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Old 30th June 2005
Gear Nut

Monitoring is best when absurdly clean. It's the only place in your system where a little distortion has absolutely no chance of helping you out. That being said, what kind of cassette deck? I once had a deck that had a passive output. I didn't even realize it until i powered it off one day and it continued to pass audio. A small mixer would not be passive, and personally i'd fear monitoring through a mackie. Also, passive doesn't neccesarily imply perfectly transparent. Lack of noise is a good sign, but, stuff like masking of transients, distortion, and uneven frequency response are also important, and much more subtle to detect. I think it all comes down to the quality of this deck, and whether money spent on a dedicated monitor controller would give a significant enough improvment for you.

(p.s. i'm not really a "seasoned" engineer, just lightly salted )