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  • #16
    Well it turns out that the AC adapter sent with the original Satellite I received was the wrong one. The unit was not a stock unit, but an interface they'd been using at Mackie.

    Today UPS showed up with an actual from stock Satellite to replace the one they sent, and its AC adapter works fine However, there are two differences compared to the one in the photo:

    * It's a wall wart type, not a "line lump"
    * There's no filter on the hot line
    * It's somewhat smaller

    So no worries about the AC adapter if you get a unit off the shelf.
    N E W S O N G ! To Say 'No' Would Be a Crime (Remix) is now streamable from my YouTube channel.

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    • #17
      A Satellite just appeared here today. I was imprssed with the heft. It really feels nice.

      I don't have a lot of patience with these things so I did the lazy thing - I had the CEntrance universal driver installed on the computer that I use with an Onyx mixer, so rather than loading up the official Mackie driver, I added it to the CEntrance driver and it took off and played.

      It's a bit inconsistent working together with the Onyx mixer, though CEntrance has experienced problems getting that mixer to play nicely with others (though not sure if they mean another Onyx mixer or another device - I asked 'em).

      I was pleased to find that once I beat it into submission (which involved a couple of reboots) I was able to track a multitrack project through the mixer and play back tracks through the Satellite. Since it has six outputs, this gave me the ability to run six channels out the Satellite and back into the mixer's analog inputs so I could mix using the channel EQ and faders. Just like a real studio.

      I was really bummed, though. Mine doesn't whine. I was hoping to hear what a few folks on the Mackie forum were complaining about. Well, it does, a little, when docked, and with the headphone volume turned all the way up. It's lower than -90 dBu coming out of the headphone jack - that's the limit to my analyzer. And if it's recorded, it's well below -90 dBFS, which is about the quiescent noise level with the mic gain all the way up and a 150 ohm resistor between pins 2-3. (a very insensitve mic) No whine when switching on phantom power as some have reported.

      With the Satellite free of the dock (but powered with the AC power supply) there's no trace of whine. I wish they used a silent talkback switch, though. The "clank" when switching it on is pretty scary. I suspect that like the Big Knob, there's a pretty heavy compressor on the talkback mic. (oh, yeah, he says after reading the manua - it say so in the manual) The level stays about the same over a pretty good range of distance, but if you get too far back, it sounds . . well, like yo're too far back form the mic.

      I'm a bit surprised that there isn't a way to mix the input with the playback from the DAW - sort of like having the INPUT/DAW monitor source switch both up and down at the same time. Or better yet, a pot that allows you to balance the intput source and playback level in the headphones. I haven't given too much thought to why they might not have done this, but it would have been a nice addition.

      Oh, and the 48V (it must be - it says so right on the button) phantom power is only about 37.5V. That will power most microphones OK, some microphones OK but without their full headroom, and a few microphones poorly.

      I may drop some tidbits in here now and then, but every time I mess with something "computer" it takes so much time, I have to restrain myself.
      --
      "Today's production equipment is IT-based and cannot be operated without a passing knowledge of computing, although it seems that it can be operated without a passing knowledge of audio." - John Watkinson, Resolution Magazine, October 2006
      Drop by http://mikeriversaudio.wordpress.com now and then

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      • #18
        Originally posted by Anderton
        at first, I couldn’t seem to get the instrument input working properly. It turns out that you need to press the instrument input button in on both the satellite and the dock for this to work. No big deal, but it’s worth noting.
        And in fact, this IS noted in the manual.

        RTFM!!!

        There are a number of things about this device that we're just not used to seeing.
        --
        "Today's production equipment is IT-based and cannot be operated without a passing knowledge of computing, although it seems that it can be operated without a passing knowledge of audio." - John Watkinson, Resolution Magazine, October 2006
        Drop by http://mikeriversaudio.wordpress.com now and then

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        • #19
          I suppose I should say, if you haven't figured it out yet, that I'm running this on a Windows PC, and with the external power supply. This isn't the same computer I hooked it to yesterday, using the CEntrance driver, I installed the official Onyx Satellite driver.

          I'm using a PCMCIA Firewire adapter (even my new laptopl doesn't have a built-in Firewire port) and the adapter, while it has a 6-pin connector, doesn't provide power unless you plug an external power supply into IT'S power connector. At least I don't have to use the supplied 6-to-4 pin adapter. I don't trust something that long and that stiff to not either pull out or break off at an inopportune moment. (Reading that back, I hope it doesn't get censored!) If I had a 4-pin Firewire connector on my computer, I'd spring for a cable with the appropriate connectors at each end. And if Mackie had a conscience and was willing to give up a buck of profit, they could put one in the box.

          Here are some measurements that I made on the bench that might help you understand how levels are related on the Satellite. These were all made in the purest way possible, on just the pod, without the dock:

          Maximum mic preamp gain: 60 dB measured from mic input to CR output with both the mic input gain and and CR output level set to maximum.

          Quiescent noise with the input terminated with a 150 ohm resistor (settings as above): -68 dBu. This would be the noise floor with a typical mic connected. It's pretty good white noise, with the highest level (-75 dBu) at 20 kHz, and sloping down at 3 dB per octave from there. There were no peaks in the middle, supporting my observation that I didn't hear a whine.

          Mackie must have been listening when 400F users said that they couldn't get a hot enough recording from the line inputs. These have reasonable sensitivity. At maximum input gain, you reach clipping at an input level of -22 dBu. You get a reasonably comfortable 16 dB of headroom from a nominal +4 dBu source with the input gain set to 20 dB. The U (unity gain) setting gives a record level of -15 dBFS for +4 dBu in. That should be enough gain for anybody.

          Input level is indicated by four LEDs: -40, -20, -10, and OL. The preamp clips about 1.5 dB above where the OL light comes on, so you really don't want to hit it. But with the next lower LED being 10 dB below clipping, you really don't have very good resolution in the top 10 dB range.

          Going over to the digital side of the Firewire connector, the lower LEDs give you a pretty good indication of dBFS, but things get a little hairy at the top. Most A/D converters are calibrated so that they reach full scale a bit higher than the level at which whatever's feeding them clips. But not the Satellite. The A/D output is -1.9 dBFS at the preamp's clipping level. This suggests two things that you should watch:

            I like the idea of having a small box for remote recording, but I don't like recording when I can't hear what's going in to the mic inputs, or as I discovered later, hearing what's going in, but 100 ms late.

            Finally, when playing back a full scale recording, the output stage will clip if you don't back the CR/Phones level down from maximum. The maximum level seems to be a couple of dB shy of the +18 dBu claimed in the manual, but headphone volume is ear-splitting at that level, and +16 dBu should drive any power amplifier or powered speakers to toodamnloud, so it's not a problem.

            I have a couple of Onyx mixers and an 800R preamp here, and I concur with Craig's assessment that the mic inputs sound excellent. The only quibble there is the low phantom voltage that I mentioned in a previous post. I didn't try it with all of mics, and the few that I tried it with didn't see to have any problem running on 38V, but one of these days it might bite me, or you.

            Enough fooling around for one day.
          --
          "Today's production equipment is IT-based and cannot be operated without a passing knowledge of computing, although it seems that it can be operated without a passing knowledge of audio." - John Watkinson, Resolution Magazine, October 2006
          Drop by http://mikeriversaudio.wordpress.com now and then

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          • #20
            Originally posted by MikeRivers

            The setup for simple stereo recording on Page 15 of the manual shows a pair of headphones pluggd into the pod, and a Firewire cable going to the computer. However, once the Firewire port becomes active (like when you connect it to the computer), tthe analog outputs (both the front panel headphone jacks and the rear panel CR jacks) go away. So while you can monitor with headphones while you're setting up (it's always a good idea to listen to what your mics are picking up before you press RECORD) you're deaf once you connect the pod to the computer.


            Huh? How would that even work? What about doing overdubs? Or am I missing something here?

            Anyhow that's great info Mike, thanks for posting it!
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            • #21
              Originally posted by Lee Flier


              Huh? How would that even work? What about doing overdubs? Or am I missing something here?

              Anyhow that's great info Mike, thanks for posting it!


              Craig: Initially, I switched between monitoring the inputs on recording and the DAW outs on playback


              ???
              RIP: Nite Owl Jazz

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              • #22
                Hi there everyone, Dan Steinberg from Mackie here. I'll be posting from time to time along with Woody. Feel free to think of us as the "Martin and Lewis" of Pro Audio (hmm, maybe 32 years old is too young for such a reference).

                Anyway, here's some comments on the posts so far:

                Mike Rivers mentioned "However, once the Firewire port becomes active (like when you connect it to the computer), tthe analog outputs (both the front panel headphone jacks and the rear panel CR jacks) go away. So while you can monitor with headphones while you're setting up (it's always a good idea to listen to what your mics are picking up before you press RECORD) you're deaf once you connect the pod to the computer. "

                Not true, I promise. All outputs absolutely, positively stay active when the unit is connected through Firewire, all phones jacks, all control room and line level outs. So, I am not sure why Mike is having trouble, but I can safely say that it is not from a design decision, and we have never experienced this issue here, we all are doing overdubs all day long with both the pod by itself, and the pod + dock combo.

                Wall Wart adapter: We had originally specced a lump in the line cord as we know they are more user friendly, but were having some sourcing problems and did not want to make people wait for the product too long. We will be attempting to have future runs of the product use lump in the line. Same goes for, at some point, including a longer Firewire cable as we do with our other products.

                Input source button: Craig mentioned that "First off, there’s a button to choose whether you’re going to be monitoring the input signals, or the signal coming back from the DAW."

                Along with the other useful functions Craig mentioned, one great use for this button is to monitor connected sources, without the hassle of firing up DAW software just to monitor through it. Let's say you have a synth or a guitar pod connected to a line input and just want to noodle. You just press the button to monitor the input source, not the DAW, and you can now monitor the input (and use the control room volume knob)on a spur of the moment basis, kind of like having a mixer lying around. Also useful if you have a docked ipod connected, and just want to listen to some tunes real quick. Great for dorm rooms or small apartments where your pro audio rig is also your "stereo system"

                Lastly, Mike brings up a good point that PCMCIA Firewire cards, even ones with 6 pin connectors, do not spit power out of those 6 pin ports like the built in ones on Macs or PC desktops do. I learned this the hard way myself. So please keep this in mind, I'd hate for anyone to buy a PCMCIA Firewire card and think they can then run the system without a power cord.

                Thanks!

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                • #23
                  The whine is gone!

                  I downloaded the "CHUD" utility from Apple and unchecked "processor nap" like Craig suggested, and bam, no more whine. In fact, I can "toggle" the whine on and off with that checkbox. I think I'll choose....no whine.

                  Craig, you are officially my hero. I will be sending a copy of this file to the tech support folks, and having them post this solution on our forum, as well as using it to help out anyone who calls up.

                  Now then, since some of you guys must have grown up along with me in the eighties and it's great B movies, who can be the first to tell us what C.H.U.D. really stands for?

                  Comment


                  • #24
                    Originally posted by Lee Flier
                    Huh? How would that even work? What about doing overdubs? Or am I missing something here?

                    Substantially edited - if you read this before, read it again
                    Turns out that I was the ignoramus here, or rather I didn't know how to work the program I was using with it. However, the only way to monitor the input without docking the Satellite is through the computer, with its associated delays.

                    And if you doubt that combining a delayed signal with the undelayed signal makes you hear funny, here's a 20 Hz - 20 kHz sweep with Channel 1 monitored through Sound Forge in this case mixed with the original signal. Notice the 20 dB dips in the frequency response.



                    Not my best technical photography, but you get the idea.
                    --
                    "Today's production equipment is IT-based and cannot be operated without a passing knowledge of computing, although it seems that it can be operated without a passing knowledge of audio." - John Watkinson, Resolution Magazine, October 2006
                    Drop by http://mikeriversaudio.wordpress.com now and then

                    Comment


                    • #25
                      Originally posted by the stranger


                      quote:Craig:

                      Initially, I switched between monitoring the inputs on recording and the DAW outs on playback

                      ???
                      It's not that simple. First off, I was talking about using the pod without the docking station, but that button is on the docking station. Second, when monitoring from the DAW, in order to hear yourself, you have to set up the DAW for input monitoring. Either that doesn't work or I'm not smart enough to know how to do it.
                      --
                      "Today's production equipment is IT-based and cannot be operated without a passing knowledge of computing, although it seems that it can be operated without a passing knowledge of audio." - John Watkinson, Resolution Magazine, October 2006
                      Drop by http://mikeriversaudio.wordpress.com now and then

                      Comment


                      • #26
                        Originally posted by Dan Steinberg
                        Mike Rivers mentioned "However, once the Firewire port becomes active (like when you connect it to the computer), the analog outputs (both the front panel headphone jacks and the rear panel CR jacks) go away. So while you can monitor with headphones while you're setting up (it's always a good idea to listen to what your mics are picking up before you press RECORD) you're deaf once you connect the pod to the computer. "

                        Not true, I promise. All outputs absolutely, positively stay active when the unit is connected through Firewire, all phones jacks, all control room and line level outs. So, I am not sure why Mike is having trouble, but I can safely say that it is not from a design decision, and we have never experienced this issue here
                        Well, all is forgiven, sort of. Blame it on my ignorance of the program (Sound Forge) that I was using with the Satellite.

                        I broke down and started up Tracktion that I still had installed on that computer, figuring that if it doesn't work with Mackie's own program, it's broke. I enabled "end-to-end" in both places (we'd been through that) and sure enough I could hear myself, but with a huge delay. But we all know about that, don't we? Any fewer than 1024 samples latency and it was click city. This doesn't make for very comfortable monitoring even if you're not overdubbing. Maybe with a long enough mic cable.

                        Going back to Sound Forge, well, you'd think that when there was a check box that said "Monitor" and you checked it, you'd be monitoring. Well, apparently that button only means "monitor on the meter" and all the way down at the bottom of the screen where I wasn't looking (because I thought I had already found the button to enable monitoring), there's a check box that says "Enable audio input monitoring." Duh! I've had some unpleasant words to say about difficulty in finding my way throuhg Sound Forge (I had it for a review), and I guess I need to look for yet another new word.

                        I'm not a DAW user, so I don't appreciate how difficult it is to either get the delay down to something workable or living with. It says the buffer setting is 23 ms (1024 samples) but with everything going on, Sound Forge is giving me a monitor delay of about 93 ms. That's almost enough time to go out and get a cup of coffee.

                        But don't tell me how to solve this problem. There are pages and pages on the web about optimizing a PC for recordings, and I'm not really interested in using it this way, but you might be.

                        Apparently when the Satellite is out of its docking station, it automatically switches from direct input monitoring to monitoring through the DAW when the Firewire connection is made, (just as if you'd pushed the SOURCE./DAW button on the dock). This makes sense since you need to hear what's coming back from the DAW when overdubbing. But I sure miss direct input monitoring.
                        --
                        "Today's production equipment is IT-based and cannot be operated without a passing knowledge of computing, although it seems that it can be operated without a passing knowledge of audio." - John Watkinson, Resolution Magazine, October 2006
                        Drop by http://mikeriversaudio.wordpress.com now and then

                        Comment


                        • #27
                          The whine is gone! I downloaded the "CHUD" utility from Apple and unchecked "processor nap" like Craig suggested, and bam, no more whine. In fact, I can "toggle" the whine on and off with that checkbox. I think I'll choose....no whine.

                          Craig, you are officially my hero. I will be sending a copy of this file to the tech support folks, and having them post this solution on our forum, as well as using it to help out anyone who calls up.


                          The Mac solution is great.....if you're on a Mac.

                          For anyone who is thinking of buying a Mackie interface, I would definitely recommend going to the Mackie "support" forum first.

                          Not only do Mackie interfaces whine, but so do the customers (and rightly so).

                          Comment


                          • #28
                            <<The Mac solution is great.....if you're on a Mac. >>

                            It's only some Macs, from what I understand, although I'm hoping some Macintel users will weigh in on the subject (I tested with a dual G5). I didn't have whine on a G4.

                            Also, I've never had any whine issues on my Windows desktop (ADK dual core) or laptop (Rain Recording Pentium-M). In fact, the reason why I tested the Satellite on the Mac was because after having no problems at all with the 400F while testing with Windows machines, I was determined to get that ephemeral whine problem people were talking about, and it seemed like the Mac would be the ticket. It was. After CHUD, it wasn't
                            N E W S O N G ! To Say 'No' Would Be a Crime (Remix) is now streamable from my YouTube channel.

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                            • #29
                              Some food for thought. The connector to the docking station looked to me like a fairly common style backplane connector. I opened up the pod and looked up the connector on the manufactuer's (Molex) web site. Yup, that's what it is, and it's specified for 500 insertion/removal cycles. That means it'll go 500 cycles before the contacts may no longer meet their specifications. That's not unreasonable for a card in a card cage where you swap out a card when it breaks, but I'm wondering if it's robust enough for something that's designed to be engaged and disengaged as part of its role in life.

                              So if you had one, how often do you think you'd unplug the pod from the dock? If you did it once a week to take it to the band rehearsal, that would be good for around 10 years - certainly good enough. But if you took it out to record something several times a week, then put it back in the dock when you got home, it might barely last long enough to get tired of it.

                              Of course after the connector wore out, you could use the pod without the dock, or if you really, really, really wanted it badly enough, replace the connectors.

                              So if you had one, how often would you use the little part by itself?
                              --
                              "Today's production equipment is IT-based and cannot be operated without a passing knowledge of computing, although it seems that it can be operated without a passing knowledge of audio." - John Watkinson, Resolution Magazine, October 2006
                              Drop by http://mikeriversaudio.wordpress.com now and then

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                              • #30
                                And for those who want to see what Mike is talking about, here's a shot of the dock connector...
                                N E W S O N G ! To Say 'No' Would Be a Crime (Remix) is now streamable from my YouTube channel.

                                Subscribe, like, and share the links!

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