The Mackie Big Knob falls into the rare category of the perfect product. Mackie will come to wish they had never designed it because they won't ever be able to get it out of their catalogs. Well, that's if people appreciate what it is...
If you have a digital audio workstation, then you need some way of connecting its outputs to your monitoring system. At the very least you need a volume control, which sound cards - you may have noticed - conspicuously lack.
If you monitor through a hifi amplifier, then you'll have to use the volume control on that. Not very convenient really, and power amplifiers may have no volume control at all, or they will most likely be separate knobs for the two channels.
So the world is crying out for a volume control for digital audio workstations, and what do Mackie do? They give us all the functionality you would expect from this section of a high-class mixing console (probably of better than Mackie standard even!).
The Big Knob does indeed have a volume control. That's the knob! But it also has dim and mute buttons, a mono-compatibility check button (important for radio and TV mixes). It also allows access to a variety of stereo sources other than your DAW, even a pair with RIAA equalization for a turntable.
The Big Knob also offers talkback and slate facilities, and headphone outputs for the recording talent in your studio. You can use up to three pairs of monitors. You can have studio (not just control room) monitors - a true pro feature, so the band don't have to come into the control room to hear a take.
In short, there's nothing it needs that it doesn't have.
However, be aware that the Mackie Big Knob is for pros only. Why? Because it has no facility for zero-latency monitoring. Unless you have a system with minimal latency, such as Pro Tools HD, then this is a facility that you will sorely miss.
Nice try Mackie, but I can't believe you missed that.
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Great home recording starts with a great home recording studio. It doesn't need to be expensive if you know how to select the right equipment for your needs.