While waiting for one of the first Mackie DL1608’s to arrive for review I thought I’d take the opportunity to download the free Master Fader app for the 1608 so I would be well versed in it’s use once the mixer arrived.
For those of you who are not familiar with the concept; the DL1608 follows a similar concept to the already released Alesis iO DOCK and iO MIX in that it proves a physical wrap-a-round for the Apple iPad in the form of an audio interface/mixer.
However in the case of the DL1608 the target application is clearly live mixing with 16 inputs, six auxes and stereo main output. The free Master Fader app provides the primary control interface for the mixer and extends its capabilities with a serious amount of digital processing including EQ, Dynamics and Delay/Reverb level sends per channel plus a bunch of 31 band Graphic EQ’s for all auxes and the stereo main output. This is a serious proposition for live band mixing.
And the unique proposition, is that the iPAD can control the mixing remotely from the DL1608. You can slide it out and mix from any position which stays within wi-fi range.
The app presents 8 of the 16 channels and one master output on the iPAD screen with the ability to scroll through the other 8 channels with a flick of the finger on the iPAD touchscreen.
The channel control display has been very carefully thought out for live use with large controls buttons and (I think very sensibly) separate control screens for EQ, Dynamics and Delay/Reverb.
Each channel has a long throw fader with colour coded ‘glow in the dark’ fader knob (I jest not! Have a look to the ‘Keys’ channel above), associated level meter, plus Pan, Solo and Mute controls. A very nice mini EQ graphic gives a pretty good representation of the current EQ curve and also provides touch access to the rest of the channel controls. They’ve even found space for a gain reduction bargraph on the channel strip.
Each channel can either be named in the traditional manner or there is the option to upload mini pictures of the band members. A nice touch!
Accessing the additional channel controls defaults to the EQ control panel (4 band parametric plus and additional high pass filter. The two mid bands are fully parametric with adjustable Q and the high and low bands have fixed Q but can be switched to shelf or bell response.Now here’s a nice idea : you can swipe vertically to move through to that channel’s dynamics and then delay/reverb screen or you can sweep horizontally to move to the next channel’s EQ control screen. Really great when you are fine tuning all the EQ’s then the Dynamics, and so on. And in all cases, you always get the correct channel fader (plus solo, mute etc) displayed.
Dynamics per channel comprises of a full feature compressor with switchable soft/hard knee plus a similarly flexible gate.
Moving on to Reverb, there is a (global) choice of 9 presets plus full control over Pre Delay, Damping, Decay and Rolloff, with adjustable send level from each channel.
Delay has five global presets (a choice of mono and stereo effects) plus delay time (with tap), feedback and damping. And again adjustable send level from each channel.
It also possible to set the effects return level (separately for reverb and delay) separately for the main output and each of the six auxes, so you have the option of providing say reverb to the main audience mix whilst keeping the foldback mix clean.
Channels can be routed to each of the six mono aux sends with individual send levels and global pre/post fader switching, so you’ve got the option of using these as foldbacks to the band members or for additional hardware effects sends.
Each of the aux outputs has a 31 band graphic EQ which you can either adjust in the same way as a hardware unit (frequency at a time) or you can switch modes and quite literally draw the desired response (very cool!). The aux outputs also have their own compressors with identical features as offered on the channels.
I like the little window at the top of the screen which gives you the reading for the control currently being adjusted. This inspires confidence!
The stereo main output gets the same 31 band EQ (but stereo of course) and a fully adjustable stereo output compressor.
The soft control surface using a nice system of colour coding to make it easier to see whether you are controlling channel level to the main outputs, auxes or effects.Pretty well everything in the mixer can be controlled from the iPAD with the exception of the mic gains and the phantom power.
And if that’s not enough to get you excited (steady!) you can both record the stereo mix directly into the iPAD and use the iPAD to replay a pre recorded backing track which appears as a stereo input to the mixer app.
The app comes with the ability to store both channel presets and complete set-up snapshots.
And what’s more, each band member can use their own iPAD to control their own foldback mix. How cool is that!
So all we need now is a nice new DL1608 to plug the iPad and this very promising app … into!
And if you need to whet your appetite even further here’s a Mackie video explaining the great features of the 1608 and iPAD combination.