Mackie Big Knob Studio+ Review

Flexibility is key in any recording situation; the ability to swap hardware without having to go through and re-patch cables and devices keeps the gremlins at bay and maintains good workflow. Mackie’s Big Knob Studio+ acts like a complete studio monitor command station without eating into desk space or budget. Plus, it’s an audio interface all-in-one!

With two combo XLR inputs running into Mackie’s ONYX preamp circuit, as well as four line ins, standard connections are well covered. Phantom power is also available for studio condenser mics that need it. Connect it to a computer, and it has no issues interfacing to any recording software. Very simple.

Sound-wise the ONYX preamps are surprisingly nice and plugging instruments in directly gives a tight articulate response, and vocal mics work equally well with no hiss, distortion or overt coloring. The individual personality of mics come through incredibly well at this price point.

Connectivity is the name of the game on the rear panel with the ability to plug in three sets of monitors, as well as headphone amp outs. For more control room friendly situations, there are a pair of headphone outs on the front panel. 2-track stereo outs, as well as talkback mic input and footswitch reside here, too. Communication between the control room and a live room is always problematic and setting up a talkback mic can eat into a track (or input) that could be used for tracking. The internal talkback mic works great, just a press of a button saves the time of having to get up, go to the recording room, talk to the artist and then walk back, and get back into recording mode. This feature alone can keep artists in the zone, without disruption. Save time. Save money.

While the big honkin’ master knob in the center is the focus physically, the smaller controls around it really brings the A Game, making selection of monitor ins and outs literally a button push away — no having to reach around or undo panels to move cables around. The ability to run a work-in-progress through a variety of speakers is great, especially when in the mixing/mastering stages of a project. Toggling across different monitors is super-easy and seeing where certain things sit in mixes across different speaker types is well worth the price of admission.

Finding separate solutions to give any of these features, like a separate monitor switcher, an interface, talk back mic, etc. would drain a wallet, as well as clutter a workspace. Adding or adapting that mess for various sessions would be a nightmare, to say the least. For a studio that does a lot of work in the overdub/singer songwriter/hip-hop type recording sessions where just a few inputs would do, this is great, and should have no issues. When it gets to the mixing and mastering end of things and dialing in mixes across various speakers, this is indispensable. It’s one of those, “I wish I had this years ago” items that can make future sessions a breeze.

PROS:

Hyper flexible, options galore, great price.

CONS:

None.

STREET PRICE:

$299

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2 Comments

  1. Phil Tompsett

    October 21, 2018 at 2:25 pm

    Sadly doesn’t work with recent versions of Mac OS and perhaps this should be noted as a con. Thanks

    • Benjamin Ricci

      October 22, 2018 at 2:25 pm

      We tested ours on a Mac running a current version of OSX and had no issues.

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