Imaging is impressive on the S8. I’ve mixed on NS10’s, JBL 4208 and 4312, and various Genelec and Tannoy models. The S8 is not as pretty-sounding as a Genelec, but I prefer it that way. Some Tannoy monitors, especially the older concentric units, are cleaner than the S8 but not by much.
The first I heard of this was from someone who left a comment on my MySpace profile. Then I got a couple of text messages from some very excited friends. Apparently, Blender magazine set out to name the best 500 pop songs released since 1980. By their count, the original pool was almost three quarters of a million tunes. After eliminating 743,102 of them, the final results were in.
The nice thing about a review of this large LCD panel is that I don’t need to say much. I bought it to use as a computer display (see other uses below). I plugged it into the PowerBook via DVI when it first arrived, and it sprung to life at full 1920 x 1200 resolution immediately. I temporarily used it on my 5-year-old G4 with a graphics card which could only manage 1280 x 1024 pixels. The display had options to fully stretch that signal to fill the screen, stretch it proportionally and pillarbox, or simply show it 1:1 with black on all borders. I chose the latter for top quality.
I had sworn off Sweetwater years ago, and now I remember why. Even though their website implies that the Mackie 400F is in stock, and my “personal sales rep” has told me twice now that they would be in in a matter of days, none of this is actually true. Worse, I had to contact him via voicemail and email and wait for the unfortunate answer every time. When I asked if I could be bumped up to express shipping because of the wait, he tells me I’d have to ask Mackie. Hold on, isn’t that why I have a “personal sales rep?” Laughable.
Now that the product is official, more details have been announced which made this decision even easier. When used with OS X, the Mackie 400F uses native CoreAudio drivers. This doesn’t quite mean it’s officially supported by Apple, but it should ensure compatibility at the OS level. Echo Audio actually designed the “brains” of this new interface, a chipset called Fireworks. That’s where the native CoreAudio compatibility comes from, as well as the ability to create custom internal routing and other good things. This gives the Mackie box instant history, as Echo has been making Mac and PC audio interfaces for years.