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Onyx Firewire - Best of Both Worlds?

Discussion in 'Converters / Interfaces' started by nedjinski, Feb 26, 2005.

  1. nedjinski

    nedjinski Active Member

    Where have all the analog mixers gone? Exactly!

    Here come the firewire interfaces - a new one every month.

    So is there still an interest in having the hands on feel of an analog mixer or are we doomed to small twisty knobs with no linear feel?

    It looks like the Mackie Onyx with firewire has bridged the gap - or is it too little too late? or is it too expensive for what you get as compared to a Presonus Firepod for example?

    What do you think?
  2. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    There are two reviews of the ONYX in the recent issues of Mix and EQ mag ... Take a look.

    In both reviews, the writers mention that while they are a bit better, the pres are still no match for high end boutique pres, which was / is the hype that Mackie has been putting out and I have not yet met an EQ without bandwith controls on at least the mid bands, that I liked. Even 4 band ones.

    Additionally, there's limitatons to the signal routing in and out of the computer with only 2 channels being returned from the DAW for monitoring. OK for tracking but you are not going to be able to mix or sum outputs on it, which is what a lot of people are wanting a mixer for. With the ONYX, you will still be looking at mixing in the box. Really it's just a "front end" solution, and not that great of one, when you consider the cost.

    I'm keeping my SR24vlz and my pre amp rack.
  3. BillC

    BillC Guest

    They have bridged -a- gap, interestingly and imperfectly. It is best viewed, as Kurt said, as a front-end, as far as DAW integration goes (it's still an good small-format live mixer in its own right).

    What the Onyx w/FW does and what it leaves out has to be considered at its price point. There are several alternatives, each with a different set of limitations. I bought the Onyx, but also seriously considered the Fireface and MOTU firewire boxes. Both of the latter actually have better mixing capabilities in a number of respects - but at the price of some complexity. Both are smaller, lighter, and thus more portable, but at the price of layered menus (on the box) and more complex software (on the PC). Low-latency monitoring is possible with all of them, but easier to do on a traditional board. It's possible to use all of them as live mixers, but it's not possible to ride and adjust controls on the smaller interfaces like an analog board. The Onyx, depending on the model, has more inputs - only important if you want or need them. The Onyx FW interface only returns two channels to the mixer - which pretty much fixes its role as a front-end as well as prevents doing anything with surround - something that almost made me go the direction of the other interfaces. The preamps differ among them, but not convincingly enough to make the decision swing one way or another (IMO).

    In the end, I chose simplicity of use, re-use (can re-stage the Onyx as anything from a live-use mixer to headphone board to whatever), and longevity (basic mixer at least, not necessarily the FW interface and driver). I chose it in the face of two things I distinctly didn't like: that only two channels are returned, and size (1640, bought for hardware features, e.g., subs).

    Back to the original point - the Onyx doesn't so much fill the multi-purpose gap as fill it differently than the alternatives. Pick your set of limitations in the price range. Spend a few thousand or so more and you can have it all.

  4. JoeH

    JoeH Well-Known Member

    Very well put, Bill! Can't add much to what you've just said.

    I work around the 5.1 limitations (in my studio, anyway) by using other (addtional) sound cards for the invidual outs, and use separate amps. It's a bit of a hassle to switch over to 5.1 monitoring, but I've tweaked it all out, and it works - when I need it. Most of the time, I'm just stereo, and therefore the entire Mackie line works fine for me, including the ONYX. (I have a 1640 for live use, and will get the 1220 soon for my studio. I track on location, and/or mix in the computer for just about everything anyway, and don't need much in the way of inputs these days.)

    I keep hearing about how "expensive" Mackie is, and I'm puzzled. I can't imagine getting anywhere NEAR the specs (and features) of a board like Mackie (or others in the same general category like Yamaha, or Soundcraft etc.) 10-15 years ago. What we used to have at this level (Pro-sumer) was just crap compared to what's available now. The VLZ line was relatively afforable in its era, and the ONXY isn't all that much more now, considering the upgrades.

    I must be getting old, because I remember when Mackie was the AFFORDABLE solution to everything else out there by comparison. :roll: Diffrent strokes.....
  5. JoeH

    JoeH Well-Known Member

    <<There are two reviews of the ONYX in the recent issues of Mix and EQ mag ... Take a look.

    In both reviews, the writers mention that while they are a bit better, the pres are still no match for high end boutique pres, which was / is the hype that Mackie has been putting out >>

    I'm not sure where you read this, but it wasn't in MIX. (Craig Anderton wrote a review of the ONYX 1640 in EQ and probably said that, but here is no review of the ONYX line - YET - in MIX.)

    There is only a general press release/article written by the "editorial staff" (mostly George Peterson - last year - January 2004).


    It was more of an announcement and list of features than an actual review of any of them.

    There is a review of the DXbus by Barry Rudolph in the Feb. Issue, but those inputs are Burr-Brown ICs, this is an excerpt from Barry's review:

    The Mic/Line 4 card has four mic XLRs and four TRS balanced lines. All mic input cards use the new TI/Burr-Brown PGA 2500 preamp chip. The Mic/Line 8 card has eight balanced mic/line inputs and outputs on two DB25s in Tascam pin-out. The Line card has eight balanced analog line I/Os, also using two DB25s. Each card has -10dBv/+4dBm switches for each line input and output. The X.200 accepts up to eight 8-channel cards for 64 total I/O channels, in addition to the aforementioned Mix Out card for L/R output, monitoring and 2-track returns.

    Nowhere does it compare these to any other mic pre.

    And, I don't say that in MY review (which hasn't been published yet, AFAIK. I'll let you know when it does; I've heard it will be in April, but I'm always the last to know. ;-)

    I would say QUITE the opposite, actually, but I have no intentions of getting into a flame war over everyone's beloved mic pre's here. :lol:

    Plenty of room out there for everyone's taste and budget. As always, YMMV. :cool: [/i]
  6. stonewall40

    stonewall40 Guest

    there was a luke warm review of the rackmount version in the recent TapeOp

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