Nashville, Tennessee - August 2015... After more than 20 years, nine Number One hits, nine more Top 10 hits, three platinum albums, and countless tours, legendary country band Lonestar is still packing houses. Cofounder Keech Rainwater has laid down the beat for every song and every gig since the beginning. On the band's 2015 tour, Rainwater can hear every snare pop and cymbal ring in his kit more clearly than ever, thanks to his new Mackie DL1608 digital mixer with iPad control.
"A few years ago we decided to start running monitors from front of house, letting us control our own cue mixes," Rainwater begins. "But drums sound different from behind the kick, and although the monitor mix from front of house was fine for hearing guitars and vocals, I wanted a custom mix of my drums. So we used a splitter to send all of my drum mics to my personal mixer-two kick mics, two snare mics, each tom, the cymbals-and I started mixing my own drum monitors."
For several years, Rainwater swore by his Mackie 1604VLZ mixer, which enabled him to create and EQ his custom drum mix. It sounded good, but he jumped at the chance to step up to the new DL1608 digital mixer, which delivered much more processing power and flexibility. "The newer Onyx preamps sound even better than the previous generation; I really notice the quality difference, especially in the dynamics," Rainwater explains. "With all the DSP in the DL1608, I can EQ my kit more precisely, so it's snappier and brighter and cuts through the acoustic sound of the drums without affecting anyone else's mix. I can add vintage EQs, I can pan each drum the way I want, use gates, and have some compression so I can hear the dynamics loud and clear. I can also add a bit of reverb, which I could never do before."
Rainwater still gets a custom monitor mix of vocals, guitars, and so on, like the rest of the band. "I set the band mix in soundcheck and rarely touch it during the show," he notes. He routes his stereo band monitor mix to the DL1608's channels 15 and 16, leaving the rest of the channel faders available to control his personal drum mix and a click track.
"We use a DAW to supply a click track. I take a feed of the click track straight to my DL1608, which lets me control it the way I want to," says Rainwater. "With the DL1608, I can grab a fader to quickly bring the click up if I need it during the show."
Rainwater loves the DL1608's compact size, iPad control, and ability to save snapshots. "The mixer fits in a suitcase or small Pelican case, so I easily can take it with me," he notes. "The iPad saves every change I make in a snapshot, so I save multiple levels, gates, EQ settings, reverb, compression, and so on. If we go somewhere with a backline that includes a Mackie DL1608, I can just bring my iPad with my snapshots, plug in the iPad, and I'm good to go. The DL1608 isn't just convenient, it's fun too!"