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NAMM 2015 shocker: Mackie eliminates FOH!

Not really. But the new DL32R aims to give a maximum amount of flexibility to wireless mixing

At NAMM, in the Anaheim home of Disneyland, you can expect Mackie to be making a big song and dance about the DL32R Digital Live Sound Mixer. Launched in October last year (see Fixed FOH positions a thing of the past with Mackie DL32R digital mixer), Mackie introduced the DL32R as a “powerful new 32-channel digital mixing system completely controlled wirelessly from Mackie’s intuitive Master Fader iPad app, freeing users to get in the mix like never before”. Effectively, Mackie said, it was about “controlling everything from anywhere”.

The core of DL32R is a mix of flexible, professional I/O in a compact 3U rack. Each of the 32 inputs (24 XLR, 8 XLR/TRS combo) feature Mackie’s proprietary Onyx+ recallable mic preamps, with “a frequency response that goes all the way down to 20Hz within 1dB at all gain settings,” according to senior product manager Ben Olswang. “Noise is minimised at every gain setting. DL32R’s gain changes are completely silent.”

Each of the 32 inputs features a 4-band parametric EQ with a separate high-pass filter plus gating and compression. Each of the 14 aux sends, six matrix busses and main L/R busses feature a 4-band parametric EQ, 31-band GEQ, a compressor limiter and alignment delay. Six subgroups feature EQ and compression. What’s more: “Only the DL32R delivers professional mixing tools like VCAs, subgroups and matrix busses at this price point,” comments Olswang. “And there’s no configuration or trade-offs. Every input and output has all the processing you need for your professional application.”

But it’s with wireless control of the system using the Master Fader iPad app that “a new world of mixing possibilities opens up”, and this is where Mackie are hammering home the message during NAMM and beyond. And, why Mackie’s Ben Oslwang was so keen to point out why this is such a paradigm shift form the DL1608 iPad/mixer combo the West Coast company launched two years ago.

“The real leap here is the no-compromise dedication to 100% control from a wireless device,” opines Olswang. “There are a lot of digital mixers out there with some level of wireless control, but there are often compromises in what features you can control.

“A good example is DL32R’s wireless control over direct-to-disk recording. With other similar consoles, you have to connect a laptop or invest in additional recording hardware for any multi-track recording, and none of them let you control it from your wireless device. It’s control like this that sets the DL32R apart from the pack.”

With the ‘Control Everything from Anywhere’ slogan, Mackie really does believe it offers more than any other similar mixer available. “At this level, you can truly get rid of a traditional front of house location,” offers Olswang (pictured right). “Set the DL32R by the stage, plug your inputs in and never go back to the mixer again during the show. After all, even when there is a FOH position at many places that need a 32-channel mixer, it is very often in a bad place – off to the side, under a balcony, behind a bar. Besides all the sonic benefits you get from mixing from the room’s trouble spots and being able to ensure that everyone in the venue is getting the best possible sound, not being fixed to a FOH position is really freeing for most engineers.”

What if your iPad fails in some way, wondered PSNEurope? The audio will continue uninterrupted at whatever settings it was running at the time, says Olswang. “And iPad would need to come back on line to gain control over settings.”

What about the maximum distance for control for your iPad? “The maximum is set by the wireless router being used. That’s one benefit over having a built-in Wi-Fi interface: users can select the right router for their budget and application needs and even get additional routers to add coverage area. There are routers available that will provide from 30 to 300 feet (9m-90m) or more.”

Olswang confirms the Master Fader is built specifically for iPad at this point, but Android is “not off the table”. DL32R is shipping now and “we have already seen some great feedback from users out in the field,” he says. The final word? “In a nutshell, the DL32R does not eliminate FOH position…” he says, “It turns the entire venue into your FOH position.”

NAMM in Anaheim is offering a lot of network-ready kit and upgrades but nothing PSNEurope has heard of with the swagger of the DL32R. Let’s see if Mackie can really put on a show on a scale to match a Disneyland spectacular.