Is it a tiny 8-channel mixer? A not-so-tiny 8-channel FireWire interface? To be honest, they're not sure what to call the Mackie Onyx 820i, besides "full-featured analog front end for your DAW." Judging by the 820i's clear, detailed Onyx microphone preamps and highly musical, British-style Perkins EQ, this little guy doesn't sacrifice any quality for its compact size. And with flexible routing options that integrate with any DAW, the Onyx 820i is ideal for building your home studio around. If you think the 820i seems pricey for a compact mixer, consider this: you could sink a lot of money into preamps, hardware EQs, A/D converters, a FireWire interface, and a monitor controller -- or you could plop the Mackie Onyx 820i on your desk, and call it done. (And at about the size of a legal-size sheet of paper, it fits on your desk.)
This video from Mackie explains the power of the Onyx-I series:
Analog Guts, Digital Brains
Even if the 820i didn't
have a built-in 8-in/2-out FireWire interface, it would still be a serious analog mixer. First of all, it's a Mackie -- a company known for tank-like build quality. Mackie boards have long been indispensable in can't-fail environments like broadcast studios, live venues, and mobile recording rigs. Plus, the Onyx name means you're getting Mackie's flagship mic preamps -- 3 of them, in this case. Onyx mic pres are designed for accuracy, transparency, and detail, with phantom power available individually on each channel. The first two preamps…
have a dedicated switch for accepting a Hi-Z input like a direct guitar or bass. You also get 3 stereo channels for 1/4-inch line-level sources like keyboards and drum machines. And every channel has Mackie's "British-style" Perkins EQ, named for the veteran engineer who developed these natural-sounding filters. Because the 820i is a full-fledged analog mixer, it's an excellent real-time monitoring solution: just use its 2 aux sends to build headphone mixes in the analog domain with zero latency, regardless of what is going on in your DAW.
Send 8 Channels To Your DAW Over FireWireThe Onyx 820i really starts working its magic when you plug in a FireWire cable. Your 8 channels sail through high-end Cirrus A/D converters, through FireWire, and into your DAW at up to 24-bit, 96 kHz resolution. Each channel has a pre/post-EQ button for the FireWire output, so you can record your tracks with or without the channel inserts and Perkins EQ applied. For example, if your bassist needs lots of low-end punch in his headphones during tracking, you can kick on his EQ, but press his channel's "pre" button so only the clean, un-EQ'd signal is sent out through FireWire and into your DAW. Or you can insert your trusty hardware reverb for the vocal channel for monitoring, but still record the vocal track "dry." However you set up the routing, FireWire is fully integrated into the Onyx 820i -- so external interfaces or converters are completely unnecessary.
Plays Nice With Your Rack Gear -- And Your Plug-insGot outboard gear? With 1/4-inch insert plugs on the first 2 channels, you can easily insert your favorite hardware compressor on that bass track. And with 2 aux buses, there's even room to feed your hardware reverb on from an aux send, and return the resulting signal to one of your 3 stereo channels. Now, if you're of more of a plug-ins power user, that's where the 820i's FireWire integration comes in handy. For example, say you're multitracking a vocal group with the 3 Onyx preamp channels, with everyone's headphones running off Aux 1. Aux 2 appears in your DAW via FireWire, ready to be processed in real time by your reverb plug-in. Set the plug-in's output to FireWire, and press the FireWire input button on the 820i's last stereo channel. Now you're mixing the "wet," reverbed signal on a hardware gain pot, and tweaking real knobs to adjust exactly how much the reverb is affecting each vocal mic. It beats trying to mouse pictures of knobs on your computer screen!
With the robustness of a Mackie analog mixer, plus complete FireWire integration, the Onyx 820i packs a whole lot of power into a decidedly desk-friendly footprint. You get 3 great-sounding preamps, 3 flexible stereo inputs, Perkins EQ, and a built-in 8x2 FireWire interface for your home recording setup. Any audio interface can get sound in and out of your computer, but the 820i's extensive routing capabilities make it endlessly flexible -- and real analog hardware never goes out of style.
Features:-3 Onyx mic preamps with individual phantom power, plus Hi-Z instrument inputs on channels 1 and 2
- 3 stereo line inputs (channel 3 is a hybrid Onyx mic/stereo line input)
- Musical Perkins EQ section on each channel
- Integrated 8-in/2-out FireWire interface at up to 24-bit/96 kHz resolution
- Pre/post switch sends channels to FireWire with or without EQ and inserts applied
- 2 aux sends with their own pre/post switches
- Built-in talkback mic
- Tough Mackie build quality throughout
- Compatible with all major DAWs
- Includes free download of Tracktion software