Which preamps would you choose between these:

Discussion in 'Recording/Live Sound' started by tjs, Mar 15, 2006.

  1. tjs

    tjs Senior Member

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    OK, it looks like there aren't a lot of people who have compared the Firepod, the Onyx 400F, and the Saffire, so I'll ask a slightly different question instead.

    Between Mackie Onyx (either the firewire interface or the mixers), Focusrite Platinum (which is most likely what they use in the Saffire interfaces), and Presonus (not sure which ones most closely compare to the ones in the Firepod) mic preamps, which would you choose?

    Also, since my real reason in asking this question is to find some basis for comparison between the Firepod, the Onyx 400F and the upcoming Saffire 26 Pro, any thoughts as to how they stack up in other attributes (A/D and D/A conversion, latency, reliability, other issues) are much welcome.

    Thanks.
     
  2. LSchefman

    LSchefman Member

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    A recent industry mag reviewed the recent Focusrite Octopre "Lite" version, 8 channel mic preamp, and rated it very highly, and I suspect that the Saffire would have pretty much the same stuff inside. One nice thing about Focusrite is that their higher priced British products do have a trickle down effect into their lower priced products, i.e., they actually do know how to make good sounding products, and can apply the lessons of that know-how to their budget gear. Their former collaboration with digidesign has certainly hipped them to software driver design.

    I haven't heard the new Mackie preamps. Like everyone else in the industry, I'm familiar with their earlier designs, and they sounded good for the money, certainly useful. Mackie is a helluva company, often overlooked on these boards, but their stuff is rugged and reliable.

    Presonus is a company that is improving its product line; they've got a new preamp that is designed by Anthony DeMaria, and it sounds very good. Whether this collaboration has trickled down to their other products, I can't say. I will bet that their next generation products will benefit from this collaboration.

    In all honesty, I think you'd be splitting hairs regarding the preamps that come on these interfaces in terms of sound quality, and IMHO making wise mic choices and getting software that works well with what you select is going to be far more important than anything else. It doesn't do one a lot of good to pick a box with a mic preamp that maybe sounds a tiny little fraction better than another one if it doesn't work well with your software, computer, etc.

    As to AD/DA conversion, I will bet that these all use the same chipset. None of them are going to sound appreciably different from one another in terms of audio conversion, and all will sound reasonably good.

    Some Presonus boxes had problems early on, but they have probably fixed those issues.

    Software compatibility, reliability, and feature sets will probably be more important things to concentrate on at this price level.
     
  3. MichaelK

    MichaelK Member

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    This basically sums up anything I would have written.

    Having owned products from all three lines, all things being equal (features, compatibility, ease of use etc.) I would lean toward Mackie just because I like their hardware. Focusrite would be my second choice – their little tiny black-on-silver numbers drive me crazy – and Presonus dead last. I've had three out of five Presonus products become doorstops under 2 years old (after the warranty period, natch). A sixth was dead right out of the box, which was replaced, of course. Their gear always sounds great when it works; that's never been an issue. Maybe Les is right and they've cleaned up their act, maybe not. I won't be the guy who researches it.
     
  4. clothwiring

    clothwiring Supporting Member

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    I picked up a used Focusrite Octopre LE and use the analog outs directly to my PT 888/24 I/O. I recently did a demo for the band that came out very nice. I am very happy.
     
  5. LSchefman

    LSchefman Member

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    >>I picked up a used Focusrite Octopre LE and use the analog outs directly to my PT 888/24 I/O. I recently did a demo for the band that came out very nice. I am very happy.<<

    This is the box that got the good review I read. It's supposed to be a killer value for drums especially.
     
  6. TAVD

    TAVD Guitar Player Gold Supporting Member

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    FWIW, the Saffire series use different preamps, more closely related to the green series than the platinum, but like Les has pointed out, it's still just spliting hairs.
     
  7. amper

    amper Member

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    In that price range, I opted for the M-Audio Octane, which has also gotten excellent reviews. The OctoPre's are nice, but for my purposes, the Octane has a better feature set and comparable quality. The Firepod is OK, but you can't use the pre's alone. I haven't checked out the Onyx yet, but I'm considering it for our live rig.

    But of the three you mention, I'd go with the Focusrite. I'd like to add a TwinTrak Pro to our recording system next, with the A/D board so I can take advantage of the extra two digital inputs on my M-Audio Delta 1010, and help work around the phantom power problem with the Octane (can only phantom 1-4 and 5-8 as groups, so if I'm only using two condensors, I've got two extra channels with 48V on, and I don't like running 48V into my dynamics, even if it's supposed to be safe).
     

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