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Has anyone heard the new Mackie Onyx preamps and perkins EQ on their new boards? Do they live up to the hype? How do they compare to the old vlz and vlz pro preamps.

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anonymous Thu, 07/15/2004 - 23:00

I've got the 1402 vlz, and I like it alot. Mackie makes the claim that
these mic pres compare to high end stand alone units, and that the new perkins EQ compares to that of the more exspensive british consoles. If their claims are anywhere near accurate I think the 16 channel Onyx will be my next purchase. It's hard to go wrong with Mackie regardless.

anonymous Sat, 07/17/2004 - 01:42

No! I couldn't take looking at that little screen anymore, and the restriction of only 8 tracks. I tookmy earnings and bought the Roland 2480. I love the GUI. It makes me gooey. I got a 15nch Lcd with it. The only thing I want to add is Apogee rosetta A/D conversion to the front end. There's a point where you have to say
"It sounds good enough."and start making music.

Do you think the stuff from Slippery Road sounds too squashed? Be honest I can take it. Listen to the broad band stuff at the cd baby page though for the best fidelity. What did you replace your vs880 with?

anonymous Sun, 07/18/2004 - 14:37

I was looking hard at the Onyx 1640 until I found out it has no Group inserts. So, I started looking at the Crest XR20 instead.

It is my understanding the Mackie preamps aren't half bad, pretty neutral (uncolored). The real problem with Mackie is in the EQ and summing circuitry. The Onyx is reputed to have a full overhaul of the EQ and summing circuitry.

But... the Onyx is a one-dot-oh product, and like the computer industry, I have no doubt there will be multiple revs of the hardware boards before the Onyx stabilizes.

Look into the Crest XR20 instead. Only a couple hundred more, and perhaps a lot more board.

maintiger Mon, 07/19/2004 - 13:55

Karyn wrote: . There's a point where you have to say
"It sounds good enough."and start making music.

Do you think the stuff from Slippery Road sounds too squashed? Be honest I can take it. Listen to the broad band stuff at the cd baby page though for the best fidelity. What did you replace your vs880 with?

I did hear the tracks in CD baby. It sounds pretty clean and they are not too terribly dense so the quality is not bad but still it lacks "sparkle' in the top end. that's why I replaced my vs880 with digital performer- actually, I had been working with DP for years but I was using it mainly for midi as computers still didn't have enough power to get enough native tracks. I had the vs880 for vocals and acoustic instruments and DP for midi tracks, then I used to mix down to CD. I like my set up with a dual mac much better now and the sound has improved a lot... also quality mics, pres and agogee coversion makes it so much better still :D

maintiger Mon, 07/19/2004 - 14:06

By the way, on second listen your stuff sounds great, it grows on you. You voice and performances are compelling. we make a big deal out of the recording process but its all about the song, anyway. Of course, we must strive to make it sounds as good as we possibly can... but it you don'y have the songs and the talent you aint got nuttin'

anonymous Tue, 07/20/2004 - 03:42

Thanks, that means alot coming from someone that has recording ears. Actually Apogee conversion is on my list to upgrade the 2480's front end. Did you notice a big difference, or was it subtle.
What mic pres are you using? Currently I'm using a Bellari rp220 mic pre, and Shure Ksm44. but am considering Manley Vox Box or Millennia Origen. Having heard my voice would you have a mic - mic pre combination reccomendation.

maintiger Tue, 07/20/2004 - 08:29

When we first got the apogee it was an instant 'wow' factor. The timing became tighter, the bass more defined. We were using the motu 828 mkii before, which by no means is a bad box, but we could tell the difference right away. The shure KSm44 is a great mic, yoiu really can't go wrong with it. there are others out there but you just have to try them. Sometimes a U87 will work great on a female vocalist but many time is just too bright. with an overly bright vocalist I put up an old RCA D77 ribbon mics and that will tame the highs and bring out the quality in the voice. Its just like butter. again, though, its a matter of individual voices and tastes. My current favorite, (even before the u87 or the RCA) is the new Rode K2 but that is on male vocals. I keep saying am gonna try it on female vocals but I haven't gotten around to it, eventhough my wife does have a gorgeous low soprano, alto voice that I suspect will shine through that mic.

As far as preamps are concerned, you are doing mostly (for what I heard) acoustic piano, electric piano (with a string patch), acoustic guitars, some electric guitars (or keyboards with an electric guitar patch, too far back in the mix to tell), bass and drums.
If you are going to stick with that kind of sound, a clean preamp should do it nicely.
Right now we are using grace and sytek preamps for a jazz/pop project we are doing.
they are very clean and crisp, especially the grace 101, and we are getting great results. Again, I recommend you try the stuff if you can first. On your situation, I would try another preamp through your shure mic. It might be like another world for you. And when you add the apogee as well, your ksm 44 might sound like a million bucks (like its supposed to).

anonymous Tue, 07/20/2004 - 11:41

Thanks for taking the time to write that reply. My head gets swimming when I think of all the gear choices out there. And sometimes you wonder if you really can get the quality that the big studios offer. If the apogee makes that much of a difference, that's probably the place to start.
If the onyx is what they say, feeding that into the apogee could be a significant difference. Connecting the onyx to the apogee rosetta 200 could really expand the inputs to the 2480. Then I could bypass selected onyx mic pres through the inserts with higher end stand alone mic pres.
Thanks again. It helped tremendously. I'll give Grace a closer look. It's certainly more cost effective than my other choices.


maintiger Tue, 07/20/2004 - 14:07

The only thing about the grace 101 is that it is only a single channel, so you'll need 2 if you are planning on say recording your piano in stereo, so we are talking $1200. There are other offerings out there in that price range you might want to look at. I use mine all the time and plan on buying another one in the future (so I can do stereo piano, keys). 8)

Right now I am using the sytek for that (4ch) and it is actually similar in to the grace in many ways, though I find the grace has more definition in the top end. lately I've been finding that I been using the sytek with the burr brown options channels over the grace with my K2 mic on male (me) vocals. When I recorded a couple of girl singers I used the grace with my rca d77 mic and got fantastick results. (I ordered the grace model with extra gain for ribbon mics). It was $569 from for the grace with the extra gain. note that the regular grace goes for $599 at places like musiciansfriend, so its something to keep in mind in case you want to use it with ribbon mics in the future. :D

If you do go with the onyx, please let us know how you do like it. I understand it will be a while still before they start to ship, though.

anonymous Tue, 07/20/2004 - 22:17

I've seen some tasty recordings made with Mackie VLZ pres... one can get lost diddling with gear and forget the point is recording the music.

I passed on the Crest XR20, too much $$$ for my non-commerical habit. So, I scored a tasty Mackie SR2404 VLZ Pro from eBay for 1/3 the price of the Crest. For the record, the Mackie is for live mixing only. I have a pair of Aardvark Q10 for all digital recording.

anonymous Thu, 07/22/2004 - 13:35

I've got a 1402 vlz and love it. That's why I'm very interested in the Onyx. I'm sure you'll like your 2404. My only quam with Mackie boards is do those eq knobs do anything or are they just there for looks. I exagerate a little, but I've used boards that are much more responsive in that regard. Mackie is still at the top of my list though.