NAMM: Spike Gives Mackie Some Tracktion

Mackies audio interface and software shipping in March      19/01/04

NAMM: Spike Gives Mackie Some Tracktion
Mackies new Spike

Mackie’s new Spike audio interface really does have a bit of a resemblance to someone with a Mohawk haircut, when viewed from the side with all the cables plugged in. I got the full demo on this unit and the nifty Tracktion software that is bundled with it. Mackie bundles “Ableton Live Mackie" with the Spike as well. Spike is a two channel 24/96 USB audio and MIDI interface for Mac or PC. It features Mackie’s high headroom preamps and stereo instrument inputs. The front panel sports, for each preamp: gain controls, mic/line switches, and low frequency rolloff switches. Also on the front panel are controls for the Mix, Monitor and Headphone outs. Onboard is a SHARC DSP chip with dynamics processing, meaning no CPU drain on the host computer, an unusual feature in units of this type. I got a look at the nicely laid out DSP software editor in action, and it’s basically a fully featured channel strip with eq and dynamics control. The Spike is a little bit taller than an MBox, but just as thin, meaning it will easily fit into most laptop case for portable recording. It also has a stabilizing foot that swings out, making the Spike very steady on a desktop. The included Tracktion software could be an article in itself. This slick looking program takes the idea of a graphical interface to it’s logical conclusion. Everything is drag and drop, including track assignments, assigning fx, moving fx around within the fx chain. Every function takes place on one screen, so no switching windows to get to what you need. Tracktion is intended to be simple enough for the first time recordist to use with ease, but also provide a feature set to get real work done. Mackie is continuing to develop the software, and additional (and more advanced) features are promised for the next version. Tracktion is OSX only on the Mac, and unfortunately I don’t have any info an PC compatibility. Tracktion is also compatible with VST plugins, and includes the Nomad Factory Warmer Phaser plugin free. Mackie expects to ship Spike at the end of March. Actually, that’s what they say about all their new products! Mackie has been quite busy and has a number of new products coming out that will revitalize their line, in my opinion. Worth a look if you are planning on getting a small format mixer or desktop audio interface in the near future. Albert

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