Recording and live sound engineer Dan Kury refers to himself as an old school
engineer, having logged more than 40 years mixing and recording a wide variety of
musical genres in all sorts of venues. But after years of hauling around a big
console, outboard racks, and huge audio snakes, he concluded that for many gigs
he would be better off with a digital mixer. That is, if he could find one that was up
to his standards.

When he discovered the Mackie DL1608 16-channel digital mixer, he was a happy
man. “The DL1608 is the first piece of equipment that changed my life,” Kury
begins. “The equipment, the labor, the time setting up and tearing down, the lids for
the cases stacked under the table-all eliminated or greatly reduced.” Besides, he
says, “You don’t need a console when you can grab an iPad and go up to the balcony
or mix from anywhere in the venue.”

Still, for some gigs, he wanted more than 16 input channels. So when Mackie
released the DL32R 32-channel rack-mount digital mixer, Kury jumped on it. “Now I
have a DL32R in a four-space rack, along with two wireless systems,” he explains.
“It sits on the side of the stage, so no need for a big, heavy snake. Setup time and
teardown time is half of what it used to be with a traditional console. Not only that,
now I have DCAs. What an incredible luxury!”

Kury is also a big fan of Mackie’s Master Fader control app. “It’s easy to get
around,” he explains. “The DL32R does a lot of things, so you’d think the app would
be complicated, but it’s so well-designed and efficient to use.”

Although he was confident that the DL32R preamps would compare well with the
high-priced preamp/interface he typically uses for recording shows, Kury wanted to
be absolutely sure. His opportunity to compare the preamps came when he mixed
the Metropolitan Orchestra of St. Louis performance of Saint Saens’ Symphony No 3
at the First Presbyterian Church of Kirkwood, Missouri.

Saint Saens’ Symphony No 3 is known as the “Organ Symphony,” and First
Presbyterian Church of Kirkwood has a beautiful new Casavant Frerespipe organ,
designed in the style of the great Parisian symphonic organs of the late 19th
century. “It’s a magnificent instrument,” says Kury. “If you play the lowest C with
the pedal, and you pull the 32-foot stop, the 32-foot pipe produces a root pitch of 16
Hz.” This recording would indeed be a great preamp test.

“For my comparison test, I made two separate recordings,” Kury recalls. “I sent the
mics to a splitter, and I recorded one feed through my high-end interface and
preamps and the other feed through the DL32R.” Kury then sent the signals via
FireWire to a Mac computer running a DAW.

The results were as Kury predicted. “The Mackie preamps absolutely held their own
against the high-end preamps,” he says. “In a blind test, I could not tell the
difference. There is no question that you can use a Mackie iPad-controlled mixer to
do a multi-track symphonic recording. If I do more multi-track symphonic
recordings, I will happily use the DL32R preamps.”

“The DL32R is absolutely remarkable,” he concludes. “It blew my mind.”