sound quality of Mackie dl32r vs QU series

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This topic contains 65 replies, has 18 voices, and was last updated by Profile photo of dpdan dpdan 7 years, 6 months ago.

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    Profile photo of [XAP]Bob

    Alt out is balanced – XLR to TRS leads are inexpensive and it sounds like the power amps are by the desk anyway? Two quick leads, or adapters, and you’re sorted.

    Profile photo of john

    Bob – Yup, tat is going to be my plan. Thanks everyone!

    Profile photo of PointMan

    dpdan, I’ve been debating between the two rack mixers as well. I like the FX, front controls and quick multi-channel recording on the Qu-PAC, but I like the Master Fader app better on the Mackie. I also like the fact that they created a control surface for it. Question about the reverb on the DL32R, with the recent firmware update, did you notice an improvement in sound? Thanks.

    Profile photo of dpdan

    Holy cow my longest post ever πŸ™‚
    OK here goes,,, I want to emphasize something first before I post my opinion about the two different products.
    Some things are the same yet completley different by design, and they do share some of the same features. They both have extreme advantages over the other but it is just my opinion after using them both ALOT!

    The reverb on the QU used to kill the DL series mixers, NO MORE. Mackie’s new algorithms are phenomenally better. So much better that I don’t mind the long reverb hanging out all naked by itself after the cutoff of a nice big ballad.

    Sound quality to me is virtually identical. I seriously doubt that anyone, anywhere could hear a difference. Both units have quiet, clean sound and the quality of EQ is excellent in both mixers.

    Here is a biggie…
    Multi-channel recording on the Mackie is very disappointing. Connecting a USB hard drive to the Mackie DL32R mixer uses a “stupid” format that records all 32 channels into a single (multi-channel wav file), that’s right… check it out πŸ™
    If your first two channels are Kick and Snare, and you listen to the multichannel wav file, you will hear kick on the left and snare on the right and that’s it. If you record a two hour concert of 32 channels, you will need to convert all of these multichannel wav files using a third party app like RME’s Multichannel wav file batch processor. That was a mouthful, but nothing compared to the time it will take you to convert them and line them all up in order in your DAW. After these multichannel wav files are separated into separate individual mono wav files, you will have gobs of groups of 32 channels to rename and splice together. This is not impossible to do and in fact software programs like Digital Performer make it possible to accurately “stitch” all the files together so that there is absolutely no glitches or missing audio. Now, the Qu on the other hand does spit out individual mono wav files (YAY!) like any professional audio console should and the Qu wav files are 48 Khz and 24 bit, but if you want something different than that you’re out of luck. When I use the Qu24 or the Mackie, I simply connect my Mac laptop to the mixer using a single USB cable and run Digital Performer. Super easy, when I get back to the studio, I open DP and all the tracks are right there ready to mix. Some people complain because they don’t want to “lug around” a laptop.. REALLY??? Come on, I mean one subwoofer is far more work than a little laptop computer in a case with some of your other gear.

    A seriously powerful feature of the Mackie DL32R is that it has a port in the rear for an optional Dante card which allows connection to any other Dante gear and yes, your laptop via CAT 5. Very powerful! The Qu, nope sorry, no Dante card or any other for that matter.

    Moving on to the App……………. and this is HUUUUGE!!

    Both apps WORK and control the mixer just fine. I again need to let you know I am just providing my personal opinion, but many of the statements I am going to make are FACT more than opinion. The Mackie Master Fader app is a well thought out, well refined machine and works with you,… all night long, effortlessly and flawlessly. There are so many differences between the two apps it isn’t even funny…
    OK here goes…

    Master Fader…. input naming offers color coding, picture, naming up to 63 charachters. At least I can spell out Charles instead of Charle like the Qu Pad.

    Qu Pad….. input naming limits me to a ridiculous six charachters. NO color coding and no picture or even an icon. All input channels are green. Try swiping quickly through all the other channels to find the guitar channel for the solo that is already playing….. right now,…. well there it is, too late the solo is over and you blew it becasue every single channel looks identical except for the name. Inconceivable that A&H has refused all this time to make channels color coded…… they do on the app for the GLD. And don’t tell me if I want color coding buy a GLD ;(


    If you can’t tell, this really gets under my skin and makes me really hate the Qu app. Mixing on it is completely unmusical and to me, they have done nothing to make it more efficient musically. Even the screen redraw during swiping left or right is like my iPad is running Windows 95 with 1 meg of ram.

    There are some things about the QuPad app that I really do like… one thing is that you can grab a fader and increase the resolution by moving your finger away from the fader. I have begged Mackie for this and hopefully they will implement it soon, after all, that IS an Apple thing. The Master Fader app allows six “View Groups” this gives the user the option to hide any channels that the user does not want or need to see, even if they are still active. Unfortunately, the order in which the channels are laid out from left to right can not be changed. πŸ™ The Qu app kills Master Fader in this area because it allows the user to create up to three “Custom” layers that can contain any order of input channels, DCA faders, group faders, mix output faders and FX faders. This is VERY nice on the QU app.

    Mix outputs…
    The DL32R mixer has 14 XLR outputs, typically they are mix 1-12 and MAIN L/R. All odd/even paired mixes can easily be “linked” for stereo use whether it be for stereo monitors or stereo in-ear mixes or even stereo zones. And naturally, those mixes (when stereo) allow the option of using the MAIN L/R mix’ pan setting, or it’s own independent setting. Same thing with muting,… all mix outputs can use the MAIN L/R mute, or have independent mutes.

    The Qu has 12 XLR outputs, and the first four are mono. They can not be linked. Mix outputs 5/6, 7/8, and 9/10 are stereo and can not be separated for six independent mono mixes. This is a serious weakness by comparison of the Mackie, but honestly, either system can do what you need within reason. The Qu mixer now with it’s latest firmware 1.91 allows the stereo “groups” to be used as two additional stereo mix outputs (Qu24), and four stereo groups to four additional mix outputs (Qu32). And since the console already sports XLR outputs for Groups it is nice to have this option. VERY NICE!

    Effects,…. Master Fader (with the DL32R) provides two stereo reverbs with gobs of adjustments to tailer the reverb to your liking and one stereo or mono digital delay. In my opinion, Mackie missed the boat here by having no other effects such as chorusing, or other popular effects besides reverb and vocal delay. The Qu mixer provides FOUR effects engines to be used however you want. NICE! Qu provides reverb, delay, flange and chorus.

    Mackie provides six mono subgroups (linkable for stereo) six DCA groups, six Mute groups, and six mono (stereo linkable) Matrix outputs.
    Qu provides two stereo subgroups, (not switchable for four mono groups) four DCA groups, four Mute groups and two stereo Matrix outputs (not switchable to four mono).

    I/O patching,…. Master Fader provides a ludicrous amount of patching this to that, and the Qu does not disappoint in this area either.

    Both mixers have another very aggravating issue with regard to channel muting and here is an analogy…
    The concert is over, “THANK YOU AND GOOD NIGHT!!!”
    An experienced engineer is going to wait for a very short time before hitting the “ALL MUTE” group. As some of us know, somebody else wants to say just one more thing…. “DRIVE SAFE, DON”T FORGET TO BUY OUR CD IN THE LOBBY!!!”

    We have just hit “ALL MUTE” and now band members are already unplugging and tearing down their gear.
    Dan, can I unplug? SURE! Then somebody runs up onto the stage and wants to make just one more announcement on Bill’s mic.

    CRAP! I have to un-mute ALL the input channels just to unmute Bill’s mic.
    The individual channel MUTE button should ALWAYS over-ride a mute group that it is assigned to. Why is this this way?????

    Softkeys are wonderful and Allen & Heath has hit it out of the ballpark here. Mackie doesn’t have any. πŸ™

    The control and manipulation of scenes in both mixers are extremely effective, although I wish Mackie would call them scenes instead of snapshots πŸ™ A theatrical show does not have any snapshots, but it does have lots of scenes. A show contains scenes. A camera contains snapshots. UGH!!!

    Both mixers do a dandy job of recording the channels for an almost instant replay or virtual soundcheck, but multi-track recording as mentioned earlier is,….. well,,,….. not so great. Still better than two ADAT HD24 recorders and VHS TAPE though.

    Compression, Gating, Parametric EQ on all input channels, typical,.. yeah yeah we expected that, and Parametric EQ AND Graphic EQ on all outs is nice for both mixers.

    The Qu mixers provide a very valuable feature for logging into the mixer,… allowing only certain features to certain qualified operators, this is EXTREMELY valuable for “House of Worship” venues as well as theaters and schools. The Mackie goes about this with a screen that is called Access Limits. And the iPad/s can be locked out of just about anything.

    iPhones iPads iPods oh no !
    The Mackie allows up to twenty Apple devices to log into the mixer and use it. It is up to the person in charge of the entire system to “Limit Access” to each Apple device being used by someone in the band or praise team or whatever.

    For whatever reason, Allen & Heath only allows two iPads to operate the mixer with QuPad. Up to ten users can use iPhones or iPods but they can only use the Qu-YOU app which is extremely limited in what it can do in comparison to the QuPad app, but it gives the necessary controls for individual mixes. The Mackie system smokes the Qu here in my opininon.

    After reading this post,,, it would appear as though I think that the Allen & Heath Qu mixers are “LESS THAN” when compared to the Mackie DL32R, quite the contrary. They are both radically different pieces of gear, but share many of the same luxuries that digital audio is allowing us with today’s technology. I provide sound for a number of different bands for around 50 wedding receptions per year and for almost all of those jobs I use the DL32R and two iPad with a handful of iPhones on stage.

    I also provide sound for concerts indoor as well as outdoors. And for most of those I use the Qu24 with an AR2412 and an AR84 for a total of 30 inputs. I love not having to deal with a console for wedding receptions, company parties and corporate events. When it is a concert where people pay to come hear music or a theatrical show, I’m old school and I want real 100 mm faders, and for that I LOVE THE QU mixer. I love both systems, the Mackie is in a single four space SKB case and no snake, no table, no nuthin, just plug and play. The QU needs a CAT 5 cable run to the back, and gaff tape here and there as well as a table, but hey, I LOVE IT!
    Mackie just recently released a real console with real faders and knobs to mate with the DL32R via an installed Dante card, and it is called DC16. It does have a ton more features than what I have brought up here. The DC16 is a completely different product than the Qu mixers, and way more expensive. So, in that regard comparing the two seems goofy…. but I guess it is just as goofy to compare a little four space black box with just a bunch of connectors to a mixing console with real moving faders and real knobs.

    That was fun,,,
    I am going to bed.

    Profile photo of MarkPAman

    Interesting post – I’ve not really used the Mackie(s) much, so it’s god to hear from somebody that has. Thanks for taking the time.


    “We have just hit β€œALL MUTE” and now band members are already unplugging and tearing down their gear.
    Dan, can I unplug? SURE! Then somebody runs up onto the stage and wants to make just one more announcement on Bill’s mic.

    CRAP! I have to un-mute ALL the input channels just to unmute Bill’s mic.
    The individual channel MUTE button should ALWAYS over-ride a mute group that it is assigned to. Why is this this way?????”

    Well said!

    Profile photo of DavidCo

    Muting is dealt with in A&H products by means of a simple OR relationship.

    What I assume you are suggesting is that mute groups should just be a macro to update a mute group’s members to that of the mute group master at the mute/unmute event, and statefulness in the members should NOT be maintained thereafter?


    Profile photo of dpdan

    Hi David, you have a way with words πŸ™‚
    Quite elegantly stated, but I think I know what you are asking…

    you are asking me if I think that the master mute for let’s say “ALL MUTE” would be updated to no longer include Bill’s vocal after I hit the channel mute on Bill’s mic?

    No, when all the input channels are muted from my “MUTE ALL” mute master, Bill’s mic along with all the other mics would be muted as expected, but simply taping Bill’s mute switch would unmute his channel and it would stay unmuted until I hit his mute switch again to mute it. When I hit the “MUTE ALL” mute master (when the channels are not muted) it would mute all channels as expected including Bill’s channel since I never removed him from being part of “MUTE ALL”.

    Did that make any sense ? πŸ™‚

    Profile photo of PointMan

    Wow. Thanks dpdan for that detailed comparison. Just want to clarify the ALL MUTE issue you brought up. So once the show is over and you tap your “ALL MUTE” mute group button on the app, you can’t just tap on Bill’s channel’s mute button and quickly un-mute his mic? We have to un-mute the other band member’s mics as well?

    Profile photo of

    Well said dpdan!
    Thanks for taking to time to inform us all of that information.

    Interestingly I never have an all mute soft key.
    I do have multiple mutes assigned to mute different areas of instruments, efx etc…

    Thanks again dpdan.

    Profile photo of dpdan

    Hi guys,
    “We have to un-mute the other band member’s mics as well?”

    that is correct, we could however manually mute every channel and then unmute Bill’s channel, but by then the person wanting to make that last announcement will have already moved to a different mic.

    my first two mutes are ALL and BREAK,
    the “ALL” mutes all input channels while the BREAK mutes all input channels except the lead singers mic and the break music,

    Profile photo of dpdan

    not to change the subject, but another thing that I do on all my jobs with the Mackie and the Qu is to assign all the stage monitor mixes (except in ears) to a DCA. I name it MON.
    If one of the monitors causes some feedback it is impossible to know which mix is causing it, so a quick lowering of the MON DCA fader lowers the volume of all the stage monitors equally, but it is only lowering them a few db and works like a charm πŸ™‚ once the hovering feedback is gone, I can then decide which mix was the culprit. Experience usually dictates that it is most likely the last mix where that keyboard player (who is practically deaf) asked for a little more.

    As the Brits would say,… acts like a treat πŸ™‚
    Perhaps one of the most pathetic things I ever experienced was a lead singer almost constantly pointing down at his monitor.
    I kept giving him more and more, and when I could not give him any more, I went up to the stage and I could hear his vocal literally radiating all around the stage from his monitor. I motioned to him that that was all and then noticed he was wearing ear plugs.

    Profile photo of Lee7

    “As the Brits would say,… acts like a treat”

    Never heard that terminology before, don’t you mean “Works like a charm”? πŸ™‚

    Anyway, that aside, a good informative review that I am sure will help some people. My last board was a Mackie before moving over to digital.

    Lee πŸ™‚

    Profile photo of airickess

    dpdan, it might help the “sudden announcement” situation to have another mic (it could be a cheap vocal mic) hanging out just off stage for the announcements. If you’ve run out of inputs you can connect it to the talkback input if possible – that way it’s on with a quick push of a button.

    Profile photo of Dave

    +1 for dpdan’s suggestion on 2 seperate soft key mutes, great solution. Good tip on the DCA use too, thanks.

    Profile photo of dpdan

    Hi Lee,
    “workds like a charm” is something I usually say a lot,
    but since A&H is a brittish company I was only being goofy by saying “acts like a treat”.
    a similar saying that I am pretty sure I have seen british people say…. πŸ™‚
    Another one of their common sayings is,,, “a nice bit of kit”

    I won’t quit my day job πŸ™‚

    airickess, I could do that, but a person not familiar with the stage or mics is just going to run up to a mic on a stand and start banging on the mic till it gets turned on… you’ve seen it.

    glad to help Dave!

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