Gear Review: Mackie ONYX Analog Mixers Excel

In a home studio or live gig situation, a quality mixing board is just as essential as your guitar or microphones, if not more. Especially a mixer that has plenty of input and output options and updatable software. Professional audio products brand, Mackie, has been providing top-notch sound tools at affordable prices since 1988. 

American Songwriter received two of Mackie’s newest mixer releases from the ONYX series: The Onyx24 and the Onyx8—two vastly different mixers that can be used for a variety of applications. My general rule of thumb is to always purchase a mixer that has more channels than you require.

Mackie’s new ONYX premium analog mixers combine the best features of analog boards with the most cutting-edge technology of digital boards in portable packages. Right out of the box, my favorite features of the ONYX are the high-resolution, full-color Studio Command readouts, the stereo recording and playback controls, the Bluetooth streaming capability, and the backlit mute and solo controls that are easy to see even on a dark stage. 

The current configurations are ONYX8 (4 mic inputs) $499.99, ONYX12 (8 mic inputs) $599.99, ONYX16 (12 mic inputs) $699.99 and ONYX24 (18 mic inputs) $899.99.  The control configuration of all of these boards is easy to navigate with left and right meters to watch your peak levels on the right side.

For a very reasonable price, all of the ONYX boards are designed for multi-track recording with USB ports and storage to an onboard SD card. Mackie’s mic preamps, which have won awards, are part of each ONYX. Looking at the connectivity on the back of these mixers, you can route analog to speakers/amps or USB to your laptop, making them perfect for recording or live gig applications. The ONYX has built-in studio-quality effects that take away the need for a rack module or other outboard effects that can also add noise to your music with the addition of cables and patches. 

The 3-band Perkins (British) EQ is simple to use, and you can dial in your personal sound just by tweaking the knobs a bit. I haven’t seen many mixers in this price range with built-in Bluetooth connectivity.  Besides all of these great features, the Onyx mixers come with a full software bundle: Pro Tools/First DAW, Musician Collection (Mackie’s own effects bundle), Waveform OEM DAW (with unlimited tracks), and DAW Essentials Collection (more effects). 

I was a fan of the old ONYX series, but Mackie’s redesign and updates have made these mixers much more powerful tools for musicians and producers. It’s also built into a sturdy metal chassis with handle grips on the sides for easy transport. Both of our demo models of the ONYX line were impressive and easy to use. You are essentially getting a mixer, multi-track recorder, and studio-quality software bundles in each portable unit, which is a bargain. Whether you need a low noise quality mixer for home recording or live gigs, the hardest part with the ONYX series is figuring out how many mic inputs you want. Singer-songwriters could easily record their own song demos at home to showcase their original music. These mixers can also be used for social media output, improving your audio quality to meet the level of videos that you’re sharing with your fan base. My only recommendation is that if you purchase one of these great ONYX mixers, buy a soft or hard case to protect it. Even if you are predominantly utilizing the mixer at home. I’m a believer in storing or covering your mixer like you would any instrument that you own.

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