By Jim Gault
Musician’s Friend Staff Writer
Mackie seems to have a knack for turning the ordinary into the extraordinary. When I was asked to write a Hands-On Review of the Mackie PPM1008 powered mixer, my first reaction was ho-hum. The world is filled with powered box mixers and Mackie’s would be another, albeit one of the better ones. The unit I pulled out of the box proved to be more than just better. It was amazing.
An incredible lightness
The PPM1008 gives you the full set of tools found in many stage racks—a sophisticated 8-channel mixer, two amps, effects, processing tools—and packs them all into a compact, road-rugged case. What’s amazing is that the entire package weighs only 20 pounds! That’s incredibly light.
Just how did Mackie manage to pack 1,600 watts and a full rack setup into a 20-pound system? One obvious and critical step was using Class D amplifiers and Mackie’s proven Fast Recovery circuitry. The design is stable, highly efficient, and capable of high power. Its efficiency allows the use of smaller transformers and less in the way of heat control systems. The ultimate result is a much lighter amp.
Power to go crazy with
Despite its compact size and amazingly low weight, the PPM1008 has plenty of power. Its 1,600 total watts of peak power (800W + 800W) are enough to drive a pair of 15" two-ways, or even four of them, at brain-cell-destroying volume. The system is tailored for use with Mackie passive speakers and has special EQ circuitry for perfect matching.
While my mains boxes aren’t Mackies, they are good ones and they seem to like the PPM1008 just fine. This is a system that deserves good speakers. When I cranked it up to full-tilt gig level, the PPM1008 amps stayed cool and ran distortion-free.
The PPM1008 has just eight channels, but all eight are mic channels with premium Mackie preamps, 48V phantom power, and three-band active EQ with sweepable mids and TRS inserts on channels 1-6.
The first four channels feature an inline compressor for pumping up vocal presence and punch. Channels 5 and 6 are equipped with Hi-Z inputs for instruments as well as the line inputs that are found on all channels. The Hi-Z inputs give you the functionality of two built-in DI boxes. Channels seven and eight can be used as mono mic channels or as stereo channels with their RCA and 1/4" inputs.
In its master section, the PPM1008 again has all the right stuff. It includes two nine-band graphic EQs with constant-Q filters, high-resolution 12-segment metering for mains and monitors, switchable rumble filters on both mains and monitors, and a Precision Passive EQ switch that optimizes output for use with Mackie Precision Passive Series Loudspeakers. There’s also a switch that mutes the mic channels and mono inputs, keeping stereo line channels open for break music.
There are many output options on the PPM1008. Powered outputs are accessible from the back of the mixer and feature both TRS and locking Speakon connectors. The main output section also features several line-level outputs that allow you to incorporate powered mains, monitors, or even an outboard effects processor. Record out RCAs are provided so you can easily record direct from the mixer. An automatic limiter keeps an eye on things and green and red LEDs keep you informed as to what it sees.
“Gig-ready” effects onboard
The effects section in the PPM1008 is especially well done. It is mono in, stereo out, and can be fed at different levels to the mains and monitors. It includes 24 selections of 32-bit reverbs, choruses, delays, and several combos—all of them usable and great sounding. Mackie hasn’t stacked the deck with a bunch of junk just to run up the numbers. The delays offer preset times ranging from a doubler to 350ms of delay, and a tap tempo button allows you to program delays up to 500ms.
The effects section has other useful features: a bright display shows the effect preset number selected, a pair of LEDs indicate that a signal is reaching the processor. A green LED shows that the signal is within range, and a red LED alerts you that the processor is being overloaded. There’s a mute switch for temporarily disabling the effects, and a footswitch jack for onstage foot control of effect selection.
As tough as it is light
One look at the PPM1008 tells you that it has the build to handle road use. The entire unit is armored in a steel chassis with ABS end caps that keep it protected against shock, beer, smoke, and all the other common hazards of rock-and-roll life. The control panel is recessed so if it takes a tumble in the truck, the knobs are less likely to be damaged.
Mackie has addressed all the issues that face gigging musicians in designing the PPM1008. They’ve created a unit that has the power, quality, functions, and ruggedness to do the job of a serious rack and do it well. It has the headroom. The effects sound fantastic. It’s easy to use and incredibly easy to transport. What more could one ask?
Features & Specs
- 8 channels
- 32-bit “gig-ready” digital effects
- 24 reverbs, choruses, and delays with tap tempo for live applications
- 1,600W (800W+800W) Mackie-designed Class D, Fast Recovery power amplifier
- 8 premium Mackie mic preamps with 48V phantom power
- TRS inserts (channels 1-6)
- Inline compression for increased vocal presence and punch (channels 1-4)
- Dual RCA and 1/4" line inputs on stereo channels (channels 7-8)
- Musical 3-band active channel EQ with mid sweep (100Hz-8kHz) on mono channels
- 2 channels with switchable Hi-Z inputs for instruments
- Separate monitor and FX auxiliary sends
- 12-segment LEDs for the main and monitor outputs
- Dual 9-band graphic EQs for mains and monitor outputs
- 3-mode amp switching for ultraflexible routing (Mains Stereo L/R, Mono Mains/Monitor 1, or Monitor 1 and Monitor 2)
- Rugged metal handles
- Ultralightweight (just 20 lb.) for easy portability