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Mackie Debuts DL32R 32-Ch. Wireless Live Mixer

By Strother Bullins. Mackie has announced its latest mixer—the DL32R 32-Channel Wireless Live Sound Mixer with iPad Control—building on the technology and workflow established in its successful DL1608.

Mackie has announced its latest mixer—the DL32R 32-Channel Wireless Live Sound Mixer with iPad Control—building on the technology and workflow established in its successful DL1608.

The official word from Mackie: “The DL32R delivers 32-channels of powerful digital mixing that’s completely controlled wirelessly from your iPad, freeing you to get in the mix like never before. It’s got convenient direct-to-drive multi-track recording/playback and an ultra-compact 3U rackmount design that lets you ditch the snake once and for all. Fully loaded with DSP on each of the 32 Onyx+ mic pres and 28 busses, the DL32R provides the power needed for professional applications. The industry-proven Master Fader control app delivers extremely intuitive control over everything, including the ability to digitally recall each and every setting for incredibly fast setup. Control everything from anywhere with the Mackie DL32R.”

On the eve of this major announcement for the company, I caught up with Mackie product manager Ben Olswang to discuss the most important features and philosophy behind this tetherless, fully-flexible, high-channel count digital mixing solution.

“Digital mixing has evolved,” explains Olswang. “When digital mixers began to hit the market, manufacturers were focused on delivering a work surface, controls, a feel and a look that were most like traditional analog mixers. About four years ago, we started to realize that this had become restrictive, and we could deliver some huge benefits to the user by readdressing this approach. That’s where we started with the DL1608 to deliver benefits that can only be accessed when rethinking digital mixing from the ground up.”

According to Olswang, more than two million shows have been mixed on the DL1608 to date, and many of the DL32R’s expanded features came about via requests and the expressed needs of the original DL’s enthusiastic, vocal user base. “We learned from DL1608 users that wireless mixing is its most important feature, and the users wanted more than that. We set out with the DL32R to deliver all the benefits of wireless control that we could while looking at a few things holding us back with the DL1608.”

The DL32R features remote control mic preamps as well as multichannel recording and playback. “We saw recording and playback becoming more integral to modern live sound,” offers Olswang. “The ability to connect a hard drive, control it, playback and record wirelessly while working live became the goal. A DL32R user can record their show multichannel—and that’s 24 tracks of 24-bit/48 kHz WAV files—right to the hard drive, with no computer needed, and no need to run back to the computer to start and stop the recording. You can take that drive to your Mac or PC, using your favorite DAW like Pro Tools, Logic or Tracktion [the latter of which comes with the mixer]. Or, those tracks could be synced to video. Because we offer full routing capabilities, you could create a broadcast mix and record straight to the drive, preparing a premix ready for sharing, uploaded to YouTube right after the show.”

Taking it a step further, Mackie separated playback from recording in the DL32R. “While recording, users can still control playback independently, allowing for backing tracks, click track or intermission music, all of which can be controlled wirelessly from anywhere in the venue, from multiple users in the venue. So the drummer can control the click track, the band leader can control backing tracks, and intermission music can be manned by the front-of-house engineer—all while the multichannel recording is occurring.”

A convergence of live sound reinforcement and multitrack studio recording features naturally reside in the DL32R. “Bands are doing both—recording themselves and mixing themselves,” Olswang explains. “Here, they can have a product that works in both environments. They can do a small tour of the West Coast and when they get back, the mixer lives in their rehearsal space and tracks, mixes and edits their next album with all the same gear. While they’re on tour, they can record it live, right to the hard drive. The melding of these things is really important.”

Another key point of the DL32R is its AoIP (Audio Over Internet Protocol) capabilities via Dante compatibility. “As a company that delivers solutions from mixers to speakers, we feel we’re incredibly well-positioned to create Dante-enabled solutions,” notes Olswang. “We’re just starting to see the price point of Dante networking come down to where Mackie tends to be, and this opens up some incredible possibilities. There are a couple of immediate benefits, of course. Any computer on the network, anywhere in the venue, can pop on there and record channels right off of a Dante network. In a church that has a dedicated record room elsewhere, users can record off of that network. Also, this all opens the door for incorporating other new Dante products into an audio system. In a church that has a Dante-enabled amplifier system, the DL32R allows users to link the mixer with those products—the new wireless Dante microphones in the marketplace, for one example.”

How many live music venues leave no good place for a front-of-house position? That alone makes the DL32R a viable solution for environments and jobs where mixing is largely compromised. “Churches, theaters and clubs rarely have a great place for front-of-house,” comments Olswang. “That’s one of the key benefits that wireless mixing brings—you don’t have to have a front-of-house position at all; you set up where it’s most convenient and conducive to do the mixing.”

The new Mackie DL32R 32-Channel Wireless Digital Mixer with iPad Control will be available worldwide in Q4, 2014. The DL32R will have a U.S. MSRP of $2499.99.

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