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MACKIE ONYX 400F (audio interface)


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Originally posted by d. gauss

returned my 2nd defective 400f today.
:(

now i gotta figure out what to use instead...



Did you check with Mackie this time if they were gonna replace it?

I bought a 2nd one too, negociated the price down since all their stock on hand was defective, thinking I'd be able to get it replaced at the factory if it drove me nuts...

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i didn't want to take the chance sending it back, being tied up for a long time period and not having anything (or any cash) in the meantime.

today (15th) was the postmark date for the 100 buck rebate, so i just washed my hands of the whole thing. :(

plus, i mean come on mackie, i spent the money TWICE, at two different dealers. not a high confidence factor there.

i will say that at least on the 2nd unit, the knobs weren't wobbly like the first.

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thanks for all the inputs on the mackie 400f. i purchesed one and have been testing the unit for 1 week and there are pro and cons. the 4 line level inputs (channels 5-8) are what they say they are. They will not produce recordable gain without another preamp. the mackie Diagrams shows a user plugging in a keyboard as if it was going to be a hot enough signal to record. The gain is minamal and not loud engough to generate a wave that will have to be edited (Normalize Audio) in a program like sonar. The headphone outputs are also a low gain item. I have the headphone cranked all the way and MAckie tech support informed me that it should be knocking my headphones off my head. this is not the case. I need to check the DSP and see if there are any setting problems there but at first glance it looks OK. My third issue is input echo with Sonar. I am trying to monitor record output with Sonar and the onyx. when i turn on the input echo i get a delay. i do not have this problem with my Delta 1010. i am using ASIO drivers and i tried changing settings to shorten latency. any one have any ideas on this issue?

On the plus side, the onyx 4 pre channels (1-4) soung great with my Octava's, Sure's AKG's micraphones. No pops or clicks (except when you turn on the unit) during recording. Yes i would say it is a little bright but i like it like that. overall i rate the unit a 7 on a 1 to 10 scale but i do not know if i am going to keep the unit or search for a better one. I am really looking for a 8 pre-amp firewire unit and this is not the answer. i did not test SPDIF yet. once again, i appreciate all the input on the 21 pages of reading i did. alot of useful information.

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Originally posted by d. gauss

i didn't want to take the chance sending it back, being tied up for a long time period and not having anything (or any cash) in the meantime.


today (15th) was the postmark date for the 100 buck rebate, so i just washed my hands of the whole thing.
:(

plus, i mean come on mackie, i spent the money TWICE, at two different dealers. not a high confidence factor there.


i will say that at least on the 2nd unit, the knobs weren't wobbly like the first.



Yeah, the downtime you have to go through when you send it to Mackie is a PITA, but the other two units I was considering (Focusrite Saffire Pro and Presonus Firestudio) kept being pushed back (last time I checked, they are due mid-July) so I could wait for something that nobody heard, or wait for something I knew I liked. Of course there are offerings from Motu, Edirol and M-Audio, but none of them sound as good IMHO,

Anyway, I've learned to work around the issue. I just take my "Control room" out from the 1-2 output in the back and use an outboard volume control. As for the preamps, the phantom power whine really isn't that much of a problem in normal use, or at least, to me it is much less of a problem than having to endure the Edirol preamps I had to work with the other day! The whine is pretty much the same level as the background hiss anyway, so if you need to crank the preamps high enough to hear it, you are getting noise no matter what. The problem is that the whine sticks out like a sore thumb since it is frequency specific (someone over at the Mackie forum recorded it and posted a frequency analysys, you can clearly see/hear it, if anyone is curious). I don't have a problem with the headphone outputs, and as far as the preamp gain knobs are concerned, I didn't notice until this thread made me check it out. Yeah, they feel cheap as hell… but that's all I can afford right now.

So I guess you have to make a choice:
- Work around some issues
- Use something (else) that doesn't sound as good
- Get your checkbook and buy something better!
I guess if I could get that multi-channel interface by Prism (for a mere 11 000$) I wouldn't have to worry about this stuff. Even just an Apogee AD16X would do. Too bad the new Ensemble is Mac only...

Or maybe… who knows… the Firestudio might be everything we all dream about. With 8 preamps instead of 4, ADAT i/o, and a remote control with talk-back built-in…

But me I've decided to stop holding my breath and I can now make music instead of worrying about this stuff :)

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Reply to Hardtailed that stated

"I don't have a problem with the headphone outputs"


I have my turned up all the way ((10) and it is like normal. What number (1-10) is your headphone output at for a normal listening volume?

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Update to my above post - I've installled the beta firmware update recently and prima facie it has made a huge difference to the fluctuating latency and noise probs in Logic. Nothing conclusive yet for my particular problems, but first impression is that Mackie have nailed it. Yay! :)

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Originally posted by rcassent

Reply to Hardtailed that stated


"I don't have a problem with the headphone outputs"



I have my turned up all the way ((10) and it is like normal. What number (1-10) is your headphone output at for a normal listening volume?



Are you crazy, that'd be way too loud :eek:

No, it's more like 5-7.

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reply to Hardtail - Are you crazy, that'd be way too loud

No, it's more like 5-7.

I tested the head phone again and i had it cranked and i still did not get louder than normal gain. 5-7 is like 10 on my onyx so this unit must have an issue. i tested a second onyx and it had louder head phone output which you would consider normal (5-7). the problem with this second unit was that channel 4 had that high pitch noise when i turned up the volume. i also noticed that the volume knobs pot's were not as tight as the 1st unit i had. these units were purchased at GC! i am testing this second onyx as a standalone pre-amp with a Delta 1010 as the interface. after some more testing, i am going to re-install the onyx drivers and try the firewire interface again.

thanks for the reply

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Originally posted by rcassent

reply to Hardtail - Are you crazy, that'd be way too loud


i am testing this second onyx as a standalone pre-amp with a Delta 1010 as the interface.



huh? AFAIK, there are no direct outs on the 400f WITHOUT going thru the converters first. i believe all routing is thru the DSP.

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Originally posted by d. gauss



huh? AFAIK, there are no direct outs on the 400f WITHOUT going thru the converters first. i believe all routing is thru the DSP.



You can use the inserts and use only the "send" part. It's unbalanced, but it works.

However, I'm pretty sure that, with the clock rate high enough, most people wouldn't be able to hear the difference if you did go through the DSP mixer to route the preamps back through the regular outputs.

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quote: d. gauss
huh? AFAIK, there are no direct outs on the 400f WITHOUT going thru the converters first. i believe all routing is thru the DSP.

quote: hardtailed - You can use the inserts and use only the "send" part. It's unbalanced, but it works.

However, I'm pretty sure that, with the clock rate high enough, most people wouldn't be able to hear the difference if you did go through the DSP mixer to route the preamps back through the regular outputs.


I think you are correct on this one d. gauss about routing thru the DSP because it sure dont work without it. I put 4 drum mics. in the 4 mackie mic pre's and Use the mackie as a standalone pre-amp, taking the outputs from the 400f into the Delta 1010 and yes it did not seperate the micraphones when recorded in Sonar. I would select a individual track for each input device (1 bass drum) (2 snare) (3 left overhead) (4 right overhead) and assign each to its own track in Sonar. When i recorded, each track would record all 4 micraphones on each track. Sonar inputs were assigned correctly.

When i did instrumets (keyboards) with built in pre's (line level) on the 400f, the same thing happened. When i plugged the Instruments directly into the delta 1010, i had perfect seperation.

Mackie support told me that using the 400f as a stand alone pre-amp should work fine using the outputs of the 400f to the inputs of the delta1010. i should get seperation. they said this was a Sonar software or Delta 1010 control panel issue.

Didn't happen when i tried it .

Sonar support said this was a Mackie issue. There was perfect channel/ input/output seperation when i used devices plugged directly into the Delta 1010 and Sonar. So maybe i need to use the mackie DSP but this means reconnecting the firewire and those mackie ASIO drivers.

i guess i can try the hardtailed solution first with the inserts and see if that works. i am not sure how to configure that solution.

By the way, Cakewalk tech support does not recommend Mackie 400f as a firewire audio interface at this time. they have had alot of issues. it is still not on their recommended list for audio interfaces. they think their interface needs work but also said they are new at the audio interface game.


.

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How are you connecting the 400F to the 1010?

To record on separate tracks in Sonar, you have to send each preamp to a different input on your 1010.
One way is to open the 400F's control panel, activate the DSP mixer and mute everything but the first two channels on output pair 1-2 and pan inputs 1-2 hard left and hard right, then do the same thing for output pair 3-4 except you leave only inputs 3-4 unmuted, again panned hard left and hard right.

If you just plug the first output pair into a pair of input on the 1010 with everything panned center in the 400F's control panel, then there is no way your Delta or Sonar can separate the track.

The other way is, as I've said: put a Y-connector in each inserts and use the "send" part and route every channel to a separate input on your 1010. This is the best way as you are avoiding the AD/DA cycle of going through the DSP mixer. (you can to this the other way around if you want to get true line-ins on the first 4 inputs)

However, I can't see this being the best solution. At 700$, I consider the 400F to be quite a good deal, however, for just the 4 preamps, it's a bit on the expensive side.
And the truth is that the AD/DA conversion on the 400F is better than on the 1010. You'll get more dynamic range, more bandwidth and a steadier clock with the 400F.
That is assuming you can make it work...

On my computer, I just installed the drivers (the latest on their website), plugged the thing in, started Sonar and went to work. I'm using it in ASIO mode as per Craig's recommendation (it does seem to work better anyway), with the buffer size at 256. Latency is pretty low, but it's of no incidence to me, I don't use any outboard equipment.

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reply to hardtailed -How are you connecting the 400F to the 1010?


the outputs of 400f to the inputs of delta 1010 1to1 2 to 2 3 to 3
4 to 4. remember, i am testing 400f as a straight pre so there is no firewire connected at this time. Cannot not use the mackie software until i install it as an interface not a stand alone. thought it might work as a one to one routing without using the
the 400f control panel

reply to hardtailed
One way is to open the 400F's control panel, activate the DSP mixer and mute everything but the first two channels on output pair 1-2 and pan inputs 1-2 hard left and hard right, then do the same thing for output pair 3-4 except you leave only inputs 3-4 unmuted, again panned hard left and hard right. If you just plug the first output pair into a pair of input on the 1010 with everything panned center in the 400F's control panel, then there is no way your Delta or Sonar can separate the track.


i will re-install the mackie console and try this. I just wanted to see how the mackie would work as a stand alone pre. i was getting too much latency with the mackie and when i went back to the delta 1010, the delay went away. i have tried many adjustments to get rid of the 400f latency but it was not working
that why i hate to re-install it but i will give it a shot again

reply to hardtailed - However, I can't see this being the best solution. At 700$, I consider the 400F to be quite a good deal, however, for just the 4 preamps, it's a bit on the expensive side

I agree but i need some fidelity along with stabilty so i can record.


On my computer, I just installed the drivers (the latest on their website), plugged the thing in, started Sonar and went to work. I'm using it in ASIO mode as per Craig's recommendation (it does seem to work better anyway), with the buffer size at 256. Latency is pretty low, but it's of no incidence to me, I don't use any outboard equipment.

i will try this also. thanks for the good reply!
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reply to hardtailed - How are you connecting the 400F to the 1010? One way is to open the 400F's control panel, activate the DSP mixer

Everything worked as you said. i have total seperation on each channel and track now. i did as you explained for all the outputs on the mackie DSP.

1. activate the DSP mixer and mute everything but the first two channels on output pair 1-2 and pan inputs 1-2 hard left and hard right, then do the same thing for output pair 3-4 except you leave only inputs 3-4 unmuted. I did this for all pairs on the DSP.
Worked great. i also learned that once you have this set and saved, you can disconnect the firewire and then you have a standalone interface as the setting are saved. thanks for your help on this one. i did not realize this was more of a matrix mixer so you have to tab thru all the outputs via the software.

2. i am going to try the 400f again without going thru the delta1010 since i did the firware update and i can see how it fuctions this time. After setting up the above configuration, i did not like the micraphone tone i was getting. there seem to be a slight phasing when i sang on each micraphone and it was not as clean sounding. any other tweaks you can clue me in on? once again, thanks for your input
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Originally posted by rcassent

... i did not like the micraphone tone i was getting. there seem to be a slight phasing when i sang on each micraphone and it was not as clean sounding. any other tweaks you can clue me in on? once again, thanks for your input



Well, you are adding an AD/DA cycle when doing this + the clocks are not synced, that might cause some artifacts. Maybe setting the 400F's clock to its highest setting could help. Or simply syncing both unit together by routing the Mackie's spdif out to the Delta's spdif in (don't forget to configure the Delta so its synced to its spdif input). Of course, that means you have to set the 400F's clock to whatever sample rate you are using for your projects. You can even route a pair of channels through that spdif out so you save the additionnal AD/DA cycle on that pair.

Doing the insert's send trick would probably cure this as your signal will then stay in the analog domain.

Of course, the best way is to use the 400F by itself ;)

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Note that if you do not pan each channel hard right or left in the Onyx 400F control pannel, the signal coming back through the DAW into the headphone jack is diminished and therefore the headphone volume is much lower.

FYI only...:D

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Originally posted by JDP

Note that if you do not pan each channel hard right or left in the Onyx 400F control pannel, the signal coming back through the DAW into the headphone jack is diminished and therefore the headphone volume is much lower.


FYI only...
:D



I guess you mean the "output from DAW" should be panned hard left and right, which is true and is the default setting.

However, for the input channels, that doesn't really have anything to do with it. If you are recording a mono source, you'll want to pan it center, it you are recording a stereo source, you'll pan each side hard left and right (I'm talking about setting up a headphone mix for monitoring).

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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. I used rewired applications with the 400F when I tested it, with Windows XP.



Hi Craig, OK I'll take your word on that, I have had no success reproducing your feat though. Anyhow the reason 2 apps connot run together in harmony, such as they easily would with practically any other audio interface on the market, is the 400F drivers. Here's confirmation of that from Justin of Mackie:
http://forums.mackie.com/scripts/forum/ultimatebb.cgi?ubb=get_topic;f=27;t=000805

Now then, let's exmaine this. If that were indeed a "feature" :D then why would they have an "edit with" function in Tracktion and bundle that for 400F users? It can never work. So it's obviously a flaw. Add to this the poor manner in which Tracktion handles working with multiple VST GUIs open at the same time and it's simply a dealbuster.

In other words, I'm not challenging your statement that you got the 400F to work with reqire devices. What I am challenging is the realism of that test. I don't believe that anyone has ever got it working in any meaningful way and that's all that matters, i.e. the way in which everyday recordists work in the real world.

People can apologize for Mackie until the cows come home but the fact remains that the Onyx drivers are not ready for prime time. Period.

http://forums.mackie.com/scripts/forum/ultimatebb.cgi?ubb=get_topic;f=27;t=000814

They've known about it all along so it's obviously something they deemed "unworthy of resources". Some scary decisions at Mackie these days. For the want of a tiny driver tweak they have dozens of people walking around the audio community badmouthing them. It's fundamentally bad business practice by any standard.

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Hello All...

New here and I bid you fine greetings.

As a result of the detailed review of the 400F system I went out and purchased one today :)

It is great! Excellent installation procedures. Piece of cake. More importantly...the sound is of great quality and very pleasing. Well done Mackie...

I'm using Sonar 5.1 and it recoginzed it no problems.

Question I have is..no where in the doc's does it specify 16 bit or 24 bit depth operation. Can anyone enlighten me on this?
Is the unit capable of 24 bit operation?

Thank you for such an indepth review and its very pleasing to see the mackie team participating in this forum.

Kind regards to all.

Thalweg

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reply to Thalweg

I have is..no where in the doc's does it specify 16 bit or 24 bit depth operation. Can anyone enlighten me on this?
Is the unit capable of 24 bit operation?


The manual states the onyx uses 24bit converters and 24 bit word length. this is fixed and cannot be changed. it is best to keep bit depth at 24-bits until you are ready to burn the audio CD. Dither down in Sonar.

page 23 - using the onyx 400f Console

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>

Well, it's certainly the way that I work -- I'm a huge fan of ReWire. But I wasn't really testing the limitation you describe, as two ReWired applications are functionally equivalent to one large application.

As far as I can tell, WDM drivers are much more tolerant to servicing multiple applications than ASIO. Here's hoping that the upcoming audio services in Vista do everything we want and more... :)

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reply to hardtailed

Of course, the best way is to use the 400F by itself

I did another 3 days worth of testing with the 400f and delta 1010 with Sonar. I am still using the delta1010 as my interface. You might think i am a little crazy but the 400f does not provide me with 8 total inputs for recording and the delta1010 does with the 400f as a standalone pre. The 4 mic pre's on the 400f work great and our loud but the 4 line inputs have no gain. the 400f manual shows a diagram with a keyboard plugged into the low level line inputs on the onyx 400f. There is little gain on these inputs and with any keyboard using full gain, the DB results are min, so the diagram is misleading in that respect. Now if i wanted to use 4 more pre's and or a SPIF device attached to the Oynx, i could concevily use the 400f as a firewire interface and probably have sufficant gain and 8 to 10 channels to record from.

by using the 400f as a standalone (still firewire connected so i can use the Matrix mixer), i was able to record 4 mics and 4 instruments in this configuration. I got a quality recording. (3 mics on drums, a trumpet, left and right paino, and line out of a bass amp for bass.

Reply to Hardtailed

Well, you are adding an AD/DA cycle when doing this + the clocks are not synced, that might cause some artifacts. Maybe setting the 400F's clock to its highest setting could help. Or simply syncing both unit together by routing the Mackie's spdif out to the Delta's spdif in (don't forget to configure the Delta so its synced to its spdif input). Of course, that means you have to set the 400F's clock to whatever sample rate you are using for your projects. You can even route a pair of channels through that spdif out so you save the additionnal AD/DA cycle on that pair.

i matched the sample rates and in record and play back mode, the tone is good, but when i input echo on sonar, this is where i still get phasing. i am going to try the SPDIF configuration this week as you state above. i did do the firmware updates.

The headphone low output that i stated in my 1st form entry is now a myth after reconfigurations. the head phone outs are kicking. but the high pitch noise on channel 4 is a reality when phatom power is turned on and channel 4 is above a normal gain level. thanks for your input Hardtailed!

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