Review: Mackie DLM system (DL806, DLM12’s)

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erin rae and cale tyson

(MSRP DL806 $1,000; DLM12’s $1,250)

Mackie’s new DL/DLM system, which includes both powered loudspeaker components and digital mixers with iPad control, recently transformed our office into a cozy little venue.  So we hung up some gold metallic fringe curtains and invited some friends to demo the Mackie system and run it through its paces.

When Nashville singers Cale Tyson and Erin Rae showed up, we were setting up and jamming out to Bobby Charles (every venue needs some great house music, right?), and were up and running within minutes. We set up the Mackie DLM12 12-inch powered loudspeakers, using the DLMS 12-inch powered subwoofer as a base. The way that the two work together, allowing you to put the speaker stand directly into the subwoofer and adjust the height as necessary, is incredibly useful and a great space saver. The digital display on the back of the loudspeaker even features a delay compensation calculator to help you in positioning your speakers.

The entire DLM loudspeaker system is extremely lightweight and compact, making it a breeze to set up, tear down, and transport.  The 12” loudspeakers weigh in at a paltry 31 lbs, with the subs at 48 lbs, which offers plenty of stability when using the pole mount for the speaker.

DLM family

Though we didn’t employ this feature, the speakers come equipped with a kickstand that can be used to angle the speaker for use as a monitor wedge. For our mixer, we used the Mackie DL806 Digital Mixer with iPad control. Its 8 input channels were more than enough to accommodate Cale and Erin’s intimate country performance, and with the DLM12’s pushing 2000 watts a piece, we were far from maxing out the volume on this beastly rig.

The mixer dock houses 8 balanced mic/line inputs with Onyx mic pres, and a phantom power switch, along with 4 aux outputs, a headphone output, and 2 stereo outs.  All other functions happen within the free Master Fader app, available for all iPad, of which you can connect 10 simultaneously.  The iPad can be docked in the DL806, or, if connected with a wifi router, can be taken out and operated remotely.  This is great for a band that’s mixing their own set from the stage, or for an engineer that likes to walk the room.  No more walking out from behind the desk, then making mental notes and walking back. Just simply take the iPad with you and make your adjustments on the fly.

Further, musicians can use their iOS devices (use the My Fader app for iPhone or iPod Touch, also available for free) to control their own monitor mixes.  Within the Master Fader software there are 2 main views: channel view and mixer view.  The mixer view shows 8 channels, with input metering, along with pan, mute, and solo buttons.  Labeling channels is easy, and you can even assign stock images or photos from your gallery to each channel. Each output has it’s own set of channel faders, along with two dedicated channels for reverb and delay returns, and a graphic EQ with a really great “draw” feature, allowing you to draw your EQ curve in with your finger. In addition, there’s an iPad channel, which allows you to play music from your iPad music libary without burning one of your eight input channels.

Channel view is accessible by tapping at the top of each channel, and gives you access to an impressive assortment of Dynamic FX, Reverbs, Delays, and EQ. Both the Compressor/Gate and EQ FX have vintage and modern options, allowing you to control them using whichever method is most comfortable. The modern EQ and Dynamics FX look and function similarly to that of the stock FX in Pro Tools, so users of the popular DAW will be immediately familiar with their operation.

dl806

The vintage settings take on the look of a Neve EQ and an 1176 compressor, for users that are more familiar with the classic gear.  The options for delay and reverb are plentiful, and within seconds, we were able to fit Cale’s classic country vocals with a nice plate reverb and a slap back delay. All of these great features can be saved and recalled for further shows, or can be employed by using stock presets. The combination of the DL806 mixer and The DLM12 loudspeakers is a powerful, portable, and versatile system.  For the experienced engineer, the Mackie DL806 provides a great tool to improve the quality and workflow of live shows, or simple rehearsal sessions.

For the novice, the DL806’s super intuitive GUI provides a foundation from which creativity can grow.  The build quality is superb, and will certainly stand up to the most rigorous of gigs, whether on the road or as part of your house system. The DLM12’s have versatility and power to spare, and could perfectly suit just about any room you could find yourself playing, or mixing in.

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