With Pro Tools 9 opening the door for 3rd party recording interfaces, there are a lot more options opening up for home, studio, and portable rigs. Mackie‘s Onyx firewire interfaces are among the products now compatible with the latest version of Pro Tools – here are some of their standout features:
The Blackjack ($149 street) is a 2 input / 2 output interface with a rugged metal casing that’s designed to sit on your desktop. It connects and is powered by USB, and its Mic/Line/Hi-Z inputs feed Onyx mic pre’s with 60dB of gain and switchable phantom power. One of the most handy features of the Blackjack is it’s zero-latency hardware monitoring. The ‘To Mon’ knob feeds whatever you’re recording to the monitor and headphone outputs, allowing you to listen without the delay that occurs from sending the signal through your DAW. This input monitor send can also be switched from mono to stereo – where inputs 1 and 2 are panned hard left and right. The Blackjack’s high quality Cirrus Logic converters provide audio resolution at 24bits and either 44.1 or 48kHz, making it a suitable choice for any one or two-mic application including overdubs, podcasts, or field recording. The high quality of the preamps and converters in this indestructible little box are echoed by favorable reviews on GearWire, Music Radar, and by Brooklyn’s own ProAudioStar in this review, complete with plenty of audio clips.
The Blackbird ($499) is a rackmountable 16X16 firewire interface with 8 Onyx mic pre’s, and 8 digital ins and outs through ADAT lightpipe. The first two mic inputs are loaded with easily accessible jacks on the front of the unit, a low cut switch that rolls off below 75Hz, a Hi-Z switch for recording guitars without a DI, insert points, phantom power, and the same latency-free input monitoring featured on the Blackjack. Inputs 3-8 feature gain pots, signal/overload LED indicators, and a phantom power for the bank of 6.
Consider this interface the bigger, badder brother of the Blackjack. It’s expandable through ADAT in and out, and can be used as a slave or master clock using wordclock connections. Another bonus is the Blackbird’s dual headphone outputs, which are switchable between the hardware’s input monitoring and assignable outputs from your DAW. Balanced 1/4″ monitor, main, and alternate outputs, as well as the ability to record at 24bit/96kHz, round out the features that make the Blackbird useful for a growing studio.
Both Onyx interfaces work with all major DAW’s, and come bundled with Mackie’s own Tracktion 3 production software. For more information check out www.Mackie.com. –Mike Bauer