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  • #61
    Here's a word of caution: Be patient. I don't know if it was just my setup or what, but there were long periods during the installation where nothing seemed to be happening.

    I found this out when I ran the installer. There was an initial flurry of activity, then...nothing. I waited, and as there was no indication the installation process was continuing, I double-clicked on the setup file again. Then the screen from the first installation popped up, and soon my computer became a bunch of screens. Ooops.

    I figured at that point I'd probably screwed things up, so I did a system restore and started over. This time I just let the installer do its thing. Sure enough, it went through all its steps eventually. You do have to be careful not to plug the Satellite into the FireWire port until instructed to do so, but that's about it.

    Anyway, the Satellite drivers and control panel was installed. Here's what the control panel looks like.
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    • #62
      I was a little surprised that the console just gave sample rate and buffers; I expected a direct monitoring switch so I could hear the input without going through the program. The Satellite doesn't have the "from input/from DAW" switch, so you're not going to hear the input unless you boot up a program and monitor through it.

      Okay, so I booted up Riffworks Standard and was able to go down to 128 samples, no problem. Riffworks reported this as a total in/latency of 5 ms, and I believe it: The delay didn't bother me at all. In fact, once I got over the "I don't hear any significant delay" reaction, I forgot I was monitoring through Riffworks. Cool.

      Next up was a spin with Sonar 6 (yes, that's a 6, not a 5...more on this later). I checked the audio options, and sure enough, the Satellite drivers showed up. So I checked them, closed Sonar, rebooted with the new settings, inserted an audio track, and went for direct monitoring: Yup, worked just fine. And yes, I couldn't resist inserting the Vintage Channel Strip to see what it sounded like with guitar (and it sounds pretty good, BTW).

      Only thing left to check for the evening was whether the Satellite showed up in the standard Windows sound devices setup, and it passed with flying colors there too.
      CHECK IT OUT: Lilianna!, my latest song, is now streamable from YouTube.

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      • #63
        I don't have any mics here in my post-production/mixdown/mastering oriented studio that require +48V power (or as Mike pointed out, +34V from the Satellite). I use either dynamic mics, or condensers that already come with a power supply. But I did find that if nothing's plugged in to the inputs and you turn on the +48V switch with the instrument input selected, it sounds like a shortwave radio on acid. Switching over to the mic input cut the noise down to the point where I had to turn both the headphone volume and preamp up way high to hear anything, but this isn't really a fair test because there really should be some kind of termination plugged into the input jack. And of course, you'd have to be a little confused to be using an instrument input with phantom power...but we like to try weird things around here to see what happens

        Anyway, it's getting late and I'll need to investigate further tomorrow. Mike, if you have a "pure" condenser mic that needs +48V, I'd be curious to see if you hear any tone or noise when the Satellite is separated from the dock and a mic is plugged into one of the mic pre ins.

        I do think that a general rule of thumb applies in this situation as well: If nothing's plugged into an input, turn it down.

        Oh, and one more thing before signing off. The Satellite runs extremely cool. I'm used to the FireBox, which runs pretty hot, so this came as a bit of a surprise. I wouldn't be at all worried using the Satellite in a hot ambient environment.
        CHECK IT OUT: Lilianna!, my latest song, is now streamable from YouTube.

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        • #64
          Originally posted by Anderton
          Mike, if you have a "pure" condenser mic that needs +48V, I'd be curious to see if you hear any tone or noise when the Satellite is separated from the dock and a mic is plugged into one of the mic pre ins.
          I tried it with a KM84 and a U87, both of which supposedly want 48V, and they both worked, though I couldn't tell if they lost headroom or sensitivity running at the lower voltage. No whines, but of course with a mic plugged in rather than a silent termiantion, there was a little ambient noise. Still nothing resebling a whine.

          Incidentally, I plugged in my phantom power tester - a couple of LEDs with 510 ohm resistors in series with them, which draw 5 mA each when connected to a standard phantom power source (48 V with 6.8K in series) - and it didn't light up. It seems that the phantom supply is current-limited at around 3 mA per leg, so there are surely some mics that it won't power.
          --
          "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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          • #65
            Thanks much for the info, Mike!
            CHECK IT OUT: Lilianna!, my latest song, is now streamable from YouTube.

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            • #66
              Question for Mackie. Are you guys ever going to sell just the 'pod' standalone? I can see buying that for location recording. I already have a 400f at the center of my studio, so the sattelite would be redundant.

              Also, the underpowered phantom power is a deal breaker for me, my mics need full 48v. Fix that and sell the pod standalone, and I'll take a look.

              Mandoman

              PS. Just a quick word on the 400f. I'm going on my 4th unit (1st and 2nd C/R whine, 3rd wobbly pots). Despite all that, Mackie has been good about getting me replacement units despite long turnaround times. If the 4th unit doesn't fly, I'm off to greener pasteurs...

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              • #67
                Hi there everyone, regarding the less than full 48v of phantom power that Mike measured, here's some background info on that:

                -This was a design decision, which was necessary to allow the pod, or the pod + dock combo, to be powered from Firewire bus power alone. If we had put out the full 48 volts of phantom, none of the pieces would have ever been Firewire bus-powerable (is powerable a real word?)

                -More importantly, you will find, in your real world experiences, that 99.9% of any mic you own, will work correctly, with the same audio specs, at this lesser amount of phantom power, as they would with a full 48 volts. We would not have implemented it this way, if it was going to have adverse effects on people's real world use with their mic collection.

                In fact, I can even say that some other products we make (and many others, from many manufacturers) also have less than a full 48v of phantom power, and it is never brought up, because it usually never effects the mics that work with it or their sound quality. And that was the case here too, this issue did not come up because someone's condenser mic did not turn work right, or sound right, it came up because Mike measured it.

                It's a good example of how while specs are important, they do not always tell the whole story. For the poster saying the 34v of phantom is a dealbreaker, we encourage you to try a unit from your dealer, take it home, try it with your mic collection.

                Thanks!

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                • #68
                  Mandoman asked "Question for Mackie. Are you guys ever going to sell just the 'pod' standalone? I can see buying that for location recording. I already have a 400f at the center of my studio, so the sattelite would be redundant.

                  This was not something we're currently planning, but if there was enough demand, anything is possible.

                  Mandoman (or anyone else who has an opinion) what is the street price you'd feel was appropriate to pay, for the satellite unit by itself? What do you think the pod alone should cost relative to other boxes like the Presonus Firebox, the Focusrite Sapphire LE, etc. And if you feel it should cost more or less than these, how come?

                  Keep in mind if sold, it would still be bundled with Tracktion, just like the current pod + dock combo.

                  Thanks!

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                  • #69
                    <<If we had put out the full 48 volts of phantom, none of the pieces would have ever been Firewire bus-powerable (is powerable a real word?)>>

                    What about using a voltage multiplier circuit (or is that what you're doing?). I realize you can't put out a lot of current with multipliers, and the switching oscillator might wreak havoc with the audio, but I'm just curious if there's a reason why a multiplier wouldn't be able to put out 48V.
                    CHECK IT OUT: Lilianna!, my latest song, is now streamable from YouTube.

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                    • #70
                      Originally posted by Dan Steinberg
                      Hi there everyone, regarding the less than full 48v of phantom power that Mike measured, here's some background info on that:

                      -This was a design decision, which was necessary to allow the pod, or the pod + dock combo, to be powered from Firewire bus power alone. If we had put out the full 48 volts of phantom, none of the pieces would have ever been Firewire bus-powerable (is powerable a real word?)
                      I figued that might have been the case, and I might have even said that. However, the button says "48V." It seems that too may people think that "48V" is shorthand for "phantom power" perhaps along the same line as they think that "phase" is short for "polarity."

                      I looked at the specs in the manual and, by golly, it says

                      Phantom Power +48V +/- 20%

                      You (just barely) meet your own specification, ignoring the fractions, with 38V being 48V -20%. Good thing it's not +20%. IEC also specifies 10 mA available for mic powering, and the Satellite seems to be current limited at 6 mA.

                      I fully understand about bus powering and its limitations, but to let people believe that it meets a well documented standard because it says "48V" and then saying "well, it'll probably work with your mics so don't worry about it" is just not very good juju. You may be correct, but you're not right.
                      In fact, I can even say that some other products we make (and many others, from many manufacturers) also have less than a full 48v of phantom power, and it is never brought up, because it usually never effects the mics that work with it or their sound quality.
                      I have an Onyx 1220, 1620, and 1640, and an 800R. All of them supply 48V (though admittedly all are AC powered). Why should this Onxy (the Satellite) be different?
                      this issue did not come up because someone's condenser mic did not turn work right, or sound right, it came up because Mike measured it.
                      Mike measured it because Mike likes to know that his equipment is performing the way he expects it to. In the Goode Olde Days, I never would hav questioned it, but this issue has come up with other contemporary products. The M-Audio MicroTrack, for example puts out about 30V and it was a big deal for a lot of people. They "fixed" it with a firmware update, changing the legend on the soft button that switches phantom power on and off from "48V" to some shortened version of "phantom power." Unfortunately you can't use the same fix on the Satellite. (supply a sticker for the button? )
                      It's a good example of how while specs are important, they do not always tell the whole story.
                      It's also a good example (with the +/-20%) of how specs can mislead those who don't read and interpret them carefully. It's also a good example of the difference between a specification and an established performance standard.

                      Dan, you know I like and support you guys, and I don't mean to suggest that nobody should buy a Satellite because it doesn't provide 48V phantom power. That's an individual choice based on needs. But since 48V phantom power is important for some applications, I don't think it's a good idea to hide it behind a wide tolerance (does it ever get to 58V?) and then say that it doesn't matter most of the time. Your tolerance is more correctly stated as "48V +0 -20%, but that doesn't look very good, does it?

                      If the actual voltage didn't matter, then the IEC standards for P48, P24, and P12 (yup, all of those voltages are covered in the standards, but not what's in between) wouldn't exist. What's the point of having industry standads if manufacturers don't comply with them?
                      --
                      "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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                      • #71
                        Originally posted by Anderton
                        What about using a voltage multiplier circuit (or is that what you're doing?). I realize you can't put out a lot of current with multipliers, and the switching oscillator might wreak havoc with the audio, but I'm just curious if there's a reason why a multiplier wouldn't be able to put out 48V.
                        I'm pretty sure that they're using a switching DC-DC converter, and they probably chose one that was the best compromise with the amount of current that the Firewire spec allows them to draw (I don't know what that is) and the output voltage and current. Those things aren't terribly efficient, and they usually have a pretty hefty starting current. Even though once it's running it could run off the Firewire power, it might not be able to start.

                        Some computers, in an attempt to reduce potential damage from hot-plugging, limit the inrush current, so if its starting current exceeded that limit, it could shut the whole port down. That's what happened when I turned on the phantom power (really 48V - AHEM!!!!) in a TASCAM US-122 connected to my laptop computer. But it worked fine on the desktop computer, which obviously didn't try to protect itself (or had more guts).

                        So, yeah, I can understand why they designed it for a lower voltage. It's really the label and the speccification (thinking you have something that you don't) that bothers me.
                        --
                        "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


                        • #72
                          Originally posted by Dan Steinberg
                          Mandoman (or anyone else who has an opinion) what is the street price you'd feel was appropriate to pay, for the satellite unit by itself? What do you think the pod alone should cost relative to other boxes like the Presonus Firebox, the Focusrite Sapphire LE, etc. And if you feel it should cost more or less than these, how come?

                          Keep in mind if sold, it would still be bundled with Tracktion, just like the current pod + dock combo.

                          Thanks!


                          Seeing as the pod itself is pretty stripped down (ie, only 2 inputs, no midi, no digi in, limited io) and street
                          with the sattelite is $400, and based on competing products, I'm thinking $179 would be a good price point. Might not be a market as you said. If you guys revamped your Spike product with the onyx pre's, that would be another nice option, although I'm not thrilled with USB for audio.

                          Actually, for location recording, I'd like something similar to the new Zoom H4, that can record either to DAW or direct to flash cards, but in a more professional unit with real mic pres. Now that would be something with real market potential. Wink, wink, nudge, nudge.

                          Mandoman

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                          • #73
                            <<Seeing as the pod itself is pretty stripped down (ie, only 2 inputs, no midi, no digi in, limited io) and street
                            with the sattelite is $400, and based on competing products, I'm thinking $179 would be a good price point. >>

                            I think that's about right, puts it just a little under the Inspire. But at that price, you'd really need a little mixer applet to compensate for the lack of the source/DAW switch and provide zero latency monitoring.
                            CHECK IT OUT: Lilianna!, my latest song, is now streamable from YouTube.

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                            • #74
                              <<So, yeah, I can understand why they designed it for a lower voltage. It's really the label and the speccification (thinking you have something that you don't) that bothers me.>>

                              Agreed. I think most people would assume it was really +48V because "that's what the manual says" and "that's what the front panel says."
                              CHECK IT OUT: Lilianna!, my latest song, is now streamable from YouTube.

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                              • #75
                                Originally posted by Anderton
                                Agreed. I think most people would assume it was really +48V because "that's what the manual says" and "that's what the front panel says."


                                All fixed:




                                I did a little poking around to see what the Firewire spec for powering was. I didn't find anything really definitive, but a reasonably authoratative-sounding web site said that it could be up to 30 volts and up to 45 watts. My grant for this hasn't come through yet, so I didn't feel like sawing a Firewire cable in half so I could put a voltmeter on the wires and see what I got out of the off-the-rack Firewire card in my desktop computer, but I did note that the Satellite power supply is 12V. So clearly there's some DC-DC conversion going on in there. For whatever reason they chose it, they just chose one with an output voltage lower than 48V.

                                The Mackie powered mixers supplied 15V phantom power, but at least it didnt say "48V" on the switch or manual. And I just saw something on another forum about someone with a Brand B mixer that had 24V phantom power and an MXL mic. The mic didn't work with that mixer, but worked with another mixer.

                                Stand Up for Standards! I think I need a button that says that to wear at the AES show.
                                --
                                "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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