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  • OK, gotta chime in here again, sorry.... I just heard one today with keyboard, yes its better than the Tango converters.

    I see it as a frustrating sitch here, that people are wanting the right "words" to solidify their decision , but arent willing to listen to certain "words", and dismiss them as jargon. AND at the same time, complaining that they cant "use" it before they buy it!



    Maybe you should be Craig's lawyer 'cus I have no idea what you just said.

    I have a great relationship with my retailer and am able to try almost anything before buying. Even for extended periods of time. It has helped me make better, more relaxed choices on mics, pre's, reference monitors, etc...


    I think Craig is doing a very nice job on this review, and is more extensive than a mag review, if for nothing else, for the simple fact that its "interactive"......


    This I agree with and many thanks to Craig.
    It's the first review of it's kind that I've seen. The fact that I was even able to "ask" for different, more meaningful (to me) words in discribing the sound of the product. What an idea !!!
    88 keys

    Comment


    • <<Maybe you should be Craig's lawyer 'cus I have no idea what you just said.>>

      If you have no idea of what he just said, then he should probably be a politician!

      <<It's the first review of it's kind that I've seen. The fact that I was even able to "ask" for different, more meaningful (to me) words in discribing the sound of the product. What an idea !!!>>

      Actually this is the fourth Pro Review. There's a sticky with links to other Pro Reviews. Come to think of it, maybe I'll post an FAQ about the Pro Review process as well.

      There was although a thread before the first one was put up called "Pro Reviews are Coming."

      Back to our regularly scheduled show...
      Simplicity, my new album project, is now streamable from my YouTube channel.

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      • Originally posted by Pleasant


        The gauntlet has been thrown!
        400f + Lucid D/A: $1300

        Please list comparable interfaces for that price that have the following features:
        - firewire
        - 4 rockin' preamps
        - 8 analog ins
        - 8 analog outs
        - great A/D
        - great D/A
        - All metal housing
        - internal power supply
        - 64 bit DSP

        Good luck!

        The FireFace 800 has converters comparable to the Lucid, (the FireFace has been out awhile and there's widespread consensus on the caliber of its conversion) but you would have to put up with even more features than those listed above!

        So, if that's what you want - you can buy it! But it costs $600 more than the 400f - that's almost twice as much as the 400f.

        In fact, if what you really want is something that will drive you to the store, you can get that too. It's called a car, and will also likely cost more than the 400f, especially if it comes with satellite radio which is not currently a feature on the Mackie.

        But - from catching up on this thread after being away for a couple of days - everything Craig said!

        In my opinion, the 400f is for people who want it just as it is. And from what I'm reading, at $700, it is not fundamentally flawed, it is amazing. But it is not (and does not cost as much as) an Apogee converter, or for that matter, a FireFace. Although I wouldn't be surprised if the Mackie pres sound better than those on the FireFace (after all, there has to be some reason aside from turrets why the designers printed "ONYX" five times on the face plate - message: "these are not your father's Mackie Mic-Pres") you will get better conversion from the Apogee or Fireface. However, you'll pay more for it, the difference is incremental, for some, it is a matter of taste, and for many, may not make a whit of difference.

        You know, there was this whole debate when Mackie mixers first burst onto the scene. They were so good for their price, that they bubbled up "above their pay grade." Serious recording folks were using them on records that sold millions of copies. Their success vaulted them into a level unprecedented at their price point, and suddenly they were judged against more expensive gear and suffered by comparison. They had become a victim of their own success because they were being used with and compared against stuff that cost 10 times as much.

        However, that they had even forced the comparison was remarkable. They changed the industry, were used by pros on fully-professional projects, and killed alot of their more expensive competitors. I remember talking to someone from Alesis which made that beautiful (and doomed) X2 console for use in what they were marketing as an ADAT "Dream Studio." Few bought the X2 because everyone was scarfing up the Mackies at a fraction of the cost. The Mackies (at $1,000 or so) didn't sound as good as the X2 (at $10,000 or so), but the Mackies sounded good enough, and the price/performance ratio was just too compelling.

        Mackie sent me a mixer and I did my own tests. Inserting it into a chain populated by high-end gear, it certainly degraded the sound. No question about it. But this was a comparison between a Mackie vs. boutique components costing many times its price.

        Nonetheless, the Mackie has saved my ass on more than one occassion, particularly when fancier, more expense (and yes, better-sounding) gear gets moody and stops working. Out comes the Mackie, ever a yeoman, and professional-level work continues. It's like a versatile kitchen tool I've come to rely on. I don't care if it gets broken, but it never gets broken. It comes off the bench and does its job.

        ----------------------------------------
        Ticohens writes:

        iron, if I could throw in my 2 cents here, I think what brittanylips is getting at is that you aren't going to see better quality than the 400F with the Lucid D/A at $1300.

        ----------------------------------------

        Actually, I'm saying the opposite, but I'm also saying it doesn't matter:

        Sadly, I think that more money does buy better quality. Not all the time, but often. If you're stressing about conversion and want to spend $1300, I think you will do better with a FireFace or adding the Lucid to the 400f. Still stressing about conversion? Spend more and buy an Apogee. Still stressing? Spend more and buy a Prism. Still stressing? Spend more and get Tim de Paravacini to build you something special. Still stressing? See a shrink.

        But I don't believe that that's what Mackie's about. Mackie is not about making Apogee converters, and Apogee cannot make their converters at Mackie prices. And yes, you'll hear a difference, just like you'll hear a difference between a Mackie Mixer and a Neve console.

        But that's not the point.

        As I see it, Mackie's about doing fully professional work at "consumer" prices. The conversion is good enough and taken as a whole, this looks like an amazing little device. Does that mean you can't spend more money on better components? Of course you can. But as I see it, that's just not what this is about. This is about a versatile kitchen tool, not a fancy whisk, and in my cupboard, there's room for both.

        -Peace, Love, and Brittanylips

        Comment




        • Actually this is the fourth Pro Review. There's a sticky with links to other Pro Reviews. Come to think of it, maybe I'll post an FAQ about the Pro Review process as well.



          Thanks for reminding me. I'll have to go check out the other reviews.
          88 keys

          Comment


          • Sadly, I think that more money does buy better quality. Not all the time, but often. If you're stressing about conversion and want to spend $1300, I think you will do better with a FireFace or adding the Lucid to the 400f.

            Hey brittany, I don't think that you understood me, either!

            What I meant was that you seemed to be arguing that for $1300, you'd be hard pressed to do much better than the Mackie 400F and a Lucid D/A. If that is something you believe, let me say that I agree. If you don't think that, well, I'll just make the statement for myself, then. And personally, I'd much rather the Onyx + Lucid combo over the FireFace. (Onyx pre's are much better than the FireFace, the A/D conversion of the Onyx gear is getting great reviews, and a dedicated outboard D/A unit is almost assuredly better than the D/A of any all-in-one box, RME or not. If I can get that and save a few hundred bucks compared to the FireFace, count me in!!!)

            Of course, if you can fork over the couple thousand more for the Apogee 16X, do it! Or, if you can stomach the five-figure price tag on the Prism, go for it (actually, renting it would probably be more pocketbook-friendly for the average studio)! You absolutely will get better conversion quality. But, for $700, the 400F is hard to beat,. For some of us, it makes it difficult to justify spending more on other gear for the same reasons that you outlined in your previous post regarding the Mackie gear vs. the Alesis X2.

            Comment


            • Excellent, excellent points and I think you've really added to this process, as well as an understanding about the 400F's place in the universe. Thanks.

              But I can't help add a story about Mackie mixer preamps. There was a magazine in Europe that decided to do a shootout of various boutique mic pres, using the Mackie mixer preamp as a reference. Well, they conducted the test very rigorously, double-blind testing, no one knew what they were listening to, etc. They didn't even know what the reference preamp was.

              The expectation was that people would describe the boutique preamps as being "x" times better than the reference. Well, surprise: A lot of people chose the Mackie mixer pre as their favorite.

              I wish I could provide particulars, but this was a long time ago, and something someone from the magazine told me at a trade show. I had pretty much forgotten about this story, until this thread caused some brain cells to connect and dredge it up.

              Wouldn't surprise me if in a similar situation, some would think the 400F was the "boutique" piece of gear.
              Simplicity, my new album project, is now streamable from my YouTube channel.

              Subscribe, like, and share the links!

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              • Originally posted by 88keys:


                "I can't possibly try too many convertors and especially at one time which would be the most revealing. My retailer probably wouldn't go for that"

                This is what I was referring to, on your previous post. There seemed to be a contradiction between the 2. Sorry if I misunderstood what you meant.

                Sorry also If I came off as an asswad, but I deal with patrons, I guess you would call them, at work all the time that want me to tell them if this 200 dollar mic will give them the "CD" sound like Dr. Dre, or Snoop Doogee Houser gets. HEHEHE!

                After explaining to them, that their soundblaster, radio shack speakers, and mamas popcorn, needs a bit more than a better mic, they nod knowingly, and ask the same question again......"So which mic will do it"........sheesh......

                I dont think anyone here is like that, its just an example of what I deal with sometimes, and Im not anywhere near a great engineer. Just have a hard time training the peoples abouit basic stuff. Its even more fun when they dont listen to you, AT ALL!!

                Plus, Ive gained 5 pounds, and Im bloated!!

                DO I LOOK FAT?!??!!



                http://www.myspace.com/guitarlessonsinriversideca

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                • Hi All,
                  I can't help but think that the pro review is getting a bit side tracked. Because someone said that the DA converters are brittle, we seem to have got stuck in abstract land. I remember the pepsi challenge. Let's pass on the converter challenge and agree that they taste good but they taste a little different! The new guy is getting cute...I know, I'll stop.
                  Can we talk about some different details regarding this unit? I brought up the software mixer interface in an earlier post. Someone must have some thoughts about the mixer's intigration with their given sequencer. It is working well with Nuendo.
                  And then there's the preamps. I have worked for years on a Neve custom console built for the BBC. The preamps on the console are just lovely, yet they colour the sound. I'm struck by the lack of sound the onyx preamps have. These are preamps without an agenda! I am looking forward to using these with different kinds of mics. It'll let me focus more on the character of different mics.
                  I've also noticed that I can daisy chain a hard drive with much more success than I had with my old M-Audio FW 1814. Anyone know why that is?
                  Craig, I'm really enjoying your insights and the presentation with pictures and all. This is great. Please keep it up.
                  Thanks,
                  Tadpole

                  Comment


                  • My 400F arrived today (woo hoo!). Compared to the MOTU Traveler I've been using for 8 months (with zero problems), the 400F has balls. I find the D/A to be cleaner and stronger, with more sense of space. Not a huge difference, but it's definitely there.

                    After installing, I fired up Logic, switched to 96kHz, loaded NI's FM7 and played some bells, electric pianos, etc. Everything I could find with that pristine high-end. It sounds fantastic to me.

                    I'll see how it works in session over the next few days. So far, it's batting 1000. Installing was zero effort. If you're on OS X, you can set the clock to be controlled by "Mac" and the Onyx console follows your DAW setting. That's handy, since I didn't want to use both.

                    So the 400F is definitely a keeper. I will miss the metering on the Traveler. It wasn't much, but at least you could see where a signal was. The 400F also doesn't have sample rate indicators on the front panel, which I like to see when doing DAT transfers, just in case. But the console software will do.

                    Btw, I'm using this with a $33 Sonnet Firewire PCI card I got from Amazon. No problems. This wasn't necessary with the G5, of course, but I wanted to pamper the Traveler and not share the main Firewire bus with drives, iPods, etc. Bonus: the card put out enough juice to completely power the Traveler via Firewire.



                    Oh, minor let-down.. The "plug-in bundle" which accompanies Traktor 2 looked interesting to me. Unfortunately, it only comes in VST format for OS X, and they will not work with FXpansion's VST-AU wrapper. It says something about main output null and nothing happens. Too bad.

                    Thanks for this review topic, Craig! It really helped seal the deal here.
                    Glenn Gutierrez
                    Label | Blog

                    Comment


                    • Hey Brittanylips- I think that in some cases, things can definately be better for less. Now with coverters, and this coming new age, I think that with the grade of converters in the 400F, if the surrounding circuitry is decent, they could be better than a new apogee. Its not unheard of. On another note, considering the cost of components in the apogee, do you think they have twice as much money in a 2 channel converter box as Mackie does in a 20 converter box with firewire, drivers, a mixer and 4 preamps? Hell no they dont. They are probably using the same converters in fact. Wouldnt surprise me at all. Are they worth 20 times the price? Nope. Could they sell them cheaper and broaden thier audience and sales? Yep. You said they couldnt, I disagree.
                      They sell for that much money cause people buy them. Pull the market out from under thier feet and then you have $600 Apogee boxes, brand new.

                      I'm gonna buy me a 400F this week and compare it to my Delta 1010 and see how it fares.

                      Peace
                      Paul

                      Comment


                      • <<I can't help but think that the pro review is getting a bit side tracked. Because someone said that the DA converters are brittle, we seem to have got stuck in abstract land.>>

                        I think we're pretty much past that. I'm very pleased to see people with 400Fs are posting their reactions.

                        <<Someone must have some thoughts about the mixer's intigration with their given sequencer. It is working well with Nuendo.>>

                        Well it's not really integrated in the sense that it plugs in to a sequencer, it's a really a stand-alone app that runs in tandem with the host.

                        <<And then there's the preamps. I have worked for years on a Neve custom console built for the BBC. The preamps on the console are just lovely, yet they colour the sound. I'm struck by the lack of sound the onyx preamps have. These are preamps without an agenda! I am looking forward to using these with different kinds of mics. It'll let me focus more on the character of different mics.>>

                        Absolutely. I love the line "These are preamps without an agenda," that sums it up perfectly. If you want to color the sound, you can always add an external unit that's colorful, but you can't "uncolor" preamps.

                        Have you tried the instrument input mode? That's really excellent as well. A small thing, maybe, but try it...you'll fall in love with your electric guitar sound all over again.
                        Simplicity, my new album project, is now streamable from my YouTube channel.

                        Subscribe, like, and share the links!

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                        • "Have you tried the instrument input mode? That's really excellent as well. A small thing, maybe, but try it...you'll fall in love with your electric guitar sound all over again."

                          Yes, I tried a direct electric guitar and bass. Nice, clean and easy to use. Haven't tried the balanced line inputs on the back yet.

                          "Well it's not really integrated in the sense that it plugs in to a sequencer, it's a really a stand-alone app that runs in tandem with the host."

                          Exactly, I wish that you could control it's monitoring features from Nuendo's mixer like the M-Audio stuff. A bridge could be built betwen the two apps.

                          Tadpole

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                          • <<Exactly, I wish that you could control it's monitoring features from Nuendo's mixer like the M-Audio stuff. A bridge could be built betwen the two apps.>>

                            Sounds like what the Yamaha/Steinberg "Studio Connections" initiative is all about. Hey Dan -- is this something you might consider pursuing? I think Yamaha is pretty loose about licensing this, yes?
                            Simplicity, my new album project, is now streamable from my YouTube channel.

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                            • Dan,

                              The idea would be to let a sequencer like Nuendo and Cubase enable and disable the onyx 400f's direct monitoring. Turning the direct monitoring off and on in the sequencer would be reflected as an on/off switch of the DSP Mixer in the settings section. Also from the sequencer's mixer, you could adjust the monitoring volume of the track you are recording. The volume changes that you make to the sequencer would also be reflected in the DSP Mixer. In short, the recording program could control the onyx 400f's direct monitoring. It would save the trouble of keeping both apps windows open or available. As it stands right now, when I select the sound card's control panel from within my sequencer - nothing happens. The two apps don't seem to communicate this way.

                              Also, I really like the looks of the software mixer. It's easy on the eyes and easy to use. I do wish that there was a way to group faders together so one could adjust two tracks at once if monitoring a stereo cue. If you have a stereo guitar coming in on channel 1 and 2, and you want to make a monitoring adjustment, you have to grab one fader at a time.

                              I also notice that when you save a mixer setup as a .onyx400f program, the buffer settings and the sample rate don't get saved with it.

                              These aren't complaints. I hope it doesn't sound that way. I really like this thing the more I use it. I just hope that Mackie has some plans to update the software mixer's functions.

                              Thanks,

                              Tadpole

                              Comment


                              • Originally posted by tadpole
                                Dan,

                                The idea would be to let a sequencer like Nuendo and Cubase enable and disable the onyx 400f's direct monitoring.


                                I heartily second that. See my earlier post on same subject. Shouldn't be a problem, right? I use Logic and I have a MCU. I'd love to be able to set up direct (super low latency) monitor/headphone mixes from within Logic using the MCU. I'm getting a 1200F when they come out, and this feature would be awesome. You'd sell many thousands of these. In fact it would boost your MCU sales as well, but you've undoubtedly thought of that long ago. You've got to do it. It's a slam dunk killer feature.

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