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  1. #1
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    Default Trying to decide between Mackie Onyx 1640i or RME UCX

    Hi folks,

    I am creating a second studio, which gives me the option of upgrading certain equipment and trying out new things. Currently I'm using a Presonus Firestudio Project into Logic. Also use FMR RNP for my preamp, and I have a FMR PBC-6a and a dbx 163x as my two outboard compressors. My mic assortment is: SM7b, a few SM57's, two Apex 205's, Oktavia m319, and a CAD m179. I was using KRK Rokit 6's with a 10 sub, but just upgraded my monitors to Focal Solo 6be's (which I'm loving).

    I do indie rock/pop and some electronic stuff. In my studio, I record mainly vocals, electric and acoustic guitars, keyboard, and only occasionally drums.

    After having upgraded my monitors, I am thinking about getting a new interface. I am torn between the RME UCX, which would be an upgrade of my converters, and going for something a bit different with the Mackie Onyx 1640i.

    My thinking is as follows: with the RME I would be mainly getting better converters and I'm not sure what else (TotalMix, I suppose? Which may be of limited usefulness to me). I'm pretty happy with my FMR RNP, so apart from the better converters, I'm not 100% sure what major improvement there will be over the Presonus Firestudio.

    With the Onyx 1640i I get the option of having a mixing console, which I don't currently have, which would allow me a bit more flexibility in running outboard gear or choosing to mix using a console (should I wish to -- it might be interesting to try). I know the benefits of analog summing have been widely debated, and I don't really care about that in terms of sonic quality, but it might be nice to have some faders. Considering that control surfaces are extremely expensive, the Mackie would allow a bit of that (although it's not a control surface, obviously). I don't have much in the way of outboard gear at the moment, but I am considering moving in this direction, slowly. The Onyx seems to include a lot more at the same price point as the UCX, and I am not sure if the better converters of the UCX will make a huge difference.

    Perhaps, looking at my equipment, some of you would recommend other areas that would be better improved with the $1600 or so that both these units run.... like a wider selection of mic's (I am thinking about a LDC for vocals and acoustic guitar), and if so, let me know... But I will in any case need a second interface (it could be another Presonus Firestudio Project)...

    Thanks in advance!

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Trying to decide between Mackie Onyx 1640i or RME UCX

    +1 for RME

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Trying to decide between Mackie Onyx 1640i or RME UCX

    I'm leaning towards the Zed R16 at the moment, after reading more. It seems that it will add a lot of functionality when it comes to both tracking and mixing (more mic inputs, control of DAW, analog mixing, easier routing to outboard gear, EQ) than I will be able to do what I can with the RME UCX. Not exactly sure what the advantages of the UCX would be, apart from Total Mix?

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Trying to decide between Mackie Onyx 1640i or RME UCX

    My thinking is as follows: with the RME I would be mainly getting better converters and I'm not sure what else (TotalMix, I suppose? Which may be of limited usefulness to me). I'm pretty happy with my FMR RNP, so apart from the better converters, I'm not 100% sure what major improvement there will be over the Presonus Firestudio.
    If you have to ask, that means the Firestudio runs reliably for you. I wasn't so lucky. RME seems to have the Ferrari of drivers....although there's nothing really all that sexy about drivers. That's kinda like having the "Ferrari" of house insulation. With that said, I've been 100% impressed with just how damn bulletproof the RME drivers are. I've never had such a reliable setup.

    I'd expect a significant bump in converters. If you are on the level of using those shitty Focals, (I'm kidding, that's what I use), then you are probably ready for that bump. I've never used this RME interface and my HDSP9652 has no converters so I'm only guessing. I've used the Firestudio for some time. It's converters definitely get relatively muddy in the low end. At least that's been my experience in shootouts. YMMV.

    With the Onyx 1640i I get the option of having a mixing console, which I don't currently have, which would allow me a bit more flexibility in running outboard gear or choosing to mix using a console (should I wish to -- it might be interesting to try).
    I do quite a bit of outboard processing. I don't use my console to do it. To be honest, I don't love your thought process here. It reminds me of some $10,000 decisions I've made that bared no fruit. The idea of spending cash on something for you to try is essentially picking up a Ukrainian mail order bride. If you want to try analog mixing, go spend $300 and rent a day at a fancy studio. It'll be cheaper than buying the wrong tool.

    I'm not 100% sure what major improvement there will be over the Presonus Firestudio.
    Generally speaking, I'm not a huge advocate of upgrades. The usual trend is you are BLOWN AWAY by the new difference for 3 weeks. 3 months later you are fighting the same issues as before. It's usually an issue of mindset, but that's another topic.

    If you are just upgrading because you are bored, that seems like the wrong approach. The Firestudio has ADAT ins so if you really want to upgrade converters, that's a way to do it without changing anything else. It could be that the RME or Mackie kick the hell out of the RME, but this stuff gets into squint mode, particularly in blind, unbiased tests.

    Brandon

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    Default Re: Trying to decide between Mackie Onyx 1640i or RME UCX

    Good points, Brandon. Thanks for the input!

    The thing is that I do need a second interface, since I'm farming the Firestudio Project out to my second location... hence the decision to think about an upgrade of converters and look at other options. You're right -- no need for a console for outboard processing... In my particular case, a patchbay is actually what I need to make this a smoother process

    I am going to try the A&H Zed, since it seems to combine several of the things I'm looking for in one package. At a minimum, I hope I will get some improvement in the converters as well as some functionality from using it as a control surface, plus the additional (possibly better? who knows) mic pre-amps and EQ. As for whether the analog mixing will serve a purpose, we'll see -- maybe not...

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