One of the great features of our Mackie DL32R mixer is the ability to record rehearsals and gigs in fully independent multi-track audio.
We don’t have a sound guy in my band, so this feature lets us record the soundcheck at a gig, then walk out front and play it right back. We can listen to it in the room from the audience perspective, adjusting the channel levels and EQ as necessary. Much easier than trying to walk out front while playing!
Also, we can record the full gig, so we can review it afterwards, and put together a good mix in a DAW for video productions, etc.
Here are some tips on how to get the most from DL32R multi track recording, and how to work with the audio files in post.
DL32R Recording Setup
You set up recording on the DL32R in the Multichannel Record/Playback window in Master Fader app. You can select how many channels to record, in 16 or 24-bit, and choose a base name for the new recording. It’s important to set these properly before starting recording.
The DL32R produces multi-channel wave files, split into multiple 2gb files. For 24-bit, 16 channel recordings, each wave file will be 15 minutes long.
If you set the recoding name to “Wine Festival”, the resulting files will be “Wine Festival_1.wav”, “Wine Festival_2.wav”, etc.
When playing back the recording on the mixer, you press Channel Input “B” button to change all channel inputs to B. Then it will play the recorded audio through the mixer just as if the audio was coming from the microphones and instruments- so you can adjust EQ, gates, etc. It’s a great workflow during soundcheck!
Using DL32R I/O Patch View
Since the 1/4” inputs start at channel 25, we end up having to record 25 tracks, even though we only need 16. So we end up with huge files containing a bunch of empty tracks. That’s not very smart, and the DL32R is super-configurable, so we can certainly improve this.
Using the Master Fader I/O Patch window on the USB tab, we can simply route the Mic Pre 25 source (as listed on the left) to USB channel 16 destination (listed along the top). Then we can just do a 16 track recording.
When playing back the recording through the mixer (selecting B channel inputs), the harmonica will now play back through channel 16. But we’d really rather it play back through channel 25 (corresponding to the Mic Pre that the harmonica is actually plugged into), so we can adjust its EQ and other settings, in place, as with the other channels.
To fix this in the I/O Patch window on the Input B tab, we simply need to patch the corresponding Input USB channel 16 (on the left) to Mic Pre 25 (as listed on the top).
Dragging Multi-Channel WAVE Files Into Logic
In order to work with these multi-channel wave files, you either need to split them up into individual track waves, or import them into a DAW that supports multi-channel wave. I use Logic Pro X on the Mac, but the same principles will apply in other DAWs.
The workflow for assembling a Logic project from the long recording is non ideal. For a multi-hour gig, there will be many audio files to deal with.
I drag the first file onto the timeline in Logic Pro X and it splits the file into individual tracks, but doesn’t automatically go on to the next files. There doesn’t seem to be a way to drag in multiple files along the same timeline (it instead makes another set of tracks at the same insert point). So, instead I have to manually drag in the second file after the first on the timeline.
At first, I didn’t know about Logic’s drag shuffle modes, so when dragging in the second file, the clips wouldn’t snap to the end of the previous clip. So I had to select the second set of track clips, and drag them over trying to get it to line up with the end of the previous set which was nearly impossible to get right. Turns out there’s an option on the Gear menu above the ruler to set Drag mode to Shuffle Left. Now, when you drag in the wave file, the new clips will automatically be positioned directly after the previously dragged clips. Perfect.
Unfortunately, there’s no way to avoid having to drag in the individual files. It sure would be nice to be able to just select all the wave files from the gig, and drag them in as one step. I discussed this with the DL32R product manager at Mackie, and he agreed it was non-ideal but didn’t know of any better way. He said they use ProTools with Shuffle mode enabled, and they just drag in one file at a time- same as my workflow in Logic.
Splitting the Files in an External Tool?
Thinking that some other tool might allow me to split the files before importing them into Logic, I experimented with both WaveAgent, and RME’s batch multichannel wave file editor. WaveAgent only works on one file at a time so that’s not much help.
According to the RME press release, their tool sounds ideal. However, when I tried it with the files produced by the DL32R, the RME tool does not automatically extend past the first file. I experimented with file naming, etc, but I haven’t been able to figure out why.
Ah well, I’ll stick with dragging the files into Logic.
Logic Ruler Configuration
When I’m reviewing songs from a whole set, there is no need to show the ruler in musical bars- I really just want to show minutes:seconds. This is configured in the File > Project Settings > General. Turn off “Use musical grid”
After doing this, the primary ruler will show minutes : seconds, but there will still be a secondary ruler showing bars, which isn’t very useful. Turn this off under the View menu just above the rulers:
Using a Logic Template
The first time I mixed a song from a Drop Daddies gig, I spent quite a bit of time naming the tracks, setting up levels, EQ’s, compressors and gates, reverbs, etc. And as it turns out, those settings work pretty well for most other songs, even from other gigs. Minor tweaks will be required of course, but it’s a good starting point.
Now when I get ready to import the mixer audio files from a gig, I start by choosing File > New From Template.
When starting from a template, you can also confirm that “Use musical grid” is off in the Details panel.