Once out of the packaging you’ll notice that while it looks awesome, this thing doesn’t really look like a mixer. Sure it has input and outputs, and Mackie even put typical pots for adjusting your input gain, but that’s about it. That’s because the Mackie DL1608 utilizes an Apple iPad (not included) as the entire brainssole control surface of this console. Any generation will do (1st, 2nd or 3rd), they all fit inside the perfectly designed cradle on the console that locks down the iPad into the mixer— safe and secure. A free download of Mackie’s Master Fader App onto your iPad and you have all you need to mix. There are 16 input channels, 12 XLR inputs and four combo inputs (XLR/Balanced and 1/4 inch). There are two XLR outputs for your mains, six Aux outputs that are ¼-inch connections, and one headphone jack on the front with volume control. Once you’ve docked your iPad, started the app and made your connections, you are ready to go.
Mixing on the DL1608 is, in a word, fun. Each channel can be labeled. There is a library of common names/icons that can be used, or you can type your own. You can even take a photo using the iPad’s camera and use that as your icon. When I mixed my friend Clay Carnill’s (www.claslan.com) acoustic show, I had a fun time taking pictures of him and the instruments used for my channel labels. Each channel on the DL1608 has a noise gate, compressor, and EQ section. The EQ section has four bands of parametric EQ, plus a high-pass filter. There is a library of presets for different inputs but I found it really easy to use common iPad gestures of tap, drag, flick, swipe and pinch to navigate the EQ. Setting gates and compressors was similarly easy. I was able to quickly put together a great sounding mix for this acoustic performance.