Portico 5012 Vs Mackie Onyx 800R - bang for buck

Discussion in 'Preamps / Channel Strips' started by lostindundee, Feb 12, 2009.

  1. lostindundee

    lostindundee Active Member

    Mar 25, 2008
    Hi there

    Neve 5012 or Mackie Onyx 800R. I'm kinda torn between the two. Yes you read correctly.

    I currently use a Neve Portico 5016 and sometimes also an ART MP V3 (when I have to). I'm currently in the market for another preamp channel or two and was thinking of a Portico 5012 (£1343 = yikes) and perhaps an other at some point later on down the line.

    Thing is, I'm hearing such wonderful things about the Mackies that I'm almost considering the Mackie ONYX 800R (£919) as this would easily take care (quantity-wise) of my future preamp needs. I would likely still use the Neve for lots of things and the Mackie pres in reserve if get them. Obviously I'd use the Mackies if something sounded better through them than the Neve. Mind you...I'd experiment with an open mind and try everything through both.

    I don't have a need or even space for a mixing desk, thus the rack mountable Mackie ONYX 800R appeals to me, as does the ADAT it features. I'm just getting my head around ADAT. Does ADAT have any bearing on the quality of recordings in comparison to analog? Any drawbacks I mean?

    This is what Sound on Sound had to say about the Mackie.

    The features regarding channels 7 & 8 being usable as HiZ inputs is very handy. Channels 1 & 2 have a feature enabling refinement of Mid-Side stereo micing. Any comments on this feature?

    Each channel also has 48v Phantom Power, a High Pass Filter and Phase Reverse. The Mackie's ADAT output is very handy as it means I can digitally punt the all 8 mic pre channels (or less) through my RME MultifaceII's ADAT input and still have 8 analog channels (on the RME) to play with. providing I buy (or need) more pres. Alternatively, I can use the Mackie in analog using a D-sub to 8x 1/4" TRS.

    The main issue here is - How do the Mackie Onyx Pres stack up against the Neve Portico's and would I regret opting for the Mackie and end up regretfully flogging my own back with some thorny rose bushes? That is the question.

    Basically, its £670 per Neve channel versus £115 per Mackie channel. If I get the Neve 5012 (along with my 5016) I would then own three fantastic preamp channels. If I get the Mackie, I would have 1 fantastic preamp channel and 8 reasonably fantastic preamp channels. Or even 9 fantastic preamp channels. Who knows?

    Any thoughts people?


  2. AudioGaff

    AudioGaff Well-Known Member

    Feb 23, 2001
    Silicon Valley
    You are comparing two completely different tools that can not be directly compared. If you want or need the extra channels and features the 800R has, then that should dictate your decision.

    If I just needed a 2-ch preamp, I would pick the Neve without hesitation. I would then have a valid excuse to buy the frame so I could start to fill with other Portico modules....
  3. lostindundee

    lostindundee Active Member

    Mar 25, 2008
    Hi AudioGaff

    Thanks for the reply

    I am aware they are completely different. I'm actually needing more that 2 preamps over all but financial constraints are tempting me towards the Mackies. If I only required 2 pres, I would, like yourself, get the Porticos.

    Just checking to see what folks thought of the Mackie Pres.

  4. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Member

    Sep 26, 2005
    I think some of your decisions should also depend upon what you will generally be recording? Recording a rock-and-roll band with 3 microphone inputs is a heck of a lot more challenging than having 8 microphone inputs. Conversely, recording a Symphony Orchestra with 3 microphone inputs is a heck of a lot more sensible than trying to use 8 microphones when 3 will do.

    I can tell you that trying to schlep around 24 Neve 3115's is a heck of a lot harder than 3 Mackie gizmos. But perhaps worth the effort? Can you please pass the power supply?

    Bet you can't eat just one?
    Ms. Remy Ann David
  5. JoeH

    JoeH Well-Known Member

    Jun 22, 2004
    Philadelphia, PA/ Greenville, DE
    Home Page:
    I think you need both, eventually. What you get right now really depends on what your immediate needs are, and your financial timetable after that will dictate what comes next.

    The features on the 800R are extensive and impressive. (I didn't know about the M/S feature, for example, but I did know about the impedance adjustment. Isn't that part of the Ribbon mic input feature? I don't recall seeing that in the review, though...?)

    You could always get the 800R now, and then add the other later. You certainly couldn't go wrong for the immediate future with the 800r as your first purchase. But hey, it's YOUR money. :cool:
  6. lostindundee

    lostindundee Active Member

    Mar 25, 2008
    Hi there

    Thank you very much for your replies :D

    I now think I'll end up getting both but am unsure of the order this will be done in. I have to say I'm impressed by the 800R's features too. They've been well thought out.

    I did actually consider the 400F too due to it being around half the price and being an interface too. I'm not needing an interface but it may have been handy as a back up if my RME MultifaceII went squiffy. However, the global 48v phantom power on the 400F concerns me somewhat given that I'm intending getting a couple of ribbons mics at some point. Neither am I too keen on bombarding dynamic mics with unecessary phantom power despite the manual saying it's okay to. I'd probably be able to work around this but rather I wouldn't. For the record, can 48v phantom power be potential issue for dynamic mics?

    According to the manual, the 400F can be slaved via it's BNC or SPDIF. I hope I've understood this correctly as I'm just getting familiar with SPDIF and ADAT etc. Incidentally, can SPDIF only carry 2 channels? I'm getting confused as I thought I read somewhere that SPDIF carried 4 channels.

    Another gripe regarding the 400F is, according to the manual, that the analog outs need to be configued via a PC or MAC. This is odd. You would think the analog outs would behave as balanced outputs by default for users wishing to use the 400F for it's preamps alone without hooking it up to a PC or MAC via firewire.

    Whilst on this subject, the 1200F is good too and not as proportionately expensive as one would have thought for the extra 4 preamps relative to the 800R. It's packed with features. However, the 1200F allows for just 8 analog outs for those wishing to use other converters.

    Am I correct in that using SPDIF and ADAT on one of the Mackie's and sending to another unit (i.e. an RME), then you would actually be using the Mackie's converters rather than the RME's?

    Overall though, the 400F and 1200F should have had the Mid Side Decode feature. Or, at least the 1200F should have and the 800 should have had a word clock out for linking several 800Rs up.

    Thanks again

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