Sponsored by Mackie

Creativity Through Time

Mackie has been around for as long as I can remember, a company borne from founder Greg Mackie's frustration with the 70s sound systems when needed to market his newly-designed TAPCO Model 6000, the first 6-channel mixer aimed specifically at rock n' roll bar bands. It was a compact but sturdy piece of gear, designed for loud levels but with an accessible price that working musicians and small venues could afford. Looking back, it was “primitive,” in Greg's own words, but beloved by many musicians at the time. That console may be consigned to history now but the eponymous company has certainly stood the test of time. It's rare even nowadays to enter a club, venue or studio and not see at least one Mackie product. This ‘rock n' roll’ energy seems to have matured well and one can see that creative vibe in Mackie's newest line of products, such as the cool little gadget we are featuring here - the M•Caster Live.

A One-man Broadcast Studio

The M•Caster Live is a portable audio solution aimed at content creators, streamers and anyone in between or on the fringes. Even if you’re not a gamer or journalist it's a tool that can turn your mobile devices into a backpack-sized studio. Mackie even designed a matching Sling Bag (sold separately) for it!

The M•Caster Live's I/O design is such that you can connect almost anything to it. Let’s take a look at the left side of the unit and see what's there - you may notice that Mackie labelled all the connections with small icons instead of words so you don’t even have to read English to know what goes where.

M•Caster Live left side view

From left to right:

- The "lightning" icon shows the USB-C connection where your mobile power bank or power supply is connected. A USB-C / USB Type A cable and external “wall wart” are both included.
- The second icon shows a computer above a USB-C connection - that’s where you can connect your desktop PC/Mac, laptop, tablet or phone in order to make use of M•Caster Live’s audio interface capability.
- A dedicated headset ⅛” TRRS input is depicted with the headset icon, a nice nod to the gaming community.
- The fourth icon is a little keyboard that indicates the ⅛” TRS line input where you can connect any line-level source as a background music player or sampler, for example, or of course, a synth/keyboard.
- A smartphone icon indicates a ⅛” TRRS connector where you can plug in your phone.
- An earbud and 'monitor speakers' icons lead to headphone and monitor ⅛” TRS outputs respectively.

M•Caster Live right side view

On the unit’s right side there’s a female XLR preamp input (labelled with a microphone icon) that accepts a balanced mic or line level input. Mackie states that this combi input “will handle any kind of level you can toss at them, without overloading.” There’s also a +48V phantom power switch for condenser microphones when required.

A really nice modern feature lies in the smartphone connection - the in and out signals of your phone are split in a way to provide a built-in “Mix-Minus” bus - this means that you can send your entire mix (intro music, voice, sound fx etc) ‘minus’ the guest or caller voice, thus eliminating unwanted latency, slapback echo issues and complex routing hassles. Whether you’re out on the streets "going live" or have a secure desktop setup and just want to make things easier, M•Caster Live is a very smart centrepiece.

Where the fun starts

Taking a look at the front panel we can see that Mackie took the 'icon-based' labelling very seriously, as the only written words on the entire box is literally the product name. So what do all these buttons do? Some of them, as the three bottom knobs with “speakers” icons and the one above on the left with the “earbuds” icon obviously stand for overall channel volume and headphone levels but what do the “waves”, “dice” and “fader”-like labels mean? Mackie explains that it’s all about creativity - rather than be preoccupied with the myriad of parameters within dynamics processors and equalisers, or going through a folder's worth of plugins to find modern & fun voice effects at the expense of heavy CPU loads and latency, all you have to do is turn M•Caster’s knobs and you'll quickly achieve your desired effects chain - all running under the unit’s own DSP processing power.

M•Caster Live front panel view

M•Caster Live effects are separated into two categories:

The “waves” icon

On the front panel just underneath the headphone level control knob is the StreamFX row, which go through both the unit’s channels. The first two knobs control the amount of the selected effect you want to add for each channel respectively. Onto the right you will find the StreamFX Preset Selector with its “dice like” iconography from 0 to 5. You can have a play with these, changing your voice from “Chipmunk” to “Darth Vader”, or perhaps just adding reverb, flanger or delay effects to your channel.

The “faders” icon

Below the StreamFX row is the ContourFX row, where the first two knobs control the amount of the selected effect for each channel. The ContourFX Preset Selector allows you to choose between seven different digital signal processors (DSPs) such as EQ, Compression, filtering and more. Enhance your microphone audio quality or filter your voice to sound like an old radio by selecting your favourite preset and turning the amount knob right or left - easy!

The Input Channel Switch

LED Colour Selector Switch

Other than ContourFX and StreamFX knobs the unit also has a switch for each channel where you can select the input you'd like to use (and be processed by the effects). This way “channel 1” may be used by the microphone XLR preamp by pressing the left side of the switch. Pressing its right side will enable the headset input, and the same happens with “channel 2” - by pressing the left or the right side of the switch you will be choosing between the instrument / line-in ⅛” jack and the USB computer connection respectively. Another switch with a “sun” icon sits to the right side of the panel just next to the aforementioned switches - that’s the LED Colour Selector Switch for you to enable the LEDs located on the undercarriage of M•Caster Live. You can choose between seven different colours or off to match your room’s vibe or just express your mood.

Like a Swiss Army Knife® for Streamers

Coming in understated black or vibrant white editions, with Mac & PC compatibility, a portable mobile design, a wide range of connectivity, no routing hassle, access to premium tools and the ease of otherwise complex configuring of DSP effects on the go, M•Caster Live is the real "neutral country military cutting & slicing tool" for streamers. No matter where you’re at in your production journey you will be able to stream and record your content with superior audio quality.

Check out Mackie’s website and discover some really cool accessories for your M•Caster Live such as the M•Caster Sling Bag with multiple compartments for you to safeguard all your wired equipment as you go looking for your next story, or the mRING-6 Battery-Powered ring light with convertible selfie stick/stand and remote control, all designed for you to live your best creative life.

Price and Availability

M•Caster Live is available now on Mackie.com and at participating retailers with a MAP of $229

M•Caster Live product page: https://mackie.com/en/products/mixers/mcaster-live