For many users mixers and audio interfaces are interchangeable devices, allowing you to record multiple inputs at once so that you can multitrack record. However, there are some scenarios where a mixer is a better option and some scenarios where an interface is a better option. In this article we're going to explain the difference and what you can do to maximize your usage of your mixer.
What is the difference between an Audio Interface and a Mixer?
An audio interface will record all of your tracks by processing them to separate audio channels, and each channel will send over to the USB for mixing. On the physical controls, some minor adjustments can be made for adjusting the channel levels/gain, but beyond that all edits are made using the software you have. This is ideal for a band setup looking to have full control of their stems after basic tracking. Audio interfaces will often require a driver.
A mixer takes it's inputs and sums them down so that the main output(L/R) is what is being sent to the computer. In audio engineering, this setup is known as Live-To-Two It can be split into 2 mono tracks in your DAW for simultaneous recording, but all inputs must go to those two outputs. On the other side of the equation, the majority of your controls are built into the hardware itself like Gain, FX, and EQ, meaning that whatever is recorded is going to require much less post-tracking work. This is ideal for projects where the goal is to capture a live performance, like a concert or a podcast. Mixers will usually not require a driver as they are class compliant, though an ASIO4ALL driver is suggested for windows computers to manage latency by aggregating your sound devices.
How do you split the Main Out for multitrack recording?
The first thing you're going to want to do is set your input levels on the mixer and adjust them so they sound the way you want them to. Next you're going to want to hard pan the tracks you want to record via the Pan knob to one side or the other. From here, you're going to set up an audio track in your DAW, then make sure your input device is USB Audio Codec(this is what the Multimix is called by your computer because it is class compliant). Make sure your track input source is set to input 1 for Left and input 2 for right. From here, you should be able to record over this 2 channel setup.