Mackie DL1608 iPad-Controlled Mixer
If you haven’t seen or heard or read something about this piece then you have simply not been paying attention.
By Rev. Bill and Bob Lindquist
It was intro’d at Winter NAMM in January and finally available just a few months ago, the 1608 takes iPad integration to a whole new level. As in you can’t use the mixer at all without an iPad.
Unlike everything else on the market where the mixer is a mixer and the iPad is integrated into the system for remote control, the 1608 depends on the iPad as it’s control surface. There are three videos attached. The first is an overview of format and features. The other two are gig-specific.
First up was a rock-band gig in a biker bar outside Las Vegas. Head west on State Highway 160 toward the brothels of Pahrump, NV and at about the halfway point, at the top of the mountain pass separating the Vegas and Pahrump valleys, there is a little bar and grill that is packed most weekends with bikers of all stripes ranging from real deal Mongols to Rubies (pronounced rub, not roob) AKA Rich Urban Bikers. Doctors and CPAs with Harleys.
The band is a three-piece pickup classic rock band called Three Blind Mice that includes L2P blogger and gear reviewer Scott Woodward. Check the video but bottom line is this: The Rev. set up the mixer and made sure Scott’s iPad was talking to it, stuck around for three songs and left. Not only was the band able to make needed adjustments from the stage but, when a harp player (harmonica for you non-blues types) showed up and wanted to sit in, Scott was able to add a mic, get it into the system and into the monitors and EQ’d without any help or referring to a manual. Pretty easy to use.
Mixing The Naples Christian Jam
This one is the second gig video. Bob’s gig. Each year, in the historic village of Naples, NY, folks from all parts gather to celebrate the fruit of the vine. Naples is the undisputed center of the grape pie universe—along with grape tarts, grape kuchen, grape jam, and just plain grapes. This year, a group of local musicians from various praise and worship teams organized to present live Christian music at the festival. Playing from the front porch of a church right in the center of town, five bands rotated through a wet, sloppy afternoon providing uplifting, positive Christian music to the equally soaked festival attendees checking out the arts and crafts and partaking in a variety of local culinary delights.
While the mixer performed flawlessly, the rain and cold played havoc with the iPad, which was the essential control surface for operating the remote DL1608 base unit. It also didn't help that our fingers were wet and cold. At times, it was nearly impossible to get the iPad to respond to commands. Once the weather improved, and it began to warm up, the iPad again became a useful part of the team, but for a brief time, it was really touch and no-go.
The Ins and Outs
If you are a small band, venue or church, you can do a lot of damage with the 1608
16 Combo XLR/TRS inputs
6 Aux Sends for monitors
4 bands of EQ plus low-pass filter per channel
31-band GEQ and Compressor/Limiter per output
1 reverb and 1 delay
Ability to record a two-track directly to the iPad
Compressor and Noise Gate on all inputs
The app that runs on the iPad and controls the DL1608 is called MasterFader (no smart remarks…) and it's free in the AppStore. And you can download it and play around with it before you buy a 1608 to get a feel for it. Hard to do that with an analog mixer...
What We Like, What We Don’t
There is plenty to like. It’s really small. It’s crazy easy to use and it sounds good. The 1608--and this is important--does all of the actual processing in the hardware part, the iPad is just the control surface. The only actual controls on the 1608 itself are the input trim for the mic pre-amps and the output level for the headphone out. The reason it is important that the mic-pre’s and the processing are not dependent on the iPad is this: If the iPad takes a dump or gets lost or stolen during the gig, you still have audio. You just have no control except for the mic-pre levels.
A couple of small quibbles...
Quibble #1. The wireless control could be easier to get started. First, you need to buy a router. Mackie sent us an Apple Airport Express. Cool little router but it will set you back about 90 bucks (or 10% of the street price of the 1608). And making the iPad talk to the 1608 wirelessly could be easier. It took me about 20 mins the first time and when I sent it to Bob in New York for his gig, he had to call me to show him how.
MACKIE SEZ: We have a list of routers that we have tested. Nearly any off-the-shelf router will work. Our list of tested devices is meant to show the various forms of setup needed by different routers. Here’s a link a doc that explains it better: http://www.mackie.com/products/dl1608/downloads/support/DL1608_Tested_Wi...
Plus an easy Wi-Fi setup doc:
On the subject of wired vs wireless, if you are using the 1608 for playback or recording, all of that happens via the Dock connector which is only active when the iPad is physically inserted into the 1608. So if you are using the iPad to record or play tracks or break music and you pull it out of the 1608 frame, the recording or playback stops.
On the positive side, you can have more than one iPad connected. You have to physically insert each iPad into the 1608 to set up to communication but that is actually a good thing cuz it means that some random dude in the bar can’t easily hack into your mixer and screw with your mix trying to impress the chick he’s trying to pick up.
Quibble #2. Having just one reverb and one delay is a little limiting. At least a second reverb so i could have one reverb dedicated to vocals and another for drums would be nice.
Quibble #3. If you are an iWhore like me who wants the newest and greatest version of everything Apple makes, you have a problem. New, faster, thinner and all-around cooler iPads have been out for about a month. And they will not connect to the 1608. Apple did what Apple does and changed from the Dock connector that has been standard on all iOS devices since early iPods to the new, smaller Lightning connector. You may be able to connect via an adapter to the 1608, but it won’t really fit. Maybe connect, get the wireless going and do it all wirelessly. but then you have the whole playback/record thing...
MACKIE SEZ: Here’s a blog piece that talks about our support for the new Apple devices:
We expect to get our hands on the mini and 4th gen iPad tomorrow to begin our work. While the new iPads won’t work docked right now, both the 4th gen and the mini will still control the mixer wirelessly.
We will also be checking out how the adaptor works and see if there are any solutions we can find there. Trust us, we are on this and will have solutions as soon as possible. Just important to know that there are more than 100 million iPads that will fit the DL1608 for a long time.
But that’s minor stuff for a mixer with this much power that you can get for just under a grand and that gives you an excuse to buy an iPad. Even if it is last year’s model. Remember. Small, powerful, cool, sounds really good. And did we mention cool?