- · Industry standard 24-bit recording/playback on USB with 2in/2out audio. Bus powered.
- Two high-quality Onyx mic preamps with superb fidelity and dynamic range
- · 48V Phantom Power to use with Condenser Microphones
- · True Analog monitoring of inputs for zero latency recording
- · Built-in DI on each input for direct guitar/bass connections
- · Premium Ciruss Logic AD/DA converters with 114 db dynamic range
Saturday, September 10, 2011
Mackie Onyx BlackJack USB Interface Review
The Mackie ONYX BlackJack is a rugged bus-powered USB audio interface that is small with great sound quality and versatile monitoring, making it an ideal portable companion to a laptop but equally at home in a fixed location such as a personal studio.
Mackies ONYX BlackJack offers the quality preamp so recognized in their higher priced line of Onyx Mixers, but for a lot less money. The BlackJack features two Onyx preamps, having mic/line inputs on combination XLR / ¼” jacks, with individual DI switching for using the line jacks as high-impedance inputs, and switchable global phantom power. The monitor outputs are on balanced quarter-inch jacks, governed by the Monitor level control, and there’s a headphone output and accompanying level control on the front panel.
The Onyx preamps are designed to go beyond standalone microphone preamps in headroom, transparency, and fidelity. Additionally, the Onyx preamps have a full 60db gain, improved radio frequency (RFI) rejection and an ultra-wide dynamic range. Onyx preamps rival even the most expensive boutique mic preamps for sound quality due to the Cirrus Logic converter. Power for the circuitry comes from the USB port, so there’s no need for a separate PSU. The 24-bit Cirrus Logic converter is capable of a 114dB dynamic range (A-Weighted), which is way beyond the signal-to-noise spec of most studio gear. The BlackJack performed well with sampling rates of up to 95kHz, and the playback quality has proven to be excellent. Importantly, the gain staging within the unit means that the preamp circuitry is correctly matched to the A-D conversion, to sustain headroom while minimizing noise and distortion. Zero latency recording is possible by routing the input directly into the monitors and into the computer simultaneously, reducing any audible delay from player to computer (allowing the computer buffer to be directed towards the CPU). It also allows you to track in mono or stereo.
The Blackjack works with both Mac and Pc computers and compatible with all the major DAW software (except those limited to a manufacturers own hardware). I f you are running Windows, users are advised to to download and install the latest ASIO driver from www.mackie.com/products/onyxblackjack for optimal performance. The Blackjack comes bundled with a copy of Mackie’s Tracktion 3 software, an amateur friendly introduction into computer recording if you’re not already familiar with another DAW.
Bottom line, there are less expensive interfaces on the market, but overall, comparable interfaces do not possess this sound quality. In fact, many of the USB interfaces that are three times more expensive don’t offer the headroom and fidelity that Mackie’s Onyx BlackJack does. Finally, the BlackJacks compact portable and durable design and reasonable price point earns a 4.5 star rating out of 5 stars.
Mackie Onyx BlackJack Features
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