Mackie Big Knob

Future Music - - CONTENTS -

A long over­due up­date to a clas­sic de­sign. Jon Mus­grave sizes up the new fea­tures on Mackie’s flag­ship mon­i­tor con­troller

Mackie’s orig­i­nal Big Knob mon­i­tor con­troller is pretty much an in­dus­try stan­dard. Even so, with more than ten years on the clock, it’s time things moved on, and you now have three brand new de­signs to choose from – Pas­sive, Stu­dio and Stu­dio+.

Although vis­ually sim­i­lar to its pre­de­ces­sor, the top of the range Big Knob Stu­dio+ is in fact part mon­i­tor con­troller and part two-in/four-out USB au­dio in­ter­face. This is a log­i­cal pro­gres­sion but inevitably makes the sig­nal flow a bit more com­plex (more on that shortly). Con­nec­tiv­ity-wise how­ever, things are very fa­mil­iar. The Stu­dio+ can ser­vice three sets of mon­i­tors and two pairs of head­phones, and all five in­clude in­di­vid­ual trim or level con­trols. There’s also a ded­i­cated Stu­dio out­put with level and on/off but­ton that could feed ei­ther a ded­i­cated head­phone dis­tri­bu­tion amp or live area mon­i­tor­ing. Fi­nally, there’s also a main two-track out­put (+4/-10dB). All out­puts are 1/4” jacks wired for bal­anced and un­bal­anced use.

You get eight in­puts in to­tal. Two pairs (la­belled 3/4 and 5/6) pro­vide line level in­put, with 5/6 repli­cated on the front in 1/8” jack for­mat. In­puts 1 and 2 are Onyx mic pres and th­ese combi con­nec­tors can han­dle mic, line and in­stru­ment sig­nals and in­clude global phan­tom power. A fur­ther pair of in­puts (Aux Mix/Cue In) are de­signed solely to feed the cue bus and could be used to source an al­ter­na­tive cue mix (from a sep­a­rate mixer for ex­am­ple). On the sub­ject of in­puts, Stu­dio+ in­cludes not only an in­te­grated talk­back mic but also a ded­i­cated XLR mic in­put. Both can be ac­ti­vated via foot switch. One thing miss­ing, though, is the orig­i­nal’s ded­i­cated turntable in­put.

Again, adding an in­ter­face makes the Stu­dio+ sig­nal flow both more ca­pa­ble but also more com­plex. Still, the key con­cept re­mains the same, namely one stereo mon­i­tor­ing bus (2-Track), which feeds the mon­i­tors, and one stereo cue bus (Cue). The 2-Track bus has in­di­vid­ual switches to source the stereo in­puts in pairs (1/2, 3/4 and 5/6) plus in­ter­face out­puts 1 and 2 (USB), with out­put con­trolled via the large Vol­ume knob and as­so­ci­ated Mono, Mute and Dim switches. The Cue bus has three in­put op­tions – the phys­i­cal Aux In, Source (what­ever 2-Track sources are se­lected, mi­nus in­puts 1 and 2), and USB out­puts 3/4 from your DAW. For zero la­tency mon­i­tor­ing, the Cue mix can be blended with in­puts 1 and 2 us­ing the Di­rect Mon­i­tor­ing knob, and each Phone’s out­put can se­lect in­de­pen­dently be­tween Cue or 2-Track. Fi­nally, for fur­ther flex­i­bil­ity, the USB in­put to your DAW can re­ceive ei­ther the Mic in­puts or the blend from the 2-Track bus.

The back­lit but­tons are a ma­jor bonus, but me­ter­ing could be more ex­ten­sive (ie out­put and in­put op­tions). Over­all, the Big Knob Stu­dio+ is much more pow­er­ful than its pre­de­ces­sor, with a fea­ture set that gives a unique combo of mon­i­tor­ing, talk­back and in­ter­fac­ing.

Over­all, the Big Knob Stu­dio+ is much more pow­er­ful than its pre­de­ces­sor

CON­TACT WHO: Po­lar Au­dio / Mackie WEB: po­ / KEY FEA­TURES Freq Re­sponse at unit gain: 20Hz to 20kHz +/- 0.5dB Max level be­fore clip­ping i/o: +22dBu At­ten­uat ion: Mute -60dB, Dim -20dBu I/Os: bal­anced/ un­bal­anced 1/4” jack and XLR, un­bal­anced 1/8” Jack, USB 2.0 up to 24-bit, 192kHz

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