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  • #16
    Thanks much, Dan. I'll be interested to see if anyone pipes up in support of WDM with Sonar. Some people claim the program is more solid with WDM, but I suspect that's more a function of the drivers that were written for it. Certainly when using the Creamware drivers, there is no discernible performance difference between ASIO and WDM.

    I'll be adding more posts over the weekend, so Dan, keep your laptop on "standby."
    CHECK IT OUT: Lilianna!, my latest song, is now streamable from YouTube.

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    • #17
      Originally posted by Anderton

      The DSP Mixer switch enables or disables the mixer (when disabled, the mixer pages are grayed out). If you’re monitoring through the host, you might as well leave this off. But if you need zero-latency monitoring, it had better be on.



      Near zero latency.

      One man's silly little millisecond or two is another man's aeon.

      Personal bugaboo, here. Sorry for nitpicking.


      Great review so far. I was really hoping to find a thorough write-up on this unit somewhere and I can't think of a better writer or format for the job!


      _____________________

      I would add one thing, since Craig noted that his laptop -- like my own -- required a 4 pin FW connector. Like the Mackie, the MOTU 828mkII I bought last year came with a long, beautiful 6-to-6 that's been of no good to me.

      If I'd known that I could have shopped the internet and eased the pain of paying something like $25 for a too-short connector from my local micro-chain computer store (same cable/brand was a nasty $40 at CompUSA!)

      Get a long enough cable -- the added flexibility will seem heavensent -- and help reduce strain on connectors (particularly of concern to us laptop users whose connector ports are often mounted directly on the mobo).
      .

      music and social links | recent listening

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      • #18
        Well, since my audio is Adobe Audition 1.5, the poor performance would be a deal breaker for me.

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        • #19
          <<Well, since my audio is Adobe Audition 1.5, the poor performance would be a deal breaker for me.>>

          I'll test it with Audition to see what happens. Sonar pushes a lot deeper into the OS than Audition, and I suspect it pushes in deeper than Project5 as well.

          I'll let you know what happens.
          CHECK IT OUT: Lilianna!, my latest song, is now streamable from YouTube.

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          • #20
            Most people don’t know that in my print reviews, I usually take things apart but there’s never enough space to go into details…I only write something if the construction is noteworthy, either for being good or shoddy. But hey, I have all the space in the world and I can’t resist taking things apart…

            So 18 Phillips head screws later, I had a naked Onyx 400F in front of me. First thing I noticed is that the FireWire interface is a daughterboard that plugs into the main board via two multipin headers (not those !#$&$@ ribbon cables that are always so hard to get back in), secured by three screws with lockwashers that screw into standoffs (nice…thank you). There’s no way the daughterboard will vibrate out of place. This is the Echo Digital Audio part of the show: Their FireWorks board includes three main chips, among these a huge honkin’ Texas Instruments DSP chip. If FireWire gear always has to have this special mojo circuitry in it, I bet that definitely adds a few bucks on to the price.

            The power supply is another drop-in module. Whenever I take a unit apart I’m always a little paranoid about brushing against the incoming AC line, but no worries with this one: All the AC connections are covered with a thick insulating plastic sleeve, and the two AC lines terminate immediately in a connector that again manages to keep live wires away from the outside world.

            It’s also clear that a lot of effort went into making sure any power supply switching noise didn’t get into the audio lines. The power supply is located at the opposite end from the mic pres – if it was any further away, it would need to be outside the case. There are plenty of caps and inductors, and decent heat sinks; and while I didn’t remove the power supply module, it looks like there’s a ground plane in the circuit board area beneath it.

            The power supply outputs go through heavy gauge wires, and like the AC line ins, terminate in a connector. Bottom line: If I had to substitute a new power supply, I bet I could open the case, replace the power supply, and close it back up in under 10 minutes…probably less, actually.

            The rest of the board has the expected surface-mounted chips along with capacitors, resistors, a couple local voltage regulators, and the like. All jacks except the FireWire and MIDI connectors are secured to the rear or front panels via screws or nuts, so you can plug and unplug audio connections without worrying about stressing out the circuit board to which they connect.

            However, the controls are not secured, and do the usual “terminals-mount-on-circuit-board, shaft-sticks-through-hole-in-panel” thing. I was concerned about this, because the classy brushed aluminum knobs (with setscrews, no less!) extend far out from the panel. But the pot bushing goes right up to the front panel, so there’s very little “play” when you push down hard on the knob. It would take a lot of downward pressure to snap the shafts off; I pushed down to what I judged to be what the most ham-fisted user could possibly do, and they survived just fine.

            Similarly, the front panel LEDs (there are four, four-LED meters) are secure – even if you push hard on the LEDs, you’re not going to pop them out the back of the panel because they’re retained by a plastic shell that anchors into the circuit board.

            The jacks appear to be rugged and well-constructed, which is a good thing – I’d hate to have to replace one of those suckers, although it is doable. One of the clever design features is that the front panel can be removed fairly easily, so if you remove all the jack nuts and XLR+1/4” combo jack screws, you can pretty much pull out the board if you need to work on it.

            And speaking of jacks, one of the truly great features is that the ground sleeves on the 1/4” jacks are plastic, and physically insulated from the front and rear metal panels. This means the ground connections are made internally to the unit, at the jacks themselves; therefore there’s a great degree of control over how grounding is handled, rather than just grounding to the panel. Proper grounding can have a huge effect on reducing noise and hash, and this is definitely an example of proper grounding technique.

            Finally, it’s worth mentioning that the entire casing is made of metal, which helps give a feeling of security. Overall, I would rate the construction as high level stuff, and there are indeed some serious analog chops on display here.
            CHECK IT OUT: Lilianna!, my latest song, is now streamable from YouTube.

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            • #21
              P.S. to Mackie - don't worry, I didn't lose any of the screws
              CHECK IT OUT: Lilianna!, my latest song, is now streamable from YouTube.

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              • #22
                oh Yeah!

                This link might help identify whats what.

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                • #23
                  Originally posted by Anderton
                  Thanks much, Dan. I'll be interested to see if anyone pipes up in support of WDM with Sonar. Some people claim the program is more solid with WDM, but I suspect that's more a function of the drivers that were written for it. Certainly when using the Creamware drivers, there is no discernible performance difference between ASIO and WDM.

                  I'll be adding more posts over the weekend, so Dan, keep your laptop on "standby."


                  When I got my MOTU 828mkII I was pretty trepidatious about MOTU's level and quality of support for WDM drivers, since I had the perception (and nothing has really shaken that) that MOTU has always been a more Mac-centric outfit.

                  Oddly, the WDM drivers have apparently mostly worked just fine, allowing me to run the i/o buffers at 128 samples (min of 96 presented glitching) and Sonar's 'mix-latency' setting at 2.9 ms. (It should be noted that I do not do huge projects... seldom going over 20 audio tracks... although I have let myself slip into using more and more plugs and v-synths.)

                  Odder still, perhaps, I have never been able to get the ASIO drivers to even show up in Windows -- although twice, now, the MOTU driver installation prg has said it installed them. (IOW, I did a reinstall to see if I couldn't get them to show up. Nope.)


                  At any rate, the 828's seemingly been fine with the WDMs in Sonar 2.2, 4, and 5. (Although I still have not given S5 a real workout; I've been busy with small acoustic recordings as I build a catalog of informal performances of all my songs... preparing my 'legacy' as it were. Other people build science buildings at their alma mater -- I'm sticking all my stuff on Archive.org. It's my era of diminished expectations. Besides, my alma mater already has a science building.)
                  .

                  music and social links | recent listening

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                  • #24
                    <<When I got my MOTU 828mkII I was pretty trepidatious about MOTU's level and quality of support for WDM drivers, since I had the perception (and nothing has really shaken that) that MOTU has always been a more Mac-centric outfit.>>

                    Just as an aside...when EQ asked if I wanted to review the 2408, I said I was pretty much using Windows, so they should probably get someone who lived and breathed Mac to use it. MOTU stepped in and said they were hoping I would review it with Windows because they wanted to change the perception they were a Mac-only company. I figured what they hey, and was pleasantly surprised that it worked very well under Windows, as well as Mac.

                    However, I'm surprised ASIO doesn't show up...given a choice between having ASIO not show up or WDM not show up, I'd be happier if WDM was the no-show.
                    CHECK IT OUT: Lilianna!, my latest song, is now streamable from YouTube.

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                    • #25
                      First of all, let me say thank you. There have been very few (perhaps zero?) in depth reviews of this unit, and I couldn't be happier you've decided to undertake this.

                      At a shootout on another forum, one user reported fantastic AD conversion but very thin, brittle, DA conversion. I've been looking very seriously at the Mackie, but bad DA would be a deal breaker for me. What good are great preamps and AD if you can't trust the sound coming from your monitors and headphones? All I've heard so far is one man's opinion, so I'd be very happy to hear another.

                      I'd also like to hear about latency within tracktion 2 and, if possible, Cubase.

                      Thanks so much,

                      -Eric
                      www.cataldomusic.com

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                      • #26
                        <<At a shootout on another forum, one user reported fantastic AD conversion but very thin, brittle, DA conversion.>>

                        Well, as I said, the headphone amps sounded realllllly good. We'll see what happens when the outs really get put to the test.

                        It seems like an odd statement, though, because DA is pretty much cut and dried these days; the hard part is AD conversion. I'm much more likely to hear differences between units on the AD side, not the DA side.
                        CHECK IT OUT: Lilianna!, my latest song, is now streamable from YouTube.

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                        • #27
                          I'm familiar with the thread that Barry mentioned, and am also concerned with the D/A conversion on the 400f.

                          It won't prevent me from getting one -- I've already decided the feature set is great for the money.

                          However, I do plan to use outboard gear during project mixdown/mastering, and I'm curious how the 400f conversion will affect the sound during a couple of D/A/D cycles.

                          Thanks for the review. This is just what I've been waiting for.

                          - P

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                          • #28
                            Was all set to buy a motu traveler as a portable interface for when I am away from the studio and my mackie onyx 1640 w/firewire card. However what I found with the onyx board is I really love the sound of the onyx pre's, they sound really nice. So I am now considering the 400f as an alternative since I am almost certain the pre's are going to sound better than what motu uses.

                            Question for Dan. Any reason why you guys left off lightpipe io, seems as though you could sell more 800r's if you had included it? That expandability would have been nice and I would have liked it for integrating spdif optical consumer devices.

                            Also, I've noticed with my 1640 that there are performance issues when running with Digital Performer 4.61 on a g4/10.3.9. I have to set work priority to 'low' to avoid cracks and pops. Have you resolved this issue with motu in the 400f (and in the 1640 for that matter)?

                            Thumbs up on including two headphone jacks instead of one as well as standalone operation, these are two big selling points.

                            I guess all the remains for me is to know how the AD converters compare. I'm guessing they are similar since they are both 24/192k capable?

                            For me, I see the following:
                            Traveler:
                            Advantages: Works well with DP
                            Has lightpipe in
                            Can change settings standalone from front
                            panel away from computer.
                            Bus powered and very portable
                            Disadvantages:
                            Cheap plastic front with front panal LEDs that are prone to failure
                            Mediocre mic pre's

                            400f:
                            Advantages: Mic pres, 2 headphone jacks,
                            all steel and aluminum construction
                            Disadvantages:
                            DA quality in question
                            Not as portable as some units
                            No lightpipe io
                            Possible performance issues with some host software (DP in my case, WDM drivers for others).

                            I hope some mac users who has used both Mackie and Motu units will chime in with some comparisons.

                            Thanks for the review!
                            Mandoman

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                            • #29
                              Mr. Steinberg, I read a while back on another forum (forget which one) that Mackie was planning to enable DSP effects functionality (ie: compression, EQ, etc) at some point in the future for the 400f. Is this true and if so, what is the time table for that?

                              Thanks,

                              Jon

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                              • #30
                                Quick update: Sorry about the delay between posts. As some of you know I moved not too long ago, and I could only find a couple of my mics for testing!! So I'm frantically searching through boxes.

                                I'm also learning a new camera and want to take some pictures of the inside to illustrate what I said about the construction.

                                I did use the 400F last night for recording some vocals with an SM58. I gotta say the preamps do sound very good, more on this later. I also don't hear the "brittleness" to which people allude, but I'll see if I can push things somehow to find out what might make that happen.

                                So far so good. Again, sorry for the delay, I'll be back in full in a day or two.
                                CHECK IT OUT: Lilianna!, my latest song, is now streamable from YouTube.

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