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Mackie 1202 VLZ Pro as a summing mixer?
Old 27th January 2007
  #1
Gear Addict
Question Mackie 1202 VLZ Pro as a summing mixer?

Has anyone tried Mackie VLZ Pro as a summing mixer? Is it worth the hassle? At the moment I run Aardvark 24/96 into Cubase SX 2. I mix ITB. I can't afford a cool summing mixer for now but I do have a Mackie 1202-VLZ Pro. I know it's not the best mixer in the world but will mixing OTB yield better results than my current setup? (To get more outputs I would add another Aardvark - probably Q10 - for total of 12 outputs). Thanks.
Old 27th January 2007
  #2
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Mikem's Avatar
 

The only things I know about summing is from reading about it, since I've never tried it--I'm stuck ITB at the moment. But from what I've read, to make it worth two extra trips through your converters (out and then back in), you need to probably be in at least Apogee land. I don't know if the Aardvark converters would make it worth the trip, especially if the destination is a Mackie mixer.

I'm sure others can weigh in here that may have tried using a Mackie--but I wouldn't dump a bunch of money into more Aardvark gear unless it's going to be a big improvement.

Can you even still buy Aardvark gear? I had an LX6 at one point that I really liked. Was sad to see them disappear.
Old 27th January 2007
  #3
Gear Addict
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mikem View Post
The only things I know about summing is from reading about it, since I've never tried it--I'm stuck ITB at the moment. But from what I've read, to make it worth two extra trips through your converters (out and then back in), you need to probably be in at least Apogee land. I don't know if the Aardvark converters would make it worth the trip, especially if the destination is a Mackie mixer.

I'm sure others can weigh in here that may have tried using a Mackie--but I wouldn't dump a bunch of money into more Aardvark gear unless it's going to be a big improvement.
Well, I think mixing OTB has its benefits even if the converters aren't the highest quality. I still like the recordings I made 10 years ago on a Tascam 488 (8-track tape) with a $100 condernser mic and no other equipment. The definition of each track was still better than what I get now from mixes done in Cubase with $4000 worth of gear in the chain going into the Aardvark input.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mikem View Post
Can you even still buy Aardvark gear? I had an LX6 at one point that I really liked. Was sad to see them disappear.
Most of the gear I buy is used. So yes, I can still buy Aardvark, and the price is more than reasonable.
Old 27th January 2007
  #4
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RusRant's Avatar
 

I've done a lot of mixes on the VLZ Pro and Onyx mixers, and were they are not SSL's by any stretch of the imagination, they are usable. It's not gonna improve the sound overall, but can make it easier to mix with your outboard.
Old 29th January 2007
  #5
Gear Addict
So... anybody else?
Old 25th September 2008
  #6
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DONNX's Avatar
 

Anyone come on??

Nobody tried to sum with a mackie onyx mixer, or allen and health wizard?
Old 26th September 2008
  #7
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Unknown soldier's Avatar
 

I think the consensus is you are better off staying in the box until you get into the higher end range of consoles. I've had the mackie 8 bus, Soundcraft Ghost, and others in that area, and while they make mixing more fun and you get to use outboard easier, the sound is not to the benefit of your song - too much sonic mush/crud/blah and not enough clarity. If you really want to mix OTB, get a used Dangerous Dbox for around $1K or less if you can find one. You get a D/A, 8 channels of summing so you can use your outboard, plus two headphone amps and two monitor outs. And it's really clean, too. Better than any console in it's price range, by far...IMO.
Old 26th September 2008
  #8
Gear Guru
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Unknown soldier View Post
I think the consensus is you are better off staying in the box until you get into the higher end range of consoles. I've had the mackie 8 bus, Soundcraft Ghost, and others in that area, and while they make mixing more fun and you get to use outboard easier, the sound is not to the benefit of your song - too much sonic mush/crud/blah and not enough clarity.
I once heard someone say 'if your board costs less than your car, stay in the box'
and they were talking about a real car, not my 14-year-old jalopy.

I have never done the experiments myself, so I can't say with authority, but I have heard this basic idea from a number of people who have. You are already taking a sonic hit leaving and returning to your DAW. In between, they say, you need something really transparent - either a high end board or a minimalist dedicated summing box, or OTB will cause more problems than it solves.

That being said, Mackie boards are easy enough to come by. The OP should borrow one, do an OTB mix and see how it compares.
Old 26th September 2008
  #9
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iomegaman's Avatar
 

The problem with the Mackie as a summing mixer for digital is the way Mackie designed the board to be really...well digital itself.

On paper the noise floor has pretty good specs etc...but in real life it has a rather "plastic" digital color to it.

The onboard EQ's are really a step below most DAW software EQ's.

I suppose if you bypass all the stuff and just use the sliders to sum you can probably get away with it, but really it almost feels like a step backwards in the signal chain.

We use ours only for headphone mixes while tracking live, for that its hard to beat.
Old 26th September 2008
  #10
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illacov's Avatar
 

Talking Blah blah blah...

Don't believe opinions when it comes to mixing OTB.

Do it yourself and report back with results.

I mixed an entire album with a Yamaha MG12/4 OTB and its won music awards, sold internationally and can't stay on the merch table at our shows.

If you want to mix OTB, get a console of your choosing and try it out.

You can do the summing thing for cheap. I got a contact in Arizona who builds em for cheap. Tons of channels and options, along with Cinemag Transformers. Yummy!

Or get a console (mine was 200 bucks new) and try it out for yourself. The extended low end and better real headroom will make you flip in your seat.

If you don't like the results return the console its that simple.

Peace
Illumination
Old 28th September 2008
  #11
Lives for gear
12 inches x 12 inches no-fader Mackie

I've got a 1202VLZ (older than your VLZ-"pro"). My experience is that it can help with analog outboard interfacing, but it's not something that you would want to use as a mastering console (feeding the whole program in and out). 1202 is fine for getting a signal to a bathroom or spring reverberator and back, because you aren't going to solo a reverb at a high level in the mix.

Mackie 1202-series doesn't have slide-faders, it has pretty-good sounding and really tough rotary pots for level control.

ITB mixing can be really clean, and can sound good, if your source tracks are good and you use all of the mixing tricks that can be found on this site. Be careful with your levels (mixing to a -6 dBF program peak in a 24 bit system loses nothing), monitor with your best gear, and let the program carry the mix. If it's good, it will work, if it's not, re-record.

Best wishes.
Old 28th September 2008
  #12
Gear Addict
Um... I think somebody revived my thread from almost two years ago and all of a sudden it got all these replies. I since have bought a Speck Xtramix and a Lynx Aurora 16 (as well as a crap-load of other outboard gear) and it works perfectly. Yeah, Mackie days are over for me.
Old 28th September 2008
  #13
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DONNX's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by DONNX View Post
Nobody tried to sum with a mackie onyx mixer, or allen and health wizard?

Bump
Old 28th September 2008
  #14
Quote:
Originally Posted by RusRant View Post
I've done a lot of mixes on the VLZ Pro and Onyx mixers, and were they are not SSL's by any stretch of the imagination, they are usable. It's not gonna improve the sound overall, but can make it easier to mix with your outboard.
I've toyed with mixing stems (I can send out 12 channels from my MOTU) via my now-venerable SR24-4.

While it certainly took me back in time -- although not all that far back, even though I set up my first 8 channel DAW in '97 (after using ADATs most of the mid 90s), I didn't move to ITB mixing until around 2002, as I tended to fold my 5 MIDI outboard modules into the analog mix with the 8 digital audio channels and record that back into a couple channels of the DAW until then. (In those days, OTB mixing, I think, really served me well. My MIDI drum module, for instance, was 20 bit and had decent cymbals... if I tracked those in as audio via my ADAT converters, I couldn't help but feel there was some loss of high end definition.)

But did my informal return to mixing OTB provide any big boost in audio euphonia? (As opposed to accuracy, eh?) Not that I could tell. It was fun twisting knobs, I guess, nostalgic. But a Mackie is a pretty neutral board. It's not a heavy character board like, say, a Neve. (I was fortunate enough to put in time on an old Neve board in my early days.) And 'classic' Mackie boards are known for their headroom -- not their saturation/character.

In my view, the classic Mackie VLZ isn't a great candidate for imparting character/flavor to a mix, though they're plenty decent for doing what they were designed for: mixing a bunch of channels as cleanly as cheaply possible.
Old 28th September 2008
  #15
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dannygold's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by azzzy View Post
Has anyone tried Mackie VLZ Pro as a summing mixer? Is it worth the hassle? At the moment I run Aardvark 24/96 into Cubase SX 2. I mix ITB. I can't afford a cool summing mixer for now but I do have a Mackie 1202-VLZ Pro. I know it's not the best mixer in the world but will mixing OTB yield better results than my current setup? (To get more outputs I would add another Aardvark - probably Q10 - for total of 12 outputs). Thanks.
I don't think you'd be doing yourself any favors summing on a VLZ.
Old 3rd October 2008
  #16
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DONNX's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by dannygold View Post
I don't think you'd be doing yourself any favors summing on a VLZ.

Are you hurting signal using a VLZ pro? I am not one who wants or expects extra mojo or magic from summing. That is not my reasoning for summing. I would want something transparent as possible with loads of headroom. Seem like when you mention "mackie for summing?" everyone runs away. Mackies have a tons headroom are very clean aren't they? I am not saying use the pres or eqs to record with... But at least can it be use it as a clean transparent analog mixer with good results? You can add color going into your DAW right?

My impression of Mackies are they are clean and have tons of headroom. So I am wondering why people haven't opt to use a mackie onyx 16 or VLZ pro 16 for 16 channel summing vs a dangerous 2bus which is known to be transparent as well. Mackie $900 or Dangerous 2 bus $2500? hmmm
Old 3rd October 2008
  #17
Gear Addict
Quote:
Originally Posted by DONNX View Post
My impression of Mackies are they are clean and have tons of headroom. So I am wondering why people haven't opt to use a mackie onyx 16 or VLZ pro 16 for 16 channel summing vs a dangerous 2bus which is known to be transparent as well. Mackie $900 or Dangerous 2 bus $2500? hmmm
I am the original poster. Since I started this thread (2 years ago) I have aquired many thousands of dollars worth of gear including Speck Xtramix CXi, which replaced my Mackie VLZ Pro. When I got the Speck it was immediately obvious that the Mackie was far from transparent. It did have a fair amount of headroom but there was a bump in the low frequencies which I didn't even realize was there (not having anything else to compare it to). I don't know if that was just on the 2-bus output or on every channel but I can tell you from experience: for serious mixing a Mackie is not it. I don't know if it's better or worse than ITB summing but when you compare it to an outboard dedicated summing box the difference is drastic. If you're looking for a summing box I would suggest checking out Hand Crafted Labs. Their summer is all-tube and you might be pleasantly surprised with their prices (which are in no way a reflection of their superb quality). The only reason why I went with the Speck instead of the HCL is I wanted pan and volume controls on each channel. I am still considering getting an HCL summer to run after the Speck just for the shear tone it infuses into the mix.
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