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Mackie Onyx 1640 w/ firewire option, any complaints?

Discussion in 'Converters & Interfaces' started by killersoundz, May 14, 2005.

  1. killersoundz

    killersoundz Guest

    I recently discovered this mixer and it blows me away reading the manual and stuff. It would make a great mixer for both live and in the studio. 16 channels straight to a computer through firewire, oh man I would love to record live shows like that. Ultimately I think this is what I'm saving up for. Does anyone dislike this mixer or have any comments on it?

    The only thing I've read about someone complaining about it is because it sends the channels to a computer pre EQ and other effects and fader. I honestly wouldn't want it to send post all of that anyway, thats the purpose of having all of the seperate tracks, so you can mix later.
  2. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    Jul 2, 2002
    77 Sunset Lane.
    The jury is still out on the headroom of the ONYX overall .... it's still a very "smallish" power supply in these things. No one has reall said anything about the pres either. You could patch some good pres in through the insert returns.

    I just spoke with Kyle at Mackie and requested either an ONYX 800 or a 1640 to review ..
  3. killersoundz

    killersoundz Guest

    I'm sure the mic pre's aren't anything to write home about but I also doubt they "suck". For live stuff, i'm sure you'd be satisfied with them, but in a studio, probably not. There really don't seem to be any loop holes in this mixer from reading the manual. Mackie seems to have covered every base with this thing. Minus onboard "effects" possibly, not like I'd use any of those anyway.
  4. McCheese

    McCheese Well-Known Member

    Mar 24, 2005
    I got to mess with one for a few days.

    Things I liked:
    The new EQ. It's much more musical, set up more for recording than live sound.

    The ability to pre/post ALL auxes (finally) and no more 3/4-5/6 switching.
    The Pre's. Didn't test the headroom, but they seem great. Definitely a step up from the VLZ-Pro pre's. A tad less sterile sounding.

    Talkback built in, always nice for the projects studio.

    Dedicated multi outs in D-Sub form. Very nice.

    Phantom is now switchable on each channel, and it's not tucked behind any more.

    The button layout (solo, bus assign) is a bit more user friendly.

    Things I didn't like:

    The firewire option. It sends to firewire right after the pre, making all the nice new EQ useless. For a firewire interface it might as well just be a rack of 16 pre's. Especially since there's only a stereo send back to the mixer from the firewire. I believe the inserts are pre FW send, but that's it.

    60mm faders. They just feel short, I guess it's a personal thing. Laying out all 6 aux sends took up too much space I guess.

    All in all I saw it as a nice improvment over the 1604 VLZ-Pro, especially with the pre/post switches on the auxes, which was my biggest gripe about the 1604.

    Given that it's just a tad more than a new 1604, I'd buy one if I needed a small format 16 channel mixer, and didn't have a VLZ-Pro (although the aux thing still tempts me). But I doubt I'd buy the FW interface.
  5. killersoundz

    killersoundz Guest

    Thanks for the comments. The one thing I don't understand is someones gripe about the firewire sending pre eq and everything. Thats how I would personally prefer it so I could EQ, compress etc etc later on.
  6. RandomGuest

    RandomGuest Guest

    Feb 10, 2001
    I thought the faders on the ONYX were kind of tight. They were sort of hard to move. And when I tryed to move them slowly they would jerk, slightly, before starting to move constantly and even.
    But maybe they were designed to hold there position better like they are made. Just a thought
  7. McCheese

    McCheese Well-Known Member

    Mar 24, 2005
    The reason is it's a pretty dang nice EQ that was definitely designed for recording, plus it's got a hard bypass built in, so it would make sense to be able to use it when you want to, but no chance. If you buy it with the firewire card for recording, you're getting an EQ and all the rest of the stuff that's useless. You can't send back via firewire to mix on the board or anything, so it's just a waste.

    And for the faders, they were pretty smooth to me, maybe they have a break-in or something.
  8. killersoundz

    killersoundz Guest

    I don't know. It still doesn't seem like a waste to me. Maybe its just be though, but I just like using parametric eq's in post.
  9. JoeH

    JoeH Distinguished Member

    Jun 22, 2004
    Philadelphia, PA/ Greenville, DE
    Home Page:
    I suspect the reason you're not hearing too many complaints about it (aside from the never-ending Pre/post send issue) is that ONYX owners are too busy using them for projects and enjoying the results.

    In my experience with it (for about 7 months now) it's a rock solid, well designed board, and the preamps are indeed quite fantastic, regardless of the cost. But of course it depends on what you're looking to do with it. (Yes, I reviewed it in MIX, but the unit I reviewed was mine, it wasn't a freebie/loaner, and Mackie didn't know what we were up to until it was published, FWIW.)

    I've put my ONYX 1640 through more paces on various live gigs in recent months - plus the last week alone - than I could even list here.... 16 track full-court press just tonight (Saturday) on an audiophile/live Jazz recording for an NPR broadcast, with some of the finest names working today. Individual phantom power switches saved tons of hassles with the various splits we used to the house & Monitor system, and the onboard EQ for each channel made for a great temp CDr and backstage mix. This was perhaps the loudest latin Jazz band we've had come through in some time. The drummer & conga player alone generated levels that were hotter than anything we've dealt with in a long time. Ditto for the 4 horns, vocalist, piano, bass, etc. The preamps took everything we threw at them, without breaking a sweat. Nothing was so hot that we couldn't get levels set with good gain structure. Plenty of headroom when set up properly. (I'll be happy to send anyone curious to hear 'em a copy of the finished mix, in about a week or so once it airs...it'll be done entirely via the Mackie/FW to HD running Sequoia to CDr.)

    THe night before (Friday) was live surround presentation with spoken word, live violins (2), prepared piano (1), pre-recorded CD tracks, and sends to speakers all around the auditorium. It was also the basis of an audiophile recording slated for later release. I used all six aux sends, all four sub outs, and tracked it all to FW HD plus safety CDr backup. QUite a workout, no problems or nasty surprises whatsoever.

    I've also bought a 1220 w/firewire for my studio mix/mastering area for monitoring and the occasional VO or overdub. I have used both the ONYX pre's and other outboard stuff. Its' all good. Smaller footprint, but still plenty of features, and I really don't need much more now that most of it's done inside the computer anyway.

    If you prefer exotic stand-alone pre's etc., then it's probably not the right board for you. It wont do some of those warm and fat things the tube & ultra highend pre's do. But if you want good clean gain with no bs, plenty of headroom, no-coloration pre's, tons of features and the FW hookup, it's certainly worth a listen to know if it's for you.

    I'm not wild about the taper length either, but sheeesh...the damn thing is big enough, I'd say. I can live with it. Perhaps the only thing I'd change would the location of the headphone jack.
  10. ronmac

    ronmac Active Member

    May 7, 2005
    Nova Sotia
    Home Page:

    Thanks for the great real world review. I would be interested in a sample when it is ready.

  11. Dave62

    Dave62 Guest

    I had a Onyx and I returned it because the direct outs and the firewire outs are both pre Eq and Pre highpass with no option to modify it . So that great Perkins EQ is only available if you mix through the mixer, hardly a good idea if its already in the computer.Fine for live but not really meant for recording. While you can bus and use the EQ if your overdubbing, if your tracking a band you are S.O.L.. Some purists will say they only EQ after but whats the point of calling it a recording board and promoting the EQ when it is only the pre's that get used when recording? The Onyx 800 R does the same thing at this point and is a heck of a lot smaller and cheaper. I have recorded over a hundred independant albums and I always Eq toms, kick, snare to tape and I high pass things like the ride and hats to cut down on processor load when mixing with my 002R. It also makes the bands headphone mixes alot better, and if I tried to EQ in the box while tracking, I wouldn't be able to track at the 64 sample latency setting I am using now.

    I started a thread in Mackies forum about this (Any 1640 direct outs mods?) and they apparently really dropped the ball on this one. I want the option of EQ and highpass at least and went to a Allen and Heath Mix wizard because it at least has jumpers to give you the option. Mackie is apparently changing this in their 80 series mixers and I would bet it will happen in their next release of the ONYX series.
  12. JoeH

    JoeH Distinguished Member

    Jun 22, 2004
    Philadelphia, PA/ Greenville, DE
    Home Page:
    Ron, I'll be happy to send you a copy of the show from Saturday when it's mixed and airs (Probably next week). Drop me an email via my website, or I'll do the same thing via yours.

    Dave, I've read your thread and commented (as you probably recall) and while I personally don't need the post-eq send, I can understand some people like yourselves want it. I think it was in your thread or a similar one where I speculated that perhaps it was simply cost that kept Mackie from making it user-selectable in the first place.

    I suspect it's easy enough to take the digital pick off the preamp level trim, but it may be a whole can of worms (level/headroom wise) to do it AFTER the EQ. It may at least involve another IC, a cap or two, and some kind of overload auto-protection circuitry that could have (IMHO) added a few bucks per channel. Perhaps the circuit was just unstable and too noisy doing it that way, and cleaning it up was too costly. Just a hunch; I really don't know.

    On the other hand, how soon will it be before we see an ONYX MKII, or mods availabe via service centers? In the older VLZ line, there were published mods available (in the very manuals, actually) for making the aux sends pre and post, and a few other mods. If they're making the larger line of ONYX with pre/post capability, then I suspect it cant be all THAT hard to begin with.

    Give it time; perhaps some enterprising soul will design an add-on internal circuit board that you can solder in yourself or soemthing. That would be cool, indeed.

    I have to admit, as much as I like the thing, the only really valid complaint I've seen is the pre/post debate. What the hell, give the other half of the client base what they want, and they'll sell that many more. Makes sense to me.......
  13. frob

    frob Well-Known Member

    Apr 23, 2004
    i have to say that my favorate new adition to this thing i didnt know about till i da to work on a VLZ its the d-sub connecters. i had to replace the ribbon cables in our live/practice pa board a 1604 VLZ. this is a feat which requires one to take every thing apart. i never hated makie untill thien. two screws for 16 xlr 4 sub out 6 aux send 12 (stereo) aux returns 8 direct out 16 line in 16 insert chanels two insert main 2main out stereo and 1 main out mono and 4 rca tape in/out. for some one who has done it before (i did it twice) its a 2+ hour job.

    im not trying to hijack your thred, but next time it breaks its on ebay and im buying a onyx.

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