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A Conversation with John Boudreau, SVP Marketing & Product Development
Back in August, we flew out to Mackie headquarters in Seattle for a mysterious product announcement and unveiling. Now, we knew it had something to do with loudspeakers, but we weren’t prepared for this: the new, ultra compact DLM Series 2,000W Powered Loudspeakers. Three models were introduced.
-DLM8 8″ Powered Loudspeaker
-DLM12 12″ Powered Loudspeaker
-DLM12S Powered Subwoofer
Incredibly powerful, Mackie DLM Series loudspeakers deliver premium sound in the most compact, professional portable loudspeaker series ever. We had a chance to ask John Boudreau, SVP Marketing & Product Development, a few questions about the new loudspeakers, and their place in the market. An 11-year Mackie veteran, Boudreau offered a wealth of information for musicians.
How did you fit so much power into such a small enclosure?
Getting 2,000 watts of power into such an ultra-compact design wasn’t easy. We aimed to create an amp platform for the entire range of DLM speakers and therefore the dimensional restrictions of the incredibly compact DLM 8 became the target. Mackie has been designing small, powerful amps for powered speakers ever since the HR824 and SRM450. We have a couple of incredible amp designers in Cam Jones and Rene Jaeger who have a combined 50+ years of amp design between them. They were excited about the challenge and used their combined expertise to design this next generation ultra-efficient class D amp platform for the DLM line. It is certainly their most impressive design work to date.
Why did you decide to integrate a mixer into the speaker enclosures?
Since we were designing a new digital mixing platform for the DL1608, it was a natural idea to consider what a micro-sized digital mixer and processor could do for a powered speaker. The DL2 mixer has a variety of connection types so a person can mix, say, an acoustic guitar and vocals without even needing a DI box. Then, there are 16 great-sounding effects they can apply, including a variety of reverbs and delays. The built-in feedback eliminator and speaker voicing also take the guesswork out of dialing in a great front-of-house and monitor sound. So, while there’s ample processing that will surely be helpful for just about any venue, we had the musician in mind when creating the DL2 mixer.
Will this make front-of-house mixers obsolete for clubs?
Absolutely not. After all, more than a couple of inputs are typically needed for any live performance beyond a singer/songwriter or DJ. Again, this is where the new DL1608 comes in as the DL/DLM products were designed to be a next-generation PA system for the small to mid-sized live music venue. But, for situations that only call for a couple of inputs like an acoustic café or DJ-centered club, DLM’s system processing and digital mixing make it a superb stand-alone solution.
Will you be able to control the new system via the iPad or Android devices?
No. However, the companion DL1608 digital mixer is controlled by an iPad and can even mix wirelessly.
There is a lot of advanced functionality in the new loudspeakers usually reserved for larger touring rigs. Will this be aimed at DIY and independently touring artists?
Even though DLM packs some serious DSP power and a bunch of mixing tools, one of the major design goals of DLM was to make it easy to use. For instance, our implementation of TruSource DSP provides powerful acoustic correction that delivers sound quality on par with high-end touring rigs, but there’s zero setup for the user. Since it’s built-in and finely tuned, a DIY’er just plugs in an instantly has extremely high-end sound quality. After a ton of market research and user feedback, we designed the DL2 digital mixer to navigate much like a car stereo. The way that you scroll through parameters is intuitive and the learning curve is practically eliminated. It’s a great way for people who might not be familiar with mixing tools to use them. The feedback eliminator alone is going to help a lot of people make their gigs sound better.
As an artist, why would I choose this system over another loudspeaker currently on the market?
DLM loudspeakers are, on average, a third smaller than and 20% lighter than traditional 2-way loudspeakers. And since they deliver 2,000 watts of power in such a compact form factor, any artist who transports their own PA is likely to get excited at the thought. Never before has there been a loudspeaker system that can easily fill a medium-sized venue with such premium sound that you can pack into the average compact car. We didn’t sacrifice a drop of sound quality and we’ve also added a ton of amazing mixing tools and processing. We’ve played the portability game before, but DLM loudspeakers take it to another universe.
As a club owner or sound engineer, why would I be interested in this system over my existing setup?
A club owner is going to love the sleek look and small size of the DLM series. The high-output DLM12S subwoofer is incredibility small considering it delivers 2,000W of deep low end. You can easily fit these under a stage. The small size of the DLM top boxes is also great since they are easily flown or wall-mounted with simple accessories. Saving space on stage is great for bands. Saving space on the floor is great for owners. Add in the iPad-controlled Mackie DL1608 digital mixer and things get really interesting. Engineers can get rid of their snake and mix from anywhere in the venue. Actually, club owners might like this, too. Maybe room for another two-top or space for someone to sip a $14 drink?
Was the DL1608 live mixer designed as a precursor to this system?
Actually, the DL1608 and DLM loudspeakers were [conceived] at the same time. Our approach was to advance the idea of the live sound system with these two product lines.
How long has your engineering team been working on the new speakers?
You can go all the way back to 2007, when EAW had launched their MicroWedge Series of stage monitors which incorporated a vertically-aligned transducer. At the show, there were a few high-end manufacturers using this type of transducers. The immediate thought was that we have an inherently better-sounding transducer that is significantly smaller than a traditional transducer set. If properly implemented, it would be portable powered loudspeaker gold. Once [several] critical design hurdles had been overcome, it was a 12-18 month project.
When can we expect these to hit the market, and what are the price points?
These will be available globally throughout Q4.
DLM8 – $879.99 MSRP ($699.99 U.S. street)
DLM12 – $1059.99 MSRP ($849.99 U.S. street)
DLM12S – $1249.99 MSRP ($999.99 U.S. street)
How do you foresee the future of loudspeaker technology being affected by the new announcements?
It is a growth market and the technology becoming available to employ in these products is very exciting. We are happy to be leading the pack, bringing pro-level tools and sound quality into more affordable designs. We’re sure there will be imitators; there always have been. But that won’t stop us from looking ahead at the next generation of technology and doing our part to make it affordable for anyone who wants to have the best possible sound.
How has the development of these new products affected your own R&D efforts?
It’s a big win for Mackie’s design team to overcome all the challenges and deliver the compact powerhouses that DLM are – 2,000 watts, TruSource fidelity and digital mixing and processing in the smallest form factor ever. Same for our popular DL1608 digital live mixer. While we can’t divulge what’s in the pipeline, with these new technologies in our bag of tricks you should look for other products that take advantage of their benefits. We are dedicated to creating technology that drives the industry forward.
Will you be demoing the new speakers at Winter NAMM in January?
Of course. Come visit Mackie upstairs in Demo Room 209A/B during NAMM to hear the DLM system in action alongside the DL1608.
For more information, please visit www.mackie.com/products/dlmseries.