Why is Mackie CR1604 a classic in the world of Electro?

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Northward
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Why is Mackie CR1604 a classic in the world of Electro?

Post by Northward » Fri Nov 04, 2016 2:05 am

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We have one in our punk/new wave band for rehearsals. It gets used for meat and potatoes PA stuff in a horrible sounding room, so I could not judge why this is such a popular board.

Why do I read that this is a classic in the world of Electro?

Beeing a synthpop/electronica lover at heart myself I wonder if I should keep it for home studio use... It's a bit awkward, cause I live in a flat with limited space. And it easily gets crowded with synths and computers...

I've listed it for sale locally, but I will reconsider if someone here says something about:

A. why I should keep this mixer - is there some vintage sound mojo I should know of..

B: How I convenient can mount it vertically with some ingenious rack and save table space.

Or...is it just a cheap option that happens works well..?

Thanks.

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Post by ignatius » Fri Nov 04, 2016 2:15 am

it's more or less the 1st affordable 16 channel mixer. they were made in USA back then and that design was more discrete i think and it had a nice sound when overdriven.. so you could overdrive it pretty nicely for acid basses and distorted kicks.. a lot inexpensive mixers actually over drive pretty well.. it's a sweet spot on a lot of them.. some of them sound awful.

edit: bang for the buck.. cheap option that works well and won't ruin everything you put in it.

but you can find other things out there that sound nice these days and are more flexible

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Northward
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Post by Northward » Fri Nov 04, 2016 2:48 am

ignatius wrote:it's more or less the 1st affordable 16 channel mixer. they were made in USA back then and that design was more discrete i think and it had a nice sound when overdriven.. so you could overdrive it pretty nicely for acid basses and distorted kicks.. a lot inexpensive mixers actually over drive pretty well.. it's a sweet spot on a lot of them.. some of them sound awful.

edit: bang for the buck.. cheap option that works well and won't ruin everything you put in it.

but you can find other things out there that sound nice these days and are more flexible
Thank you for the info.

One often read of studioes with their classics consoles like SSL and Neve, but Mackie is never gets mentioned amoung these.

So basicly those "famous Mackie preamps" are just resting on their laurels from a time where good sounding mixers costed a small fortune?

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Post by ignatius » Fri Nov 04, 2016 2:59 am

neve/ssl/api are all in a totally different league to anything like mackie etc. especially if you're mixing through them. the master section and the stereo bus/2 bus where all the channels come together is another level of awesome on an api or ssl or any of the high end "pro" consoles.

just put the mics in the right places.. get a good performance and don't worry about the high end recording gear until you have money to throw at that stuff.. it can be a rabbit hole..

when that time comes you can get a couple good mics and mic pres and decent converters and if you know what you're doing then you'll get a lot out of those things..

but a lot of great songs were recorded w/shitty gear. there's a few multi platinum records recorded by skilled producers/engineers on mackie 24/8 bus consoles.

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Post by Northward » Fri Nov 04, 2016 3:12 am

ignatius wrote:neve/ssl/api are all in a totally different league to anything like mackie etc. especially if you're mixing through them. the master section and the stereo bus/2 bus where all the channels come together is another level of awesome on an api or ssl or any of the high end "pro" consoles.
Yup! That's why our band will rent a real studio with grade-A outbord gear, even though we have some decent gear between us, it's not in that leuage

when that time comes you can get a couple good mics and mic pres and decent converters and if you know what you're doing then you'll get a lot out of those things..

but a lot of great songs were recorded w/shitty gear. there's a few multi platinum records recorded by skilled producers/engineers on mackie 24/8 bus consoles.
Yeah, I thought about the Mackie for my own home stuff, and to get something like a UA Apollo Twin (I'm waiting for the next gen). Depends on a smart mounting solution.
Last edited by Northward on Fri Nov 04, 2016 4:08 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by mousegarden » Fri Nov 04, 2016 3:44 am

These are "all right" the mic pre's are "all right" they have a well balanced sound, more than good enough for most things, but as usual with most budget preamps they suffer from "gain bunching" and don't have enough gain full stop. Plus, they can be a bit noisy with some low output mic's, like ribbons and dynamics. But if Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois use Mackie then count me in.

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Post by Northward » Fri Nov 04, 2016 4:20 am

mousegarden wrote:These are "all right" the mic pre's are "all right" they have a well balanced sound, more than good enough for most things, but as usual with most budget preamps they suffer from "gain bunching" and don't have enough gain full stop. Plus, they can be a bit noisy with some low output mic's, like ribbons and dynamics. But if Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois use Mackie then count me in.
Why on Earth would a man like Brian Eno use a Mackie unless it does something interessting to the sound.. I suspect he can use whatever top shelf gear he wants to. Source please.. :-)
Last edited by Northward on Fri Nov 04, 2016 4:27 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by mousegarden » Fri Nov 04, 2016 4:25 am

Northward wrote:
mousegarden wrote:These are "all right" the mic pre's are "all right" they have a well balanced sound, more than good enough for most things, but as usual with most budget preamps they suffer from "gain bunching" and don't have enough gain full stop. Plus, they can be a bit noisy with some low output mic's, like ribbons and dynamics. But if Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois use Mackie then count me in.
Why on Earth would a man like Brian Eno use a Mackie unless it does something interessting to sound.. I suspect he can use whatever top shelf gear he wants to. Source please.. :-)
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I did work on a project of his for a while, he's very into getting the most out of budget gear, he doesn't believe in wasting money where it's not necessary.
Last edited by mousegarden on Fri Nov 04, 2016 4:30 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by Northward » Fri Nov 04, 2016 4:29 am

Thank you..

I'm getting second thoughts over here :lol:
Maybe I should look for a good mounting solution and keep it.

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Post by mousegarden » Fri Nov 04, 2016 4:32 am

Northward wrote:Thank you..

I'm getting second thoughts over here :lol:
Maybe I should look for a good mounting solution and keep it.
Honestly, if it does the job keep it, you may end up spending more money and getting nothing much better.

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Post by BugBrand » Fri Nov 04, 2016 4:40 am

I never personally liked the feel of mackies when I've used them, but they're clearly OK for the money - reasonable sound & pretty rugged, not too $$$. I can imagine that this was a great step up from some old consumer mixers like studiomaster, etc.

Mounting - Mackie has 1604 'rotopod' side mounts though diddly detail on what those are - they look kind of like rack ears. Depending on the dimensions you could probably just hack some angle aluminium and mount on a vertical rack stand.

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Post by loydb » Fri Nov 04, 2016 5:35 am

The 1604:

- affordable
- built like a tank
- really clean compared to everything else in the price range
- great support

Mackie was also perfectly timed for the ADAT revolution, and rode that to millions in "project studio" setups.

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Post by Chopper » Fri Nov 04, 2016 5:40 am

As mentioned, first affordable 16 channels board, easy to dial something "musical" on the eq, and as opposite to their (and other manufacturers) recent offerings, "THAT" overdriven sound when you crank a channel...

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Post by rockreid » Fri Nov 04, 2016 5:59 am

The 1604 had a particular overdriven sound to it. It was also EVERYWHERE so you could walk into a studio or live situation and be familiar with the setup right off the bat.

Here is a vid of producers using a Mackie/Emu sampler combo for great effect:

[video][/video][/video]

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Post by Northward » Fri Nov 04, 2016 7:23 am

:tu: :tu: :tu:

I love the fact that there such an accumulation of knowledge in this forum without the snootiness I've experienced elsewhere.

I might just keep the Mackie for now. I clearly has something I wasn't aware of. never driven it for effect.

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Post by loydb » Fri Nov 04, 2016 8:52 am

rockreid wrote: It was also EVERYWHERE so you could walk into a studio or live situation and be familiar with the setup right off the bat.
This. I ran live sound a lot in the 1990s, and more often than not it was either a 1604 or one of their 8-buss mixers.

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Post by rhythmdial » Fri Nov 04, 2016 9:07 am

hells yeah the 1604 is fun!
I'd say the sound is "tight" and doesn't add bottom end or mystery goodness like some of the older stuff like a boss km-60. But the 1604 has a lot of features and is very simple to use and pretty durable.
I miss mine but it was really beat to hell so I was eager to move to anything else. I had it racked with some makeshift rack ears and a rotopod puts the whole cable panel in the rear to reduce rack height, its pretty slick!

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Post by Northward » Fri Nov 04, 2016 9:16 am

rhythmdial wrote:hells yeah the 1604 is fun!
I'd say the sound is "tight" and doesn't add bottom end or mystery goodness like some of the older stuff like a boss km-60. But the 1604 has a lot of features and is very simple to use and pretty durable.
I miss mine but it was really beat to hell so I was eager to move to anything else. I had it racked with some makeshift rack ears and a rotopod puts the whole cable panel in the rear to reduce rack height, its pretty slick!

Image
Nice Man cave right there :hihi:

Especially liked the way you mounted that board. DIY? Anyne wana chime in for a nice "wallmount" setup to save floor and table space?

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Post by bwhittington » Fri Nov 04, 2016 9:29 am

You guys got me looking up photos of Eno's studio. Spotted a 1202 as well.

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Post by taylor12k » Fri Nov 04, 2016 9:29 am

back in the 90s when i was doing my techno work, as one poster said, it was affordable... so that's what bedroom musicians bought. the 90s techno boom thus saw a ton of stuff produced on mackies. i had the 1604 and eventually moved to a mackie 8 bus, but the sound was similar.

it's been a long time since i used one of those but i remember overdriving the 808, 909 or 303 thru them and it was a very tight, driven sound.. you'll hear that sound all over techno records of the time.

you just used what you could get your hands on at the time... usually the recipe for the best music.

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Post by Northward » Fri Nov 04, 2016 10:04 am

So the general consensus seem to be that it's tight and when driven, good for banging stuff :hihi:

But how about musical, nice melodic harmonies..
Could you use it for recording e.g. an acoustic guitarist and vocals with good results?

Just curious if it's a bit of a one trick pony for recording.

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Post by misterbunty » Fri Nov 04, 2016 11:08 am

I used to use one for recording, and I didn't feel like there was anything lacking. It didn't add any mojo, persay, but it didn't trash the signal.

Granted, I was feeding digital inputs and keeping the signals far under the threshold, but I'd be happy using one again for recording an acoustic setup.

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Post by loydb » Fri Nov 04, 2016 11:26 am

Yes, they can be used in a studio setting. I couldn't afford two mixers, so it was both my project studio board and my live sound board back in the day.

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Post by Phil999 » Fri Nov 04, 2016 12:40 pm

I bought two of them when they came out. Cheapest 32 channels at that time. Added a primitive DIY channel switcher for a Syncaset 238 8-track cassette machine, and two 19" patchbays, this was a flexible setup. Lots of cables of course.

Still have one in good condition as a submixer (which I bought recently 2nd hand, my old ones are pretty destroyed).

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Post by nostalghia » Fri Nov 04, 2016 12:49 pm

Here's an option for you: keep the Mackie, just buy one or two high quality outboard preamps (or full "channel strips") to use when you need to record top quality vocals or acoustic instruments and want a more warm/clean/neutral sound (your choice of adjectives).
Patch output to a line in on the Mackie, so you bypass preamp on that channel (I think it does anyway-if not, is there a "direct" or other pre EQ or fader input?).

Many nice ones out there around $350-700 or so-check out Warm Audio, Golden Age, Daking, Drawmer (their MXPro-60 front end).
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