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Mackie Onyx vs Presonus Firestudio
Old 11th February 2009
  #1
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danbronson's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 10 years
Mackie Onyx vs Presonus Firestudio

Did a search but didn't find much. I'm looking for real-world experience here and I'm concerned only with sound quality. Which unit is better?

I have a couple Firepods and I am not a fan of their sound, but I have read that the Firestudio sounds better. I'm wondering if that's true as well.

Thanks!
Old 11th February 2009
  #2
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Blast9's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Can't comment on the Presonus - passed up on it cos of driver stability concerns.

The sound quality of hte Onyx pres really is good! Very clear and hi-fi
Old 11th February 2009 | Show parent
  #3
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cavern's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
i can only say that now that i own an onyx 1200f, my serch for interfaces is over. i like everything about it. it's more expensive per channel than presonus though.
Old 11th February 2009 | Show parent
  #4
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danbronson's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 10 years
Thanks guys. I was talking to a friend of mine, who's a Mackie dealer, and he said that Mackie's history of driver updates and customer support is pretty shady. With the economy in the crapper now, they've laid off half their workforce, so it certainly won't be improving. But the specs for the 1200F are exactly what I'm looking for. On the other hand, I already own a couple Firepods, which have the same pres as the Firestudio. I don't like them and just want to avoid Presonus from now on (though the Firestudio looks great on paper).

Guess I'll keep looking for other options. It's been a long search for a new interface and I feel like I'm chasing my own tail. Maybe I should just hold out for a while...
Old 11th February 2009 | Show parent
  #5
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Sacalait's Avatar
 
5 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
I can't comment on the Firestudio but I owned a Firepod (the predecessor to the Firestudio). I also owned an Onyx 400.

If the A/D D/A converters on the Presonus haven't changed, I'd absolutely go with the Onyx. I bought the Onyx about 2 years ago and had it for about 3 hours until it broke down. HOWEVER, I was very impressed with the quality of the converters. I sent it back and exchanged it for the Presonus (back then the Mackie forums were trashing the support and drivers. I believe alot of that has smoothed out). Anyway, it was a 'dark' three months with the Firepod until I upgraded to RME. I literally gave the Firepod away.

But again, I don't know if the Firestudio is the same as the Firepod- or not.
Old 11th February 2009 | Show parent
  #6
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cavern's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
i don't know what the mackie drivers were like before but i have no problems with the 1200 drivers. they're flawless.
i run windows xp with a simple onboard firewire card.
also runs on my laptop with vista.
they don't need updating.
Old 11th February 2009 | Show parent
  #7
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danbronson's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by cavern ➡️
i don't know what the mackie drivers were like before but i have no problems with the 1200 drivers. they're flawless.
i run windows xp with a simple onboard firewire card.
also runs on my laptop with vista.
they don't need updating.
Hmm...I may just go with the Mackie then. But I'll buy from somewhere with a good return policy to be safe. I'm running a Vista loaded HP with a PCIe Firewire card that's in the mail right now.

Thanks again for the comments. More are welcome!
Old 11th February 2009 | Show parent
  #8
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cavern's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by danbronson ➡️
Hmm...I may just go with the Mackie then. But I'll buy from somewhere with a good return policy to be safe. I'm running a Vista loaded HP with a PCIe Firewire card that's in the mail right now.

Thanks again for the comments. More are welcome!
yeah, that's a good idea about the return policy.
your in calgary, im sure axe music there can get you one. i sometimes order from there cause im in the B.C. interior and they have free purolator delivery, quicker than vancouver.
Old 11th February 2009 | Show parent
  #9
Here for the gear
 
🎧 10 years
Here's something surprising to consider: I know the onyx preamps in their multitrack mixers are supposed to be the same as in their firewire front ends, but I own both; And the onyx preamps in the mixer sound waaaaay more transparent to me. Massively so.

Now granted, the perkins eq colours the argument somewhat, but keep in mind the firewire feed from the mixer is straight from input, not bus, so you should be getting the same basic recording quality from both.

Nope. My onyx 1620 has clearer, more transparent sound. And I've had multiple other ears check it and assess it the same way.
Old 12th February 2009 | Show parent
  #10
Gear Head
 
🎧 10 years
Happy with my Onyx 1620 too. It blows my TC K24D pre´s if that´s any help.

If you go with the firewire card (on a 1620), you can mod the pre/post deal on the direct outs. There´s a PDF on the Mackie forum in a mod thread.

Best,

Mike
Old 12th February 2009 | Show parent
  #11
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danbronson's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 10 years
I had a look at the 1620 and 1640 but the 1200F has everything I need and nothing I wouldn't use. The 1620/40 would be great if I were into live sound, but I'm not so much of it would just be useless to me and take up space, and they lack a few of the 1200F's perks.

Oh and cavern, fwiw, axe music has possibly the worst return policy in history! Be careful if you deal with them!
Old 12th February 2009 | Show parent
  #12
Gear Head
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by danbronson ➡️
I had a look at the 1620 and 1640 but the 1200F has everything I need and nothing I wouldn't use. The 1620/40 would be great if I were into live sound, but I'm not so much of it would just be useless to me and take up space, and they lack a few of the 1200F's perks.
Either way Dan, pre´s sound nice on the Onyx side IMHO. I mentiond the 1620 beacuse these are easy to find used. I got mine used for 400€, which is a good deal. Yeah, I also have the space problem, but I think the deal made me think twice, just had to re-arrange my setup a bit. At the time when I was on the hunt for a 8 pre solution (for drums), I also had a look at the Audient ASP 008. I think it´s in the same price range as the 1200F, if I remember correctly. I think both have a similar type of pre, on the clean side but can´t A/B them. The used deal, just made me go for the Onyx 1620 and very happy with that for drums, or as utility pre´s. You can also have a look at the Toft AFC-2 with great EQ. I had a pair in mind as a 4 holder for the same price with added EQ (to get the most OTB before I go in).

Best,

Mike
Old 12th February 2009 | Show parent
  #13
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danbronson's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 10 years
Cool, I'm excited to step up my pres and converters (I A/B'd my converters against direct analog signal recently and was surprised at the sound quality difference!). I won't be buying Presonus again. I've had way too many compatibility issues with my PC and today one of the Firepods bit the dust altogether I think! These things get hot and I wonder if an important component finally melted or something. :/ I reinstalled the drivers and connected just the working one for 8 ins and outs. Not enough for the drums + bass I have to record soon!
Old 12th February 2009 | Show parent
  #14
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cavern's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by danbronson ➡️
Oh and cavern, fwiw, axe music has possibly the worst return policy in history! Be careful if you deal with them!
thanks for the heads up, i didn't know that. i ordered twice from them in the last couple of years but didn't have to return anything.
Old 12th February 2009
  #15
Gear Head
 
Mo King's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
My Two Cents...

Working out of Sam Ash Music in Chicago, I don't know if I can help you much as far as getting the piece. But having sold both pieces, I would have said the Mackie except for the fact that the economy has crushed their supply lines as well as their customer service (which wasn't that good anyway!). The Presonus boasts Class-A pres and has been good for people using things like Logic. The usual combatant with these pieces are the not-so-user friendly MOTU 8-Pre or the slightly more expensive Apogee Ensemble.

Just out of curiosity, what is the rest of your setup? (Software, ect.)
Old 12th February 2009 | Show parent
  #16
Gear Maniac
 
58lespaul's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Don't forget the MR816 CSX. If you are a Cubase user I think this interface beats the Mackie and Firestudio. It has Yamaha's top of the line everything and Cubase intergration. It even has a solid rep here in Gearslutz.
Old 12th February 2009 | Show parent
  #17
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danbronson's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 10 years
I am using Cubase, will be upgrading to 5 soon. I'm definitely interested in anything with Cubase integration, as long as it's kept simple!

One thing I absolutely need is 12 or more inputs. I often track more than one instrument at once. I'm fine with daisy chaining two units together to accomplish this but my budget is $2000 max for everything.

The appeal of the 1200F (aside from good price and supposedly great sounding pres and converters) is the near zero latency internal mixer and the four unique headphone outs. You can use both together to give each band member a unique mix while they are tracking. That is a very important feature!

I'll look into the MOTU and Steinberg stuff, thanks for the advice. Any other suggestions for 1200F competition?
Old 12th February 2009 | Show parent
  #18
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danbronson's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 10 years
Well I just took a look at the Steinberg and MOTU stuff and then read some reviews. The MR816 has definitely got my attention! I'd need more ins, but I'm thinking I could use something like a DigimaxFS or MOTU 8pre via ADAT for 16 ins, or maybe just another MR816 altogether (both versions are compatible with each other). I wonder if I could get four different headphone mixes going with two MR816s...

I think I'd go with the MR816 X instead of the CSX version because I already have good plugins and can't see myself using the channel strip unless it was amazing (I plan to get UAD-2 so I'm sure their channel strips are better, right?). There is reverb in both and that's the one I can see myself needing more during tracking for vocalists who feel naked without it.

Thanks for the suggestions guys!
Old 14th February 2009 | Show parent
  #19
Gear Nut
 
kevynosborn's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
danbronson,

I don't want to confuse you if you've already made your mind up, but I thought I'd share my experience:

I'm really pleased with my Onyx 400f, and I'd expect the 1200f would sound as good (and hopefully better). My 400f has been 100% stable since day 1, but as someone mentioned, Mackie's customer support is poor: they never responded to my multiple phone calls and e-mails about a simple warranty question. I'm not looking forward to the day my unit ever craps out (knock on wood).

After my last interface died, my friend let me borrow his FireStudio 26x26. Naturally, numerous factors are at play when deciding A unit vs. B unit, but when I listen back to the tracks I did with the Presonus, I hear a blurrier 3D image and less impact (that sort of focused, move-your-speaker-cones punch) compared to my current recordings. I'd also warn that his three 26x26s were all terminally buggy and resources heavy; this ultimately led him to buy a different unit.
Old 14th February 2009 | Show parent
  #20
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danbronson's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 10 years
Thanks for the input, any first-hand experience with this stuff is very helpful!
Old 14th February 2009 | Show parent
  #21
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Action508's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
I used to own a firepod. Upgraded to a firestudio. Then I moved to an 1884 and baught an onyx 800 8 channel adat preamp. While it is not an interface it has the same preamp so I can give some input. The mackie pre's sound fuller and cleaner. Very very clean for the price range. I prefer them over the firestudio pre's. Also seems like you can hit them a little harder before they start breaking up. Hope that helped.
Old 14th February 2009 | Show parent
  #22
rjs
Here for the gear
 
🎧 10 years
I am a musician, not so much a recording engineer (which is an understatement).

The mackie onyx 1640 firewire works fine for what I do. it's pretty clean as mentioned and gets the job done. Have been recording things into sonar for a while with it and recently started working with Reaper with the setup.

It's not the end all of pre's for sure, but for the money, the onyx pre's have been pretty faithful to getting the sound into the box with little fuss.

For simple band recording, it's really nice that mackie came up with a 96kHz card to record with using the existing mixer. The drivers for it are nothing but ASIO firewire drivers and I've had nothing but success with it. The onyx 1640 was 1,699 plus the firewire card 400.00 when I purchased, but the prices have really dropped on these. Nice deal for 16 channels of onyx pre's for the money these days. I would recommend it. I think the mixer's are down to around a grand or eleven hundred.
Old 14th February 2009 | Show parent
  #23
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kojak's Avatar
 
10 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
my .02

In the past couple of years, I've spent a bunch of time with both a Firebox and a Mackie Onyx Satellite (the smaller versions of what you mentioned)...overall I'd say the Mackie has a slight edge in terms of overall preamp sound, but the difference is certainly not night and day. Software wise I dig the Mackie more (more stable, etc).
Old 15th February 2009 | Show parent
  #24
Gear Maniac
 
🎧 10 years
To record drums, I started off with 2 Firepods (2 years ago). They served me well. Never any problems. The only drawbacks on the Firepods were the very limited (absent) monitoring options and the limited headroom on the pres (you have to keep the gain pretty low on the snare input to make sure you don't get any clipping). The pods always worked flawlessly on my laptop with the dreaded RICHOH firewire chipset.
I then upgraded to a Firestudio with a Digimax FS. Much better headroom and the monitoring options are practically endless. I'm not hearing a huge difference in the sound of pres, but with more headroom, the relative noise floor is lower and everything just sounds nice and clean. Realistic representation with no coloring. The AD conversion on the Firestudio is definitely a huge step up from the Firepods, however.

When I had the Firepods at the drum room, I had a Firebox at home for tracking vocals, guitars, bass, etc. The pres on the Firebox are technically the same as on the Firepod, but the noisefloor was much higher. Really tricky for doing initmate vocal stuff. I was forced to get an additional external preamp. When I upgraded my drum room, I sold the Firebox and used one of the FIrepods for tracking at home. Still limited headroom. A dynamic singer would constantly clip the pres. The quality, otherwise, was good, however. Clean, uncolored. The tracks were good enough to work with.

I recently sold the Firepod and got an Onyx 400F for tracking at home. The difference with the Firepod is enormous. The same singer that was clipping the Firepod pres all over the place can't even clip a Onyx channel if she tried her hardest. The Onyx pres are less neutral than the Firestudio/Pod pres, but I'm loving them. Crystal clear but with just a hint more warmth. Absolutely no noise to be found anywhere. Even when recording with the gain really low and then pumping the track in Cubase, everything is clear and clean.

I do think the *quality* of the Firestudio and Onyx pres are comparable, but the Onyx pres are a bit more flattering and I can imagine some people will experience them as sounding more "expensive". The Firestudio pres are just completely transparent and neutral.

Absolutely LOVING the Onyx 400F. However, the Firestudio + Digimax FS are still ideal for tracking drums. 16 mic inputs/pres for about $1100 is a great deal. With only 4 pres and no ADAT, the Onyx 400F would never work for drums.

So it depends on what you're going to use the unit for. If you're never doing more than a couple of tracks at a time, I would go for the Onyx. If you intend to record drums, the Firestudio is the way to go.

d.
Old 15th February 2009 | Show parent
  #25
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
Onyx ALL THE WAY!!!! not even a contest
Old 15th February 2009 | Show parent
  #26
Gear Head
 
🎧 10 years
Here´s some samples done with Onyx (middle of thread)...

Mackie Onyx: Not bad!

Old 15th February 2009 | Show parent
  #27
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cavern's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
since posting a couple of days ago, i bought another computer running vista. i still use xp for the studio and bought this one for upstairs and i thought i'd try loading up the 1200f and nuendo on it. both ran great, no issues so cubase would be the same. also ran on my laptop with vista.
so vista+onyx=thumbsup if anyone is wondering.
Old 16th February 2009 | Show parent
  #28
Gear Nut
 
SubwayRocket's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
I have been asking similar questions about this topic, I got alot
of good input from members, check it out, Here are the posts:

Studiolive, ZED R16 n12 01V96VCM dm3200 Onyx 1620 Which? - Gearslutz.com

Who can rate these ??? Opinions Please . . .
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