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Macki Onyx 1640 with FireWire Card

Discussion in 'Converters / Interfaces' started by david_d_lindner, Feb 18, 2005.

  1. I'm new to the forum, but have already learned a lot this week as I've been reading. I'm preparing to start a PC-based Recoring studio that will be used to record many multi-track groups (Church choirs, Church worship bands, Small Church Orchestras, etc.). I have been looking for reviews on the Mackie Onyx 1640 and have only found a couple through the Mackie website. I would like to know if anyone has any experience with this new product and what your thoughts are on it. The only negative is that it's only a front end mixer, but everything else looks pretty great.

  2. audiofreqs

    audiofreqs Guest

    the firewire option is really good, but a bit deceiving, seing that it only gives you two monitor outputs compared to the plethora of inputs. really good for recording and tracking, but extremely lame for mixdowns if you want to incorporate outboard gear into the mix.
    there are ways around this, but it gets expensive.
  3. JoeH

    JoeH Well-Known Member

    Look for a review of this in MIX magazine soon.......perhaps as early as next month, or contact me privately for more info.
  4. Roey

    Roey Guest

    There was a review on Sound On Sound, October 2004

    eSub only at the moment (till April):
  5. Dave62

    Dave62 Guest

    I bought an Onyx for live remote recording and had to return it when I discovered that the analog direct outs were pre everything. No HI Pass, No EQ to tape, which in the drum/live recording world I really need. All that press about british EQ and you can't print it to tape!!! When I phoned Mackie they said that there marketing survey said that people wouldn't need the post option so they didn't give us one! DUH!! I was also under the impression the firewire outs are also pre everything so for me the Onyx is kind of useless. I bought an Allen and Heath MX 16/2 which works great and the 16 direct outs can be switched to be either pre or post (via internal jumper) and it sounds great! I bought the motu 24/I/O as an input card to the computer and it all works great.
  6. Thanks for the help

    Hey guys, thanks for all the advice. I've been doing a lot of research on the Onyx and have pretty much decided that it is not for me. I am leaning towards the Tascam FW-1884 as it can control on both sides. Do you have any thoughts?
  7. FifthCircle

    FifthCircle Well-Known Member


    Save your money. The FW1884 is a piece of junk. Do a search- I've written extensively on the problems with this piece.

  8. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    I agree with Ben. Save your money and buy anything else. If you need a control surface, get a control surface; if you need a mixer, get a mixer. The Tascam is a poor excuse for both. While the pre's are decent in the Tascam as is the conversion, there are numerous other issues with the hardware on this box. I too have written numerous items about the FW1884 - search for both Ben's and my comments regarding it.

    I'm curious, what made you change your mind about the Mackie? From what I hear, it's a pretty good unit in which the sum of the parts far outweigh the cost of the unit.

    I guess JoeH would know best, he uses one for location recording and from what I get, he loves it - pres and all.

  9. Dave62

    Dave62 Guest

    do you mean pre's and nothing else, cause that's all that goes out the direct outs. :wink:
  10. Pre Everything direct outs, but not firewire?

    Dave 62,

    You said the analog direct outs were pre-everything, I'm assuming the firewire connection is not pre-everything. It wouldn't make much sense to me for them to have a mixer and brag about it's firewire connectivity and preamps that didn't translate onto the computer.

    I had temporarily decided against the Mackie because of the direct out issue, however I will be using this for recording only, and if it's a great audio in device for my computer, then I'll probably go with it. I have heard a lot of good about it, especially for the price. I was going to go with the fw1884, but have heard a lot of negative feedback on this and other sites, so it doesn't look like I'll be going that route.

    Is it common for studios to have both a mixer for in and a control device?

  11. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Re: Pre Everything direct outs, but not firewire?


    Until recently (when I just sold my control surface - Radikal SAC-2K), I had a control surface and 5 mixers. I still have the 5 mixers, and if I needed it, I would still have the control surface. They are 2 different beasts and, despite the banks of faders and knobs, they perform relatively different functions.

  12. Tascam DM-24

    Cucco & Dave 62,

    You don't appear to be Tascam fans, but what about the Tascam DM-24 digital mixer with the firewire card?
  13. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    There's no lie there. I'm not a big fan of Tascam. In fact, every device I've ever used with the Tascam name plate has failed me at one point or another.

    As for the DM24, I've looked very seriously at these and I have to say, it does intrigue me. But it still says 'Tascam.'

    My personal preference, if I wanted a mixer with automation and a way to get digi in the computer, I would go with a RAMSA DA-7 and an RME Lightpipe card. The price would set you back around $1800-$2200 depending upon the deal you could get, but for that price, you would get a great mixer with excellent converters and true automation and recall as well as a versatile input device that would last you for years.

    Is it 96K? No. But will anyone ever hear the difference or be able to tell? No. The RAMSA converters are that good.

  14. Dave62

    Dave62 Guest

    Hi Dave, yeah it doesn't make much sense to have the firewire outputs pre everything, but according to the block diagram (page31) for the Onyx, the firewire outs are post preamp but pre hpf,pre EQ with no option to switch, just like the analog direct outs. So if you want any EQ on the way in you are S.O.L. The only place Mackie even shows where the direct/firewire outs are tapped is on the block diagram, it's not mentioned ANYWHERE else in their site which dosen't make for happy buyers. I think Mackie dropped the ball on this. They used to be known for flexability. I only use my mixer as an input device, monitoring thru a central station and mixing inside of PT so I don't need it to work as a two way
  15. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    I don't see this as being that much of a problem.

    If I'm piping audio to a PC as a primary recording system, I want the signal path as simple as possible - Pre->Converter->Disk. Why would I want to add EQ during the recording process when chances are, the EQ in the mixer is not as good as my linear phase EQs on my PC. Granted, having access to the Aux bus would be a plus too, but again, I'm not a big fan of adding stuff to the signal while I'm laying it down anyway. There's way too much room for error. (Overcompress a track - oops, damage done - can't fix it. Same for EQ or reverb)

    I think Mackie was smart in their signal path design. If I want to mix a large show or print to 2-track, I can use all of the features of the Mackie. Furthermore, if I want to bring audio back into the mixer in analog and perform post-processing, I can do so. If I want to record to PC, it's a set of pretty good pres and a pretty good A/D converter, and a PC bus in one unit. Comparable in price to units from Presonus or Focusrite, but a bit better in the quality department.

    Just some thoughts.
  16. Dave62

    Dave62 Guest

    My biggest gripe was the lack of choice. As the EQ and the HPF are both switched, the direct outs (firewire and analog) could have been tapped at this point, pre fader, and made most happy, except the people trying to do two things at once, i.e. foh and recording. Why not add one more direct out source switch between those two points and make everbody happy.
    As to the wisdom of EQ on tracking input, I track most drums with EQ because I have a very clear idea of how I need it to sound later, and on vocals I sometimes like to engage a high pass filter. I find I can also get a bit more level to tape by high-passing things like the hats, rides, and the cymbal overheads which are usually highpassed later anyway. Not a by the book purist I guess but real world conditions and 20 years of album experience. I also feel that the supplied standard digital EQ shipped with Protools or most entry level daws is just not as good as an analog EQ of reasonable quality like the the Onyx or the A&H mx3 series. Yep, my linear phase waves EQ's are incredible, but I just can't run 20 in my Protools 002R session.
  17. FifthCircle

    FifthCircle Well-Known Member

    A couple of thoughts here...

    First of all, I'd actually consider the fact that the Onyx's outputs are pre-everything to be a plus. Besides the fact that pre-everything yields the cleanest signal, I don't want to be constrained by what I think "seems" right at tracking. HPF is nice sometimes, but I still take care of that elsewhere- either at the mic if I need it or in post where I can control exactly how much gets removed. We forget that Mackie isn't exactly high-end. It is great for the money, but the ability to tweak stuff like that adds a certain amount to the price point. If you look at the new generation of Yamaha stuff (O1V-96, O2R96, DM1000 and DM2000), there is a software selection for how you want your direct outs... But, remember that is a digital board and software is a very different thing than hardware.

    Second- somebody asked about the DM-24. It is a remarkably good sounding console with a lot of functionality. There are a couple strange quirks- one of them being the gain in the mic pres and the others being with the layout. Still a darned good board, though. That said, I have one for sale (I'm going straight to the DAW these days)- my ad in the for sale section disappeared when a scammer posted to 30+ ads... It has 2 AES cards, though- not the firewire. Contact me off site if anybody is interested...

  18. no mixer

    Fifth Circle,

    So you don't use any kind of mixer getting audio into your DAW? What's your basic set up. I am interested in the Tascam that you have, but not sure how interested if it will work for what I'm trying to do. I want to get high quality audio into my pc for the best price. (of course, that's everyone's goal), I just want to do this right the first time as much as possible, at the same time I want to be a legit studio.

  19. FifthCircle

    FifthCircle Well-Known Member

    Most of the time, I don't... Sometimes I use a mixer, but it has become so rare that I'm selling my current gear.

    My standard rig for the sort of "low-end" broadcast/documentary gigs consists of 8 channels of the Panasonic/Ramsa digital mic pres and 2 channels of [good] Boulder twin servo mic pres (similar to the John Hardy Twin Servo). My high-end work is considerably higher quality. My session Monday had Millennia, Boulder, Vac Rac and other high-end preamps going directly into my Lynx 2C/AES L-stream setup at 96K. I had Lavry converters for the main mics and I used the Lynx for the rest.

    There are certainly advantages of using a console- in general for the work I do (location acoustic music) a console means less work in post as I'll sum channels and send either a stereo mix or a couple of stems to the workstation for post. When I use the DAW for everything, I [of course] record everything to its own track and I have to do more mixing in post.

  20. JoeH

    JoeH Well-Known Member

    I think a lot of it just comes down to when and how we like to track, mix and eq: live as it happens, or afterwards in post.

    It may be no surprise that Ben, Jeremy and myself all use Sequoia (and Sampitude) and curiously enough, don't want to do anything live other than capture it as purely as possible. It's tough not to keep turning this into another bragging session, but most users & converts who use this software will tell you that mixing and working in this environment is about as good as it gets - linear eq's as Jeremy mentions and so much more - too much to list here. It makes working with an analog board in post just pointless and slow.

    The ONYX 1640 is a split-use board; a very good analog mixing board for smaller live gigs, and it sports a very good tracking-out feature. It can also fit nicely in a project studio for monitoring computer mixes, CD playback, etc. How well that is implemented is arguable, but it does what it says it does. It's also a great deal for 16 mic pres all in one package. (How much you like the pre's is also a personal issue.)

    I like the eq's on the ONYX for live stuff, and making my CDr rough mixes, but I've gotten so good at eq'ing in Samp/Sequoia that I don't even bother with anything else anymore. It's pointless compared to what one can do after the fact. That may explain why I'm not at all bothered by the inability to use the EQ's when I record. Don't need it in my case. As for choosing the 1640 in particular, I like having as many as 16 pre's available for the kind of live recording gigs I do (about 1 per week for that # track count) and it's also a great way to do a CDr mix at the same time, for safety. On occasion, I may be doing FOH duties as well, but most of the time, I'm usually just split off my snake, and work from backstage.

    Frankly, I realize I'm probably the rarest of cases with this. Since I'm often literally right offstage at one venue in particular; I can't even really hear what I'm tracking, aside from the basics. I would NEVER trust my onsite EQ choices and be stuck with them later. Gimme "pre-EQ" anyday, in my case.

    As for WHY they don't offer both, I suspect there's a fairly simple technical reason, something to do with where they do the pick-off for the send to the digital converter. There's a LOT of gain available from the trim pot on the pre, and I suspect that it's optimised for that, in terms of the digital levels. Make the pick-off somewhere downstream, and it could mean a big problem, level wise. (not to mention the cost of more buffering, level adjs., maybe even another buffer op amp, etc. It's rarely as simple as just a jumper pin somewhere...)

    Rolling off the bass or high end on a vocal mic may not help your available gain structure, as well, ditto for making changes in the sound of the kick drum. I don't think it'll buy you any more signal, at least not the way it's currently laid out. THere's no risk to overload the mic pre's the way they are, so you can indeed do whatever you need in with digital eq & effects later

    Consider this: If it was a cost-saving move (and I really do suspect it was - but I have no information pro or con) - the developers at Mackie may have been counting on the fact that programs like Samp/Sequoia will become (or already are) so commonplace that few will want to trust their live-to-computer tracks with the emotion of the moment, instead of a controlled studio approch in post. It's a gutsy move, and I'm not at all surprised to see/hear so much anger at the lack of an option.

    But I can tell you that if you do get comfortable with the approach of EQ'ing in software, you may never go back.

    As always, YMMV. :cool:

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