Okay - so maybe that title isn't the most apt, but I've been presented with a bit of a conundrum. I'm trying to come up with a list of 'toys' that I want Santa to get me for Christmas and I'm basically looking at 3 different 'packages' or 'paths' - depending on your terminology.

But first, some background - I've been doing corporate narrations and geek e-Learnings for a while and been "getting away" with using a CO1U USB mic and Audition. I can get a decent sound out of the mic without too much effort and in doing this long-form work, it hasn't been an issue. However, I'm starting to wend my way into more 'real time' work and have started to encounter shops who's first question is "Do you have ISDN?" Since the obvious answer is "No" and I can't use ISDN with a USB mic, I want to start upgrading to pro-grade gear (hopefully with Santa's assistance) so that the next time someone asks, I have a better position to answer from.

The conundrum comes in with what sort of chain I should get with the long term goal of being able to plug into an ISDN box (preferrably a Zephyr/IP) as easily as possible. Here are the three ideas:

Option 1:
'Real' mic into
Mackie VLZ3, which goes into a
MAudio Delta 44 -
where Audition then has it's way with it

Option 2:
'Real' mic into
Mbox mini, then into ProTools via USB

Option 3 (this was suggested to me today by one of the Techs at Telos):
'Real' mic into
Mic pre into
MAudio Delta 1010LT
...and then Audition takes it again.

Option 1 was my initial idea, but one of the sales guys over at Sweetwater wasn't too terribly impressed with the pre on the VLZ3 and suggested Option 2.

Option 2 is my least favorite simply because there's no obvious way to get from ProTools back out to an ISDN box. Plus, I already know how to use Audition and since it'll probably ever only be me in the booth - I don't need the bells and whistles the PT offers.

Option 3 sounds like the most straight-forward chain but since I'd never considered it before, I honestly don't know...

So, the conundrum is "which option to choose with a long-term goal of being able to plug in to an ISDN-esque box as easily as possible?" If 3 is the answer - is the Delta 1010LT the right PCI card to get, or is there something out there that has better specs? I won't ask about the pre as there are whole discussions dedicated to that...

Thanks in advance for your suggestions and wading through the above... :-)


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Replies to This Discussion

Hello Mike,

I think you'd be best served by the last option. If you're using a PC, there's really no need to invest in Pro Tools, unless you're already versed in the program.

There is actually an easy way to get out of PT into an ISDN box...although, you'd be better off going a few bucks more and getting the MBox 2...that one has a few more output options.

Anyway, let's leave the ProTools realm though, and discuss your other options.

The 3rd option is definitely your best bet. I've used the Delta cards before, and they're very nice. Clean, stable, and above all...they work.

For a PC, I think that PCI based audio cards with or without breakout boxes are the way to go.

You will be better served in the long run, to have a good quality mic, into a good quality mic-pre...into whatever you want.

You could use something like a small Mackie Mixer to route the output of your mic to both the Delta Card, and the ISDN box.

You can do it WITHOUT a small outboard mixer as well...because I believe the Delta card comes with a software mixer program, that will allow you to route your signal wherever you want it to go.

I would ask Santa to bring this option...You will get a much nicer and more controllable sound if you go with this setup.

And, if for some reason, you need to do an ISDN session, and your computer decides to take a vacation, you can just route the outputs of your mic pre DIRECTLY to the ISDN box...and go to town...no downtime.

Good luck! Keep us posted on what ya get!


Mike Bratton


Thanks for the feedback - I apologize for not getting back to you sooner, but such is the curse of living in Southern New Hampshire... The only real reason I threw the PT option in there is because one of the local studio engineers is a certified PT instructor and he's been feeding me the kool-aid. I like the pre -> Delta chain the best myself since I've heard varying things on the VLZ3 preamp whereas the dedicated pre is pretty much guaranteed to be better than something in a mixer.

I hadn't know about the ability to go straight from the pre to the ISDN box - that's nice to know.

Of course, speaking of pre's - in your opinion, what's a good one that's on the 'low-end' of the price spectrum? My areas of focus are corporate narrations and eLearnings, so I don't need 4 dozen different ways to make my voice sound different or anything fancy like a Manley VoxBox - just something simple that's clean and does what it supposed to... :-)


Well, I almost feel like I'm asking for absolution as I type this - but I drank from the fountain of ProTools and got a Mbox2 mini. The main reason for this is that between when I originally posted this and now, I've somehow managed to get on to the short list for cleaning up the audio and doing some ADR work on some older kids learning cartoons. The engineer I'd be working with is a certified PT instructor and a good friend, so my thought is that it'd be easiest in the long run if we could swap PT sessions back and forth as need be.

I've also done some digging and reading that's led me to believe (possibly erroneously) that having pure ISDN isn't quite the "thing" it used to be. Apparently, a lot of people are bridging to ISDN via SC and the recording studios seem to be happy with the results. So if that's the case, I'll save the ~$2,600 difference between the Zephyr/IP and SC and put the cash towards Out Of Hear bridging sessions... :-)

...of course, that's once I start getting ISDN gigs... Oh well - hopefully it'll all work as nicely as I've got pictured in my mind.

Thanks for your help and have a safe and Happy New Year!

Hi Mike,
I've heard really good things about the Speck preamps.
They run around $775.

Good luck!

Thanks for the heads up on the Speck, I've never heard about them so I'll do some digging.



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