Mackie DL1608 Review

Cost:  New £699  Used Varies – although around £450-500 seems the norm

What is it?
The Mackie DL1608, is, quite simply, the next generation of digital mixing desks.  It uses an Apple iPad to control 16 inputs, and 8 outputs (6 Aux, and LR), and with the right routers, can do this, completely wirelessly.

The mixer element, comprises 12 XLR inputs, and 4 XLR/TRS Jack combo’s, 6 TRS based Aux outputs, Main Out’s (LR), gain control, phantom power control, on/off switch, docking port – and that’s IT!

Pro’s and Cons:

Pro:

  • Wireless mixing, allows you to use the iPad to mix the band, from the listening position, without trailing multicores around the venue.
  • Mackie Onyx pre-amps seem to perform very well.
  • No outboard required!  The desk includes compressors, delays, reverbs, gates, EQ’s all over the place – you can literally use the desk, an amp and some speakers.
  • Assignable channel tags – able to have a photo of each band member to aid with identification.
  • Firmware updates bring fresh functionality reasonably regularly, and for free!
  • Simple interface.
  • Up to 10 Apple devices can be used to control monitor feeds etc – meaning musicians have full control of their levels.
  • Low cost compared to other digital desks.

Cons:

  • Slightly plasticy feel
  • Rack mount kit is another £90!
  • Mackie’s software release process can be frustrating
  • Lack of faders can put some engineers off
  • Only records 2 channels
  • iPad required (extra cost!)

Our application:

Black Market plays at such a variety of venues.  Each one is different, and this means that our setup is often different.  For instance, a couple of weeks ago, in the space of three gigs, we’d played with Kick drum micced alongside two overheads on drums, to a fully electronic drum kit (venue requirement), and back to a full 7 piece mic set for drums.   The Mackie DL1608 is flexible, in that everything is customisable, and recallable (barring the gain pots).

Black Market set up with our Mackie DL1608 on the side of the stage.  To this, all of our musicians plug in either via mic’s or via DI’s, and the mixing is all done out front, wirelessly.

Conclusion:

The Mackie DL1608 has completely revolutionised the way in which Black Market operate on stage.  Gone are the days of mixing from the side of the stage – gone are the days of monitor mixes being controlled by the person on the desk – an iPod touch, iPad or iPhone (4 and above) will all operate as a mini mixer for each member of the band, allowing them to mix their own monitors.

But most importantly, the ability to mix out front, is critical – especially given that every venue is different.  The advantage of this is that you can put yourself into the position of the audience – which, lets be honest, is the most important thing.

If you need a low cost, but highly advanced mixing desk, capable of allowing you all of the advantages of much more expensive units, but without the hassle, then the Mackie DL1608 is perfect for you.  Sound quality is excellent, build quality is more than manageable, and overall, this system is an excellent option.

It is literally a leader in its class.  It’s taken Behringer in excess of 18 months to release a competitor to the DL1608 – and even now, it’s not released, and is bound to be full of bugs.  It’s fair to say that Allen and Heath have a competitor – but it’s £1000 more expensive (or more than double the price!) – overall, the DL1608 currently sits unchallenged in the class of cost effective mixers, which can operate wirelessly.  I wouldn’t change mine for anything at the moment!

We have used ours for rigs as diverse as small Martin Audio rigs, through to our in-house Nexo PS15 rig, as well as using it alongside a D&B AudioTechnik PA system.  It has never failed to deliver an excellent result.
DL1608

This is our DL1608 in action!

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2 thoughts on “Mackie DL1608 Review

    • It does a good job for us, and whilst there probably are marginally better sounding desks, marginally better featured desks, and marginal improvements possible from other places, we’ve been waiting for them to come along for nearly 2 years – in that time we’ve done 60-70 shows with the convenience of iPad mixing etc.

      This is a general problem with the mixer section of the live music equipment sector – the best time to buy a mixer, is always “in a couple of months..” sometimes you have to stop waiting for the next thing to come along and grab the opportunity!

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