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Rating and Reviews: Mackie Onyx Blackbird FW

Use this interface's 8 Onyx preamps for pristine sound in the studio, or add it to your stage setup as an 8-channel preamp rack.

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Mackie Onyx Blackbird FW Customer Review submitted December 21, 2010

By a customer from hotmail.com
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Musical Background: Active Musician
Music Style: Rock
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Sound: The blackbird works very well in seamlessly recording elements of a blues-based rock and roll outfit as well as serving as a simple interface for getting ideas down into Logic Pro 9. Feature: Very much appreciate "super channels" 1 & 2 at front of unit with attendant Hi Z and low cut features. I don't use the Blackbird controller/mixer software as I run directly into Logic but I suppose it might be useful to somebody doing something other than what I use it for. Ease of Use: Simple as plug and play to make multitrack recordings, read close-mic'd live drums, in Logic Pro 9. It is nice to be able to simultaneous recording 8 tracks into 8 separate strips in Logic for later manipulation. Quality: Excellent sound. I don't have experience with the raved about preamps, eg, Neve, classic Telefunken, etc, but I have experience building/modifying tube amps and I know what sounds good. The Onyx preamps thru firewire definitely are a step above generic mixer/USB interfaces. There is warmth and detail I didn't hear using other means. Value: Excellent value for the buck. This will especially be useful to those doing DAW recording and interested in high quality, simultaneous multichannel recording into multichannel DAW provided your DAW is compatible- works great with Logic. Read the online manual and you will get a sense of the versatility. Manufacturer Support: No experience yet.
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"I call it the SR71" submitted September 5, 2012

By Tim W
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Musical Background: Playing guitar/bass since '93, recording since 2007
Music Style: post-rock, metal, hardcore, metalcore, indie
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Sound: I've heard previous Mackie preamps from mixers to interfaces. My previous experience recording on a 400F gave me a direct comparison on the sound of my own rigs (guitar, bass, and acoustic). I'd have to say they are pretty close in transparency and have only limited me because of my mic selection. Use the Super Channels a lot for DI work and have never been disappointed upon reamping. Also getting a fair amount of use out of the Inserts on Channel 1&2. Feature: Loving the headphone mix outs for custom mixes. As well as the Super Channels with hi-pass amd DI switch. I do however have some gripes. Initially I was looking for a unit with MIDI I/O and TRS channel line outs for running to a console or mixer, other units at this price have those options. I decided I did not need them having a home studio, and previously owning a MIDI interface UM-3G by Roland which I already had running on Win 7 64bit. Ease of Use: Not too hard to setup. Driver installation was a snap, however I did have quite a bit of latency and audio artifacts using the WDM driver. Once I switched to ASIO4All, all was resolved. Upon recent reinstallation of Win 7 64bit I ended up using ASIO Onyx Firewire drivers I assume are included with the Driver download now, because they were not on the Initial installation CD. Heard a lot about bad drivers, but a restart and/or reinstallation have fixed it everytime. I've run this unit in Sonar, Ableton, and Pro Tools (briefly). Never had an issue other than symptomatic crashes and freezes most often cause by my OS and infected PC's since I'm too lazy to have an installation just for audio. Also I've brought the unit to other friends home setups and the virtual mixer settings have always saved right on the unit, ready to pump out whatever mix we were working on anywhere I attached it. Quality: Solid, excellent converters, reinforced inputs. I have a rage issue every once and a while which goes from ripping out cables to throwing gear and this one is no exception. The knobs have been tugged on and cables pulled out at horrible angles and it still works great. Only reason it hasn't taken more of a beating is because of it's sturdiness, and besides I'm not going to throw my whole rack, nobodies that insane. Value: Great value for the price, make sure you're getting the features you NEED and not just some flash that convinces other people you're supposed to be important. I'm sure Firewire will be dead very soon so hopefully they release a USB3 or PCIe interface. Until then, I'm pretty sure I'll kill the unit before I actually need to upgrade. Manufacturer Support: Contacted initially about driver support, was responded to fairly quickly with a promise of better drivers. I'm sure there are a lot out there still dealing with issues but again, I have not had a problem with Windows based systems as of yet. Did I mention I'm in IT, so that probably helps in the troubleshooting. The Wow Factor: All the knobs make my friends with no music experience baffled I can work such a device. Other than that, I feel the name appealed to me first Beatles AND spy jet reference, I'm in! Overall: I bought this unit over a year ago. I like to tryout my hardware before I really decide on a purchase or in this case, review. I have a few close friends that are studio engineers so I was constantly referring to them as far as future proofing and standards. Needless to say this meets almost all of my requirements, especially the ones I didn't know I had upon purchase.
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"Blackbird singing in the dead of night (sorry, had to)!" submitted December 21, 2011

By a customer from gmail.com
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Musical Background: 16 years, guitar, keyboards, bass
Music Style: post-rock, metal, sludge, electronic
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Sound: Preamps have just enough sparkle and clarity to outperform units priced around the same or lower price points. Excellent response with the Super Channels considering they also handle XLR and have Hi-pass switches and Phantom power toggles. I have reamped a lot of guitar after using the Super Channel input and it sounds like the real thing. I'm sure there are more expensive DI units that could do better, but for my needs it gets the job done in a single unit. Also have Mic'd guitar amps and keyboard/synths through the unit with no issue and barely any coloration. Feature: Virtual mixing console is very nice for Monitor, Headphone, and Alt mixes during recording or playback. The multiple outs are great for Inserts and various buss options. My only disappointments with this unit compared to Mackie's previous 400F is the analog outs which have been replaced by ADAT light pipe outs. So that's another converter I don't want to skimp on with a digital to analog into mixer setup. Second, there's NO USB. Not that I don't have a Firewire port (only 1), but they are becoming extinct especially with the advent of USB3. Granted, you can buy a $30 IEEE card to get setup, but what about motherboard space? Lastly my only personal drawback of the unit is lack of MIDI I/O. This would not be a big deal except for the lack of 64-bit MIDI interfaces (had to go with a Cakewalk UM-3G which still didn't have signed drivers for 64-bit, but worked by bypassing Driver Signature Enforcement). What is a big deal to me is the previous Mackie interface 400F, has MIDI ports, guess they stripped this unit down to what it does best. Anyway I find that multiple channel mixes and inputs into this unit are sufficient for a full band recording, even better for project studio work/play. Ease of Use: Set this unit up very easily. Used it on Mac OSX Lion, XP, Vista, and Windows 7 32 AND 64 bit without issues. Took a little while to get Sonar to detect the right drivers instead of using the ASIO4All drivers. Once I got past that hurdle it was smooth sailing. No problems in Pro Tools or Ableton on any OS. Had one issue with no output of audio which was resolved by pairing and resetting the unit on another PC. Has not happened since. So do your troubleshooting before blaming shoddy drivers or support. I've heard many issues with incompatible Firewire cards as well. DO YOUR RESEARCH! Lastly, I do wish the unit had more inserts instead of just on 1/2, but they are already cramming a lot in there. I would also like to add that Zzounds has helped in many situations with questions and problems I've had in the past. Quality: I feel like I could throw this thing out of a speeding car and the only thing damaged would be the knobs. Excellent hard metal case, rack-mounted for your convenience, sturdy and smooth dials. Value: Looking at other units in this price range I was very happy at what I got. Other units with more features could be skimping on parts and quality. Manufacturer Support: Issue with driver and Virtual Mixer was responded to and answered within the week. Not bad, but I was out a few days of session recordings The Wow Factor: Price point and sound quality aside, it had the features I wanted recording mostly guitar and not using an outboard mixer. Very DAW friendly. Overall: Probably keeping this for the long haul, it's usefulness and quality could not be replaced. When I get ready to dive into more units I could see going with a second Blackbird, if not getting another interface and keeping it for situational recordings and variety. I would replace it if it was lost or stolen or broken out of warranty.
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"Great product, but Not yet OSX Lion compatible." submitted April 23, 2012

By Larry C in Plymouth, MI
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Features
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Musical Background: Been playing and recording for over 45 years.
Music Style: Just about everything that's truly musical in flavor.
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Overall: I purchased this unit and was able to utilize it on my Win 7 PC. The features and performance is hard to match in this price range. (the inserts for inputs 1 & 2 are a blessing) Unfortunately, my primary DAW environment is OSX Lion on the Mac, and Mackie has yet to update the drivers for OSX Lion. I had to return it, but may still purchase it in the future once Lion support is in place.
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