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  • #46
    Okay, so WDM didn’t perform well with Sonar…but it’s not that big a deal, because ASIO works fine with Sonar. But what about Adobe Audition 1.5, which at least as of this writing is WDM-only?

    Well, I loaded the Audition theme demo file (which uses eight tracks of digital audio) in Multitrack view. Granted, Audition 1.5 doesn’t put a lot of strain on your CPU owing to their clever pre-mixing method for dealing with multitrack audio, but I was nonetheless shocked to find that it performed superbly with 64 buffer samples! That's only 1.5ms of latency - wow. I decided to push things and see if it could handle 32 samples; there was a little bit of crackling. Any crackling renders a latency setting unuseable as far as I’m concerned, but even then, the crackling was relatively minor, and happened only sporadically.

    I then wanted to see what would happen with ReWire. I tried rewiring Reason 3.0 into Audition, but for some reason it didn’t work…possibly I need to install the 3.0.4 update, because I never had problems rewiring Reason 2.5 into Audition. Anyway, I rewired in Project5 V2, and was again shocked to find that the combination worked perfectly with the 64 buffer samples as well. This was particularly surprising because when I had tested P5 earlier, I had a hard time getting latencies under 40ms. What?!?

    I quit Audition, and tried Project5 V2 by itself. This time, latencies around 6ms worked just fine. It wasn’t a hugely tough project – several digital audio tracks and several Dimension synth tracks – but with 10ms of latency you could handle just about anything.

    At this point, I started to suspect my previous tests. I tried Sonar; same problems as before. Then I loaded a stereo file into Wavelab, and it didn’t work too spectacularly either – about 70ms of latency was required before the crackling went away.

    So why the differences? Here are my theories:

     Sonar deals with WDM differently compared to Audition.
     Wavelab doesn’t use pure WDM, but an MME-WDM based protocol.
     Audition follows the standard WDM protocol really closely, and that’s what the Onyx 400F is optimized to handle.
     Project5 doesn’t like to have any other drivers open or available. This time I completely disabled all the other audio in my computer, so that might have made the difference.

    Bottom line: If you use Adobe Audition 1.5, not only does the Onyx 400F work well, it works extremely well. And it works well with Project5, too, but you’ll probably want to use ASIO with it.
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    • #47
      <<Can you please tell me if the rack ears are removable? Seein' as you are so good at taking things apart on the 400f :-)>>

      Yes, you can remove the rack ears - check out the attachment. Note that this leaves about a 1/4" gap, but if you're really concerned about that, you could tape it over.

      Removing the ears doesn't degrade the structural integrity; note the two screws above where the rack ear goes that bind the top rear panel to the top front panel. There are also two screws on the bottom that provide a similar function. Having said that, adding the rack ears does add just a bit more structural strength, but I wouldn't worry about removing them.

      So yeah, you can take off the rack ears
      Simplicity, my new album project, is now streamable from my YouTube channel.

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      • #48
        They’re as good as people say they are: Dead quiet, excellent detail on high frequency transients, clean…basically, what you want out of a mic pre. And hey, you get four of them! The real test for me came when compressing vocals. I kept lowering the threshold, but the noise didn’t come up because, well, the noise just isn’t there to bring up. These pres provide excellent bang for the buck, and perform superbly with condenser and dynamic mics.

        What I don’t like is that the +48V phantom power switch applies phantom power to all mic pres simultaneously. Granted, the odds are remote that applying it accidentally to a modern dynamic mic will cause any damage, but it makes me nervous anyway.

        The LED VU meters are adequate; there are four LEDs for -40, -20, -10, and OL (overload). For live, stand-alone use, there’s what I feel is a big gap between -10 and OL. Obviously, this isn’t an issue when feeding a DAW, where you usually have very high resolution meters. But for live, I would have preferred the four LEDs to be “activity” (anything below -20), -10, -6, and overload. No big deal, and maybe someone will post if that’s a dumb idea.

        I also have to say something about the Instrument input mode. Man, my PRS sounded great! (I mean, even greater than usual ). I’m very used to the sound of direct guitars, and as with mics, the Mackie pres deliver an incredibly clean, full sound with plenty of gain and a suitably high impedance. They come very, very close to my favorite direct box of all time, the Radial Engineering JDV Mk3 – which, incidentally, lists for half the price of the Onyx 400F.

        There’s really not much else to say: These are great mic pres that provide outstanding quality at a very fair price.
        Simplicity, my new album project, is now streamable from my YouTube channel.

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        • #49
          Originally posted by Anderton

          Yes, you can remove the rack ears - check out the attachment. Note that this leaves about a 1/4" gap, but if you're really concerned about that, you could tape it over.


          Sweet, thanks for the picture. Looks as though the rack ears aren't meant to be left off, but I could probably tape over the gap if I really wanted.

          The 400f is the front runner for me right now over the Traveler, basically boiling down to mic pre quality vs. portability. Looking forward to reading more as the review continues to help me make my final decision.

          Thanks!
          Mandoman

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          • #50
            About the preamps, did you had a chance to test them with a ribbon mic? Would you find the preamps adequate for this type of mic? Thanks.

            Nice review and great pics!

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            • #51
              Actually, I don't have a ribbon mic to test them with. But I have used ribbon mics quite a bit in the past, and I certainly don't see any technical reason why they wouldn't be a good match.
              Simplicity, my new album project, is now streamable from my YouTube channel.

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              • #52
                I have read about the brittle ness as several other forums including Mackie....however these posters at Mackie are new users, so this leaves me suspect. However, at gearslutz, these users are long time members.

                A few questions after reading all this in this thread...
                If one where to find brittleness in DA, how would you rectify this problem using the 400F, in otherwords what would be a typical set up? 400F for AD and then run out of??? to some other DA? How is this done.

                Second: Does the global phantom power affect the HIGH Z input?

                Third, the lack of phase switch, is this imperitive?

                thank you

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                • #53
                  Hi Craig,

                  Thanks so much for doing this review, I've been seriously contemplating the 400F as my sound interface since it's one of the few that has 4 mic pres before I have to scale to another unit.

                  One of the subjects however, that I haven't seen too much about is how this unit holds up in standalone mode. I'm asking this since Mackie currently has a promo going for the 1220 with the firewire interface free which actually comes in at less cost/input and from what I can tell is essentially the same mic pres, but more versatile for a live situation.

                  I've played with the motu units, and they have the ability to play around with the standalone mix with a menu type GUI on their main lcd. From what I understand with the Mackie you set it and it remembers the last settings on power up, but how much control is there just with the gain knobs?

                  Mr. Steingberg, maybe you could comment as well. Other than the sampling freq. and digital sync options, how much would I be losing.

                  Also, I read on another forum that there are plans for the 400f to be controlled as a standalone mixer with the MCU. Any roadmap as to how this functionality will be implemented?

                  Thanks for all the info once again - Brilliant review Craig.

                  Cheers.

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                  • #54
                    Originally posted by Anderton
                    What I don’t like is that the +48V phantom power switch applies phantom power to all mic pres simultaneously.

                    Same with Mackie's more conventional mixers (I have one banging around somewhere - i think it's the 1402 VLZ). From what I understand, it's just a cost cutting measure - share the phantom power circuit among all powered-pres.

                    -Peace, Love, and Brittanylips

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                    • #55
                      Composer:

                      You can buy a separate D/A and connect it to the SPDIF 'out' on the 400f. Then you simply route the output of your DAW through SPDIF 'out' on the 400f, and the new D/A will pickup the signal.

                      The Lucid D/A runs about $500. Combine that with the 400f and you have one heck of a good conversion/interface with pres for only $1200.

                      Now, we all might find that the D/A is just fine on the 400f. When I get mine, I'm going to run a couple of A/D/A loops to see if the sonic integrity of the tracks is compromised.

                      I'm betting it will be fine.

                      - P

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                      • #56
                        ok, but if you don't have a mixer, how would this be done? ?

                        Also, I shop online AMS, could you give me some links and brands as well as the lucid model? The cheapest at AMS is 649.

                        thanks

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                        • #57
                          When you plug the 400f firewire into your computer and start up the DAW, you will have 10 outputs appear in the DAW. Eight of them will be the analog outs on the back of the 400f. The other two will be SPDIF outputs that you will have physically connected between the 400f and the outboard DAC (e.g., Lucid, Apogee).

                          A word of advice: If you don't understand what I'm talking about then you probably don't need a separate, outboard DAC. Just know that you can add one to the 400f later if you need. I understand the desire to have it great right from the start, but to honest, I'm thinking that, at this point, you probably won't hear a difference between the 400f DAC and a Lucid DAC....I doubt I could either

                          As far as where to buy outboard DACs.....you're on your own.

                          - P

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                          • #58
                            Wow, you guys come up with some great comments. I love doing Pro Reviews!!

                            <<One of the subjects however, that I haven't seen too much about is how this unit holds up in standalone mode. I'm asking this since Mackie currently has a promo going for the 1220 with the firewire interface free which actually comes in at less cost/input and from what I can tell is essentially the same mic pres, but more versatile for a live situation.


                            I consider the standalone mode an important aspect of the 400F and will be covering that in detail. Next up I'll be dealing with the DSP mixer, which is intertwined with the standalone aspects.

                            About the brittleness: I did some preliminary comparisons last night between the 400F sound and that of my DA7, which I've always felt has a "sweet" sound. Comparing the two, the best analogy I can come up with is that the 400F is a single coil, and the DA7, a humbucker. The 400F definitely has a real sparkle in the high end and I can see where some would call it brittle, but I suspect these are the same people who don't really like the sound of a single coil pickup taken direct. In other words, so far my take is that it's a subjective thing. I hear it as being ultra-clear and defined, but I LIKE that kind of sound -- the first time I heard a guitar direct, it was like a revelation. Others might find it too "present." Then again, as has been pointed out, you can stick a different DA on the SPDIF out; or frankly, you might be able to get what you want just by rolling off a little bit of the highs above 15kHz (like we used to do with FM synths, LOL).

                            So initial reaction: Very clean, crispy high end. But "brittle?" That's not the word I'd use.
                            Simplicity, my new album project, is now streamable from my YouTube channel.

                            Subscribe, like, and share the links!

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                            • #59
                              Composer:

                              Here's the lowest price that I've seen on the Lucid DA9624:

                              http://www.frontendaudio.com/Lucid_DA9624_24_96_kHz_D_A_Converter_p/2984.htm

                              - P

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                              • #60
                                The 1220 would be a good choice if you don't have a mixer already, need something for live use, and don't need spdif IO. I actually need spdif, otherwise would definately have considered the 1220 as an alternative. Maybe the next rev. of the onyx firewire card they will think to include spdif? Are you listening Dan?

                                I'm familiar with the gearslutz thread and the supposed brittleness of the DA. I'd agree that is probably a subjective thing. I might worry about it if I was to do several DA AD cycles with outboard gear, but most prosumers like me probably won't be doing much of that. I think those considering a two piece setup to address this (ie, an outboard DA) might be better served going to another interface with lightpipe and getting an 800r.

                                I'm looking forward to reading about the stand-alone feature. You are limited somewhat because you have to set up the dsp matrix in advance on the computer. That may not be a big issue for some.

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