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help with my new Mackie Onyx 1220i

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  • help with my new Mackie Onyx 1220i

    I have the Onyx 1220i installed with the correct drivers matching the OS I'm using (Vista SP1) and the serial code for my Onyx. I was under the impression that I could listen to iTunes or Youtube through the main mix & headphones... WITHOUT having to dedicate the 11/12 Stereo Channel Firewiere return.

    If I disengage the Firewire return on Channel 11/12, the volume drops to a level that I can just barely, barely hear it. But, if I engage the Firewire return on channel 11/12 & use that channe's fader, the volume is just fine.

    I'm using a pair of Sony 7506's plugged directly into the Onyx 1220i's headphone jack.

    I have an older Mackie Firewire mixer, the U.420, & I can just plug it in and the get 4 separate channels ALONG WITH being able to hear/playback iTunes & youtube, without having to dedicate a return channel to do so.

    Is there a way around this? Or is this just the way all the Onyx mixer interfaces are?

    Thanks for any help.

  • #2
    The last page in the manual does answer your question. Channels 11 & 12 are permanently assigned to your computer playback and cannot be changed. You can bypass them and just have the DAW play back through the mains or headphones. I'm guessing this is when you get a low level playback.

    On page 11 in the manual it states you have two choices for the return. You can play back from the computer on channels 11 & 12 if you want to be able to use the channel EQ's and faders to adjust the sound quality from the mixer. You can bypass the channel strips 11 & 12 if you select the Assign to Mix button.

    If there's a radical difference in volume, then you likely have an issue with the signal levels set in the computer. It may be the Windows mixer settings or a medial player volume control set too low. Increase the volume within windows while attenuating the volume in the channels so when you toggle between the two you have a match in volume.

    You want to set your channels 11&12 with a flat EQ and volumes down to around -6db~-12db or possibly lower. Then bring the windows volume up. Many times the win mixer defaults to a lower volume level. I know on my setup I crank the win mixer to max then adjust my volumes from the interface driver settings. My interfaces have a second mixer that gets installed with the drivers and I have to open the drivers to set them. These are DSP controls that allow me to set the signal levels in and out to the DAW program. I have a choice of professional +4db levels and -10db consumer levels. If your drives have something similar you may have consumer level defaults set.

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    • #3
      Okay, I have "FW 1-2" and "Assign To Main Mix" buttons pushed in & now I'm getting a signal return of Youtube/iTunes through my Main Mix KRK speakers, without even messing with Channel 11-12.

      I'm using the "Control Room" knob to control the volume, also I'm able to control the volume with Youtube itself or the Onyx Main Mix fader.

      So this way, I'm able to get a return from the PC and will still be able to use all my other physical channels for synths, drum machines, etc.?

      Theoretically, I could have all onboard channels connected to synths AND a mix from the PC playing through my speakers ALL at once?

      Thanks for helping me out here!
      Last edited by EchoEko; 12-05-2016, 04:42 PM.

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      • #4
        Theoretically, I could have all onboard channels connected to synths AND a mix from the PC playing through my speakers ALL at once?

        That's what I'm reading in the manual.

        I don't own one of those units but it looks like it has those two assignable channels which allow you to mix the computer playback if you want to. Not sure where you would mix it down to besides another computer. Maybe for live performances where you'd want to combine your live instruments with computer playbacks.

        I gave up using Mixers for recording 20 years ago when switching to digital. I use them for my PA of course and Prior to going digital they were essential when recording analog to multitrack reel to reel recorders. I used them to track by bussing mic channels to aux sends, then mixing down from an 8 track to two track reel to reels. you needed the channels to adjust the EQ of the tracks and insert effects.

        I tried incorporating a Mixer to my DAW in the beginning. I used the Mixer as mic preamps when tracking but the whole idea of using two sets of preamps, the ones in the mixer and the ones in the interface made no sense. When I simply used the preamps in the interface alone the noise levels were much lower and the recording quality much better.

        I did use a separate mixer for the drums for several years. I'd take the 8 drum mikes and mix them down to two channels stereo to feed two channels of the 8 channel interface. The other 6 inputs I used for guitar, bass and vocals recording a full band. After expanding to 16 channels I fed all mics to their own separate channels. This way every track was its own signal and I could record all 16 mics to their own tracks.

        Mixing was then all done within the DAW. The tracks of course were 100% raw. There was no EQing prior to the tracks being recorded, just preamplification. Granted, EQing some mics prior to them being tracked might save time mixing if those mics were properly EQed. That's more of a live mix, something you'd do playing out live where the audience needs to hear a good balanced send through the PA.

        When you record in a studio none of that is needed. You simply get the levels right when tracking. All mixing is done after tracking where you can focus your full attention on the task. If hands on is your thing then you simply get a controller that lets you control the software with a piece of hardware. You can even record the volume level changes like you'd have using motorized faders on a mixing desk to save the mixing changes.

        I do have the ability to play back all 16 channels through a mixer too. The question is simply where would I mix that recording down to?
        I converted the mics into the daw to digital wav files. If I play them back through a mixer, they are converted back to analog. If I then record them to another computer I have to convert them back to digital again. Every A/D and D/A conversion robs sound quality in the process. This is why I do all my mixing in the box. I keep everything in digital form till I upload it to the internet, burn a CD, or put it on a thumb drive for playback. I can even upload it to Drop box and play it back on my phone.

        The audio tools in a DAW are just as good a hardware now. They do amazing things once you learn to use them well. This was hard to admit at first. I've been an electronic tech all my life and love working with hardware. I like most who have spent many years recording have adopted the change to digital as the new norm.

        Midi is the other thing. If I were a full time keyboard player I'd have a multi channel midi interface running. I have 6 or 7 keyboards and a mini moog. I mostly run them analog when tracking to add parts. I'm not a great player but I can do pretty good on basic stuff. I have done some midi recording using software instruments. They too can do some amazing things in expanding your instrument choices.

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        • #5
          Wow man, lot's of knowledge in that last post. Thank you! I've tried using soft synths (Sylenth, Lush101) and a USB keyboard/drum controller for making songs, but while having easy access to saved presets and everything in one place... I just could never feel inspired when working. Also, I would add 1,000s+ plugin FX to every track lol

          My new plan is to "make" the song using hardware gear, with the occasional soft synth & then use the Onyx to live multitrack all my hardware gear & have everything in "stem" form for mixing and mastering.

          I'll have an MPC 1000 setup to MIDI sequence 2-3 other synths, along with being able to record samples & other audio from a turntable, cd player or any source, even from the internet, etc. onto the MPC and sequence it along with my synths.

          I also like to "remix" a song from time to time & so I'll throw an acapella on loop and just play to it.

          Software is very convenient as everything is right there, but for someone like me, physical faders & connections, etc. are important, because it keeps me from starting a song, getting 1/4 of the way finished and abandoning it to start a whole new song. I have about 2,000+ "songs" that I have got about 45 seconds - 1 minute in and just never finish them.

          I'd think hardware would force me to dedicate myself fully to a song and finish it, before starting a new one.

          Certainly, nothing wrong with either way of doing things. Whatever works is best.

          As far as MIDI goes, I've been looking at one of those MOTU Timepiece patch bays. I've read really good things about them, but usually I'll just play something until is sounds right and record it to audio, but with MIDI, it helps cut down on voicing / polyphony on the MPC. Instead of recording to audio first thing, just MIDI sequence, then when ready, hit play & track everything to audio.

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          • #6
            Cool man. Sounds like you know what you want and have considered the options. I just made that post because I see allot of people getting into recording who think a mixer is needed to record. Early digital recorders incorporated mixing consoles as front ends and for mixing before PC's become more powerful and DAW software became a replacement for the hardware.

            Now you only need a good multichannel interface with decent preamps to track with and all the mixing can be done in the box. I have like 6 mixers in storage along with all my tape gear I used before going digital. I understand the hands on thing and how its linked to performing. I had a bad habit of pushing gain levels like I did recording analog to get the best tape saturation. That doesn't exist in analog so I spent several years undoing certain things that made great analog recordings but simply didn't work in digital.

            I can say I don't miss certain other aspects like having to rewind tape, Editing challenges, changing tape reels and all the associated maintenance involved using analog. I've saved a butt load of money from buying tape too. I have an entire room full of shelves with 25 years worth of tape recordings.

            Digital makes life so easy and allows me to focus on the music and less on the technical. I too have a habit of starting songs and finishing them. I often have several dozen in various stages of development. That's nit such a band thing because you can revisit those ideas with a fresh outlook and come up with musical ideas you may never have thought of if you had just plowed through them. I have one now that I've been working on for two weeks on and off and been spending allot of time getting the vocals right.

            For hands on I use two of those Korg Controllers. They cost about $39 each and allow you to work the faders and pans when mixing.
            You're supposed to be able to assign control other items as well but I haven't spent the time to figure it out. I don't use them much besides automating track volumes like you would using motorized faders on an analog board.

            I do understand the need for a mixer running keyboards too. I have several I use with a simple three stereo channel mixer which allows me to run all three to a stereo feed on the interface. As I said I can do allot of basic stuff and riffs and all. Its something I have to work at allot because I don't practice as much as I used to. I'm more of a string player. The keys on a piano are backwards to me. My left hand pinky on a guitar is a high pitch and on a keyboard its a low pitch. maybe I'll find one of those Keytars to play one of these days.

            Anyway it seems like you know what you want so good luck on your new gear.

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