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DJ Equipment Reviews Mackie D2

Mackie D2

Verdict : 
A solid scratch mixer and an impressive DJ debut from Mackie.

After 15 years servicing the needs of professional musicians, studio engineers and live sound operators, Mackie have turned their attention to the DJ with the launch of their first ever DJ mixer.

Having been harangued to do so by numerous artists and DJs over the years, their official word has always been that they didn’t feel the world needed another DJ mixer, unless it brought something new and different to the table. Which begs the question, what makes the d2 so special?

Well, let’s start with the most obvious feature, the optional FireWire inputs. The d2 is the first mixer to offer FireWire connections, which enable the direct streaming of tracks from a computer (using anything from Windows Media Player to Mackie’s own Traktion sequencer) while simultaneously recording your mix, all with zero latency.

It is worth pointing out that even if you don’t use a software program for playback, provided you have a FireWire port on your computer or soundcard, this type of connection provides a high quality digital feed for you to record your mix.

Quality control
As mentioned, the FireWire interface is an optional feature, and there is a lot more to the d2 besides. For considering Mackie’s reputation in the pro audio field it’s no surprise that the sound quality of this mixer is exceptional, sporting premium VCA circuitry and coming loaded with its own mic and turntable pre-amps.

Analogue I/O is comprehensive, with the XLR master out incorporating a mic/line switch for easy PA integration, the 1/4-inch booth output offers a stereo/mono option, and there’s a live/record switch on the RCA out. In addition to the optional FireWire inputs, the two music channels each have switchable phono/line and dedicated line inputs while further connections include a combi mic input and a Send and Return loop.

The build of the d2 is another standout feature, made from a 14 gauge all-steel chassis, and though ‘bullet-proof’ is a description bandied around perhaps too readily there is no doubt this mixer is worthy of the accolade, for you sense that this unit will take the roughest of treatment and come out unscathed. The top panel design is very smooth, consisting of two interlocking face plates, one black, one grey, which wrap around the front and back panels respectively; looking swish and just screaming ‘solidity’.

The layout of the mixer is traditional, with no surprises in store for the DJ approaching it for the first time, and very spacious too. Not just around the fader area, but in every section, making the d2 a very comfortable mixer to use.

Being a scratch mixer first and foremost, the crossfader is a key feature, and on this mixer the designers have plumped for an optical fader with adjustable tension from Infinium Technologies. Space prevents any great discussion on the merits of the different types of fader (optical, magnetic etc), so time will only tell how well this optical fader stands up to club use, but there’s no denying that straight from the box it is very responsive.

The lag (distance from fader closed to the first murmurs of sound) is minuscule, 1mm at most, while with the mixer’s crossfader curve set to its sharpest, the cut-in time (distance for sound to reach optimum level) is no more than the same distance again; matching any mixer on the market. Both cross and up faders are fully featured with reverse and continuous curve controls, although the sharp curves on the up faders are not as quick as that on the cross, which is a shame.

More pleasing are the smoother curves, but then the equivalent on the crossfader is not as subtle. So each type of fader does have its forte and though this won’t adversely affect every DJ style, if you cut with the up faders then you ought to check that the curves suit your style.

As mentioned the crossfader tension is adjustable, and without the need to remove the faceplate. The reason being that at the far left of the crossfader track there’s a small hole. If you remove the fader grip, slide the fader fully left and look into the hole, you’ll see a small screw. Turning this clockwise tightens the tension and vice versa.

The adjustable range isn’t vast, not as wide as the EB Pro-X-Fade for example, but certainly within the parameters of what most DJs would use, and being so easily accessible is a great bonus.

Dedicated transformer switches provide a further scratch feature. These are rotatable and have three settings, on, off and flash (momentary), with their positioning providing plenty of room for manoeuvre. Elsewhere, the EQ offers a full kill on all three bands as well as providing a gentle boost of +10db.

These controls are set on nicely grab-able pots, complete with blue LEDs for easy navigation in a darkened club. While below these are two push buttons which activate the effects loop. These also light up blue when on, while the level pots for Send and Return are conveniently posted in the right hand bank of controls, along with those for the master, booth and monitor outputs.

Speaking of which, the monitoring system on the d2 is excellent, with input level meters for each channel as well as the stereo master output; all of which are conveniently situated around the faders for checking at a glance and are complemented by a sizeable cue/pgm crossfader. The d2 also benefits from pan controls on each channel, including that for the mic, which also sports a three-band EQ.

So, as Mackie’s first DJ mixer, the d2 is pretty impressive. At its core there is a good battle mixer, with build, feature set and sound quality meeting the majority of professional demands. However, with the inclusion of its FireWire capabilities, interest in this mixer is sure to reach much further than scratch circles.

The ability to take the sound direct from your computer without any degradation in quality is perfect for the ever-increasing number of DJs making use of digital file formats. And even if you’re not yet using Ableton, Tracktor or other software, you can utilise the FireWire to record your mixes, again with no loss in quality.

With the trend in digital DJing being toward the use of multi-channel sound (i.e. more than two sound sources), the arrival of this mixer is very timely. Were Mackie to produce a three or four-channel version on this blueprint (and implement MIDI controls) say, then this technology could really take the market by storm.

Two channel mixer with optional FireWire card
Line, phono/line switchable and optional FireWire inputs per channel
Separate mic channel with
combi insert
Three-band EQ on each channel including mic

45mm Infinium Technologies optical crossfader
Reverse and curve control on all faders
Rotatable three-position transform switches
XLR, 1/4-inch jack & RCA outputs

Manufacturer: Mackie
Model: D2
Price: £551.08 inc VAT

Contact: Loud Technologies PLC
Tel: 01268 570 808


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