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Mackie Onyx VS old Soundcraft board

Member for

16 years 8 months
Hello all,

I'm looking at 2 boards for recording right now. Both are used and about the same dough.

1-Mackie Onyx, 8XLR's, 4 EQ's by Perkins, 2 sweeping, individual phantom power. Does firewire.

2-Soundcraft 200SR, 8 XLR's(I believe) 4 EQ's, all fixed, individual phantom power. Old enough the VU's are needles. I think late 80's, but I'm having a hard time pinpointing it. I kinda think it predates Harmon buying them. Zat true?

So? What would you buy?

I don't know if it's relevant, but my current rig is two channels of ancient Altec Lansing pre from the 60's, so my recordings now go through 12AX7's. I am, of course, looking to expand.

Thanks for the insights in advance.



Member for

13 years 6 months

TheJackAttack Mon, 07/06/2009 - 10:23
First I'll say that I have basically moved away from using a mixing board for tracking. I wish I had a good analog summing mixer for back at the barn but until then I'll have to make do with my Onyx.

The Onyx has better AD conversion than the Delta 1010 IMHO. I have used both. I have a 1640 w/firewire for live recording when I'm also running the PA. I really like the Onyx pre's even if I really wish Gregg Mackie would put in line inputs that bypass the preamps. The pre's aren't on a level with True or other top end stuff but very nice none the less.

The ZED R16 seems to be a step up as far as firewire assignments and routing. I have not heard the board but I am very interested in doing so from reading the manual. It definitely seems a leap from the other ZED boards and if the digital routing works like I believe, then it is a step over the Onyx routing.

Boswell, have you heard the A&H?

Member for

16 years 8 months

took-the-red-pill Mon, 07/06/2009 - 18:35
Thanks for the info, gents. Good meat to chew on.

I think I'll get the Onyx, then get the firewire card later as funds allow. I'll continue to run the old Altecs through the Delta for now.

While it's not Neve or SSL, 8 channels of Onyx and 2 channels of vintage Altec tube ought to keep me happy for a while...

The Zed r16 probably is a step up, but then again it's just shy of $3K, whereas the 1620 Onyx I'm looking at is less than 1/4 of that, used. I'd bet in blind taste tests the difference would be pretty minimal.

I think if 3K falls in my lap, there's a short list of preamps, mics, and plugins I'm eyeing.

Many thanks.

Member for

15 years 5 months

Boswell Tue, 07/07/2009 - 02:35
TheJackAttack wrote: Boswell, have you heard the A&H?
Yes, I have, but in isolation and not in an A-B test with any other board. I liked it, but then I have always liked the sound of the top A+H boards (less so the entry-level toys). I think A+H have done well with the Zed-R16 to capture their high-end sound quality in a mid-range package, especially when you take into account the cost of equivalent quality external ADCs with a Firewire interface. Sonically, I would think a Midas Venice has the edge, but the Zed-R16 has better routing facilities for recording and tracking (with MIDI) than a live sound board like the Venice, and it's much less money than a Venice plus external ADCs.

On the Zed-R16, there are some rather strange decisions about which signals in the board can be digitized and which cannot, but I would nevertheless look very seriously at it if I had to set up a semi-portable recording rig from scratch for small-to-medium sized jobs on a budget. By the way, the street price on this side of the pond translates to around USD2300.

Member for

15 years 10 months

hueseph Sun, 07/05/2009 - 23:14
That Soundcraft mixer was intended for live application I believe. That's not to say you couldn't use it for recording, just that you would need to take a line out from the inserts to go into your recording chain. Which by the way, what is your recording setup? Are you going to tape/digital 1" DASH/hard drive? If you're going to a hard drive, how are you getting it there?

The Onyx would be more convenient but don't be fooled by those eqs they don't go to disc. There is a mod which will let you record the eq to disc but the stock units are bypassed in the recording chain.

Member for

15 years 5 months

Boswell Mon, 07/06/2009 - 04:24
Of the two boards you specify, the Mackie Onyx (1620?) is better as a recording board, but you will suffer by putting the outputs of your external pre-amps through the Mackie's line inputs, as these are simply attenuated and sent though the Onyx pre-amps. If you were to go with the Mackie, you would be better off feeding the external pre-amps unbalanced into the board's insert returns. The Onyx native pre-amps are good and clean for any other mic channels you have.

The Soundcraft 200SR is a nice old board designed primarily for PA and other live sound use. It's not really a recording board - you would have to take the recording signals from the insert sends, which are post-EQ. You would need a multi-channel line-level interface (e.g. Lynx Aurora 8/FW) to connect these to your PC, which adds considerably to the cost.

Assuming the Mackie really does have the FireWire interface option installed, it's a no-brainer in cost terms between the two for a complete recording set-up. However, if you are serious about recording boards, you should also look at the A+H Zed-R16. These are maybe a bit new to be appearing on used gear lists, but the Zed-R16 is in the next league up in sonic quality.

Member for

16 years 8 months

took-the-red-pill Mon, 07/06/2009 - 08:08
Thanks gents.

Sorry, I wasn't clear enough with the first post.

I have the rackmount Delta 1010 in a PCI slot, from a few years ago. 8 analog inputs. On either board I would go from the direct outs(or the inserts in the case of the Soundcraft) into the inputs of the Delta.

For most applications I would have Ch1-6 on the mixer going into the Delta, and then the Altec would go directly into Ch7-8 on the Delta. I won't be going from the pres on the Delta into the mixer.

I do all my mixing in the box, with software plugins, so all I'm really interested in is the pres, and I'd use it for the odd gig a few times a year.

So the Zed is a step up from the Onyx in terms of pre quality? Huh. I thought they were the low end of A & H. Comments on that?

Thanks again for your thoughts.