Unofficial Mackie User Forums > DL1608/DL806/DL32R/ProDX Mixers

Control Surface Choices


Now that Mackie has promised to support other platforms for a control surface (iOS, Android, PC, Mac) some of us need to look at the hardware options. Let's just review the track record of iOS, Android, Windows and MacOs. Release dates for the "Qualified" versions of these systems are:

iOS V10 Sept 13 2016      Currently at V11 and soon to be V12 (Sept 2018)
Android V6.0 Oct 5 2015   Currently at V8 soon to be at V9 (Aug.-Sept.)
Windows 10 July 24 2015   Continuously updated ? Read this along with disclaimers:
macOS 10.2  Aug. 24 2002   Currently at 10.13 High Sierra
Apple has no current written policy for EOL (End Of Life). Usually two version past the current.

Too bad Linux is not a choice!

let's look at the possible reasons for Mackie's version picks.
iOS support is usually two versions past current. Apple has no written policy they just stop supporting without notice. So V10 is the earliest supported until this Sept. Here is a support matrix for iOS.

Android is similar but with a twist since updates are issued by the device suppliers not Google. So this makes updates dependent on device manufacturers that have little incentive for maintaining old equipment. No money in that.  EOL is clearly up to the device supplier and the app developer. Google Android security patches for the OS are currently supported back to V6.0.

Both iOS and Android are phone driven OS's. This is a fast paced business not based on stability.

The macOS support policy is inline with that of iOS. So why did Mackie pick a version older than it's oldest product the 2012 Dl1608?  V10.2 was released in 2002 it makes no sense. A typo maybe? **  Currently supported is 10.11 until Sept.. Here are Apples security updates. Note last 10.10 update in 2017 and then dropped.

That leaves Windows 10. As stated in the above link Microsoft at least has a EOL policy.  W10 introduced in 2015 has a normal support cycle for 5 years (2020) and extended additional 5 years  which for security issues puts it at 2025. Apps for the most part are supported back to W7 (July 2009).

So for stability and future planing purposes Windows wins out.
If security is not your concern and bugs are not a issue then all of the above is irrelevant. Only the app manufacturer's support will matter for EOL.

So lets look at the $ for the control surface. A quick survey of new tablets gave a rather large range from around $80 to $3000+. So there are plenty of choices except for Apple, which of course is a single source for product (pricey Monopoly). In selecting a control surface for the DL series it's important to make sure that certain features are present. To reliably use WiFi the a or AC (5Ghz) capability needs to be there for now. The new DL's already have b/g/n (2.4Ghz) included, a poor choice for reliability. A USB port of V2 or better is useful especially if the WiFi is not adequate.  There are several choices for WiFi dongles that meet the AC requirement (ie. Netgears at ~$50). It also allows for wired Ethernet (adapter) as either backup or main use (I use a wired connection whenever I can).

For now my money will be on a Windows control surface for reliability and predictability. Second would be Linux but it's not a choice for Mackie. Android would be next since there are many more choices of product.

What are yours?

** I think that they meant 10.12 a more plausible version released Sept 20 2016. Just as I suspected Pg 15 of the OM lists 10.12,10.13 :) So much for Marketing.

I'm a Mac guy now so I don't expect to move elsewhere.  I do own a Windows machine, but it's a tower.  The Macbook Pro I've had since 2010.  I am losing two IPADS but I have two ipads that survive MF 5.x.   I'm thinking about the D16S.  Don't want more channels but my recording mixer (Alesis Multi-Mix 16 Firewire)  is no longer supported with my macbook.  Will probably think about that for a while first.  I don't make those types of decisions quickly. 

TBH, I think we can look at this a bit differently: now that Mackie are (finally) giving us a free choice on what platforms to use, there are - independent of technical details - some principal strategies to deal with this freedom:

1: Dedicated Mixing Tablets: get some cheap tablet devices dedicated purely to operating the mixer (especially suitable for monitoring submixes for musicians) - just get whatever cheap Android devices you get at bargain prices that qualifiy along Mackie's platform requirements, put them in your mixer flightcase and use them until they break. Then get a cheap replacement.

2: Allround Tablet: Choose your tablet platform for broader musical or other personal requirements, not just for Mackie mixers. In this, it certainly makes sense to look at the track record of that platform regarding lifecycle support. My perspective (feel free to correct me, though) is that Android and iOS aren't dramatically different in their version and release strategy, but with Android it pays to look not only at the operating system, but also at the hardware manufacturer's lifecycle track record. When you've decided on your target platform, invest in something that is safely above Mackie's minimum requirements, since this is an investment that should last some time.

Note: I'm not counting Windows tablets in this category - these are still a bit of a mixed bag: you get a full desktop operating system, but the "tablet" operability is sub-par compared to true tablet OSes like iOS and Android, so I would consider them an "in between" category - let's see how the new Surface Go will perform in the market...

3: Workhorse Laptop: Choose a true "working machine" - laptop or convertible. This, you won't choose for Mackie mixer duties alone, but for the whole mix of your computing requirements. The good thing about this is that using a laptop, we can also connect to our mixer via a boring old LAN cable without needing Wifi on stage.

For most of us, this will probably be the "mobile DAW" platform - Windows or MacOS both will work nicely (with MacOS the only option for Logic users). My personal view is that Apple has created a lot of compatibility issues with recent OS updates and created a number of problems for software and hardware users - some software / hardware not yet supported in the latest releases, whilst other software or newest hardware drivers will only run on the latest OS - the whole confusion about what runs on El Capitan, Sierra or High Sierra would have scared me off, TBH.

That's where Windows has been a bit more predictable; the step to Windows 10 certainly caused some months of strain around hardware compatibility and the changes in the audio/realtime subsystem, but these days, things have mostly quietened down.

Independent of platform, some third-party hardware will always "fall over the cliff" during a release change (no drivers for the new version), but that's to some extent a forced refresh cycle and keeps the industry humming ;-)

Overall, these three principal strategies (dedicated commodity tablets, allround tablet, workhorse laptop) are by no means mutually exclusive - I guess most of us will combine some of them in some way. I'm definitely looking forward to giving band members the option to access their monitor mixes on whatever smartphones they bring to the gig or on some cheap dedicated Android tablets that I just have in my bag. OTOH, I'm counting the days until I can hook up my Surface Pro to my DL32R and use all that beautiful screen real estate.

Still it makes sense to consider these three categories individually and make buying decisions accordingly.



The main purpose of this post was to give background information for some basic selection criteria. Your classification is certainly another good viewpoint ( device usage) and eventually gets combined with other criteria such as technical issues and $. I gave a heads up on the critical WiFi issue for which, without a quality connection, would make it a useless purchase. Mackie should have learned from the X-Air experience in only including a (b/g/n) WiFI. At least one company in this price range got it, Soundcraft with their Ui24R. They also eliminated the Control surface hassle with the HTML 5 based interface and multi-platform software development and support costs.  Wired connections are available on all platforms as my evaluation of X-Air mixers pointed out :
Until V5.1 is released we're just speculating anyway (at least for the DL1608/806). My own situation would make my V3 iPad and two Android tablets obsolete at least for Mackie. They still function as a CS (control surface) for my 5 Behringer/Midas mixers. That leaves me with Windows laptops/tablets as the only usable CS for my DL1608 should I want to upgrade.
On your "Dedicated Mixing Tablets" I would advise considering WiFi dual band devices for this application. One needs to look closely at the specs (sometimes omitted or cleverly  hidden). The /a/b/g/n/AC units for the most part are in the $200+ range.


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