Veteran producer Garey Shelton was one of the very first people to take delivery of Mackie's revolutionary Digital X Bus Digital Production Console. The Seattle based Grammy winning bassist/engineer/producer has just completed his first project on the new mixer, the upcoming release from avant garde banjoist Danny Barnes, formerly of the Austin, TX based Bad Livers. His opinion? Shelton gives the new Digital X Bus rave reviews.
Shelton's studio, Garey Shelton Productions, was in many ways the ideal setting for the Digital X Bus's recording debut. Shelton's credits as a producer, bassist and mastering engineer spans a highly eclectic range of musical genres and projects, and his studio is an equally diverse mix of digital and analog, modern and vintage, high and low tech. The Digital X Bus's versatility, its leading edge uncompromising feature set and its unparalleled sound made it right at home in Shelton's rooms.
"I've been a Mackie D8B user for as long as the board has existed," Shelton explains. "In fact, I took delivery of serial number seven." Shelton points out that, while he loved the D8B, he worked the console harder than anyone ever expected. "It was a great mixer, but I don't think anyone at Mackie could have foreseen how hard I'd work it. I'm in the studio probably 330 days out of the year, and I literally wore it out."
Enter the Digital X Bus. Being both a Mackie fan and a close neighbor, Shelton acquired one of the very first available units to replace his aging D8B. "The first thing that made me really happy was the fact that it fit perfectly into my existing studio furniture," he remarks. "I was prepared to have to redesign the whole studio setup and go through several days of down time, but I was up and running in literally 90 minutes."
Ergonomics went a good bit further, Shelton reports. "I was thrilled with the fact that almost all the key commands I'm used to on the D8B are carried over to the Digital X Bus. My workflow is really unchanged. I love the new features too. The Penny + Giles optical touch faders feel great, and I've got total control of my ProTools rig, even down to plug in support. The touch screen is a phenomenally stellar interface – it's so intuitive, I can literally tailor it for the way I work. And I love the fact that most of the features I use all the time are hardware based, so I can just reach for a knob or fader without even thinking about the interface."
Sonically, Shelton says the new console is everything he'd hoped for and then some. "I've always loved working with the D8B, but secretly I'd always wished it sounded more like some of the higher end digital mixers. With the Digital X Bus that's all changed. The sound is actually better than many of the digital mixers out there with a six figure price tag. And the construction is pretty much bullet proof. I'm gonna love working with this mixer for a long, long time."