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Rating and Reviews: Mackie Onyx 1640-i Mixer

Record with 16 Onyx mic preamps -- then mix on real faders, with true analog summing. The Onyx 1640i has a built-in 16-in/16-out FireWire interface.

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"You gotta have this." submitted February 29, 2012

By Cole H in South Bend, , IN
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Musical Background: I am a drummer but mostly a computer geek
Music Style: anything that doesn't make me feel yelled at.
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SPOTLIGHT REVIEW
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Overall: I have been recording and doing live sound in various situations for about 3 years now. I used to have a Phonic Helix board 24. I purchased the phonic because I loved the concept of a real mixing board with firewire included. I did a lot of recording with the Phonic with good results. Over time I began to notice that the noise which was only sight when I bought the Phonic was getting louder. I really needed something quieter and mellower sounding. Thus the 1640I Although unlike the other people who are amazed by the flexibility that an analog mixer with firewire offers, I am not. The Helix offered this capability for a long time before anyone else came out with competitive products and I am already used to this. This thing is Dead quiet. I have the ability to turn phantom on and off on each channel, which is nice, and the ability to use the EQ section dumping into the DAW or not with the press of a button The ability to do 16 outs is no big deal to me. As near as I can figure out the usefulness of this feature is so you can insert VST plugins from your DAW into each channel thus giving you all sorts of effects for Live performances. I really don't foresee myself using this because it inserts delay, and eliminating delay on monitoring was the main reason I wanted an analog mixer in the 1st place. The Good: The onyx Preamps stand up to all the hype. They are Dead quiet, provide lots of gain, and have a very mellow sound (not sterile). I compare the sound to a friendís Tascam 16 from the late 60ís which is extremely musical, and though the musicality of the Onyx is not as extreme, it still has a similar smooth sound. The EQ is awesome for Live work with 4 bands, they sound great. I still don't use them for recording as I prefer to dump straight out of the Pres into the DAW. This board is built like a tank The 6 aux and 4 group channels are very nice to have The Manual is very well written, and funny. Check out the section on button 21 It is nice to be able to turn phantom on and off by channel. It is nice to be able to use the EQ on the board if so desired into the DAW. The NOT Good: The pres have a nonlinear gain response there is very low gain till you get to about ĺ of the way up then there is suddenly LOTs. (still very quiet and musical even in this range) This really doesnít matter since the signal to noise level is so low, I can just pump the levels up to where I want them in the DAW. No effects processor. If you want to change the pod configuration you have to purchase a $70 bracket.
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Mackie Onyx 1640-i Mixer Customer Review submitted September 14, 2010

By a customer from hotmail.com
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Sound
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Musical Background: Active Musician, Home Recordist
Music Style: Indie, Pop, Rock, Psychedelic, etc
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Sound: The sound is present, clear and open. Believe the hype! The Onyx preamps are terrific - amazing really at this price point. I have tracked drums, guitars, piano, bass and vocals and gotten great results all around. Paired with decent mics, you have no excuse for getting a bad recording through this board. Feature: It would almost be greedy want more from it. OK, automation would be pretty rad, but not gonna happen at this price. Ease of Use: The learning curve wasn't overwhelming, but if you have limited console experience (as I did) it is a lot to wrap your head around at first. Aspects of the manual could have been more in-depth or better explained, I think. And some tasks, like doing a tape-style mixdown, took more trial and error than I expected, but over the course of a couple of days, I got the hang of it. B+ for ease of use. Quality: It's fantastically well built. No issues so far. Value: A great value. I know of no other Pro Tools-compatible firewire mixer with this much I/O and this many features that sounds this good. Not at this price, anyway. Manufacturer Support: No issues to date (knocking on wood). As I said - it's very well built. The Wow Factor: Some people knock the design, but think it looks really cool, and it feels great. I like to put my hands on it. 'Nuff said. Overall: I took a leap of faith with this mixer. No one I knew had one or had ever worked with one, but it had everything I was looking for an d then some. Still, I rarely drop that much money, and I exceeded my initial project studio budget by $500 to get this unit, which I only did after many months of scraping and saving. I have not regretted it once. The quality of my recordings was vastly improved from the second I plugged the first mic in. As a DAW front end, it is practically ideal. It looks great. It sounds great. All of the musicians I've shown it to - some professional engineers themselves - have been mightily impressed. If you want a first rate audio interface but also want the magic of analog and the tactile pleasure of working with a console, get it. Love it.
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"Analog summing...why wouldn't you?" submitted June 3, 2012

By T. D in Huntsville, AL
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Musical Background: Home Studio 6 years
Music Style: Hip Hop, R&B, Rock, Jazz, Pop
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Sound: Something about listening to you mix coming from an analog console. Like I said, I won't call it the best thing out there, but far more impressed enough to not look for anything else. Feature: Went from "mouse-contol-to-house-control." (Let it be known that I'm the first to use that term).This is basically a 16 separate analog channel strips for your DAW- with eq and inserts. So you have the choice of keeping your signal in the digital domain or moving it into the analog domain. Better yet, you have the option of using the digital and anolog domain simultaneously. It simply opens up unlimited possibilities.Personally, I think the only thing that was left out was a motor for the faders or project recall. I find myself taking pictures of fader positions and jotting down notes on the state of the mixer for each mix. I hasn't bothered me so far. Ease of Use: Unless you are totally new to mixing, then it should be a breeze using this thing. Firewire button out to record....firewire button pushed in to listen. Quality: As most Mackie users would say, "It's a Mackie, so it's built like a tank." I would say this...the pictures online are misleading. This thing is huge and heavy. It's not built like a tank....it is one. Value: If you're ready to move away from ITB mixing and have the money for this, You will lose nothing and gain a whole lot. Wait a minute....you will lose your digital connections. But if you're using a mac and you already have an interface with digital connections, I recommend aggregating them. Oh the possibilities..... Manufacturer Support: Haven't dealt with them yet. Hopefully I won't have to. The Wow Factor: It's a nice looking unit. I walk into my studio with my chest out now. Just makes me feel more validated. Overall: This is my first actual mixer so I can't say if it's the best thing smoking. But coming from the audio interface arena I have to say that mixing with knob/fader/button control sure seems to make the brain more interested; more creative. With this monster you're able to do that across 16 tracks- or if you're using a DAW...16 analog subgroups!!! Not to mention the extra two stereo subgroups available also!!! I haven't made it to the point where I'm mixing over 50 tracks yet so 16 analog subgroups to go along with the high track count and multiple effects plugs in Logic Pro- as well as third party plugs- is plenty. And the 1640i can send to those plugs and return back into the mixer. And although some will say that you digital summing and analog summing can yield the same result, mixing with a mouse will never beat a mixer.What I really like about this mixer/interface is the inserts.....on every channel.....and the master outs. The routing capabilities when paired with a DAW is outstanding. What's even more outstanding is using this with another mixer/interface as an aggregate device. I have it aggregated with my TC Helicon Impact Twin and guess what?.....Now I have this monster 30in/30out mixer with both spdif and adat capabilities!!!!!! After mixing in the box for years, switching to this setup broke the ceiling for me.
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Mackie Onyx 1640-i Mixer Customer Review submitted August 23, 2010

By a customer from dslextreme.com
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Sound
Features
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Value
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Musical Background: Active Musician
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Sound: Clean, clear, lots of headroom. Feature: Being able to mix 16 channels of firewire on an analog board makes life wonderful. Ease of Use: Plug and play on my Mac. Quality: Built like a tank. Value: Got this at an amazing price at zZounds. No haggle. Manufacturer Support: n/a The Wow Factor: Gorgeous. Feels great. I couldn't be happier. Overall: I needed a firewire interface to replace the old one. I was originally looking at the Mackie Blackbird, but it doesn't come out until October, I'm told. Then I saw the 1640i, saw that it had 16x16 firewire PLUS an amazing Mackie analog board with the Onyx preamps and the Perkins EQ, and I knew it was the way to go. Being able to do a 16 channel firewire mix and include outboard and virtual effects gives me the best of all worlds.
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"if you can afford it, get one. but pass on the lower i-series units... theyre great but the 1640i is a joy to use and more versa" submitted February 6, 2010

By a customer from hotmail.com
Overall
Sound
Features
Ease of Use
Quality
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Musical Background: engineer/hobbyist/musician
Music Style: alternative/synth/pop/punk
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SPOTLIGHT REVIEW
Sound: very interesting sound out of this unit, i compared it directly to a yamaha n12, m-audio 192 (profire converters) and e-mu 1212m (protools hd converters). the yamaha and e-mu sound very similar (a lot of people rave about these converters, to me they're a little harsh and clinical for my taste)- the m-audio sounds extremely smooth, has great extended frequency response with buckets of headroom which i really prefer. the mackie 1640i converter's sit directly between the yamaha/e-mu and the m-audio. this is very pleasing to my ears! the eq and preamps are the same as their other onyx products (if it aint broke don't fix it) however the circutry, headroom and noisefloor are a little better than previous units. ssl (which i have used and love) can compare to this unit, its squekey clean! its actually cleaner than the digital yamaha n12- surprisingly the mackie 1640i is mostly analog and less noisey... how is that possible? a very solid 9/10 for the mackie. the only reason it doesnt get a 10/10 is that while this unit is fantastic on many levels it still aint a neve or ssl. but- it's damn close for a lot less money. home studio owners will be thrilled. Feature: this is where things get a little hairy, no spdif/adat inputs? no wordclock? no midi? no monitor select buttons (the yamaha n12 has 3!)? and why do most of these damn mixers have to have the on/off switch at the back of the unit (that goes for most monitors as well)??? i can understand the reasoning behind having no wordclock, the quality of affordable converters these days are exceptional anyway. 5 years ago i would as said no. but, it would have been nice. i like to use my ssl alpha channel for a big pop vocal sound and like to use its spdif capabilities- rather than hooking it up analog (don't try and tell me it doesn't make a difference to the sound, it does my friend). i've gotten around this by having my maudio 192 card installed as well. a little tricky, but it works with no conflicts! solved the midi problem too. by purchasing a tc electronic level pilot i can no also use two sets of monitors efficiently. i think mackie may have jumped the gun a little and thought most people would be buying this product for 'live' recording use, however many would want this for the studio. i would have happily paid a little more for the extra features- but like i said, people can get around it by installing a soundcard of their choice, for example. Ease of Use: considering these are early drivers (mackie don't outsource their driver team/echo product manufacturing anymore - which is great- it's all in house now!) i'm amazed it works perfectly. the installation was painless, and i have used it in sonar, cubase, wavelab and traktion in windows 7 pro64 with no problems whatsoever! that's pretty impressive with such early drivers. i havent used it in protools, but i can't see why it wouldnt be flawless. latency has been decent so far and should get even better with more updates. keep in mind ive built a decent new i5 pc with 12gig of ram and intel mobo so dont expect this kind of operation on something you havent got off your ass to upgrade recently. you really should upgrade a pc every couple of years guys- its not hard to do and it aint that expensive. you can quietly smirk when your friends rave about their 'powerful' style over substance- and very expensive macs. losers. and this is from a guy that always used macs up to about 6 years ago... the change was the best thing i ever did (just don't be stupid and get another pc for your internet surfing). Quality: the quality is what you have come to expect from mackie. they've always made decent gear, even now that theyve been bought out and their manufacturing is done in china. the knobs are a little wobbly these days though (but nothing to be concerned about). as far as the new design, i like it but preffered the look of the previous onyx series. the preamps, eq and recording quality... you wont buy better in this price range (unless you buy a neve or ssl as i've already mentioned). i've also started mixing out of the box again with 2 behringer v-verb rev2496's, ensoniq dp4, neumann tlm103 mic and various fmr compressors with amazing results! i've worked in some high end studio's before and it's amazing what you can do these days at home with not much outlay. the computer to 1640i analog fw 'record to tape' style mixdown has also been problem free, and if you know what you're doing, you will get a pro, punchy, sweet sound for your tracks. sounds better than a digital mixdown (to my ears at least). Value: for the money theres a few comparable products out there (yamaha n12 for example), but... i like the mackie more. and it sounds better too. it will be very interesting to see what they release next! Manufacturer Support: havent needed it at all so far, even after almost 2 months of constant use. The Wow Factor: as i said before i prefer the look of the previous onyx mixers, but... damned if i don't wanna carress this thing now and again. Overall: this unit should keep me happy for a couple of years until mackie tempt me with something else. luckily the resale value on a mackie is still pretty good, being a well respected company, so my upgrades arent too problematic. most home reviewers only ever report a really good or a really bad experience with a product they have just purchased... but for me, it's made my home studio fun again with its ease of use, solid drivers, decent sound quality and flawless pc to 1640i analog mixdown capabilities. they got it (almost) right this time. thanks again mackie!
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"1640i" submitted April 1, 2012

By Greg W in Blairsville, GA
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Musical Background: Play/Sing since I was 5.
Music Style: Christian
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Overall: Excellent Mixer. I am very pleased with the mixer so far. It has exceeded my expectations in all areas. Very well built. I will post more comments as time goes on.
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