog card and track back into the DAW?

Yes indeedie - it can be either a DAW channel mapped to a DM channel or a double config situation i.e. a send / return in the DAW and a channel insert or send/return in the DM. The routing can get very complex as you can also add DM busses and more inserts to the equation.....

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