I would like to speak about a tool that has worked consistently for me for many years, and improved my work product and workflow immensely.

The Mackie Onyx Blackjack 2×2 USB Recording Interface was a purchase I made years ago due to its price, ease of use, and quality.  It has since been my trusty workhorse for my electroacoustic, recording editor, and active-listening work.

Not only is it a rugged interface that is not like the cheap plastic-made interfaces most of us get at the entry level, its angled design allows it to fit on my desk with minimal footprint.  I am able to fit it into a space on my desk behind my laptop, under my second monitor, and out of the way of my external hard drive, studio monitors, etc:

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As you can see, it can perform a multitude of functions that have been instrumental to my work as a composer, guitarist, and student.

  1. You see the studio monitor I am using, a monitor known for its flat response.  This response is important for me, so that my mixes transfer well to any speaker a listener is using, from a car stereo to headphones to computer speakers.  This interface helps me examine mixes in detail, through its crystal-clear handling of my Logic work, MetaSynth sound design, recording and practicing guitar, and finished product playback.
  2. You’ll see a stereo 1/4″ cord running from the interface in front of the monitor.  This connects directly to my multi-effects pedal.  The Onyx Blackjack allows for both mic and line inputs, meaning that I can use this pedal to pump high-quality tone directly into Logic, or I can run my electric guitar directly into Logic to use its plugins, simulated amps, and effects.  In addition, I have had success recording my acoustic guitar with two SM57 microphones via the two preamps on this interface.  These are all simple uses, but they result in extremely detailed sound quality that I can rely on to sound like the professional I need to be.
  3. If I want to try out a tone on a guitar, I don’t have to use Logic.  I can use the input monitor to try out sounds directly from my simulated amps and pedals, to the interface, to my monitors.  I do rely on my physical amp for gigs and most practicing, but this ability to monitor input and control levels is great for trying out new tones.
  4. Furthermore, you may see the red cable connecting my headphones to the interface.  This interface has separate monitor and phones levels, which allow me to compose, mix, and practice loud, or just via headphones if it is too late to wake the neighbors.
  5. Lastly, this interface is super easy to use.  It is USB bus-powered, which means there is no power cord.  All you need is a standard USB port, which both connects the interface to your machine and powers it–at the same time!

Other features that have been useful to my home studio include:

  • Phantom power (for condenser mics).
  • Zero-latency recording (essential for my work in multi-tracking).
  • Angled design for easy access to inputs and outputs, while making sure that my desk area is not cluttered with cables.
  • Plug-and-play ability, for immediate use with my computer.
  • Ability to work with a variety of DAWs (Digital Audio Workstations).

I would recommend taking a look at this product on Amazon; it is truly worth every penny.

Happy composing, recording, editing, designing, mixing, mastering, practicing, and much more,

Dan

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