Mackie 1620i Review – Warning!

You may have seen a Mackie 1620i Firewire mixer available from your local music store. Before purchasing this unit I advise you that there is a serious issue with this mixer. It’s so serious that it makes this unit a near perfect 9/10 to about a 2/10! Read on!

After purchasing and testing this model, I’m going to write a review. I’m not going to repeat the obvious specifications, because they’re available from:

First off I’ll start with the good, and they’re mostly good! Then read on the for terrible badness!

Sound Quality –
It’s advertised as 24bit, 96kHz, it sounds alright. My ear’s cannot tell the difference between 16bit and 24bit anyway.

Connectivity –
What’s cool is that the 4 mono sends each have a stereo return! These 4 sends result in 4 stereo returns (as 8 balanced TRS jacks) to the main stereo mix. Because there is no panning, you’ll have to do the L/R balance manually from the return source, but it’s still cool!

3-4 Stereo Bus
Not well advertised is the fact that this unit has an additional stereo output bus apart from the main LR mix.
The 3-4 bus doesn’t have it’s own volume control, and inputs are assigned to this bus when you ‘MUTE’ them.

Monitoring –
There monitoring options allow you to select any combination of the:
Main L/R Bus
3-4 Bus
Firewire Audio from the PC
and Tape Input

You can also choose to route the 3/4 Bus, Firewire from PC and Tape Input to the Main L/R Bus.
There is also a Talkback push button on the mixer which has an inbuilt condensor mic which allows you to talk to the phones and/or auxiliaries.

Otherwise the rest is just a standard mixer with all the usual EQs, Aux and Fader knobs.

Firewire –
This review wouldn’t be complete without a mention of this aspect. This unit allows all channels 1-16 to be sent (pre or post) via Firewire to the PC for recording or effects processing & return.

There are quite a few buttons which change the configuration, and although confusing near the start, once you get familiar with it, it’s somewhat straightforward.

One button allows you to replace Inputs 15-16 with the Main L/R Bus signal
Another allows you to replace Inputs 13-14 with the Aux 1-2 signals.

The Bad. So you’ve come to the part which makes this unit a great unit for DAW/Mixer interface to a poor unit. I have one gripe about it, and to me it’s a major one.

Firewire outputs –
You only get two. That’s fine. However, when you output to them from the PC, there is NO WAY of having it cut off completely from the Phones output or Main Output.

But wait, you might be asking, wasn’t there that Firewire 1-2 switch that you can assign to Inputs 15-16 and/or to the Headphone monitoring mix. Well yes there is, but even if you disengage these switches, it seems that there is a BUG!

I’ve found that despite disengaging the Firewire Output from the Mixer altogether, by toggling both switches (see below), the mixer still annoyingly outputs a faint audio signal from the Firewire! Ouch! Big black mark for you Mackie 1620i Firewire Mixer!

Mackie Error

I emailed Mackie about this problem and they are yet to respond!
Their after sales support is extremely poor – beware! I’ll keep you guys posted and updated on any news I hear back. Otherwise I’d stay away from the Mackie 1620i as it’s got software bugs in it!

Do you own a similar model? Do you have the same or similar issues? I’d love to hear from you, feel free to post a comment!


3 thoughts on “Mackie 1620i Review – Warning!

  1. I got a response from Mackie!

    “The Onyx 1620i only has a single stereo return, and as long as FW1-2 is disengaged at the top of channel 15-16, and disengaged in the control room/source section, you shouldn’t get any playback from your computer. If you are still getting playback from your computer through the Onyx 1620i, the best thing would be to contact us when in front of your recording setup, so we can walk through a few things. If you are having a setup issue, often times, it is easier to walk through trouble shooting steps over the phone. The best thing may be to contact us during business hours so we can go over your setup. We are open Monday-Friday (8AM-4PM PST), except Thursday (8AM-3PM PST)”
    I did this and it still has the issue. This issue has also been confirmed on the other Mackie i series mixers by other users.

    I suppose bad publicity is good publicity!

  2. Your right …if I turn everything to max …I can just about perceive some leakage….on a purist level it’s a big no no…..but in reality it doesn’t bother me at all.

  3. hey man, thanks for the review. I also saw it on Gearslutz. I am considering buying one of these mixers – any news on this issue? Any way round it that you know of? Also does the stray signal bleed into subsequent recordings on the computer? Thanks a lot

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