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Onyx 800R v.s. (2) RNP preamp
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6strings
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#1
22nd March 2006
Old 22nd March 2006
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Onyx 800R v.s. (2) RNP preamp

Both would run $1000, but the Onyx is 4 extra inputs. Has anyone compared the (class A amp) RNP with the new Onyx pres yet? I'm looking for 4 channels of clean mic pres.

Thanks.

JP
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22nd March 2006
Old 22nd March 2006
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I think what you'll find are two very different philosophies of pre-amp design. Neither one necessarily right or wrong.

FWIW -- away from this board -- I've heard quite good things about the Onyx gen of preamps (considering the considerings, eh?) That's from experienced users and reviewers. (Not a bunch of wannabes, right?)

In my (somewhat limited) experience with the RNP, it's seemed quite flattering to things like voice, acoustic guitar. It's not a neutral, character-free preamp, which is more what I would expect out of the Mackie from my reading and experience with earlier Mackie pre's.


Some folks greatly prefer a characterful preamp -- but one thing you should consider, whether evaluating preamps, channel strips, EQ -- if it HAS a lot of character, that means it's not necessarily accurate. It might be flattering on one or two items -- but if you stack channel after channel recorded through the same 'characterful' strip/pre/EQ [or mic, for that matter] you MAY end up with a mix that is "over-colored" or even "filtered" sounding.

It's for that reason that folks like to have a wide selection of devices, to potentially 'balance out' heavily characterful devices that may be good for a spot of color hear and there but which may end up "stacking" poorly if overused.


Now, that said, I very much liked the RNP. I don't necessarily think I'd want to use if for everything, but it sure was flattering on my vocal and acoustic guitar. But the key word is flattering.
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#3
22nd March 2006
Old 22nd March 2006
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David@MVS is offline
Quote:
Originally Posted by 6strings
Both would run $1000, but the Onyx is 4 extra inputs. Has anyone compared the (class A amp) RNP with the new Onyx pres yet? I'm looking for 4 channels of clean mic pres.

Thanks.

JP

Well, how many inputs do you need?

If you need 4, then get the RNP.
8, get the Onyx. It really comes down to that.

Though the Onyx is probably more transparent, they will both be fine for most peoples uses of transparent recording. If you are doing classical, you may want to look elsewhere.

Good luck,
David
6strings
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23rd March 2006
Old 23rd March 2006
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Thanks for the replies.

Just to clarify my frame of mind:

Looking for 4 channels of "clean, accurate" pres, and if I was going to spend $1000 on 2 RNPs, why not consider the Onyx for the same price and get 8 (plus some other nice features, though not class A amplification).

I have a 1604 VLZ at present. Should I consider this "clean enough" and go for a "colored" pre instead?

Thanks again.

JP
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23rd March 2006
Old 23rd March 2006
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hopeless_opus is offline
I like the FMR stuff a lot and between your given two choices, I would go with that. But, since no one has mentioned it, have you considered the Sytek? It's supposedly a little "cleaner" than the RNP and about the same price as two RNP's. Seems to get a lot of love on here...
6strings
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23rd March 2006
Old 23rd March 2006
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Yeah, I've checked out the Sytek site, can't find any mention of warranty or anything. That's a big issue for me... Plus it'd be nice to buy from a dealer who has a no-hassle return policy in case it wasn't what I was looking for...
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23rd March 2006
Old 23rd March 2006
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 6strings
...I have a 1604 VLZ at present. Should I consider this "clean enough" and go for a "colored" pre instead?...

JP
Personally, i wouldn't even consider the mic inputs on one of those mackie boards a "mic preamp" for recording purposes. (yes, i know, it amplifies a microphone level signal to a line signal, i know, i know...) I'm just saying, i've used those mackie boards and i wouldn't consider it anything but a band-aid until i could afford real preamps...

And more specifically, no, i wouldn't consider those the kind of channels you want to stack... Their boards always seem so... blah, just mushy and dim. I think you should use that to get you by, and buy both clean pre's and character pres.

So i'm sorry if i sound like i'm putting your stuff down, that's just what i've found in my experience. Not the preamps specifically, but the board in general is something you'll want to stay away from running signal through.

Also, about the sytek... i wouldn't worry too much about warranty... it always seems to me that once you get into slightly more professional gear (even the low end of it) there are enough talented people who work on it that you're probably safe. Sytek is well-recommended around here for that price range.
#8
23rd March 2006
Old 23rd March 2006
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Hi,

I have worked myself from the bottom line of 8 channel preamps to the more expensive ones... and ended up with the Audient ASP 008 with ADAT.

It is not nice to state, unless you don't need the machine right now and can't rent something alike, I would test everything you consider intensively and also consider preamps, you think are a little above your budget limit; in the long run you will be more happy AND save money... I promise...

Have fun

Leif

BTW.: you don'T want to use these preamps in front of your mackie, or do you?
krs
#9
23rd March 2006
Old 23rd March 2006
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nathanvacha
Personally, i wouldn't even consider the mic inputs on one of those mackie boards a "mic preamp" for recording purposes. (yes, i know, it amplifies a microphone level signal to a line signal, i know, i know...) I'm just saying, i've used those mackie boards and i wouldn't consider it anything but a band-aid until i could afford real preamps...
This is a very familiar sentiment - and sounds like you haven't used an Onyx board.

To say they are the same as the older Mackie designs is just not corrrect. tutt

I don't wish get into whether this is a "a real" mic amp or not. I know two things:

1) I can get very euphonic sounds out of my Onyx
2) it is definitely, positively a better pre than the VLZ-Pro

#10
23rd March 2006
Old 23rd March 2006
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I haven't used the RNPs but I own the onyx800.

To qualify things, as a benchmark I currently have in my studio John Hardy M1 (4), Great River MP2NV, API 512 (2), Brent Averill 312 (2), A-Designs P1, A-Designs silver. I also have a 1604 VLZ so I'm very famillar with the sound of mackie gear.

To get to the point, I'm really impressed with the ONYX pres. They are totally usable and WAY better than the 1604 VLZ. Very clear, neutral and clean. I use them as utility pres when I run out of the others. They get used often for rack toms, BGV, extra ambient tracks etc....They have yet to flat out suck on anything. Would I pick them over my other preamps....probably not....but for the money I don't think I would trade them for anything else.

-Z-
#11
24th March 2006
Old 24th March 2006
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I havent used my sytek on much, but i really like the way it sounds
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#12
24th March 2006
Old 24th March 2006
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compare them side by side (if you can) as i have done, and you'll know that the differences are insignificant, for all practical purposes. YES, zone in with a microscope and you'll be able to point out specific things, but in the larger scheme of things, i think it matters very little. Neither of them adds much character, but the rnp is perhaps a wee bit smoother/more vibey (i am not convinced to this day that i did not imagine it). If it were my money, i'd go with the onyx... if you pick the mixer, you have the option of the firewire converters, if you pick up the 1U rack mount thingy you get the built in converters. If you have golden ears, rooms, mics, monitors and converters, you should probably ignore both and go for something really high end, if not i'd suggest the onyx.

maybe you can consider replacing your current mackie with the 16 pre onyx mixer and you have a good thing going overall. BTW the vlz does'nt suck, no matter what they say. Lynn fustion had put up a recording of the waylon jennings (?) recorded through the 1202 vlz (pro?) and it sounded absolutely beautiful.

.02,
self.
6strings
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24th March 2006
Old 24th March 2006
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Quote:
Originally Posted by audiothings
BTW the vlz does'nt suck, no matter what they say. Lynn fustion had put up a recording of the waylon jennings (?) recorded through the 1202 vlz (pro?) and it sounded absolutely beautiful.
Yeah, I don't buy into the whole Mackie-bashing thing, but I guess the forum name IS called "gearslutz" so what am I supposed to expect, right?

Anyway, from what I've been told, class A amplification is a must, or at least a must-try, for preamps. This is why I'm looking into the RNP, but with people seeming pretty excited about the new Onyx pres, I'm wondering if my money would be better spent on those instead (more bang for the buck). Would there be a big difference in terms of amplication type? (Sure wish I could just A-B 'em)

BTW, a project studio ("low end forum", remember) I don't have ANY exotic mics. Just your typical Shure, Rode type stuff (ducks flying cabbage and tomatoes).
6strings
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#14
27th March 2006
Old 27th March 2006
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Update:

After careful consideration, I'll go with a single 2-ch RNP and "make do" with the Mackie. General consensus seems the RNP is a great starter pre and is worth the money spent. Later, if I want to get more into it on the preamp end of things, I'll just bite the bullet and get a Great River.

If my mixer gets tagged for P.A. duty again, then I'll look into Onyx again for multi-channel "utility pres".

Thanks for all the informative responses!

JP
#15
27th March 2006
Old 27th March 2006
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Other options

If you don't need conversion then just getting 2 channels of better quality preamps is good idea. However, I'm not so sure that the RNP is going to be that much better than the Onyx...granted, I've never used the RNP....maybe it really is the cat's meow. You should probably A/B them. Both are carried by the online stores so you could just order them both and return either (or both).

I ran a 400f through its paces a couple of months ago, and I was quite impressed. The A/D conversion is really quite nice, and, assuming the 800r uses the same converter circuitry, you could have 8 rock-solid preamps and conversion for under $1000.

For $700 you could get the 400f, with four preamps, plus inputs for those higher-end preamps you'll get later on. I really think the 400f is a great deal on the low-end if you need more than two channels of i/o, A/D/A conversion, two headphone amps...

Man, that's hard to beat.

The problem with the RNP is that you're ALMOST spending enough money for a full-on high-end mic pre. Why not just save for it. Potential options:

- A DAV BG-1 is about $675. That's 2 channels of full-blown, big-time, mains-powered Decca sound for a little more. People really seemed to like this one. Kinda Plain Jane on the outside, like the RNP, but the money's inside the box...like the RNP I like Plain Jane anyway. Check out the review.
- Even better, you could buy a Hamptone HJFP2 for $575 and put it together yourself. Thats 2 channels of high-end, transformer balanced, Class A gear for about the price of an RNP plus about 15 hours of fun and educational elbow flux. The DI smokes on this puppy, and you'll have it for the rest of your life!
- You could look at the used market as well. Great deals there in your price range. I paid $650 for a used Metric Halo ULN-2 which (along with outstanding conversion, and routing options) has two pristine preamps.

See what you can find. You'll probably have one less wall-wart getting in the way.

- Jim
#16
28th March 2006
Old 28th March 2006
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jimbo
yourself. Thats 2 channels of high-end, transformer balanced, Class A gear for about the price of an RNP plus about 15 hours of fun and educational elbow flux. The DI smokes on this puppy, and you'll have it for the rest of your life!
You find that the Hamptone is better than the DAV? I was thinking about getting the BG1 and a Radial JDI (2 chan) which would run about 1G.

I could get the Hamptone put together for even less though..
#17
28th March 2006
Old 28th March 2006
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Quote:
Originally Posted by I <3 The Beatle
You find that the Hamptone is better than the DAV? I was thinking about getting the BG1 and a Radial JDI (2 chan) which would run about 1G.

I could get the Hamptone put together for even less though..
I've never used the BG1. I'm only suggesting it as an option...you said you want transparent, right? I'm just throwing-out ideas that you'll want to consider along with the RNP.

The options I'm suggesting will cost you slightly more, but will probably hold your attention longer, and probably stay relevant to your needs longer. On the clean end of things, there's the Hamptone (both the HJFP2 and the HVTP2). Both are top-notch circuits. You won't find any disparaging remarks on GS (high-end or low-end) with it. Then again, it's not a normal commercial product, so there aren't that many here who have used it. Regardless it is respected. The Hamptones are transformer balanced. They use clean transformers, though, so you get a clean sound along with the transformer thing (it's kind of hard to dEscribe). The DI on the Hamptones will make your instrument sound like it is riding Gnarly lightning bolt. It's really quite badass stike ....in a clean kinda way.

If you want clean without the transformer affectation, the BG1 seems to be a great deal. There's a thread over on the high-end comparing the BG1 to the Millenia HV3. You should check-it-out.

I've already got my transparent preamps covered with the ULN-2, but if I were going for two channels of transparent preamps, I'd probably shell-out for the DAV at this point.

Once you add the DI box to the cost of the BG1, it becomes less attractive, financially speaking, because you're up around $900. Same with the Hamptone if you get it prebuilt. You're almost spending twice as much as you wanted in the first place.

Take some time and think about it.

Or, fork-out the plastic and deal with the buyer's remorse. Either way, you're phucked!!

I'm just kidding. All us bottom-feeders are clawing our way to the high-end. I'm just suggesting some less expensive ways to get there.

Good luck, and let us know what you decide.

- Jim
6strings
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#18
28th March 2006
Old 28th March 2006
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I think your confusing him (Beatle) with me, the original poster.

Thanks for you suggestions.

I'm up to my friggin' ears in projects as it is, so the Hamptone is out of the question. I might consider the BG1 if it was there was a reputable dealer in the US who would provide a warranty or guarantee of some kind (ala Mercenary). Call it a personal policy, I guess...

Keeping in mind I'm just a low end project studio (mostly just my own stuff), after thinking it over I decided to reel back the pre budget for now and go with the RNP, diverting more "economic attention" to to my guitar rig and tuning my drum room acoustics. (though I have my eye on the GT Brick as well...).

Cheers!
#19
28th March 2006
Old 28th March 2006
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Quote:
Originally Posted by theblue1
It might be flattering on one or two items -- but if you stack channel after channel recorded through the same 'characterful' strip/pre/EQ [or mic, for that matter] you MAY end up with a mix that is "over-colored" or even "filtered" sounding.

It's for that reason that folks like to have a wide selection of devices, to potentially 'balance out' heavily characterful devices that may be good for a spot of color hear and there but which may end up "stacking" poorly if overused.


Now, that said, I very much liked the RNP. I don't necessarily think I'd want to use if for everything, but it sure was flattering on my vocal and acoustic guitar. But the key word is flattering.
Totally valid...

Of course the complete flipside to this is that API's..Neves..SSL..etc. consoles could be said to have a distinct character and many believe the best albums are done with one pre only... the pres from the board.

That is the prefered method by alot of excellent folks...

And of course endless classic and georgous records were made that way.

I personally love stacking the same pre...colored or not. I feel like it gives the music a sense of direction...a distinct sound. Plus I know what to expect.
Nowadays there are so many great one-off pres to choose from that we have more options.

On a side note I did a preamp shootout and posted them here on the board about 6 months ago. The Mackie ONYX pres were easily as good as my Focusrite ISA 220....and actually beat out my custom made 1073 clone. Honestly...it was unanimous here on the board as well.

So...that is another perspective that don't mean nothing cept' what it is.

Much Respect,
#20
28th March 2006
Old 28th March 2006
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 6strings
I think your confusing him (Beatle) with me, the original poster.
Ouch...shyte...yeah, I dorked that up.

Sorry for the misplaced reference.

I should get more sleep.

- Jim
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