Mackie DLZ Creator Review: Mixer & Audio Engineer In One? | Radio.co

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Mackie DLZ Creator Review: Mixer & Audio Engineer In One?

The Mackie DLZ Creator promises to be your right-hand man in the studio. Check out our review to see how it measures up as mixer and audio engineer in one.

Lucy Rowe

by Lucy Rowe in Review

Last updated 24.11.2023

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Mackie Background: Rock Solid Foundations

Formed in the 1970s by George Mackie, his eponymous company made a name for itself by making powerful, sturdy and reliable live mixers. They’re raison d’etre was to give the guitar bands of the time more punch.

But Mackie didn’t stop at rocking arenas. They released quality studio mixers for recording sessions, and stellar speakers for the club and live venues.

In more recent years, they’ve turned their attention to everyday audio equipment. Ranging from headphones to USB interfaces, and now they've brought out a digital mixer.

Introducing...The Mackie DLZ Creator

A Mackie DLZ Creator mixer on a stand, on a wooden coffee table. The mixer has a Shure SM7B microphone plugged in to it, and positioned over an empty leather chair.

In case you're not sure on what a digital mixer is, we'll sum it up. It's a mixer that allows analogue and digital sources to be routed to them and mixed together as one.

Because of the versatility, digital mixers are mainstays of many radio stations & broadcasters. Mackie may have the history, it’s RODE that is audio’s sweetheart. Their RODECaster Pro 1 changed the mixing game significantly enough, that many brands have followed their lead in designing something similar. The Mackie DLZ Creator, is no exception.

Looking for a direct comparison of the Mackie DLZ Creator vs the RODECaster Pro II? Then check out Phil's review below:

Mackie DLZ Creator Tech Specs

  • 10.1” High-resolution full-color touch display with anti-glare coating
  • 4 discrete XLR/TRS combo inputs
  • Stereo channel with dual 1/4” TRS inputs
  • Stereo channel with 1/8” TRS connection
  • Stereo Bi-Directional Bluetooth® channel
  • Onyx80 mic preamps with up to 80dB gain
  • 14x4 USB-C audio interface to Mac or PC
  • Flexible multitrack recording and stereo playback to MicroSD and USB
  • Professional audio processing
  • 5 dynamically color-coded rotary controls
  • Sample playback
  • 4 independent headphone outputs
The back of the DLZ Mackie Creator, showing it's inputs, outputs and power socket.

An Audio Engineer & A Mixer In One?

The DLZ Creator promises to make professional audio accessible. Regardless of where the user is at in their broadcasting journey. While we take our hats off to them, let's take a look at how it does this...

Set Up Assistant: A Helping Hand Setting Up The Mixer

Imagine your first day at a radio station, and an audio engineer is showing you where to plug in what. The Setup Assistant is that audio engineer, helping you set up the mixer all on your own.

DLZ Creator gives you the benefits of a professional studio mixer without the steep learning curve.

We don't want to oversell the Setup Assistant, you will need a smidge of audio knowledge. If you don't know your XLR from your elbow, the Setup Assistant can't teach you that. It will, as the name suggest, help you get the mixer set up though. Ready for you to broadcast, stream or record.

A hand plugging in an XLR cable in to the back of a Mackie DLZ Creator mixer.

To keep things simple, the DLZ Creator has 3 modes:

  • Easy: Plug in, play and not worry about tweaking audio.
  • Enhanced: More control over the audio. But getting too bogged down with the details. (A few more audio settings are available, but the more advanced controls are hidden).
  • Pro: Full control over the audio and know how to get it sounding right.

Easy mode keeps overwhelm at bay, and shows just basic audio settings. Easy peasy, great for beginners. Enhanced reveals a few more settings and features, but keeps the complex stuff out of arms reach. Go Pro and you'll have all features on display for that audio deep dive.

A person holding up the Mackie DLZ Creator mixer, against a black and white background.

Mix Agent: Freedom From Checking Levels?

In an ideal world, we'd all have an engineer or producing checking and tweaking our levels. They would scurry silently around the studio. Muting mics and ensuring a nice, clean signal when someone speaks.

But when flying solo, could the Mackie DLZ Creator's Mix Agent be a heaven-sent feature for broadcasters?

When broadcasting, streaming or recording, users can enable auto-mix. Users decide the level of priority for each mic. The auto-mix is designed to mix your audio with this in consideration. It'll turn down the mics of lower priority. And ensure the mics with the highest priority are well heard.

A close-up of a finger pushing the automix button on the Mackie DLZ Creator mixer.

In theory, this could leave content creators to focus on their conversations, confident they're getting great quality audio. In testing, we certainly found the auto-mix feature does work.

It helps quieten the mics with the lower priority. But the auto-mix is not magic. The usual principles apply to get a good signal, and without these the auto-mix will struggle. Essentially, even with high priority, you'll still need to speak closely into the mic. And stay in a position that is relative to its directional pattern is essential.

While we like the idea, but the mix-agent is no replacement for having an engineer or producer on hand. Or at the very least, keeping one eye on your levels yourself.

Sound That Left Us Wanting

The Set Up Assistant and Mix Agent are nice features to have, but the number one priority is audio quality. We used the two Shure SM7B microphones with the Mackie DLZ Creator. This microphone is well-known for being gain-hungry, and we gave it a good 70DB+ of gain to get loud signals.

A close up of the Mackie DLZ Creator, showing it's top right corner. Part of the screen is visible, alongside the 5 headphone knobs and the automix, record and home button.

As is typical with this mic, we suffered from quite a lot of noise and the audio quality wasn't of a standard we were happy with. Using these classic microphones direct with the DLZ creator won't give you broadcast quality audio. Like many other mixers, you'll have to use a Fethead or Cloudlifter to boost the signal without the noise.

This is an area where the RODECaster Pro II has the Mackie DLZ Creator beat. The RODECaster Pro II's pre-amps deliver clean audio without any mic-boosters.

How Much Does the Mackie DLZ Creator Cost & Where Can I Buy It?

The Mackie DLZ Creator costs $800 or £820.

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Final Verdict

The DLZ Creator is a valiant attempt from Mackie, with some promising features. But for broadcasters, these features don't justify the extra 100 bucks it costs over the RODECaster Pro II. The Mackie DLZ Creator does have its own discord channel though. And we're impressed by how involved the Mackie team are with improving their gear.

We'll be eagerly awaiting a later version of the Mackie DLZ Creator. With a bit more focus on audio quality, this could be a serious contender for the RODECaster Pro II for the radio world.

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