The Compact Audio Device You Should Never Leave Home Without: Mackie ONYX BlackJack


During my off-hours, I moonlight in the broadcasting world. I work live events ranging from full talk shows to live concert broadcasts; and carrying large cases, or shipping them, is not that practical–especially when you’re flying for 6 hours and airlines cap your checked baggage at “1.” So, in my search for a compact recording device capable of using two live mics, I stumbled upon the Mackie ONYX BlackJack 2×2 USB Audio interface. Although I was expecting to shell out 300-400$, I was pleasantly surprised by a price tag below $150.
The Mackie Onyx BlackJack is a compact (very compact) USB device that basically acts as a small, external sound card–letting you jack in two microphones or line inputs, and monitor via the headphone jack or monitor outputs. It’s powered 100% by USB–which means no extra power supply is needed–and features Mackie’s awesome pre-amps for crystal clear sound. The built-in DI inputs let you directly connect guitars, basses, keyboards and more, while the 48v phantom power and XLR inputs let you use the highest quality studio condenser microphones.

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Because it’s a USB device, it makes it an ideal solution for being on the road, recording events, podcasts–heck, even if your event is large and you don’t want to rely on an on-board sound card, this really may be the perfect solution for you. Featuring Mackie’s superb Onyx mic pre-amps, you know you’re getting superior quality sound; but the fact that you’re getting it in such a small package is what really makes the ONYX Blackjack stand out. Zero latency recording means you hear exactly what is being recorded with no delay, also making it an ideal recording partner for anywhere. Of course, being a “road-ready” device applies to more than just the technology on the inside–it also has to be rugged on the outside. To that end, Mackie has also made sure to give the ONYX BlackJack a full metal chassis, ensuring its safety when out and about.

Small enough to fit in your carry bag, your laptop will provide all the juice necessary to power it up–and even pass through Phantom power if your device requires it. Some colleagues have used it for Podcast recordings from live events,   or even on an airplane (not recommended with all that background noise)–while others use the microphone input and line input for a compact vocal/keyboard setup.

Since the Blackjack is an audio interface, that means virtually all recording software instantly recognizes it and allows you to choose it for either input or output; in fact, you could have no sound whatsoever on your device, and this little gem will fill in the gap…and likely do an even better job. On a Mac, no drivers are required, while some PC users will need to install the downloadable drivers from Mackie’s website. Compatible software suites include Logic, SONAR, Cubase, Ableton Live, Final Cut Pro, Adobe Audition and much more.

blackjack_rearAmateurs and audiophiles alike will rejoice when plugging in the Onyx Blackjack for the first time; its ease-of-use and portability make it invaluable and a must-have for any production kit. From the smallest for recording needs to the largest studios that need a simple way to get their signal into their computers, the Blackjack delivers flawlessly. Find it at and other online retailers, as well as your favorite local audio shops.