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MACKIE ONYX 400F (audio interface)


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Originally posted by Brittanylips

OK. My latest theory.


The 400f is the audio equivalent of "Lost."


(A TV show about a paradisiacal island that meets the needs of everyone on it, but with pitfalls lurking at every turn generating endless adventure.)


-peace, love, and brittanylips



Not exactly true because, it doesn't have ADAT in so it doesn't meet the needs of everyone :)

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I have a feeling that I wouldnt have those hijack problems, if I obtain the 400. I have 2 systems, one that NEVER touches the internet in the studio (Although I sometimes wish I had never installed sp2) and the other system for the internet, in a different part of the building.

I will buy a 300 dollar biscuity pc every year or 2 for INTERNET only, and whatever clowning around junk, printing, burning, surfing, whatever.

If you are serious about recording on pc or mac, you ask, no, BEG for problems by being cheap, period. If someone is trying to play a fun stupid thing, and using powertab, and seriously recording on the same system, it may be that your prior cards werent "serious" at all, and let all the kids play in the street.....
keep separate systems, much less problems....

I have the 1820m right now, and as it sounds great, it has had 2wice the horror of ANY of these problems. It has been a software-driver trainwreck since its release.

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I just received my 400 and opened the box and took the unit out to rack it up, but before I did, I instinctively checked the gain pots, and channels one and two were EXTREMELY wobbly. I looked closely and it's not the set screws - the shafts themselves are really loose. All the other pots / switches seem fine - nice and tight - but these are bad - and now I'm starting to worry that this thing won't hold up. It kind feels like something Alesis would make! I have a lot of Mackie stuff and it's always been rock solid (I even checked my 8 year old 1604 and every single knob on the board is still tighter than these!). Considering the Mackie ad says "Robust aluminum and steel construction with fanatical attention to detail" there is no way this unit is up to par. Has anyone else noticed whether the quality of the knobs is holding up to regular use??? I've sent it back for a replacement - but would like some opinions from other pros -

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if you want to distract yourself from whatever serious production you're doing with your 400F (and presumably more sophisticated software than an MP3 player) that's your choice. Perhaps you should choose other hardware.



Obviously all producers work with more than one app open at the same time at some point in their day. Ever heard of rewire? Sheesh, please give some thought to your words. The 400F is the only audio interface I've worked with which causes these hassles, it needs to be reworked. It's not just me saying that, it's lots of people. So stow the emotion and give the issue some thought, not just kneejerk, "Go buy another piece of hardware" nonsense.

News flash, I've bought the 400F, I have no choice but to use it. It would just be nice if the people who program the drivers brought it up to par with at least say, the drivers in the lowest tier of soundblaster cards. I don't think that's asking too much. And I don't think you understand the ramifications of the issue. On some systems you have to save, close, and restart your session each time you get an instant message or have to check an external file, it just depends on the software. Obviously that's not acceptable software performance, it has nothing to do with the hardware.


I don't mean to lecture about how you should live your life, but understand that professional equipment (and I'm sure Mackie would like to think that the 400F deserves to be in this category) is designed to work in a professional environment. That may exclude some consumer appllications so that the pro applications work better. Now, given the number of people who have had problems with the 400F and programs like Sonar, this isn't a very strong argument in practice as of now, but that's the concept.



What on earth are you talking about? You seem to have a personal problem in which you are unable to separate the consumer from the product and you clearly have not read the Mackie marketing material. Please show me where in the sales material I scoured prior to purchasing my 400F it mentions "the 400F will hamstring all other media software on the system". You can't because it doesn't.

Secondly, that is ludicrous. I have owned several other soundcards both professional and consumer and not one of them did this. So, c'mon now... This is not professional performance, *at all*. Don't even try that.

This is about the Mackie drivers, not my personal life, plain and simple. So calm down and gvie the issue some thought. Again, have you *ever heard of Rewire*? Sheesh... Now I suppose you'll attack Rewire? You really haven't given this any thought at all obviously... The issue has nothing to do with the quality of the code which comprises the applications you are attempting to execute in peaceful co-existence. Nothing at all. The issue here is a flaw in the driver programming which despearately needs to be addressed for the 400F to even gain consumer level performance in this regard, let alone professional.

I can't even believe your approach but I will take your invitation to shop elsewhere under consideration.

guitwizz, doesn't matter if you have separate systems. You can't run or initiate more than one app which "may" use the audio driver at the same time. Some programs will work if you open them in a certain order, but that's not conducive to the real world work flow that Mackie is selling us on. Anyone running the 400F on a PC will experience the driver problems, guaranteed.

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Originally posted by Music Calgary



Obviously all producers work with more than one app open at the same time at some point in their day. Ever heard of rewire? Sheesh, please give some thought to your words.

Let's not get too excited here. First of all, I don't work with more than one app open at a time. So much for your declaration. Well, OK, I might have a recording application open as well as a word processor so I can keep a log of the session.

However, I will grant you that there is some value, if you do that sort of production, for using an application like Rewire to pass audio data between applications. This is a "professional" kind of application, and by golly it should work. If your problem is that you can't use the 400F with Rewire and another audio applicaition, I'd suggest that you call Mackie Tech Support and see what they say about it. I'm sure this isn't what they intended, however they have been guilty of releasing products that basically work but don't have all the features that one expects implemented at the time of release.

However, the original post was about an unspecified MP3 player, which, without further information, I took to mean a multimedia consumer-style application, and those often do expect certain configurations (at least within Windows) and do their darndest to get what they want. I wouldn't be surprised that the problem is the MP3 player trying ot take over, and not the other way around. But I really don't know.

I can tell you that I have been surprised when I'm listening to a radio station streaming over the net, and happen on to a web site that has some music that starts playing when you load the page (geez, I hate that!!!) and I hear the web site music as well as the radio program I was listening to. But this is with a simple sound card (I guess on the level of the lowest SoundBlaster you refer to), and I'm sure that, being the Windows default audio device, it's using WDM or MME drivers, not ASIO, which is the preferred driver model for most pro applications.

Consider your complaint as noted, but if you want to get the problem solved, take it to the source, and do it by telephone. Mackie isn't going to respond to you here. And if you think you're doing potential customers a service (or doing Mackie a serves-'em-right disservice) by informing them of what the 400F won't do, well, bless your heart.

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Originally posted by Music Calgary

OK. Case scenario. You need to use Rewire to route data from one audio app to another. What do you do?

I don't know. What do YOU do? If I couldn't figure it out and I suspected that the problem was with the 400F, I'd call Mackie. And if I suspected that it was with Rewire, I'd call the Rewire company. If I suspected that it wa with Windows, I'd buy a Mac.

Really, if you're having a problem, talk to the people who can help you solve it. And if you're just making up a hypothetical case, well maybe someone who has been there and done (or not done) that will answer you. I can't. I don't have the problem because I don't use Rewire.

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Originally posted by MikeRivers

Consider your complaint as noted, but if you want to get the problem solved, take it to the source, and do it by telephone. Mackie isn't going to respond to you here. And if you think you're doing potential customers a service (or doing Mackie a serves-'em-right disservice) by informing them of what the 400F won't do, well, bless your heart.


My understanding of this format is that people who use the thing are not just entitled but encouraged to chime in with their experience, whatever it happens to be. There’s an expert moderator, and then there’s regular users chiming in. It’s a great mix, the best thing that’s happened to product reviews in a long time.

I truly enjoy reading your posts. They are remarkably insightful and helpful and teach me a lot. But, my friend, I didn’t enjoy reading your last few in which you are essentially telling a real user who is providing real feedback to shut his pie whole.

You have become something of a Mackie apologist, bristling whenever a regular user finds fault with a device I don’t believe you have ever used, and explaining that the problem is either not really a problem or that the problem is with the user rather than the device.

While you may be right in much of what you say, to suggest that a regular user, especially one as experienced and articulate as Calgary, should limit negative feedback to phone calls directly with the company seems to violate the spirit of this wonderful format.

-peace, love, and brittanylips

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"My understanding of this format is that people who use the thing are not just entitled but encouraged to chime in with their experience, whatever it happens to be. There’s an expert moderator, and then there’s regular users chiming in. It’s a great mix, the best thing that’s happened to product reviews in a long time. "


hehe, so, your cute evaluation of this being equivalent to the TV series "Lost", is a serious comment to add to this review??

I find it amusing, when people that want to clown, can suddenly sit back and play "Mr. Maturity" with compelling statements that only come from a well-rehearsed "wordsmith".

Maybe the current pond size you are in needs re-evaluating...

:wave: helloooooo!
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I used rewired applications with the 400F when I tested it, with Windows XP.

With Rewire, the host does all the work. The code is loaded into the host, and the "rewired" application is basically a gui. The app uses the host's drivers and syncs to the transport (this is bi-directional).

I'd look for some kind of preference in the host, like "allow sharing drivers" or "don't allow sharing drivers" or whatever. Sounds to me like the two apps are fighting over the driver, and the 400F is caught in the middle.

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Originally posted by Brittanylips

I truly enjoy reading your posts. They are remarkably insightful and helpful and teach me a lot. But, my friend, I didn’t enjoy reading your last few in which you are essentially telling a real user who is providing real feedback to shut his pie whole. [/QB]

Your feedback is noted. I suggested that the original poster who was complaining about not being able to play an MP3 file (he didn't specify what he was using to do that) might be stretching the bounds of what was designed as a professional piece of gear. It's not clear that the person carrying on about Rewire actually tried it and found a problem with it. If he did, and that was clear, I guess I missed it. My point is that if you have a real problem, it's fair to discuss it. But if you just throw out a possible problem without knowing for sure that it's a problem and then saying that the vendor's driver is faulty, it's time to back off. [QB]

While you may be right in much of what you say, to suggest that a regular user, especially one as experienced and articulate as Calgary, should limit negative feedback to phone calls directly with the company seems to violate the spirit of this wonderful format.

An experienced user can get a lot out of a call to the vendor, and can bring the result of his call back to the forum intelligently. It's a tough job, but it takes an experienced user to do it. If he hasn't taken that effort, then I don't see what good it does to stir the pot here.

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Originally posted by Anderton

I used rewired applications with the 400F when I tested it, with Windows XP.[/QB]

Well, I guess we can't argue with success - but then you're an experienced Rewirer. ;) [QB]

I'd look for some kind of preference in the host, like "allow sharing drivers" or "don't allow sharing drivers" or whatever. Sounds to me like the two apps are fighting over the driver, and the 400F is caught in the middle.

This sounds to me like what was described in this latest round as "hijacking." Perhaps there's an application that he's trying to use with Rewire that didn't want to share a driver. But from the description of the problem (which initially didn't involve Rewire) it sounded like the 400F driver didn't like being shared.

It's things like this that keep me with both feet planted in hardware. I give up easily when it comes to solving problems that I can't see or take apart. :evil:

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I had a customer asking for my opinion on this piece today, so I spent quite a bit of time with a 400F today, and I gotta say it's a very clean unit and the drivers / interface are a snap using Cubase. I see a lot of these interfaces coming in and out of here, and the 400F certainly stands up in its price range.

I like the fact that it has basically the same easy to use interface as the Echo Audiofire line. One of his concerns was crazy complicated interfaces and this isn't one of them in my book.

War

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Mike, you're still missing the point. It doesn't matter which apps we're talking about. Take any 2 audio apps. I'm just giving an example which real world producers might be faced with.

For example let's say you are trying to use Groove Agent with Tracktion. Or running scales in Akoustik Piano while watching the evening news. Doesn't matter what the scenario is, no dice... Nowhere does Mackie ever inform potential customers that they will no longer be able to do these normal everyday things they can do with any other soundcard on the market.

Warren, I agree the sound is OK and it's easy enough to channel into Cubase. But if you need to run another audio app while you are working in Cubase, such as a notation software (like Powertab, Guitar Pro, Finale, etc.) as many folks do, or a rewire device, you can't. This is a major limitation which should be noted. :thu:

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One more thing Mike. You keep saying WDM ("not pro") vs. ASIO (pro) but the Mackie drivers install WDM as well as ASIO and GSIF.

http://www.mackie.com/products/400f/update.html

That is not the problem. The problem seems to be flaws in the drivers. It is definitely not a limitation of "professional" quality gear as you say. 100% guaranteed. I have used other professional gear without any of the same limitations.

As for my posting here, until and unless the people who own/run this forum ask me not to post, I will post whatever I feel like posting whenever I feel like posting it. Feel free to skip my posts should they be causing you any inconvenience.

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Hello All,

Long time listener, first time caller and all that... :-)

I don't mean to hijack this, but I have been following this thread for yonks - Craig's Pro Review (and the ensuing discussion) was one major factor in my decision to purchase a 400F recently. Craig - I have been a long-time fan of your writing ever since buying my first issue of Keyboard in 1995, also followed your stuff online, in Sound on Sound mag and in product manuals(!) - good to finally say hello, and thanks for sharing your wisdom over the years! I have found Mike Rivers' input in this forum and on Mackie's site to be valuable too. :)

Not sure if I'm transgressing some sort of netequitte thang here, so I might just dive right on in. This thread seems to be where the greatest concentration of 400F discussion on the net is:)

To cut a long story short; I have encountered probs with latency using the Onyx on a late-model G5 PowerMac with OS 10.4.6. I believe the problem is not isolated, and was surprised to see (after many frustrated hours of tinkering) "official" recognition of this from Mackie:

http://forums.mackie.com/scripts/forum/ultimatebb.cgi?ubb=get_topic;f=27;t=000726

I don't believe this was picked up in Craig's Pro Review, nor any of the reviews I've read so far (inc. Paul White's SOS review). A lot of the discussion was around FW noises and mic-preamp POVs - none of which really concerned me on the balance of all the discussion, & esp. in light of Craig's overall positive conclusions. The particular probs I am having would appear to render the unit largely useless for "real instrument" recording.

What I'm desperately after is some help & opinion from the gurus. Details of what I have discovered are here (saving me typing the whole thing out):

http://forums.mackie.com/scripts/forum/ultimatebb.cgi?ubb=get_topic;f=27;t=000786

Does anyone have a identical setup? Has anyone had similar problems? Could a Mackie demigod confirm that what I am experiencing here could be related to the OS instability issue? Or, is this operator issue? ;)

My concern stem from a fear that I may have a unit that will be in perpetual update "limbo", and/or may have support dropped for it in the near future without the issue ever being resolved :(

Thanks for reading :)

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Well the current driver is almost a full year old so it's definitely not a top priority for Mackie obviously.

Hopefully they fix your problem in the next release because it'll probably be another year again after that until they offer anything further. :thu:

The bottom line, the 400F is not ready for prime time in a professional full service studio although it might work well for specialists such as Mike who have a very rigid and limited workflow, i.e. do not require the unit to be flexible or work well with existing tools.

If I could get back what I paid for mine I'd gladly ditch it tomorrow. It's OK-ish but it has hampered my workflow and is not worth the $900 I paid. There are several other problems I haven't listed here for brevity such as the spontaneous "No Onyx Firewire interface found" thingy where you have to unplug and then replug the fire wire in (never had any problem with any other firewire gear on this box) and the control panel not saving it's settings but we'll leave those for another day. It's sunny out, time for a skate. :)

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>

I have heard about that as well, but not until after the Pro Review was done at this end, and I just got my Mac going again (on 10.4.6) last week but the 400F is long gone (Mackie donated it to a school, which I think is way cool) so I can't test it.

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Originally posted by Music Calgary

Warren, I agree the sound is OK and it's easy enough to channel into Cubase. But if you need to run another audio app while you are working in Cubase, such as a notation software (like Powertab, Guitar Pro, Finale, etc.) as many folks do, or a rewire device, you can't. This is a major limitation which should be noted.
:thu:



Cool, I didn't run it in this manner and I don't personally work that way myself (I run Nuendo 2 currently, and don't get heavy into midi based work...) so that's good to know.

War :cool:

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Originally posted by Music Calgary

The bottom line, the 400F is not ready for prime time in a professional full service studio although it might work well for specialists such as Mike who have a very rigid and limited workflow, i.e. do not require the unit to be flexible or work well with existing tools.

I had an excuse to try running two audio applications with my usual working setup this morning, a Digigram VX Pocket interface in the PCMCIA slot of my Dell laptop running WinXP No SP2. While reading the mail on another computer (that's how I multitrask), II was listening to an MP3 recording of an overnight radio show on the laptop and wanted to check out something in Sequoia that someone had asked me about. So I paused Winamp, opened Sequoia, and started playing back a file. The auido was coming out the laptop speakers instead of the speakers connected to the VX card. So I tried changing Sequoia's output device back to the VX (it's default setting) and got the message "WDM Device is already in use." That's about what I expected, since Winamp uses the default Windows audio device, and Windows doesn't know about ASIO drivers without some help from the application.

So next I tried to use the Digigram ASIO driver in Sequoia. It (I assume this was the Digigram driver) wouldn't let me do it while the WDM version was still active. I didn't try closing Winamp, setting Sequoia up for the Digigram ASIO driver, and then seeing if I could run Winamp. I suspect that I'd get an error since Winamp (via Windows) would not be looking for an ASIO driver.

So here I am, having been using the VX pocket "professional" card for six years, unable to use it with a "professional" application while playing an MP3 file. I guess it's just no darn good. And, yes, I keep up with the VX drivers, though they haven't been updated for a year or more.

Shoot! Guess I'll have to take down my shingle and get a SoundBlaster or some other "any" sound card.

But I'm still curious about something. I re-read Craig's recent message in this discussion and it sure reads like he had Rewire working with the 400F. What's different with your setup that you can't get it to work?

I'm not trying to defend Mackie here, but I'm an information person and I'm curious. Surely you're not the only person who has tried Rewire (and it's still not clear from your postings if you really have, or you're just using it as an example) with the 400F. I agree with you that this is a reasonable working mode for certain kinds of production, and if it really doesn't work, we should find out why (and when it will). I understand your frustration with spending $800 with the idea of getting better audio quality and more flexibility and discovering that you had to give up an important working function in the process. That's not right. But if it was a matter of mixing play with work (as I tried to do this morniing) and it didn't work, I could forgive it.

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Mike, no i don't really use rewire, it was just an example. But OK since you seem to really, really, really want an actual example which you deem feasible for a pro producer how about this:

Open Cubase. Now open Powertab. No dice. This is a real world metaphor which applies to thousands of producers whether they be using Powertab or Guitar Pro or Finale or Sibelius whatever. It's *very* common for people to have their recording app showing on the left monitor and their notation app showing in the right monitor. This is just one example. Anyhow for me, the 400F is a problem. Not sonically, as Warren states it is a decent sounding unit and easy to interface 1-on-1 with Cubase et al, but in terms of workflow.

Anyhow I've definitely overstated my point and that's bad form so I'm just going to leave it at that. Cheers. :thu:

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