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Live sound mixer/Home recording solution! (Mackie Onyx 1640)

Hey i'm currently *planning* on putting together a PA system, but I also want a little setup to lay down some tracks. I'm interested in the Mackie Onyx 1640 because of the obvious. I could use it for my PA and use the firewire card and lay down 16 tracks.

But as anyone would be before they are about to spend $1600 i'm a little worried about the durability of this thing. I have yet to see it in person but does anyone think it could take any abuse at all? I'm sure i'd buy Mackie's soft case for it and pamper it, but still.

The only gripe I have against it spec wise is theres no inserts on the subgroups! (so much for using one channel of compression for double kicks)

I'm also looking at something like a Behringer MX9000 and a PreSonus Firepod. (use the 8 subgroups) Not the best thing in the world but it would work, and if I ever came across the money I could buy 2 MOTU HD192's and have 24 ins and 24 outs. ;)

That Behringer mixer has some good reviews, I know most Behringer stuff is out of the pooper, but that seems like the one thing they are making thats half decent. Any opinions? Durability using that thing for live sound? Any mixer I get i'm going to invest in a hard case for it.

Would there be any other options for a mixer and something to record with for under $1600?



Member Thu, 08/10/2006 - 13:21
No disagreement. Mine is in use in the studio. It's compact, but has all of the features I need as well. I couldn't be happier if the thing came with a box of donuts.

In speaking with Mackie about it... it really was designed to be a live mixer that could also lay down multi-tracks to record the performances. I would like to have the option to enable the EQ, but I don't feel it's necessary. They left it out because the recorded signal is basically left "dry" and you can change it throughout the entire gig without affecting the track. Imagine how much of a pain it would be if halfway through a song at a gig, you fiddled with the guitar tone for 30 seconds... and then later had to "un-eq" it so you could mix it. That would suck.

Some custom shops make a modification where they change the path of the signal to go through the EQ before the recording outputs... but I haven't really felt the need to do that. If I really want to (I've done it), I use a loop through and FX loop back into a new channel. Then you can EQ on the main channel and record off of the return channel... etc.

It's useful, but not necessary. If the tone sucks so badly that you HAVE to EQ it before laying it down... then you're probably already screwed. I prefer to use post FX on everything except vocals (mild compression while recording, then more in post).

JoeH Thu, 08/10/2006 - 14:23
I'm a fan of the whole product line. I regularly record with the ONYX 1640 on location, often using the onboard pres and FW, recording at 24/44 and bring it back alive here to mix in Sequioa.

I also use an ONYX 1220 w/FW to monitor out of the box here in the studio, using the FW output through the board to the monitor amp. I dumped my larger console; there's no need to have anything larger in the middle of my mix area now anyway, just about everyting is virtual. Small is good; more room for my coffee mug.

Just today, I had a final mix/editing session with the conductor & composer of a world premiere Orchestral/Choral piece we did back in May, multitracked with DPA 4006 TLs on the mains, various AT 4000's on the chorus, spots on various sections, and a KMi-84 on the soloist out front, all send to the computer via FW card. It was a great hall, with incredible musicians, microphones and gear; the composer nearly wept it sounded so good.

Of course, we never use compression or limiting for this kind of music, so the dynamic range was huge; almost to the point where we nearly had to turn the loud stuff down a bit, it was almost painful. (It was a big group: 120-voice chorus, full orchestra & 6 percussionists, 12 tracks w/some DSP). Even after working on the mix on and off over the last few months, it was still stunning to hear it fresh again today.

I was thinking about this thread while working with the client today. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise, in many cases it's all you need to capture and monitor the creation of a great, world-class mix, with sterling results.

Member Fri, 08/11/2006 - 08:12
I recently used the 1640 to track drums for a studio recording and was really impressed with the overall sound. It did a great job of capturing the differences in the microphones. I used some eart works for overheads and was very pleased with the overhead presence. The kick was captured through a Beta 52 and a Shiny Box ribbon. It will defintely be in my aresenal for a long time to come!

RemyRAD Tue, 08/01/2006 - 18:24
If you are into recording directly into your computer, I would absolutely suggest the Mackie 1640 with the FireWire option. Then all you need is a relatively quick laptop and an external FireWire or USB hard disk drive.

Conversely, you might want to consider the larger Beringer console and the Alesis HD24? That provides you with the ability to track 24 tracks simultaneously and you won't be limited to 16. You can then take the hard disk drive from the HD 24 and dump that into your computer for mixing inside the box! I personally don't trust any computers for recording live. I do trust the HD 24 for recording live. Then all you need is some killer software like Sony's Vegas for mixing and processing and mastering to CD.

Less is more! More is better!
Ms. Remy Ann David

JoeH Wed, 08/02/2006 - 16:24
Killerz, I can vouche for the Mackie ONYX 1640 as well as the ONYX 1220. I have one of each.

I reviewed it for Mix in 2005. (I bought my own mixer, it was no freebie-giveaway).

It's paid for itself many times over since then. I'd like to get the mid-level version as well (the 10 input version...1604 or something?) I use the 1220 in my studio for tracking and monitoring; it's a great sound board with a small footprint and perfect to use with my DAW system. (Gone is the big-wide-ass console of the old days.)

I haul the 1640 around in an SKB case (Comes with some customizable padding and chucks to hold it firmly in place.)

Although the ONYX series is now built in China (albiet designed in the USA), it seems every bit as stable and as reliable as the original VLZ Pro Series. (Actually, I think they've solved the bad/intermittant wire harness problem now, as more flakey ins/out etc.)

Drop me a note privately for more info, if you like.

Member Thu, 08/10/2006 - 07:38
I have an Onyx1640 and I love it.
Keep this in mind: It is primarily a live mixer. That is why the EQ and faders do NOT affect the recorded signal. Basically, you have the trim pot at the top of the board, and after that, it goes straight out the firewire.
This is good for recording live performances, as you can change the EQ on a track in the middle of a set and it won't change the recorded signal... only the PA output signal.

Pretty standard stuff, and all in all it's a well designed mixer... it just seems to cause some confusion to some.

Overall, unless yours is broken out of the box (like mine was), you should be happy with the value. It's a good piece of equipment and the firewire is top-notch as far as speed goes.
Their tech support is good as well as their support forum. I got my busted card replaced easily and it's been smooth since then.

JoeH Thu, 08/10/2006 - 12:15
I forget the model #, but it's on SKB's website under mixer cases, and it's 30x26x10. That's a little larger than you need for the actual mixer, but they give you some internal plastic cleats (with some serious velcro to hold 'em) and some foam padding so you can size the case to keep the mixer firmly in place when you move it around. (you must have a lot of depth for this thing, as well; it's a fair size larger than the VLZ Pro series, deeper too.)

There's enough space inside the case to store a couple of things; I keep a small box/kit that holds firewire cables, a FW card (for the laptop), two pairs of headphones, blank CDs, sharpies, flashlight, etc. - all the usual stuff for a remote multitrack & CDr recording. I got a littlelite for it as well, although it's fairly large, and a $10 lamp from Office Max will work just as well, sometimes better for the size of it.

Cucco Thu, 08/10/2006 - 12:50
corrupted wrote: I have an Onyx1640 and I love it.
Keep this in mind: It is primarily a live mixer. That is why the EQ and faders do NOT affect the recorded signal. Basically, you have the trim pot at the top of the board, and after that, it goes straight out the firewire.
This is good for recording live performances, as you can change the EQ on a track in the middle of a set and it won't change the recorded signal... only the PA output signal.

I agree it's a GREAT mixer. I wouldn't say it's primarily a live mixer though. To me, it's designed as a great live mixer and a great digital recording interface in one. It works great in the studio too. I mean, let's face it - why would I want to use a mixer's stock EQ nowadays when there are so MANY good plug-in EQs. Also, you can't undo the EQ - I think Mackie actually took this to heart when building it.

Personally, I didn't need the mixer interface and was much better served by the excellent pres and far-above-average A/D conversion, so I went with the 800R. I use it on several live classical performances either as a primary pre/conversion or secondary pre/conversion to other good pres and conversion.

In general, the new Onyx line is serious pro audio!

Oh, and it's built just fine. Granted, I haven't seen any of the Mackie staff standing on their new Onyx line (as they used to in ads of the past), but I'm pretty sure they can withstand a bit of a fall if necessary.