Question about Mackie Onyx Firewire Card

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I need to place all pan pots at 12:30 to 1:00 to get L = R on a mono (l = R) signal into my Mackis Firewire card. I would like L = R to be the normal DETENT in all pan pots. BTW: with all pan pots at DETENT, L = R on VU LEDs. When at 12:30 to 1:00, the VU LEDs are L > R, but recording data for L is equal to recording data for R. I would like to make permanent change on the Firewire card. I need the schematic for this.

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The firewire card is all digital and you can't rewire it to bias the pan pots.

You need to do further troubleshooting of this problem before doing any changes.

Wire the L and R lines into the card with a wye connector to guarantee the same signal as a first step. With the pan's at 12 o'clock what do the VU's in the computer show?

There are many possible causes so finding the root cause is important. With the L and R wyed into the inputs, if the VU sensed by the computer is much different (over 1 Db different, then the interface needs work. The problem is likely in the input circuitry and they may have gain pots available. One could damage one side of the inout circuits by improper use or overdriving the input. ALWAYS connect all interconnected electronics to the SAME power source. If power is taken from receptacles at the opposite ends of a room this invites damage due to common mode noise spikes.

From the BTW thing you included, it sounds to me like there is a gain mismatch in the front end of the card... HOWEVER I need the test with the wye cable as you MIGHT have a condition of either a vast difference in the driving impedance between the two sides OR an insidious thing you can't see like a suspesonic feedback that you can't hear but is disturbing the VU indicators.

Venturing a guess as to probable cause, I suspect that the input circuits of one side may be damaged by a static discharge. DO NOT count on the VU led's being accurate as they MAY be totally independent of the conversion hardware.

Another gotcha that can bite is if you are using XLR cables and one has a broken or miswired signal line. Again. the wye cable test will verify this.

Posted on Aug 25, 2010

  • sj_mr_freela Aug 26, 2010

    All power comes from one receptacle. A scope shows nothing funny, Already did the wye experiment: 1220 LED VUs: L=R, Tracktion VUs: L > R by 3 - 6 dB, and more importantly, the digital recording shows the same problem when compared to what the scope sees at the wye input. I believe equal LED VUs indicates (within the binning of each LED) equal signals into the Firewire card. I know the card is all digital, with the exception of the analog front end where I believe (and you correctly observed) " there is a gain mismatch ...." Without a schematic, I can only make an educated guess where this is. The schematic would show the L and R input stages, possible pots, part values, etc. Is it available?

  • Fred Yearian Aug 26, 2010

    Myself, as an electrical engineer, I would trace out enough of the input circuitry. You should have input trimming pots NEAR the input connectors (if they exist at all), possibly right behind the input op amps.

    The manufacturers really are stingy with schematics and I have not found one for this unit yet.

    If you are using XLR connectors OR TRS input, trace AND check the continuity of those. Expect the two balanced lines to go to an op amp first. You should find the layout is RELATIVELY symetrical so you can compare sides. Verify with the ohmeter continuity to the input resistor network.

    I suspect that one side of a balanced line MIGHT not be connected which would result in a 6 Db difference. This could be bad solder at the connector or scratched or cracked circuit board.

    ANOTHER possibilty is that MOST of these circuits have small capacitors for noise suppression to ground from each balanced line wire AND these often get shorted due to static. This results in a 6 Db loss on input.

    Google op amps for typical circuits.


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