Mackie Onyx Satellite FireWire Audio Interface

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The world's first two-piece FireWire recording system.

Onyx Satellite represents a breakthrough for computer-based audio and music production. As the world's first two-piece FireWire recording system, Satellite consists of a portable recording Pod with premium Onyx mic preamps, and a desktop Base Station with additional inputs and outputs. You simply undock the Pod when you want to record on location—leaving the Base Station connected to all your desktop studio gear (microphones, instruments, headphones, studio monitors, etc.). Then, once you've returned to your studio, simply dock the Satellite Pod back into the Base Station with a reassuring “click.”

The Base Station provides additional I/O, monitor control and Talkback with a built-in mic. And the system comes with a special edition of Tracktion 2 music production software, so you can go from initial idea to final CD. (Of course, with WDM, GSIF, ASIO and Core Audio drivers, Onyx Satellite can also be used with most major audio software on Mac or PC.)

Unsurpassed Sound Quality
When developing a FireWire audio/recording interface, it pays to know your stuff. So it's worth noting that Mackie started as a professional audio company, not a software or computer peripheral company. As such, we engineered Satellite with a focus on crucial components like mic preamps, superior analog circuitry, and A/D and D/A converters.

Instead of me-too, off-the-shelf mic preamps, Satellite offers our premium Onyx mic preamps—giving you dynamic range and noise specifications rivaling much read more more expensive standalone mic pres. (Click here to read some of the glowing reviews.) All the analog circuitry was designed by the veteran Mackie engineering team in Woodinville, WA with higher headroom and lower noise specs than anything in its class… by far. And we specified professional AKM-brand, phase-accurate 24-bit/96kHz Analog-to-Digital and Digital-to-Analog converters, to ensure that what comes in, is what goes out, and back in, and back out.

The Go-Anywhere Satellite Pod
In addition to the aforementioned Onyx mic preamps, the robust aluminum-and-steel Satellite Pod features Neutrik™ Combo input connectors on Channels 1 and 2, which allow you to use either a 1/4" TRS connector or an XLR connector. A global 48V switch applies phantom power to both XLR input connectors, so you can power your studio condenser mics. Channels 1 and 2 also feature an Instrument Select switch, which lets you connect an acoustic, electric, or bass guitar directly to the 1/4" input, eliminating the need for an external direct box. The Pod also has a stereo Control Room output and two stereo Headphone jacks, each with separate level controls (the Control Room and Phones 1 outputs share a level control). And of course, there's a FireWire connector for jacking into your desktop or laptop. Because the Satellite Pod is bus-powered via FireWire, there's no need for a separate power supply.

The Satellite Base Station
When the Pod is docked to the Base Station, it gains additional features and expanded I/O capabilities. Namely, a separate XLR connector, two 1/4" TRS line-input connectors, and a 1/4" TS instrument connector for each channel, with Select switches for each input source. Plus Insert jacks for Channels 1 and 2, letting you send and return the signal to an external processor (like, say, a killer vintage outboard compressor/limiter you bought from some dude on eBay for like $100 bucks because he didn't know what it was).

The Base Station also gives you six channels of analog balanced line outputs, provided on 1/4" TRS connectors. Two of these can be used as stereo Control Room outputs, with an A/B Switch to route the signal to two separate pairs of monitors for comparison. For communicating with studio talent, the Base Station also serves up a built-in Talkback microphone, that can be routed to the Phones/Control Room output or to the DAW for slating.

And like the Satelitte Pod, the Base Station can be powered directly from the FireWire bus (when using a six-pin FireWire connector), or from the 12V DC power supply included in the box.

Monitoring and Surround Control
As mentioned, the Base Station's Control Room section allows you to select between one of two monitor outs for multiple monitor speaker setups. Additionally, you can switch monitoring between your DAW outputs and the connected inputs—so you can plug in to jam or listen to your iPod without having to boot your DAW software. Lastly, the Satellite/Base Station combo allows you to control the volume of six outputs for Surround sound with a single volume knob—a feature that would cost a bundle if you had to buy it separately. And its worth mentioning that all these things stay connected on your desktop, so you never have to repatch cables when you go to record on location.

Tracktion 2 Software
The Satellite system comes with a special edition of Tracktion 2 that gives you full access to the Tracktion 2 core application, along with the Mackie Dynamics Suite, Raw Material Software Plug-in Suite and Maxim Digital Audio (mda) Plug-in Bundle.

Complete Recording Studio Package Contents (Optional):
1 x Stoppit Microphone Pop Filter/Popper Stopper
1 x On-Stage 7701B Tripod Boom Mic Stand
1 x CAD GLX2200 Condenser Microphone (with Shockmount)
1 x Monster DJ Cable Dual RCA to Dual 1/4 inch (2 meter)
1 x Behringer MS20 20 Watt Digital Monitors (Pair)
1 x CBI MLC20 Mic Cable (20 Foot)
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System Requirements
PC: Microsoft Windows Vista 32 / 64 RTM or XP SP 2; Pentium 4, Celeron, or Athlon XP processor; 256 MB RAM

Mac: Mac OS X 10.3.9 - 10.4.9; G4 processor; 256 MB RAM

Frequency Response:
- Mic Input to Line Output (Gain @ unity): @48 kHz: 20 Hz to 20 kHz, +/-1 dB
- @96 kHz: 20 Hz to 40 kHz, +/-1 dB

Distortion (THD & IMD):
- Mic Input to Line Output (@ +4 dBu output):

THD+N: < 0.02%, 20 Hz to 20 kHz BW, 1 kHz input @ +4 dBu, preamp at unity gain
Dynamic Range (A-weighted, typical): 103 dB (Mic In to Line Out)

- Signal-to-Noise (A-weighted, typical): >103 dB (ref. +0 dBu, Mic In to Line Out, Gain @ unity)

- Equivalent Input Noise (E.I.N.), 20 Hz to 20 kHz Bandwidth, 150 Ohms source impedance, typical: -110 dBu @ +60 dB gain

Common Mode Rejection Ratio (CMRR)
- Mic In: >40 dB @ 1 kHz, Gain @ maximum, typical

- Mic Input to Line Output: < -80 dB @ 1 kHz, +10 dBu signal on adjacent input, 150 Ohms source impedance
Input Gain Control Range
- Mic In: 0 dB to +60 dB, +/-1 dB
- Line In: -20 dB to + 40 dB, +/-1 dB
Phantom Power: +48 VDC (+/-20%)

Rated Output:
- Line: +4 dBu nominal

Maximum Rated Output: +18 dBu @ Balanced Line-Level Outputs

Input Impedance
Mic Input: 2.4 kOhms balanced

Inst Input: 1 M Ohms

Line: 20 kOhms balanced, 10 kOhms unbalanced

Output Impedance
Line: 100 Ohms balanced

Signal Level LEDs: -40 dB, -20 dB, -10 dB (normal operating level), OL = 0 dB FS

Sample Frequency Selections: 44.1 kHz, 48 kHz, 88.2 kHz, 96 kHz

Analog Input Connectors
Pod: Two balanced XLR/TRS combination mic/line inputs

Base Station:
- Two balanced XLR mic inputs
- Four balanced quarter-inch TRS line inputs
- Two quarter-inch TS high-impedance instrument inputs

Analog Output Connectors
Pod: Two balanced quarter-inch TRS line-level outputs

Base Station: Eight balanced quarter-inch TRS line-level outputs

Analog Insert Connectors
Base Station: Two unbalanced quarter-inch TRS line-level inputs/outputs
Digital Input/Output Connectors

Pod: One 6-pin FireWire input/output

Base Station: One 6-pin FireWire input/output

Power Requirements
Both units can be powered by the 6-pin FireWire connection or by the DC Power Supply included.

In the U.S.: 120 VAC/60 Hz In 12V DC Out

Physical Dimensions and Weight
- Height: 2.1 in (53 mm)
- Width: 8.0 in (203 mm)
- Depth: 4.1 in (104 mm; including front knobs and rear jacks)
- Weight: 1.8 lb (0.8 kg)

Base Station:
- Height: 4.4 in (112 mm); 4.6 in/117 mm with feet
- Width: 10.8 in (274 mm)
- Depth: 7.1 in (180 mm)
- Weight: 6.1 lb (2.8 kg)

For support or warranty questions, please contact the manufacturer:
Phone: (800) 898-3211

Reviewers gave this product an overall rating of 4.5 out of 5 stars. (41 ratings)
Submitted April 4, 2007 by a customer from
"Satellite is down to earth!"
Overall: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Verified Customer zZounds has verified that this reviewer made a purchase from us.
Overall, I expect this unit should last a long time. Sound quality wise, I don't think I would replace this unit for another just for analog recording however, I do think I may supplement (replace, maybe) this unit for one that has digital input(s). For now, the Satellite fits the bill nicely.

The sound of this interface is exceptional. Clean, clear and dynamic. The mic preamps sound like much, much more expensive units. I originally purchased this unit just for recording analog sources but have since found myself taking it around town with me soley to use the mic pres, they are really nice.

Although this interface has limited inputs (stereo or dual mono at one time) the base unit does allow for convenient switching between 4 inputs per side. Being able to quickly remove the 'pod' (as Mackie calls it) is really nice. I do wish it did have more than just 2 inputs, though. Oh! It has 6 output channels and a talkback mic! Now that's nice. One thing that was missed by Mackie on this unit is that it does not have a digital input. That would have been the cherry to top off this unit. Maybe it will be included in a future incarnation.

Ease of Use
Anyone that has doen any type of analog recording will find the Satellite easy to use. The front panel of either the base or pod is intuative. What else is there to say.

Excellent build quality! read more Metal enclosure all around with solid input connectors. Smooth rotary controls and all selector buttons have a positive feel. This unit should last a loooong time. My only gripe is that the rear pod connector that attaches to the base seems like it might wear prematurely being made of plastic. Only time will tell.

Although this unit lacks many of the bells and whistles of today's interfaces, the sound quality and ruggedness should make the unit a fine value. I have seen the Satellite offered at incredible prices lately which makes this unit almost impossible to pass up.

Manufacturer Support
The first unit I received had minor problems. One call to Mackie support and a replacement unit was on its way, no questons asked. I didn't even have to return the defective unit first. Upon receiving the new unit and return shipping lable, I sent the other unit back. Where does this happen anymore? Huh? I was even surprised. Way to go! Mackie.

The Wow Factor
I was somewhat skeptical about this unit before I purchased it but liked the ability to detach the pod. I do not regret my purchase though. The Satellite looks good! and it's sloped front panel makes adjusting switches or knobs easier than other units.

Musical Background:
Recording Hobbyist, SR

Musical Style:
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