Guitar Musician e-zine 09/27/2006
In This Issue:
"Approach your guitar intelligently, and if there are limits, don't deny them. Work within your restrictions. Somethings you can do better than others, some things you can't do as well. So accentuate the positive."
- Chet Atkins
I am writing to say what an excellent product you have! I've used it all of my married life, as my Mom always told me it was the best. Now that I am in my fifties I find it even better! In fact, about a month ago, I spilled some red wine on my new white blouse. My inconsiderate and uncaring husband started to belittle me about how clumsy I was, and generally started becoming a pain in the neck. One thing led to another and somehow I ended up with his blood on my new white blouse!
I grabbed my bottle of Tide with bleach alternative, and to my surprise and satisfaction, all of the stains came out! In fact, the stains came out so well the detectives who came by yesterday told me that the DNA tests on my blouse were negative and then my attorney called and said that I was no longer considered a suspect in the disappearance of my husband.
What a relief! Going through menopause is bad enough without being a murder suspect! I thank you, once again, for having a great product!
A Lesson For The Learning
Interested in guitar lessons? - Be sure and check out the guitar lessons offered by Andrew Koblick at Amazing Guitar
Mackie Onyx 400F FireWire Interface
Premium computer-based recordingBy Oscar Sommers
Over the past few years FireWire recording interfaces have proliferated like dandelions on a summer lawn. If you hang out at Harmony Central, read any recording mags, or browse the recording section of Musician’s Friend, you’ve likely noticed what I’m talking about. Computer recording with a FireWire interface works for a lot of reasons. FireWire gets audio in and out of your computer fast, is easily portable, works reliably, and has a big bandwidth that gives you lots of headroom and audio channels.
While it may be easy to find a FireWire computer audio interface these days, it becomes a lot harder if you want a truly professional all-in-one unit—one that is rugged enough to go on the road and has the audio quality you need for critical studio recordings. Lots of FireWire interfaces do one or the other, but the Mackie Onyx 400F does both extremely well. It delivers all the benefits of FireWire as well as the pristine circuitry and premium analog preamps you need for serious recording too. It is capable of the highest resolution available (192kHz), has four of Mackie’s stunning Onyx microphone preamps, boasts Mackie’s legendary build excellence, and comes with a full version of Tracktion 2 recording software.
With its first-rate sound, the Onyx 400F competes with interfaces that retail for twice as much. And while the 400F costs more than an entry-level FireWire interface, its features blow them out of the water. This 24-bit/192kHz computer recording interface boasts 10 channels of I/O including S/PDIF on channels 9 and 10, 1x1 MIDI interface, 10x10 DSP mixer, and 64-bit floating-point processing. Combined with the Onyx preamps, that means you don’t have to shell out big bucks for a studio-quality microphone preamp or mixer when you get a 400F.
The 400F is billed by Mackie as a "Superior recording preamp and FireWire interface in a single box." I put it through a variety of recording applications and at the end of the day I have to agree with their assessment. I liked the Onyx preamps as well as any preamp I’ve ever used on a computer interface, mixer, or outboard preamp. I think you’d have to spend twice as much money on an outboard preamp to get a performance equal to the 400F. The Onyx pres have a warm high-fidelity sound that’s spacious, deep, and clean. Everything I recorded with the 400F had more detail with a big 3-D soundstage; a sonic characteristic I’ve previously only heard from mega-buck studio consoles.
Mackie designed the circuitry in the rest of the 400F to be just as hi-fi as the preamps. It has superior analog circuitry, extremely high-quality converters, and an advanced DSP chip to handle the 400F’s 64-bit processing. The analog-to-digital converter chipset comes from the Digital X Bus and boasts a 192kHz sampling rate. These converters process the audio from the analog circuitry fully intact, without missing a single harmonic or transient in your music. The DSP duties are handled by a custom-designed, 64-bit Texas Instruments chip that trumps any other DSP chip currently available.
The 400F also has an impressive level of flexibility. Using the DSP mixing software that ships with the 400F, you can set up a mix on your computer, save it, then unplug the 400F and take it with you to use as a 10x10 rackmount mixer or patchbay. Another super-cool feature lets you daisy-chain multiple 400Fs through the extra FireWire port on the primary 400F to create one monstrous audio interface. It also has dual independent headphone jacks, monitor level control, TRS inserts on the four Onyx preamp channels, and a generous plug-in bundle aimed at professional productions.
The Tracktion 2 recording and sequencing software that comes with the 400F is extremely versatile too. Designed from the ground up to be fast, intuitive, and powerful, Tracktion doesn’t get in your way. It’s a fresh approach to DAW software that simplifies everything and gives you a single uncluttered window with all the things you need and nothing you don’t. Tracktion also only takes up about 35MB of space on your hard drive and uses up the least processing power of any recording software I’ve seen.
When you buy the 400F you get the whole enchilada: first-class analog preamps and advanced digital circuitry combined with intuitive software that make recording easy. When it comes to single-box recording solutions, the 400F is it.
Features & Specs:
Onyx 400F features:
GUITAR Q AND A
Advice for New Guitarists
Robyn Adams; San Antonio, TX
Q: I am brand new to playing the Guitar. I know and understand the parts of the Guitar and I can read music so I am confident that I will be able to figure out reading tablature. I get frustrated when I watch the DVD and try to play along because I try to play the chords with the video and I don't know if I am holding too tight or what, but the beautiful sound of a guitar is not the sound that comes out. It sounds like I am holding the strings too tight and cutting out the sound.
Do you have any idea what I am doing wrong and/or any advise on how to correct this? I would definitely appreciate any help you can offer.
A: The first few months of learning guitar is the most difficult. You are building calluses on your finger tips and developing coordination with your fingers. Proper posture is key and this is when all the good habits have to be built. Be patient with consistent practice and you will see improvements soon.
A few tips that may help you are:
Hope this helps!
Yours in Music
Tech Tip - Unsung Studio Accessories
Everybody knows the basic components of the project studio: mics, recorders, mixers, monitors, compression, and effects. This week, we'll take a look at a couple of unsung heroes of the studio that belong on every engineer's must-have list—DI boxes and cables.
One of the most common uses of the DI box is to record bass guitars without mics or amps, though it can also be useful for synths, guitars, and other unbalanced, hi-impedance sources. They range from simple, unpowered lo-Z in/hi-Z out to powered DIs with effects and multichannel. I keep a couple of super-inexpensive Whirlwind IMPs around for general purposes and an Aguilar D900 tube DI for the good stuff.
I could write an entire article on cables alone, but the differences generally come down to a matter of materials, construction, and connectors. And yes, expensive cables do sound better than cheap ones—perhaps because they are better shielded, use premium conductors, or use all-metal connectors instead of metalized plastic. However, there's no need to go overboard. If you're buying a $99 four-track recorder, you don't need to use a $500 cable. On the other hand, hooking up $5,000 studio monitors with a 22-gauge lamp cord... well, there oughta be a law against it!
My own rule of thumb is to buy the best cable I can afford. That usually hovers around 25% of my overall gear budget. I often use Hosa for line-level gear because it offers a lot of bang for the buck. For balanced-output gear I'll go with Pro Co cables and snakes, and use Monster Cables for my high-end stuff.
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