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Hands On Review: Mackie DL1608

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In my previous iOS update, I talk about using your iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch as a remote control or control surface for your music equipment and software. It’s a great concept that has a lot of benefits, both live and in the studio. Mackie has taken that concept to a new level with their DL1608 digital mixer — an iPad isn’t just a remote control for the mixer; it’s the user interface for the mixer. It’s a brand-new paradigm that brings huge pluses to the equation.
The DL1608 unit provides the required hardware and mixing muscle. There are 16 channels, each with one of Mackie’s acclaimed Onyx preamps, a 4-band EQ, a compressor, and six aux sends. The master stereo outputs have a compressor/limiter and a 31-band graphic EQ. Reverb and delay effects are built in. In other words, everything you need for creating mixes for your band is onboard.

The only other thing you need is an iPad loaded with Mackie’s free Master Fader app. Slide the iPad into the dock on the DL1608, and it becomes the mixer’s front panel, with the virtual faders, buttons, and knobs you need to control everything. But here’s the cool thing: you can actually slide your iPad out of the DL1608 and still control all the functions via Wi-Fi. Now you can roam around the venue, making sure the sound is perfect everywhere. In fact, up to 10 iPads can connect wirelessly to a single DL1608, so each band member can control his or her own monitor mix!

The bonuses don’t stop there. You can play music from your iPad’s library through the DL1608. You can also record the mixer’s outputs to your iPad — for capturing gigs, rehearsals, and writing sessions — and then send the files to your computer.

We used the DL1608 for a live gig with two guitars, vocals, keyboards, and drum/bass backing tracks, with multiple monitor mixes. It performed flawlessly. It’s small and light, easy to set up, simple to operate, and sounds great.

If you’ve been using an analog rig, the DL1608 replaces not only your old mixer but also a bunch of outboard gear, and you can take control from anywhere in the room. It’s a game changer!

Mitch Gallagher

About Mitch Gallagher

Sweetwater Editorial Director, Mitch Gallagher, is one of the leading music/pro audio/audio recording authorities in the world. The former senior technical editor of Keyboard magazine and former editor-in-chief of EQ magazine, Gallagher has published thousands of articles, is the author of seven books and one instructional DVD, and appears in well over 500 videos on YouTube. He teaches audio recording and music business at Purdue University/Indiana University, and has appeared at festivals, conventions, and conferences around the world.
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