Whither the M-Audio Ozonic?
September 8, 2016 6:52 PM   Subscribe

Seeking relatively cheap device(s) to feed keyboard/MIDI, electric guitar/.25" DI, and mic/XLR into a modern Mac for GarageBand fun, without additional pre-amps needed.

Collecting dust in my basement, I have an old Ozonic 25-key MIDI controller. When I bought it, it was a great tool for fooling around with digital audio recording through GarageBand—it was a single FireWire device that could be used to input keyboards, guitars, and mic inputs, without requiring external preamps, and it cost under $400. As far as I know, it would still work, but M-Audio doesn’t support it anymore, and there aren’t any drivers that work with current versions of MacOS.

I haven’t kept up with the technology at all, obviously, and my standards are, shall we say, less than audiophile, but I’d love to have something similar to play around with. The newer M-Audio Oxygen keyboards don’t seem to offer 1/4" or XLR inputs. Is there a single device that will do what the Ozonic used to? If not, is there a decent combination that can do it for around $3–400?
posted by nicepersonality to Media & Arts (8 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Focusrite Scarlett Solo is pretty good for a hobbyist quality audio interface. I've never used mine for vocals but use it every day for playing guitar and bass through amp simulators or for recording. MIDI keyboards usually just connect by USB now.
posted by thelonius at 7:01 PM on September 8, 2016 [1 favorite]

In that price range, you've got a lot of options, but yeah - I don't see a lot of combinations as you describe anymore. The line of demarcation would be between the MIDI controller and the audio interface. You could definitely spend under $400 for a decent example of each.

Here's a combo that's $200, all told, just to give you an idea:

- Audio interface
- MIDI controller

(you can of course do better for a bit more money - if it were me, I'd put the extra money into the audio interface part)
posted by destructive cactus at 7:02 PM on September 8, 2016 [1 favorite]

It looks like the ozonic does have midi in/out, so assuming it still turns on one option might be to just buy an audio interface and keep using the ozonic as a keyboard/controller over midi instead of firewire. That allows you to allocate a bit more money to the audio interface, which I agree is worth spending money on. I'm very happy with my focusrite scarlett 6i6.
posted by advil at 8:08 PM on September 8, 2016 [1 favorite]

What advil said. The Scarlett 2i4 is the lowest-end Focusrite interface with MIDI, but I personally went for the 6i6 because it means you could, e.g., record wet/dry simultaneously when using external effects. (Somewhat misleadingly, the 6i6 only has 4 analog inputs/outputs. The other 2 are S/PDIF.)

Street price is about $200. Also, of course, there are multiple manufacturers making these, but the Focusrite ones seem to have the best reputation.

(The Ozonic doesn't have a MIDI THRU, so if you wanted to use more MIDI devices you'd need a thru box.)
posted by neckro23 at 8:00 AM on September 9, 2016 [1 favorite]

If your Ozonic still works, it might be fine with a firewire-to-Thunderbolt adapter. I'd try installing the driver on your current Mac - you might need to enable installation of all apps (instead of App store only or signed apps only) in System Preferences and/or install via command line with sudo . My old M-Audio Oxygen works fine on Mavericks (haven't tried El Capitane yet) so you might be in luck.
posted by eustacescrubb at 11:34 AM on September 9, 2016 [1 favorite]

I'm fond of the Novation Xio (or Xiosynth) but it's nearly as old and not made anymore. If you find one though it is USB and doesn't need drivers and will be far under your budget.

Also a good sounding synth and you can send MIDI back and forth over the USB.
posted by bongo_x at 8:13 PM on September 9, 2016 [1 favorite]

I don't know much about MIDI, but in my opinion, Focusrite makes the best sounding pre-amps in the consumer space. I replaced a MOTU Traveller with a Saffire Pro 40 & the difference was stark. Not at all a fan of M-Audio stuff, which has always given me that "cheap for a reason" vibe.
posted by Devils Rancher at 10:59 PM on September 9, 2016 [1 favorite]

Thanks, everybody! I’m now leaning towards the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 for the audio interface and a budget USB keyboard—probably the Akai MDK Mini, based on the Amazon reviews. It seems like those will be a fine fit for the modest needs of That Guy Recording Droning Atmospheric Black Metal in His Bedroom.
posted by nicepersonality at 8:30 AM on September 10, 2016

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