[LAU] 384kHz DAC - Monolith USB?

David Kastrup dak at gnu.org
Mon May 21 12:55:27 CEST 2018

ralf.mardorf at alice-dsl.net (Ralf Mardorf) writes:

> On Sun, 20 May 2018 13:21:17 +0200, David Kastrup wrote:
>>It's really more the reliability and robustness and product value
>>preservation that sets apart products like those from RME.  The actual
>>conversion quality, due to relying on the same kind of parts, is not as
>>much an issue these days.
> Instead of your blah-blah I would welcome a recommendation for an
> audio device cheaper than RME gear, providing such a high quality
> headphone output or at least such good line outputs, that I could use
> it with a high quality external headphone amp. Tell me all about it!

I use a Mackie Onyx 1620 mixer with Firewire card.  It's 18 channels out
(the 16 input channels of the channel strips as well as the main mix)
and two channels out (basically routed to the control room section).
The mixer has DB25 Tascam-kind symmetric recording outs: on a Mackie
Onyx 1220 without Firewire card, I used those to connect into an RME DSP
Hammerfall.  Either way you are using the Onyx preamps.  There is no
quality difference warranting use of the DSP Hammerfall.  The main
advantage is that routing of the outputs is much more flexible: you can
use them for the equivalent of plugins.  The Mackie Onyx 1640i mixer has
16 channels back into the mixer: if you need that kind of routing, that
would likely be the only choice within that family.

Those are basically studio/live components.  I've used them to good
success even though for most purposes the mixers are overkill and take
up too much space.  I haven't been overly convinced with Mackie's
consumer audio options (like the Onyx 400F or the Onyx Satellite).  I've
used the Satellite (2 inputs, 2 outputs) as a compact option on demos
but you should not mix high impedance inputs (guitar) with phantom
powered mics, and your mics should be fine with getting something like
38V.  I've bricked an Onyx 400F and that seems to the general way in
which those devices end up eventually, judging from net stories.

Driver support of Mackie is lacklustre: most of those devices aren't
supported with current versions of Windows and/or MacOSX anymore which
is why you can get them pretty cheap.  The analog part of their studio
equipment is solid and I rather like that they are putting their
schematics online.  They are (or at least have been) OEMing their
digital parts and that's a mixed bag, to say the least, with
time-limited support.

But the headphone amps are fine.  I've been using the Satellite as a
purely analog headphone amp (fed via balanced return lines in the
recording room stagebox wired to some AUX outputs of the Mackie Mixer)
and I've used it when wanting a better soundcard/headphone output (low
impedance, high gain) than what my laptop has built-in.

The correlation between brand name and quality particularly regarding
the digital components is not the same as with RME: I'll readily grant
you that.  But when you manage to go for their strong points, you are
not worse off.

David Kastrup

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