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Mackie 1604 Love Thread... Go Ahead... You Got a Story... Mixers (Analog)
Old 30th December 2010
  #1
Mackie 1604 Love Thread... Go Ahead... You Got a Story...

This compact mixer is as much a game changer in the pantheon of home recording evolution as the portastudio. Who hasn't used one, at one time or another?

I knew bands in the 90's recorded entire albums on a 1604, a black face ADAT and whatever else they could get their hands on (mostly 57's & 58s).

I've had a few them over the years, and currently I have a VLZ3 as a utility effects router for moving stuff ITB <-> OTB.

Old 30th December 2010
  #2
Gear Addict
 
Buss-me's Avatar
 

I've got much love for that thing....all the way back to the original. Still use them to this day for random live stuff. Just did sound for an Xmas party and used an old original model that was rescued from Fox. Worked like a charm .
People can poo poo and hate on it, but it's saved my ass more times then I can rememeber!?!?!?

I've recorded MANNNY a project through one. The first VLZ model was the "front end" for my first PT 001. I always felt, if you can't make a nice solid recording with one and a handful of mics, you need to start over and learn how to record.

Their biggest strangth.......they get the job done, end of story!
Old 30th December 2010
  #3
Lives for gear
 
DrFrankencopter's Avatar
The 1604 + an ADAT or 2 was home/rehearsal space studio sound of the early 90's. In the later 90's I remember a local studio had one beside their 10 series Neve as an FX submixer.

It gets the job done....but try not to use the EQ.

Cheers

Kris
Old 30th December 2010
  #4
Gear Maniac
 
db0007's Avatar
 

In my eyes it COULD be awesome, have been running it as a patch bay for the Triton and MPC for years. Unfortunately I will never buy another Mackie product because of it. Had the Ribbons replaced 3 times at $350 a piece. This year is the 4th time it has failed on me I refuse to fix it. Mackie didn't even honor the warranty for the first fix. They do not service it themselves and according to their "outside service center" its a well known issue with the VLZ series.

The problem with the ribbons is they burn out causing ONLY the Left channel all acorss the board to completely go out.

I loved the raw punch it added to drums. Farewell 1604
Old 30th December 2010
  #5
Lives for gear
I've owned or used one off and on since the early 90s. I got into sound mostly by necessity when we expanded the church and a used 1604VLZ was the only board we could afford (this was before the explosion in small format boards I guess). That one is still in service AFAIK. If they're kept clean and not beat on, they work for a long time, and even beat on they're pretty reliable in general. Although I've had a few that have started to go bad and it's just been one thing after another. The preamps are just OK, especially compared to a similar board by A&H, but then, you're never going to find a Mixwizard for $300, or get it fixed at the guy down the street. Props to Mackie! Now how about a love thread for the Peavey CS800?
Old 30th December 2010
  #6
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So....the ORIGINAL 1604 was a bit of a game changer...It was really the first decent sounding small mixer that had good features and didn't cost 2k....So I was an early adopter. At the time, I was gigging a lot in a band, so I picked one up. It got used and abused for years...finally....after many years the pots started getting scratchy, so I shipped it back to the factory in Washington for some TLC.

First....when I got the RA#, the service guy on the phone asked for the serial number. When I read it to him, he at first thought I had made a mistake. After I re-read it and he did some checking, he told me that it was one of the first 24 mixers that Greg had hand built himself!

Second....I shipped it on a Wednesday. I received it back via UPS RED LABEL on SATURDAY! And....no charge. They had apparently received it on a Thursday....opened it up and replaced the entire board inside with a new one, and then paid for red lable shipping back. Wow....of course, that was when Greg was in charge. And it still works to this day.

Kirt Shearer
Old 30th December 2010
  #7
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mhs2xs's Avatar
 

I Have Two

Bought a CR1604 way back when, with the 10 mic input expansion and roto bracket. About 6 months later, they came out with the CR1604VLZ and I bought it too. Still have and use both for recording and live stuff.
Old 31st December 2010
  #8
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cinealta's Avatar
 

In the 90s, major labels were releasing records recorded through CR1604s onto black face ADATs. Just send it off to Brendan O'Brien to remix and Stephen Marcussen to master, and you had no idea it was recorded to Mackie/ADAT in a Seattle garage, Chi Town loft or Swedish barn. Sub Pop, Caroline, Minty Fresh, Shanachie...all the indies were sending Mackie/ADAT records in for WEA distribution. Those bands had no idea about Neumann, Neve, SSL, Studer etc, but they were selling records.
Old 31st December 2010
  #9
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did a couple of decent indie feature film scores on ours with what are, still, some really good sounding electric gtr tracks done on those 1604 pres into/onto ADAT with a 57, fender amp, tremolo, and tele...
Old 31st December 2010
  #10
Gear Guru
I'll join in. The original 1604 was the first thing in anywhere near its price-range that passed anything resembling pro quality audio.

A game changer indeed.
And still great bang for the buck.
Old 31st December 2010
  #11
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suedesound's Avatar
 

1604 is the 57 of mixers. it may not sound the best but it will always work well and can take a beating.
Old 31st December 2010
  #12
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taturana's Avatar
had one of those for years... the original model... in the 90's i did lot's of records on mackies.... mostly 1604's and 8-bus ... even though the pres and eqs aren't awesome those recordings still sound fine to this day.. the 8-buss i think sounded much better than the 1604..
Old 1st January 2011
  #13
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Ernest Buckley's Avatar
I have its little brother: the 1402 VLZ-3. I actually went into the box around 6 years ago and after a few months of banging my head using a software master fader for volume, I purchased the Mackie. Its been a real treat to use.

I actually use mine for monitoring headphones and all my keyboards/sound mods are connected to it. I never record through it and have not used the pres on it either. However, I think one of these days I will amuse myself and record an entire song on it just to do so. The mute/send to alt out button is a charm.
Old 1st January 2011
  #14
Gear Nut
 

I bought one of the original Mackie 1202's for $100 in the mid-90's. That thing saw more gigs than any other piece of gear I have ever owned. Used it as a keyboard mixer, used it for small PA's, used it for preamps on a bunch of live recording gigs. It eventually died last year, but until then, it was a total workhorse.
Old 1st January 2011
  #15
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RusRant's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by cinealta View Post
In the 90s, major labels were releasing records recorded through CR1604s onto black face ADATs. Just send it off to Brendan O'Brien to remix and Stephen Marcussen to master, and you had no idea it was recorded to Mackie/ADAT in a Seattle garage, Chi Town loft or Swedish barn. Sub Pop, Caroline, Minty Fresh, Shanachie...all the indies were sending Mackie/ADAT records in for WEA distribution. Those bands had no idea about Neumann, Neve, SSL, Studer etc, but they were selling records.
Any albums in particular that this was the case on? I guess this was tracking, not mixing?
Old 1st January 2011
  #16
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loopy's Avatar
 

Having owned and loved, well love/hate, the orignal Tapco, the 1604 was a natural for me.
Started with the 1604, sold it and bought a 1604 VLZ as well as a 1202 I used for my live keyboard rig.

Only problem I ever had was the ribbon cables going south and Mackie sent me new ones, out of warranty, and the tech stayed on the phone for about 2 hours helping me over the install process, which was not easy at all......

I can really appreciate the real consoles and their modular approach after that experience!

Worked fine after that and is still running.

Check out just about any live news program ie:CNN, Fox etc and you will see Mackie everywhere.
Great quality at a fair price and superb support.

My only sad point is that they are made in China now which means I will never buy another piece of gear from them.
Old 1st January 2011
  #17
Gear Guru
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lives For Fuzz
Go Ahead... You Got a Story...
I have a Story, but it's not appropriate for a "Love Thread".


Quote:
Originally Posted by db007
The problem with the ribbons is they burn out causing ONLY the Left channel all acorss the board to completely go out.
and apparently it's an Old Story as well...
Old 1st January 2011
  #18
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loopy's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by joeq View Post
I have a Story, but it's not appropriate for a "Love Thread".




and apparently it's an Old Story as well...

For me it was the sub groups that intermittently stopped working.
New cables solved the problem.
Old 1st January 2011
  #19
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RusRant's Avatar
 

Like a Neve, SSL or API console never went belly up!!! It happens, that's no indication of the sound!
Old 1st January 2011
  #20
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loopy's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by RusRant View Post
Like a Neve, SSL or API console never went belly up!!! It happens, that's no indication of the sound!
I doubt Mackie will win the sound contest as they tend toward straight wire with no character.
However, in some instances that is "the sound".

It's a strange world we work in!
Old 1st January 2011
  #21
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cinealta's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by RusRant View Post
Any albums in particular that this was the case on? I guess this was tracking, not mixing?
Yup, tracking.
Old 1st January 2011
  #22
Lives for gear
ya know what I love most about 1604? is
I love to hate them. I wouldn't even jam
w/ a bunch of highschool kids in a garage with that
thing it sounds soooo harsh

buy a midas or an A&h
Old 1st January 2011
  #23
Lives for gear
 

I bought the smallest vlz because I needed something right away with pre amps to record. The first 6 months one of the outputs broke. The only reason I care about that is I feel bad selling it now with it not being fully functional.

There is no way I can put into words how bad these things suck. They sound so bad. The pre amps have 0 headroom they are the most sterile preamps I have ever heard. They make me want to give berhinnger props because at least they have some character. They are completely unmixable and might as well not have an eq. They break easy. I could go on and on.

I have nothing against adat tape. In fact I use adat tape still and think it rules. As far as people recording albums through mackie pres. Maybe some rappers but did but I bet most people recording on these pieces of crap sold the majority of there records to their Mom and Aunt(who by the way were probably really nice).

I would go as far as saying if I could find the head CEO or president or what ever of the mackie corporation and have a horse **** down his throat I would. Just because he has okayed it with himself selling kids this junk.
Old 1st January 2011
  #24
I believe morcheeba recorded and released a largely critically acclaimed album that went platinum on a 32-8.
Old 1st January 2011
  #25
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TornadoTed's Avatar
I've had a 1204VLZ for 10 years and it is currently in use as a PA mixer in the live room. It sat in the barn for 2-3 years and got really damp and also had a huge fall which broke the plastic arm rest yet still not one single fault, they are really built solid!

I was just thinking the other day when reading an SSL X-Desk thread requesting an expander that what they really need to do is come out with a mixer with the same functionality as the 1604VLZ with the Super Analogue circuitry. A simple yet fully featured analogue desk seems to be the only product missing from their line at the moment. Add 4 channels, 4 busses, simple hi/lo shelf, simple utilitarian mic pres, a sweepable mid EQ and 2 more auxes to the X-Desk for under $10k and they have a winner IMHO. Of course if they could do a 2404 ($15k) and a 3204 ($20k) version too all the better!
Old 1st January 2011
  #26
Gear Guru
 
John Willett's Avatar
 

Mackie 1604 Love Thread... Go Ahead... You Got a Story...

I find the Mackie superb and stupidly cheap for the quality.

I know the EQ had issues, but I never used the EQ myself.

As a mixer that did the job without imposing its own character on the recording it was absolutely unbeatable at anywhere near the price.

I bought the original 1604 despite being prepared to spend three or four times the price as I could not find anything that could better it even at x4 the price.



Posted via the Gearslutz iPhone app
Old 9th December 2014
  #27
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initself's Avatar
Bought a new in the box 1604-VLZ on eBay a few months ago. Set trim pots to 9:00 unity gain, faders as 0db, eqs all flat, 8 channels out to Rosetta 800, 8 channels in from Rosetta 800. I try not to move anything.

I have no experience with high end mixers, but this is the sound I've been looking for: the sound of no sound. Just wanted to hear my synths and give them enough to hit the converter properly.

Happy (although wondering about the non-VLZ 1604 and what I might be missing re: summing).
Old 9th December 2014
  #28
Gear Maniac
 
Rentzen's Avatar
Old 9th December 2014
  #29
Lives for gear
I’ve had my 1604 since 98. I’ve used it for both live gigs and home recording. Channel 16 died a few years ago, but otherwise, it works like a champ. The pres are fine…not great but as good or better than many desktop budget pres….great piece of gear…back in the day it was “the board” because there just wasn’t much competition in that price range…..
Old 9th December 2014
  #30
Gear Guru
 
monkeyxx's Avatar
I can't tell if I love or hate the Mackies. I tried a 1604 VLZ4 for a while, but ended up selling it for a few reasons. Faders small and jammed close together, not smooth feeling, EQ not so amazing, overall sound sort of closed off on the high end (one of my absolute pet peeves) or maybe it's transient softening I'm not sure, stuff came out a little bit dull. But as a utility machine, it was just wonderful to work with. So much more fun than working in software. And if you've got outboard, a mixer like this really ties it all together and makes it work fluidly. So it's very utilitarian. I just don't truly love that familiar, characteristic Mackie sound.

The Onyx preamps are actually pretty decent I think. At least as good as any other "prosumer" preamp I have ever used from any brand. I'd use them for extras on a big multitrack session if I needed to.

I just ordered a 1202 VLZ4 to move forward with for small utilities, monitoring keyboards, probably live use eventually. I might try to record some sequenced electronic hardware jams with it and pretend to be Daft Punk or Squarepusher. I think everybody needs some sort of small mixer, whether it's a Mackie or not. I just feel funny without having a mixer around, like something important is missing. I think the lack of mixers in many people's small studio setups is a sad casualty of the DAW age.

I hope to be able to raise enough capital to get a Midas Venice one day. To me, that seems like possibly a real console with a desirable sound that's euphonic and more than just a utility machine, and it's really not priced that much higher than the Mackies and Allen and Heaths, seems like a bargain in fact.

Regarding the television comment, my 1604 was used on the show Black Box before I got hold of it. I thought that was pretty cool.
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