Type: Recording Interface for Your Home Computer
Item: Mackie’s Onyx Blackjack
Price: $199 (US); £136 (UK)
At A Glance: If you are looking to record your music on your home computer, Mackie’s Onyx Blackjack is a small USB powered recording interface that offers two mono input channels for plugging in your mic or guitar and a stereo output for connecting to a speaker system. It is aimed at the home studio market and is well suited to both laptop and desktop users. The Onyx is equipped with Mackie’s latest Onyx mic preamps and 24-bit converters and can work at 44.1 and 48 kHz sample rates, giving vocalists decent headroom for recording at beyond CD quality. It also has a headphone output with level control and a separate level control for its speaker system output.
High Notes: Mackie’s Onyx preamps offer great quality for the price – far better than on many comparable units. They offer up to 60 dB of gain with very low noise and distortion figures. Each of its two input channels have the options of XLR-in with switchable phantom power, or a line-input DI for connecting guitar or bass. The USB interface is compatible with both PC and Mac and works with most popular DAWs; making it easy to setup and start making great sounding recordings. Usefully, Mackie have also included on-board analogue monitoring abilities; allowing for latency free monitoring whilst recording.
Off Pitch: The Blackjack has no low-cut switch to reduce rumble in your vocal recordings, it also has no MIDI capabilities. Level monitoring for each cannel is somewhat limited, however this is not surprising considering its relatively tiny overall size. Some early users have also reported problems with the included software driver, which hopefully Mackie will fix soon (if not already fixed by the time this goes to print).
VoiceCouncil Reviewer Says: Mackie’s Onyx Blackjack is a well built piece of gear with a simple interface and great sound quality. It is well suited to recording music on a home computer or laptop and it also comes bundled with Trackton 3 Music Production Software if you do not already have a DAW to use. There is no shortage of competing audio interfaces from other manufacturers at around the same price, however the quality of Mackie’s Onyx preamps sets the Blackjack apart.