Evolution of a Compact Mixer: Mackie DL1608
Mackie DL1608 is shown working a WNBA game.
mixers have been a valuable tool of broadcasters for decades. Early
units such as the Shure M series were solid but due to technology
limitations lacked features found in studio-based mixers. In the
1990s, Mackie began producing compact mixers giving users more
inputs, equalization and auxiliary outputs in a small portable form
technology has continued to evolve digital mixing, what was at one
time only available to those with a large budget has now become
affordable. With the proliferation of high-power processors and
FPGAs, it is possible to create digital compact mixers with features
that were at one time relegated to high-dollar live or studio models.
like several other manufacturers, has made its own foray into the
digital compact mixer domain, with the DL1608 and DL806. However, the
DL series is unique in that they contain no customary control surface
items such as physical faders, switches or meters.
recognized that many users of digital mixers were not using the
physical mixer interface, but instead were using an iPad via Wi-Fi to
control their digital mixer remotely.
chose to design a digital mixer that uses the iPad as the exclusive
control surface for the mixer instead of spending money to design and
produce a conventional control surface. Production cost is lowered,
and the size of the mixer is dramatically smaller. Thanks to the
software-based design, both the user interface and mixer can be
upgraded and redesigned easily, quickly and without most physical
the DL series lacks the typical physical controls of a mixer, Mackie
has designed into the top an angled iPad docking tray. This comes
with a captive bracket to prevent removal of the iPad; and the mixer
has a Kensington lock port for securing the mixer in permanent
installs. With the iPad placed into the tray the mixer has a similar
feel as you would have with a conventional mixer but instead the user
is utilizing a touchscreen for control.
the iPad is docked in the tray, the mixer provides power to charge
the iPad, a direct data connection allows control of the mixer
without Wi-Fi and the digital audio in and out from the iPad provides
the ability to playback and record audio.
the show is the Master Fader application, a free app that can be
downloaded from the App Store. It can operate with or without the
mixer, allowing potential buyers to demo the mixer functions prior to
purchasing the mixer.
the lack of typical controls, Mackie has done a good job of
reproducing the look and feel of a regular mixer. The default view
provides access to eight faders at a time but a quick swipe motion
will allow you to scroll through the various faders. The master fader
for the active layer is always available on the right side of the
screen. There are up to nine layers of faders, L-R, auxiliaries,
reverb and delay. At the top of each channel is an EQ image that when
tapped takes you to the “fat channel” for the associated fader. From this screen you can swipe up or down to access the four-band
parametric EQ, gate and compressor, reverb and delay options.
are up to eight outputs from the mixer, depending on the model, the
main L–R output and four or six auxiliary outputs. Each output has
its own 31-band equalizer and its own dedicated compressor. The
auxiliary outputs can be either pre or post but the pre-feed retains
the EQ, gate and compressor functions. Mackie is readying v2 of the
software, which will provide a pre-DSP option allowing the EQ, gate
and compressor to also be bypassed. Also, the auxiliaries can be
switched to mono or stereo-linked operation.
beauty of the DL1608 is it provides great features and numerous
inputs for broadcasters in a small interface that can be taken to any
stadium or arena. The parametric EQ is great for crowd and effects
microphones, the individual channel compressors are great for taming
announcers who like to shout during big plays, and the numerous
auxiliary outputs give you the capability to have individual
headphone feeds, locker room feeds, sideline feeds, etc.
an example, I use Henry Talent Pods and I can provide each announcer
with a custom feed with just what they want to hear. If they want
louder effects audio or a continuous feed of the sideline announcer I
can provide that in a custom mix. If I had one complaint about the DL
series it would be the lack of various L–R outputs. Previous Mackie
mixers provided XLR, 1/4-inch and RCA outputs, the DL Series only
provides one pair of XLR outputs for the L–R mix.
Digital Live Sound Mixer w/iPad Control
Lack of various L–R connections
Preamps are not recallable
External power supply
For information, visit www.mackie.com/products/dlseries.
found the Mackie DL series to be an easy mixer to operate via the
iPad touchscreen interface. Despite the lack of physical faders I
have operated up to four faders simultaneously during basketball
games to control the court microphones. Additionally, even with the
bright arena lighting for TV, I have had no difficulty seeing games,
and a nice benefit of the backlit screen is being able to see the
controls during blackouts for the pregame festivities. I have also
used the mixer at other station events including an artist
performance at a local mall where the Wi-Fi freedom allowed me to
roam freely during the performance to listen and mix from several
locations. Of course, the mixer is also equally suited for live band
recording, with plenty of factory presets for various instruments and
are impressed when they see the mixer in use because of its compact
size and the number of features it has built in. While the amount of
equipment I carry to a broadcast hasn’t changed, the capabilities
of what I can provide have increased significantly. I also get a good
laugh when the talent can look down on the screen and see their names
and even their picture, if I choose, on the digital scribble strip
below their fader.
DL1608 quickly has replaced my older Mackie VLZ series mixer as my
primary mixer for remote broadcasts because it offers so many more
features and capabilities in a compact package. The age of digital
mixing for sporting and remote broadcasts has arrived and I like it.
Gilbert is director of engineering and IT — Tulsa, for Clear Channel Media and
Entertainment in Tulsa, Okla.