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RME Fireface 400/Steinberg MR816X/Mackie Onyx 400F Audio Interfaces
Old 31st March 2009
Gear interested

Thread Starter
RME Fireface 400/Steinberg MR816X/Mackie Onyx 400F

Hey guys,

I need help deciding between the RME Fireface 400, the Steinberg MR816X and the Mackie Onyx 400F. At this point, I'm thinking these guys will outperform for example the Motu Ultralite, the MBox 2 Pro (where PT is not concerned), etc. By the way, I'm using PC, just to help you help me.

Basically I need an interface specifically for recording vocals and acoustic guitars, so I probably really only need 2 preamps (i'll be using the Rode NTK for a start, and might get a small diaphragm soon later). My issue is I am highly concerned with the sound quality I'll be able to achieve with either one of these interfaces without needing to get external preamps (at least for awhile), or worrying about the converters.

The music is very Damien Rice-y open and vulnerable, so quality (which I'm presuming the NTK is capable on its part) is key, and yet I cannot afford anything more than the MR816X. Quality in terms of audio (priority), and durability or build, is what I am after.

Please help in any way you can! I've been going dizzy from my indecisiveness (which I believe is of good reason: noobism).
Old 31st March 2009
Have you thought about the Echo Audiofire 12 or 8? the 12 is like $500 - 600, and the 8 is somewhere in the $400 range. The 12 is just 12 converters, the 8 has 2 pre's as well, they are great quality, and you can daisy chain them to get many channels. Look them up here on GS. They sound awesome, really they belong in the camp of high end converters


Reicher Recording - Gear Rebbe
Old 31st March 2009
Gear Addict
White Falcon's Avatar
I did not like the sound of the AF12 converters, grainy and "over the top". If you look at echos site you'll find that there are two different versions of AF12s out there; you'll find this info under FAQ.
Old 31st March 2009
I was making the same decision and decided to get the MR816X. I'm happy with it and now I'm not worried about the converters being an issue.
Old 31st March 2009
Gear Head

I've used the RME Fireface 400 and Mackie 400F. Unlike some people, I really liked the 400F, although I agree that the high freq is a bit hyped (but it does sound more open). RME is known for their driver stability (although not particularly low latency due to firewire), but on the other hand the Onyx Pres are not bad. The fireface is also significantly more expensive. If I have to choose between the two, I'd get a 400F from ebay for $500.
Old 1st April 2009
Gear interested

Thread Starter
Something smells fishy with the 400F, great preamps, tracktion included, big brand name... exactly where have they cut corners? I'm not complaining about the price, just a little concerned.

Steinberg also seems like quite a steal, 8 D-Pre preamps? wow. cubase included. more understandable as it is relatively new, and the price of course is a big difference than the Mackie.

I always believe that you get what you pay for... the RME seems like the safer bet doesnt it? there has to be a reason why they only offer two preamps, less I/O, but does stability really cost that much when other interfaces like the 816 and 400F cant possibly be far off?
Old 1st April 2009
Lives for gear
jimcroisdale's Avatar

MR816 here and loving it.

Preamps and converters are the biz, no doubt about it.

Must admit to having teething trouble getting it working though. Mind you, scrapping Vista and going back to XP solved 99% immediately.

Old 1st April 2009
Lives for gear
CassidyGT's Avatar

The Mackie 400f is a really solid unit. Great pres, excellent conversion. I had one and actually regret selling it. i was trying to upgrade, but I didn't get any upgrade in any area really.
Old 2nd April 2009
Originally Posted by White Falcon View Post
I did not like the sound of the AF12 converters, grainy and "over the top". If you look at echos site you'll find that there are two different versions of AF12s out there; you'll find this info under FAQ.
I guess I got the good ones then!!! 'cause they sound crystal clear! Probably the AKM converters.


Reicher Recording - Gear Rebbe
Old 11th April 2009
Gear addict

How do the Steinberg Pre's and converters compare to the Mackie Onyx?
Old 26th January 2010
Gear interested

Hey Guys,

I'm new to GS. I was wondering how do you setup multiple different monitor mixes using the MR816x in SONAR?? I'm goin to purchase it and was just trying to see how to do this. Thanks!!
Old 26th January 2010
Lives for gear
matyas's Avatar

I know this wasn't on your list, but it's worth looking at the TC Electronic Studio Konnekt 48. It got some less than favorable press when it first came out, but they've solved the driver issues, and it's so far working well for me on both Mac (with Logic 8) and Windows (Samplitude 11), though to be fair I haven't had it very long. However, the pres are solid, the conversion rocks, and the plugins (which run on the unit, freeing up CPU cycles) alone are worth the price of admission. They can be had for a very reasonable price indeed!
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