Author Topic: Using MOTU AVB Routing Matrix Grid App with Guitar Audio Streams  (Read 224 times)

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Offline scratch17

I have wanted to be able to set up my studio's complex analog and digital guitar gear without having to constantly patch and re-patch. I tried patch bays (I own 2 DBX PB-48's and a Momba XLR). I also have a Voodoo Lab GCX switcher. It all just fell short.

In order to understand my predicament, you have to know the gear I use and the recording methods I implement.

I have a lot of gear, both analog and digital. And I like to track multiple guitar voices when I record. I have a Brian Moore i213 with a GK output. It has mag, piezo and a GK 13 pin output. I connect the 13 pin output to an RMC breakout box and like to send send the six piezzo signals to my DAW.

I have multiple preamps, amps and some analog pedals. I prefer to keep this gear in the analog domain, but sometimes I want mix my analog gear with a plugin running natively or on my UA Apollo's DSP.

I have a VG-99, a Kemper and a G-Major multi-effects processor. I want to be able to use these devices at the same time, fully integrating them with my analog guitar gear. Finally, I re-amp a lot, so I always record a dry signal from my guitar directly into my DAW.

Add up the ins and outs and you can see why I want to patch it together and leave it alone in most cases. What I need is a true matrix switching system with a huge count of inputs and outputs, both analog and digital, that has the ability to be set up in hardware with re-patching accomplished through software.

I looked at the Sound Sculpture Switchblade line of true matrix switchers. They are digitally controlled but with true analog signal paths and bypass. The Switchblades come with a really easy to use app that lets you digitally patch and re-patch, turn pedals on and off without dropouts, etc. Really great product. I want one, but it is only on my wish list right now. In the meantime I can make do with my Voodoo Labs GCX switcher.

After looking further for a solution for my studio, I realized that it might be possible to utilize a MOTU AVB audio interface with it's routing matrix software to accomplish at least some of these goals. The AVB point to point latency is under 2ms, so that is a non-issue when tracking.

The MOTU routing matrix software is simple to use and incredibly powerful. The software employs a routing grid which lets you name any of the sends or destinations, and then easily set up a routing path. Any audio stream can be sent from any input to any output and vice versa. The grid allows you to send one stream to multiple destinations, effectively doing a mult in the digital domain.

So any audio can be sent to or from any connected device. This includes any analog, digital, computer audio or AVB networked audio streams. And the software can create customized presets that can be saved for multiple routing setups. MOTU provides you with 8 factory default presets for differing uses, such as audio interface, stand alone mixer, etc. These can be used as starting points and then edited to create custom routing setups.

Note 1: I have not seen any documented way as of yet to use MIDI to change these presets.

Note 2: Many of the guitar modelers and effects boxes that offer digital S/PDIF connections are limited to 44.1 khz or 48 khz sample rates. The MOTU AVB interfaces have S/PDIF connections that can do sample rate conversion at their inputs. However, the S/PDIF outputs must run at the project's clock rate. So if you want to connect both input and output connections via S/PDIF, you will need an outboard sample rate converter.

Note 3: you could use the dedicated guitar level inputs on your AVB interface to get your guitar's signal into the matrix. However, that means you lose the interaction you might want with your analog gear. Furthermore, if you want to split the output of your guitar so you can send it to multiple destinations, it is best to use a good quality DI made specifically for guitar work.

Here is my studio setup solution using a MOTU 1248 AVB interface as a matrix routing system. You could use any of the AVB interfaces for this purpose though. I doubt MOTU has thought of using their AVB hardware and software in quite this way.

The 1248 is being used both as an A/D and D/A converter and also as the hardware and software hub of my routing matrix. While in this example, I don't connect to my DAW, the 1248 will be connected to my Mac via its Thunderbolt 2 bus. I utilize hardware monitoring on the 1248, so I am using it here much in the way MOTU sets up the 1248 as a stand alone mixer. The 1248 will be set up as the only interface in my Mac's audio /midi setup panel.

I am also including my UA Apollo 8 interface here to demonstrate the expansion possibilities with the MOTU AVB system. I am using the Apollo only as an A/D and D/A expander. While it will connect to my Mac through its second TB 2 bus, that is only so I can run the UA Console 2 application which is needed for routing the Apollo internally, and insertion of plugins while tracking. I will not be setting up an aggregate driver in my audio midi setup with both the Apollo and the 1248. Of course the Apollo adds built in DSP to run UA powered plugins as well.

I use my Radial JDV to split my guitar's signal, get it into my DAW, to my Apollo 8's guitar input, and my analog pedals and amps. Also for this example, I am using my Hamer Duotone or Brian Moore i213 guitar both of which have magnetic and piezzo outputs.

Guitar magnetic pickup output --->  Radial JDV DI box balanced out ---> 1248 line input 1
                                                     Radial JDV DI box bypass out ---> Apollo 8 guitar input 1
                                                     Radial JDV DI box out 1 ---> Voodoo Lab GCX (for analog pedals and amps)
                                                     Radial JDV DI Box out 2 ---> Mesa Boogie Rectifier Recording Preamp

Guitar piezo pickup output ---> Fishman Aura preamp / DI box ---> Apollo 8 line input 1

GCX through output (buffered) ---> KPA guitar input

KPA S/PDIF out ---> 1248 S/PDIF in

Apollo 8 ADAT in and out <---> 1248 ADAT in and out

i213 GK output (hex piezo RMC pickup) ---> GK in RMC Fanout Box ---> 6 analog TS outs, one per string ---> 1248 line in 2 thru 7

Apollo 8 S/PDIF in and out <---> TC Electronics G-Major S/PDIF in and out

Mesa Recto Preamp recording output ---> Apollo 8 line input 2

This project will run at 48 khz sample rate. The Apollo takes clock from the 1248 which acts as a master clock. Both run at 48 khz, as does the G-Major.

In the routing matrix grid, the Apollo 8's inputs and outputs will show as ADAT ins and outs on the 1248.

All of the Apollo's routing must be set up in the Console 2 application. So the G-Major must be connected to the matrix (1248) through the ADAT inputs and outputs. The G-Major is routed from the S/PDIF connections to two of the ADAT channels in the UA Console 2 application. The same goes for the three analog sources. Apollo 8's guitar input (channel 1 on the Apollo), the piezzo output of the guitar going into line 1 input on the Apollo, and the Recto pre's output on line 2 in of the Apollo are routed to ADAT outputs on the Apollo so they can enter the matrix.

Because the G-Major can run at 48khz, it can also get signal sent from another matrix source, such as the mono piezo output from the Aura preamp / DI.

The KPA is limited to 44.1 khz, but the 1248 does the sample rate conversion to 48 khz. The KPA's input is also limited to 44.1 Khz, so digital output from the matrix is unavailable without a sample rate converter.

So why add the Apollo? I could have simply brought the streams directly into the matrix via the 1248. Reason one: I want to use the Unison amp and pedal plugins I have for guitar and bass. Reason 2: I want to use the many compressors, EQ's, channel strips, and signal processing plugins I have that run natively on my Apollo.

With the connections made this way, I can route my guitar's mag and piezo signals to multiple destinations simultaneously. And the 1248 comes with a mixing app that also uses the 1248's DSP for its included effects.

So I can, for example, make a stereo sub mix of the six piezo streams coming from the fanout box. Once mixed to stereo, I can send the streams back into the Apollo and use the Sound Machine Woodworks plugin on each channel to make the piezo sound much more like a a miked up acoustic guitar, rather than a quaky piezo electric.

Of course, if I wanted to use plugins running in my DAW or as stand alone apps on my computer, I could do so. The routing grid allows multiple streams of audio to and from the computer. Of course that will introduce latency while tracking. Not a good idea while tracking your guitar.

So here is how I would set up the preset for tracking the magnetic pickup's audio stream.

My guitar's dry signal comes into line input 1 on the 1248, which is routed in the grid to my DAW for later re-amping.

I can send my magnetic signal to the Marshall Plexi amp sim plugin at the same time through the Apollo's guitar input. I route that signal back to the matrix in the console app. Once into the matrix I can send the signal to my DAW. I use the routing matrix to route all of the signals to my DAW for recording.

I can record the KPA into the DAW without having to enter the analog domain. Depending on the type of profile I am using will determine whether I use a guitar cab or studio monitors to listen to the KPA.

I know this all looks really complicated at first. But it is just a matter of creating a Console 2 preset that I can recall each time I start a project. That and the AVB routing matrix grid makes all of this a snap.

Now I must convince MOTU to add MIDI program change control over the routing grid presets. Then I could use my Master Mind GT to control everything.
Gibson SG Standard
Hamer Duotone
B Moore i2.13
Taylor 710BCE

VG-99 FC-300
RMC Fanout
RJM Mmind GT10
Kemper PA
Mackie 1640
Line6 L2M
FTP

Mesa Recto Pre 20/20
Marshall DSL401C
Fender Bandmaster 68
Ampeg AX70

UA Apollo 8 Duo, Quad
MOTU Trav x2
Radial JDV X-AMP
Fish Aura
Weehbo Plexface
EHX Epitome

Offline maglich

Re: Using MOTU AVB Routing Matrix Grid App with Guitar Audio Streams
« Reply #1 on: June 25, 2017, 11:52:52 PM »
I have similar needs and i've found that Cantabile is a great solution. With the 'binding' function you can assign midi parameters to virtually any piece of equipment or plug in value.

Offline admsustainiac

« Last Edit: June 26, 2017, 12:19:08 AM by admsustainiac »

Offline scratch17

Re: Using MOTU AVB Routing Matrix Grid App with Guitar Audio Streams
« Reply #3 on: June 26, 2017, 02:43:20 PM »
Thanks to maglich and admsustainiac for your replies and info on Cantabile. 

From what I read on their website, Cantabile seems to be designed for live work. I realize that most of the other members here play live and look here for gear and software info for that setting. Cantabile seems also much more oriented to automation and control of MIDI parameters and of VSTs. It seems like a good solution, but I don't think it would work for me. BTW, I am on a Mac and I only see a Windows version.

In yesterday's post I was trying to lay out a solution for a digital and analog audio routing matrix in a studio setting.

At my age, and with the neural damage to my ulnar and carpel nerves in my hands, I just do not play live any more. I had surgery late last year on both arms (ulnar) and my left hand (carpel). Sadly, while there was some initial improvement, I still have little feeling in both pinky fingers. I'm told I might actually make a full recovery over time, so I hope to be able to see some more improvement. My surgeon has told me not to sell my guitars.

The good news is that I am still able to play enough to noodle around. So I can still do some recording. I just won't subject an audience to my foibles.

I moved into a downsized home last year. So my studio space is very small (8.5 x 11.5 feet). It became imperative for me to get my setup right. I have so much gear that I am still trying out different gear placement configurations that provide me with the most flexibility. Much of my problem was how to physically set up my gear in such a way as to minimize re-patching. There is so little space in my room, just changing one cable can be a total PITA.

My studio gear is currently housed in three Road Ready 12 space racks. I still use patch bays to reconfigure gear in the racks. I want to get rid of the patch bays.

Much of my gear is still in closets. I need new custom made studio furniture to get my gear into a workable configuration in my studio's limited space. While much of my gear will remain in racks, I no longer need the racks to be portable. I want to sell them once I build my new furniture.

Even with that done, I will still need a way to automate my work flow so I can set up hardware and minimize hardware patching changes. As I said, I want to eliminate my hardware patch bays. Which brings me back to the concept of a software based routing matrix.

So I started to rethink using a Sound Sculpture Switchblade GL in order to do the patching in software. The problem is that the Switchblade is basically limited to a 16 x 16 matrix. Not enough input / output count for what I need. And no digital audio into and out of the matrix.

I am extremely happy with my UA Apollos. I love their sound quality and their plugins are fabulous. UA's Unison technology takes virtual mic preamps and guitar amp and pedal sims to a whole other level. It is a home run IMHO.

I just find that the UA Console 2 application's output routing is really limited. I suspect that UA will come out with a new, more capable version in the next year, but I am not holding my breath.

AVB is a standard that has intrigued me for a while. I looked at the MOTU 1248 when it first came out. I really liked MOTU's software solution. MOTU's simple grid routing solution blows away UA Console 2. And MOTU's software mixer has more aux and group busses. That makes routing audio streams to my DAW much easier with the MOTU software than with Console 2.

However I was not going to give up my Apollos. I asked some questions on the UA Forum about using the Apollos as expansion boxes connected to a MOTU via ADAT optical. Both Eric Dahlberg and Matt Hempworth (two pros who's opinions I rely on) confirmed that I could do this adding under 1.5 ms round trip latency while tracking. Since rtl through the MOTU interface was about the same, latency while tracking would not be a limitation.

I did a lot of thinking and research. I started by listing my equipment and cataloguing each piece of gear's inputs and outputs. Then I made a list of how I combined my gear. Next, I tried to determine which AVB interface (or interfaces) I wanted to buy.

It was during this decision making research process that I realized that the MOTU grid routing software was just a different way of implementing the matrix that Sound Sculpture did with their more graphically oriented routing software. That is when the light bulb went off in my head. Which lead to yesterday's post.

I am about to get my wood shop out of storage so I will finally be able to build my custom studio furniture to maximize my studio space. Once that's done, I will get an AVB interface and set my studio up. I hope to be up and running by late September. I will post some pics and my impression of how things worked out with these changes.







Gibson SG Standard
Hamer Duotone
B Moore i2.13
Taylor 710BCE

VG-99 FC-300
RMC Fanout
RJM Mmind GT10
Kemper PA
Mackie 1640
Line6 L2M
FTP

Mesa Recto Pre 20/20
Marshall DSL401C
Fender Bandmaster 68
Ampeg AX70

UA Apollo 8 Duo, Quad
MOTU Trav x2
Radial JDV X-AMP
Fish Aura
Weehbo Plexface
EHX Epitome

Offline Elantric


Offline scratch17

Re: Using MOTU AVB Routing Matrix Grid App with Guitar Audio Streams
« Reply #5 on: June 26, 2017, 05:43:04 PM »
Thanks Elantric. I have Mainstage.
Gibson SG Standard
Hamer Duotone
B Moore i2.13
Taylor 710BCE

VG-99 FC-300
RMC Fanout
RJM Mmind GT10
Kemper PA
Mackie 1640
Line6 L2M
FTP

Mesa Recto Pre 20/20
Marshall DSL401C
Fender Bandmaster 68
Ampeg AX70

UA Apollo 8 Duo, Quad
MOTU Trav x2
Radial JDV X-AMP
Fish Aura
Weehbo Plexface
EHX Epitome

Offline maglich

Re: Using MOTU AVB Routing Matrix Grid App with Guitar Audio Streams
« Reply #6 on: July 15, 2017, 11:36:37 AM »
Hello Scratch 17,

It has been a while but I've been pretty busy lately. I just want to expand my previous post hoping you may find that helpful.

Cantabile is indeed an useful tool for live work yet I use it extensively in the studio.

If you are working on a Mac, there are alternatives with similar features but the core concept remains the same.

For me is a great mean to 'direct the traffic' for audio and midi. I use two Roland studio captures linked together and that gives me a very compact 30In/18out system. Cantabile comes in play to basically route ins and outs in any given order.

Once you find a combination that you like you can save it and recall it very easily.

The midi section of the 'pro' version is very efficient and allows presets selection as well as midi cc.

Cantabile also works as a VST host and again can save presets, combinations and parameters very easily.

This setup allows me to merge new pieces of technology with old school rack units like eventides, lexicons etc giving a very natural workflow.

Hope that helps!

Michele

Offline scratch17

Re: Using MOTU AVB Routing Matrix Grid App with Guitar Audio Streams
« Reply #7 on: July 15, 2017, 02:41:14 PM »
Merci Michelle.
Gibson SG Standard
Hamer Duotone
B Moore i2.13
Taylor 710BCE

VG-99 FC-300
RMC Fanout
RJM Mmind GT10
Kemper PA
Mackie 1640
Line6 L2M
FTP

Mesa Recto Pre 20/20
Marshall DSL401C
Fender Bandmaster 68
Ampeg AX70

UA Apollo 8 Duo, Quad
MOTU Trav x2
Radial JDV X-AMP
Fish Aura
Weehbo Plexface
EHX Epitome

 

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