D8B Digital Console,
releases a free major software upgrade
has released Version 2 of the Real Time OS for the Digital
new Fat Channel Overview window is a great way to see every
parameter associated with the selected channel strip.
The Graphic Automation Mix Editor provides an excellent
approach to mix automation.
Four user selectable EQ types.
Solo Latch, Solo Isolate, and Surround Bus Solo Isolate.
Record Safe and Write Safe.
Per-channel automation modes.
Analog-style I/O metering in the Fat Channel screen.
Analog-style gain reduction metering for the compressor.
Channel List including MIDI send and receive commands from
all 97 faders.
Linking of multiple consoles (Cascading and Networking).
Implementation for the new PDI-8 8-channel AES/EBU card.
best feature of all? The upgrade is free of charge.
those of you not entirely familiar with the Mackie D8B, a
little review is in order. The D8B is a 97-fader digital console
that has been folded into four layers. Each layer has 24 100-mm
motorized faders -- totaling 96, plus one master fader.
first layer controls the analog inputs to the D8B. This is
where you set your recording levels, EQ, and dynamics for
microphone and line level inputs during the recording process.
These inputs are XLR and 1/4-inch connectors located on the
rear panel. The second layer is for digital tape monitor inputs.
You can decide the type of inputs by choosing the appropriate
card that you've inserted into the card slots on the rear
panel. The third layer controls eight additional aux inputs
(a fourth card) and the returns from reverb and EFX units.
The fourth layer controls bus out levels 1 - 8, Groups 1 -
8, and external MIDI controllers 1 - 8.
your finished project, you can use the analog layer, the digital
layer, and aux inputs 1 - 8 to give you 56 inputs from your
Pro Tools or ADAT stack. Each input has EQ, compression, and
gates. (I remember not too long ago when a console with these
features sold for over $300,000.)
calls all of the rotary controls on the D8B "V-Pots."
They are used to change parameters for EQ, panning, compression,
gating, trims, and everything else that needs a value to
be entered by the operator. Each V-Pot has an LED pointer
that gives you a graphic indication of the level or pan
position you have entered. You can see at a glance where
everything is panned on a layer just by looking at the pan
V-Pot above each fader. In addition to the LED pointer,
an LED null indicator shows you when you have panned a channel
exactly into the center. Because the resolution of the V-Pot
is much greater than the resolution of the pointer LEDs,
this is a great time-saving feature.
All 24 tape returns are on the same layer. If you have a
24-track setup, you don't have to change layers to see the
rest of your tracks.
All of the A/D and D/A converters are 24-bit. You don't
have to use external converters to get the 24-bit resolution
we all deserve. Unless you want to spend $15,000 on the
best external converters, nothing I have measured or listened
to sounds better than the converters built into the Mackie
The fader resolution in Version 2.0 is 256 steps. This means
that when you make small moves to the fader in the middle
of the range, the moves are 0.15 dB. That is a little more
than 1/10th of a dB per step.
The digital trim level has the same resolution. After you,
for example, make complicated vocal rides in the automation,
you can use the trim to see what the vocal rides would sound
like if they were all done 0.3 dB lower or 0.15 dB louder.
You can then easily get back to where you were before any
of the changes.
Offline automation editing. Pro Tools owners know about
editing automation data on screen to get exactly what they
want. Mackie D8B owners can do the same thing with their
console automation. Using a mouse and normal cut and paste
actions, you can copy the complicated moves you made in
one chorus to all of the choruses. After all, you pasted
all of the instruments from one chorus to the others, so
why not do it with the automation moves? I just finished
mixing on a $500,000 console that couldn't do that. I had
to spend hours matching the automation moves in all of the
The Fat Channel Display on the attached video monitor. Well,
the best of both worlds. A digital console with analog displays
on the screen showing the compressor in action. There is
also a graphic display of the EQ curve. The curve changes
as you change parameters, or you can draw an EQ curve and
the parameters will change to match the graphic, just like
on the $1,000,000 digital consoles.
Automation trim mode. After you write your automation pass,
you can trim the moves like on other digital consoles. However,
on the Mackie D8B, the motorized fader snaps to the middle
of its range to give you a graphic representation of the
amount of trim you are using.
Dual memories for EQ, compressor, and gate settings. I can
only count about a million times (I had to take off my shoes
to count that high) that I have tried to find a better EQ
for a particular instrument, only to forget my original
setting. With the D8B, you can switch to the B-memory bank,
try any EQ you like, and then switch back to the A-memory
bank to compare settings. If you have compiled two vocal
takes that sound a little different, you can automate the
switch back and forth between the two memory banks.
Eight aux sends to internal EFX and two stereo cue mixes.
I said two stereo cue mixes. Aux 9 - 10 and Aux 11 - 12
are used for headphone mixes when you are recording. You
can use them for additional EFX sends to outboard gear when
you are mixing. You can copy a mix you have on the board
to either cue mix, and then modify the mix as needed. Much
better than starting from scratch on the headphone mix,
especially if you have a good mix on the main faders.
Version 2.0 software update is free. (Mackie listens to
its customers, and software updates are not two years apart,
either.) V 2.0 contains changes asked for by Mackie customers.
New updates are available on the Mackie Web site. Just download
the update to a floppy disk, put it in the D8B control computer
and Bingo! -- new software with all of the latest
features. [Check out the new Version 3.0 upgrade (you heard
about V 3.0 here first!), which is full of new features,
including plug-in implementation, surround mixing enhancements,
and new networking capabilities. See the sidebar.]
this would have been a shorter review if I had listed the
things I didn't like about the Mackie. Let's try it. Here
are the things I don't like about the Mackie D8B:
It wasn't my idea. Imagine: "The Roger Nichols D8B."
My wife wants to replace her "other digital console"
in her demo studio with my Mackie.
I hate spending $2000$3000 per day in a studio when
I could do just as good a job at home on my D8B.
I don't have two of them, which I could have connected with
one Ethernet cable. I guess half of this reason should have
gone in the things I like area. Oh, well.
NOT TO BUY A MACKIE D8B CONSOLE