With an iPad for its control surface, this mixer pushes envelopes literal and figurative
Mackie DL1608 review
This compact 16-channel mixer uses an iPad as its front-end. You can plonk it on a desk and use it in a conventional manner but it’s also got a party trick: pop the slate out of its dock and you can wirelessly control all of its faders and effects remotely.
Mackie DL1608 – how it works
The range is pretty impressive but will depend on the environment to some degree – if you're close enough to make hand signals to anyone onstage, you're probably not too far away to pump up the volume, cut the midrange or drop the bass. Imagine a small venue with a guitar band on stage and you pulling the strings from the back of the room. That's where we're at.
Mackie DL1608 review – Wi-Fi
It’s designed for use with a live band, and its inputs are all mono for guitars, drums, vocals and so on, but you can split a stereo signal across two channels (useful for adding a synth, for example). Its Wi-Fi skills require a wireless router, so if you’re on the road it’s best to bring your own to ensure it doesn’t get tripped up by traffic from torrent-happy neighbours.
Mackie DL1608 review – 10 iPads
A single DL1608 can be controlled by up to ten iPads at once. Ten people in charge of one mixer sounds like a very bad idea, but it does mean it could be used by band members to tweak their own on-stage monitors. Every channel can be labelled on the iPad app with a name tag and an icon or photo, making it easy to find a sound in a hurry.
Mackie DL1608 – iPad Mini compatibility
The Mackie DL1608 was released just before the latest batch of iPads, which means you’ll need a Lightning-to-30-pin adaptor (£25) to dock the iPad 4 or iPad Mini inside it. Still, it makes up for that with the neat Master Fader app that runs the whole show. You can record your mix to the iPad too, choosing from CD- or video-friendly 44.1 or 48KHz settings in 16- or 24-bit. You also get great built-in bread-and-butter effects, such as equalisation, compression, reverb and delay on every channel. Another very handy feature is the ability to create and recall ‘snapshots’, so you can instantly switch between different set ups for specific bands, songs or venues.
Mackie DL1608 – summary
You can find similarly specced and featured mixers without the iPad integration for about half the price, but they do tend to be a lot bulkier and you'd miss out on the remote control aspects. A quality build rounds off an excellent mixer for small bands and adventurous buskers alike.