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Mackie DL32R

Mackie DL32R Provides Console-Free Portable Mixing at The Grove Church

by Jason Decter

The Grove Church is a growing congregation that offers an upbeat, contemporary worship experience. We presently have locations in Titusville and Port St. John, Florida.

I mix sound at The Grove when I’m not on the road at my day job as front of house engineer for the band Blink-182. I also served as production consultant for the design of The Grove’s main sound system.

We host about 1100 people for Sunday services in the Titusville YMCA gymnasium. It’s a pretty hard rocking worship experience, with a full-on praise band. It can be a challenge creating that kind of a service in a gym, and we have to be pretty creative. We put sound-absorbing pipe-and-drape around the periphery to cut down the reverberation, and we use a Mackie HAD array. It’s lightweight and compact, and it’s a great choice for the room size in terms of focus and control. It definitely does not sound like a gym!

I specified the new Mackie DL32R wireless digital mixer for the Grove’s portable church system. The DL32R was designed from the ground up to have all mixing handled remotely via iPad, using Mackie’s (free) Master Fader app, with all inputs, outputs, electronics, DSP, and power contained in a single 3U box.

One of the first things that’s obvious about the DL32R is that there’s no more need to run a snake out into the room. The box sits at the side of the stage, and we can run our inputs directly into it from there. The inputs are Mackie’s new Onyx+ preamps, which sound great and have lots of headroom.

Compared to a traditional FOH console, mixing on an iPad truly is a game-changer. The fact that there’s no physical console surface means that our engineer is no longer tied to a desk, or to a single spot. You can walk around, hear the sound in different locations and make adjustments. For monitor mixes, you can actually go on stage with the musicians and dial in each mix on the spot. The entire room becomes your front of house.

The key to the DL32R is Mackie’s Maser Fader app for the iPad. It’s a really intuitive interface that’s well laid out and easy to learn. I had no problem teaching our volunteer staff everything they needed to learn inside of an hour. And it’s really powerful. You have real-time control of everything, including input trim, DSP, EQ, even setting and recalling scenes. You literally have every control in your hands, just like a regular console.

Mixing at a lower SPL is pretty common in a worship setting, and it takes some finesse. With no fixed front of house position, it almost forces you to walk the room a bit. It makes the whole room your space. It keeps your ears sharp, so if there’s a problem with speaker alignment, you’ll know.

One of the really great assets of the DL32R is the ability to add up to ten iOS devices. The first week we used the console, I was handling both FOH and monitor mixes. The following week, I connected a second iPad and split FOH and monitor mixing duties between two of our engineers. Each guy had his own control surface. It was literally like having two separate consoles, just by adding a second iPad.

Another very cool feature is the ability to do live multi-track recordings right off the console, just by plugging in an external USB drive – no need for a computer. We can play back those sessions for a virtual sound check, which is great for helping people learn and practice, and we can use it for bumpers and any other pre-recorded cues.

For us at The Grove, the DL32R has been a radical disruption in the best possible way. It’s got more than enough inputs, and more than enough mixing power, all in a compact package that’s no bigger than a stage input box. It delivers everything we need for The Grove, and a lot more. That means we have room to grow, and it still costs far less than any comparable mixer. We’re really happy with it.

Jason Decter is FOH and technical consultant for The Grove Church. He also tours as FOH for the band Blink-182.
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