Today we are taking a look at the smaller and more affordable model in Mackie’s Onyx USB Audio Interface Series (the other being the pricier 2-2 version). Aimed at singer-songwriters, this entry-level two-channel audio interface is a compact but powerful device, which proves very popular among home users. It’s time to take a closer look!
Aesthetically speaking, there is nothing out of the ordinary when it comes to the design of the Onyx Artist 1-2 it looks like 90% of the other budget audio interfaces out there (apart from the cool Mackie logo watermarked on to the chassis!).
Build-wise, you only need Mackie’s trademarked ‘Built-Like-A-Tank’ design name to give you a clue to its durability. It certainly is put together to withstand some abuse, with a sturdy black metal chassis that gives an all-round rugged feel. Standing at 6.4” wide and 4.5” deep, it is also a compact little machine, which would sit inconspicuously in a home studio with no problems. Equally, this means it’s great for travelling around with.
Under the hood, the USB 2.0-powered 1-2 features premium Mackie circuitry with a renowned Onyx mic preamp for superb fidelity. For connecting instruments such as electric and bass guitars, there is a 1/4” TRS input with a Hi-Z switch, while connecting studio mics is easy with the XLR and +48v phantom power switch. As is typical, both sit neatly on the front of the device, along with individual gain controls. The headphone jack also sits on the front, while around the back you’ll find the balanced TRS monitor outputs.
As a bonus, it also comes with the multi award-winning Tracktion T7 DAW – the full software as opposed to a ‘lite’ version – as well as Mackie’s DAW Essentials Collection plugin bundle. Both prove a solid inclusion, especially for beginners to audio recording and editing.
The Onyx Artist 1-2 is compatible with Mac and PC, and – while it comes with a copy of Tracktion T7 – this interface is compatible with all DAWs. Which is good, because you’ll want to use it to its full potential.
The overall performance is surprisingly solid for an entry-level device. The sound quality is nothing short of excellent, with natural replication of an instrument’s tone, 24-bit/192kHz recording, and no-latency monitoring. Meanwhile, the controls all feel very sturdy and responsive, while the USB power port makes it excellent for use on the go – just plug into your device and you are off!
It’s not perfect, but for under $100, this is a solid audio interface that performs well. In all honesty, it’s exactly what we’d expect from Mackie – quality! For home studios and recording on the go (especially when you can throw this in a bag and know it will last the journey) the Onyx Artist 1-2 is a smart choice.