Perfect Medium-Format Live Console
If you are not engineering for an orchestra or a large live ensemble, you simply cannot do better than this board for the money. The Onyx preamps are literally studio-quality (to those of us with a "semi-pro" home studio), and if there are any other preamps out there that are better in a live format console, I guarantee that you will not be able to hear the difference in a live environment. So that you understand the comparison I am making here, I have to tell you that I traded in my brand new Allen & Heath GL2400 24-channel board for this Mackie Onyx 24-4. Most live sound guys will say I am crazy, right?? Well, it is all a matter of taste. The Mackie gives up nothing in the way of features to the Allen & Heath, and I could hear absolutely no difference in the sound quality that would be noticeable in a live environment. Since my smaller rehearsal boards have always been Mackies, this board just had a more familiar feel and layout to it. Some will prefer the divided channel section (with the master control section in the middle) of the Allen & Heath, but I personally want all my channels on the left with my master control section at the right end of the board, since all my monitor sends are done through the auxes. This is again just a matter of personal taste.
The big things that sold me on the Mackie vs the A&H (besides what I have already mentioned) are 1. The Price. The Mackie is roughly $300 cheaper, depending where you buy. 2. The Mackie gives you very useful little "handles" on each side of the board for easy movement, carrying, or positioning. 3. (And this is BIG!) The Mackie gives you an onboard compressor that is obviously missing from the A&H. I wish to lead noone to believe that this compressor is a studio-quality, boutique compressor, but in a live environment, on several channels you are simply looking for a compressor that will squash some peaks and level the channel out a bit. This onboard compressor works flawlessly in this situation. 4. The direct outs (on ALL channels, I might add) are DB25 on the Mackie, whereas they are 1/4" outs on the A&H. Again, personal preference, but I like to minimize the number of cables sticking out of my console, and the DB25 outs are perfect. 5. (This is not so important) The Mackie just looks REALLY COOL!!! In all seriousness, I just couldn't get used to the red/baby blue/yellow clown makeup color scheme of the pots and faders on the Allen & Heath.
The bottom line is that with this mixer, you get a whole lot more for your money than with the competition, and you don't sacrifice ANY quality, in my opinion. If you need more channels, just jump up the the 32-channel version. In any case, unless you are mixing sound for Aerosmith or Guns 'N Roses and you just have to have a Soundcraft or Midas board, go with this Mackie. I guarantee that you will fall in love with it just like I did!