Signal path options 3200/4800 with pro tools


New Member
Jan 27, 2015
Gear owned
Tascam 3200
Hey guys, I'm looking for recommendations on best signal flow options for using the following equipment:

1. Tascam 3200 with FireWire card
2. Outboard gear: preamps and compression units
3. Pro tools 10 student edition

I've got the basic routing working with pro tools and the 3200, but am not sure how to route compression and effects best.

Specify which pres and comps and how many. "Student Edition" tells me you are a student on a student's budget?
I bought pro tools 10 when I was in school so purchased as student edition, but as far as I know it's got all the features of the regular pro tools 10. I can upgrade to a newer version if that'll help.

Outboard preamp is a Focusrite ISA two
Outboard compression is the distressor compressor

If you're going to use the ISA as your main preamp, you can insert your Distressor into the ISA's TRS/insert point. In that role, the Distressor can tame peaks and help with the source's gain staging. From there, you can either insert the ISA 1/2 click into a DM input which bypasses the onboard preamp sending signal direct to your ADC.

The other two options are to route the ISA's signal directly into a DM pre (with the gain pot all the way to the left), or use a DM Assignable Return. I like using the 1/2 click method mentioned above. Of course, you can invest in an analogue card for your DM's second slot, which can be dedicated to outboard gear. But at this point it's unnecessary.

Jumpin in here after a long absense. To clarify the 1/2 jack return trick. One MUST use the ring return of the send/return jack and not the line in jack. One could use the line in fully inserted, but as stated it would then pass thru the mic amp. I use a couple of 500 series racks of 10 chains that I 1/2 jack into the ring (return) of the send/return wihtout issue, though a couple of mine don't make a very tight connection. I'm finally going to mod an 8 channel insert cable to be hot on the ring/return and terminate the tip. New Years anti laziness resolution. BTW this is a tip from my old Tascam repair contact here in SoCal.

Wilson Dyer MPSE
Hey guys, thanks for the help and fast responses. I apologize for being slow to get back with everybody but am just getting a chance to work on everything.

Im really confused about the 1/2 click method. Can anybody send me some pics? If I'm understanding correctly, the TRS just needs to go half way into the DM input? Is everything else fully inserted? Thanks!
"1/2 click method.."

The insert jacks on the DM's preamp bank are intended for outboard gear - compressors, limiters, EQ, etc. The idea is, signal is extracted from the preamp circuit, sent to the outboard efx, then returned to the same jack's sleeve where it's sent to the ADC. Insert or TRS cables are specially designed for this.

By inserting a standard patch chord 1/2 way into that insert, the signal is interrupted before it hits the onboard pre amp, going directly to the ADC. The advantage is, the outboard preamp is allowed to behave independently of any additional circuitry or influence of the DM's preamp*. It's very easy to do; simply push the jack slowly until you hear the first 'click.'

There it is. :)

*Note: The DM's preamps are so transparent that some folks just plug the outboard pre all the way into the Input jack, keeping the DM gain pot all the way off. It's a matter of preference.

A small addition to that; with the half jack method you actually don't interrupt the main input signal path, but you inject the external amp's signal after the DM's trim and thereby go to AD directly indeed.

Another use for this is taking signal from the DM before AD conversion and sending it to another user (recorder for instance in a live situation).
Sometime a PICTURE is worth a bunch of words. It's from Mackie, but it's a great pictorial diagram. Look at the part referring to the insert jacks.


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