Beck’s Bassist Acquires Mackie Onyx for Home Studio

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Justin Meldal-Johnson in his home studio

Justin Meldal-Johnsen has seen a lot of travel in the past decade or so, but he’s slowing to a lower gear, at least temporarily. As a member of Beck’s band, he’s accompanied the artist on several world tours, as well as projects with artists including Tori Amos, Garbage, Marianne Faithful, Air, Nelly Furtado, Courtney Love, Nikki Costa and his current project, Ima Robot.

Lately however, Meldal-Johnsen has been keeping closer to home, enjoying a new baby and a producing a wide range of projects from his project studio in his Los Angeles-area home. Equipment includes a modest Pro Tools setup, solid mic collection and outboard gear, along with a Mackie Control, Big Knob and Mackie HR624 monitors.

A pair of ceiling-high racks house an eclectic gear collection that includes new, vintage and flea market finds.

One of his newer toys is the Mackie Onyx 800R mic pre. “The day I set it up, I recorded my bass straight into the instrument inputs. Then I recorded the same bass into some early 1970’s vintage mic preamps I use all the time. I’ve always used those vintage pre’s as a benchmark, because they’re very fat and a little dark. They’ve got a bit of grit and are a tiny bit noisy, and I really like that.”

“When I put the bass through the Onyx, I have to say I was completely shocked; the Onyx had all the fatness, and also this little extra ‘thing’ the vintage pre didn’t have. It was like 3-D. Most of the modern channel strips and DI’s I’ve listened to have this clinical, glassy sound. But I think a lot of professionals with high-end project studios will be in for a surprise when they A/B this with their expensive preamps.”

Meldal-Johnsen adds, “Keyboards sound amazing through it. I also did some acoustic guitar with it, and it was tremendous—super quiet, lots of space. And for vocals, the older pre’s aren’t known for having a lot of air on top, but the Onyx pre’s put it right back in there.”

For more information on the 800R and other Mackie products, visit www.mackie.com.