The story of Mackie is the story of a company that is anything but ordinary. It’s the story of a boy with a dream. A dream to make a better sounding world. (Okay, he was a grown man, and he was mainly thinking about music, but it’s still cool.) It’s the story of a company that started with a small PA mixer and grew to become the go-to brand for recording, pro audio, live sound, podcasting, and content creation. And as we used to say back in the early days, it’s a story so compelling, so inspiring, you’ll have to pull your socks up after reading it.
From Humble and Geeky Beginnings
It all started in 1970 in Mukilteo, Washington. Greg Mackie, a self-professed audio nerd and closet rock and roller, was fed up with the underpowered live mixers of the day, and obstinate enough to believe he could build something better. Thus was born the TAPCO Model 6000, the first 6-channel mixer designed for rock and roll.
“Primitive” is how Greg described the early TAPCO gear. The chassis were stamped out by a heating duct fabricator, the bottoms painted with fake vinyl car-top spray. To improve the feel of the low-cost, mass-produced rotary potentiometers (the only kind available then), Greg and his partners took each one apart and injected it with a special "pot-tightening goo."
But as primitive as they were, they were rock solid and super dependable, with a look and feel that belied their budget design. By the mid-1970s, TAPCO had made its mark, with mixers like the 6000 and 6100R becoming staples among working class musicians, drawn by their low price and bulletproof, “Built Like A Tank” construction. It’s a concept that’s been a fundamental building block of every piece of Mackie gear, right through to today. We don’t just make gear, we make gear that lasts. And lasts. And lasts.
The Dawning of the DAW
By the late 1980s, the birth of MIDI and the innovation of low-cost digital recording had begun to usher in the era of the personal studio. Once again, Greg’s stubborn geek streak kicked in, identifying the need for affordable, good sounding, feature-rich mixers that could satiate the rapidly growing appetites of this home studio revolution.
So in 1989, Greg founded the company that had his name on the door. Okay, the door was to Greg’s modest 3-bedroom condo in Edmonds, Washington, but they squeezed the most out of every square inch.
Mackie Designs’ debut product, the LM-1602 line mixer, didn’t exactly set the world on fire, but the buzz among musicians was enough to inspire Greg to get serious. A “real” warehouse space was procured, and the introduction of the CR-1604 in 1991 put Mackie on the map.
Off And Running (Man)
By 1993 Mackie had grown to over 250 employees, including a top-shelf engineering team. The introduction of the 8-Busmixer, designed specifically for multitrack recording and live sound,
opened the floodgates, quickly becoming a ubiquitous presence in project studios and mid-sized live venues everywhere.
Throughout the 1990s, a winning combination of great engineering minds and copious amounts of coffee and M&Ms paved the way for a series of groundbreaking products in rapid fire succession. Mackie’s HR824 reference monitors could be found gracing the meter bridges of studios large and small. The D8B introduced the world to affordable digital mixing consoles. And in clubs and live venues across the globe, you couldn’t swing a knotted up mic cable without hitting a pair of Mackie SRM450 loudspeakers; thirty years later, their classic design is still being copied. In 1995, Mackie Designs went public, marking the sale of its 100,000th mixer with a move to a new 90,000 square foot headquarters in Woodinville, Washington.
As if an array of amazing products and world domination weren’t enough, Greg also assembled a world class team of writers and marketers. Mackie ads became the stuff of legend, and the slightly wacky, no-nonsense writing style of Mackie’s user manuals made them among the very few that people actually loved to read. And the company’s monthly In Your Face magazine was the birthplace of the legendary Running Man logo that graces Mackie products to this day.
A Force to Be Reckoned With
By the turn of the century, Mackie was home to nearly 1000 employees. As the company grew, so did the Mackie influence across a wide range of product categories. Mackie’s UltraMix Universal Automation system brought affordable, easy-to-use automation to the masses. Mackie mixers, including the massively successful SR Series and the powerful TT24 digital console, dominated the live and studio worlds. The introduction of the HDR Series made multitrack digital recording a reality.
In 2003, Greg Mackie announced his plan to step down, selling his controlling interest in the company to a team of industry investors determined to carry on the brand’s legacy. Mackie would become the flagship brand of a new and larger entity, LOUD Technologies, Inc.
The Legend Continues
In the 21st Century, Mackie has continued to crank out the hits, with legendary products that have become industry standards and spawned countless imitators. The Mackie MCU Controller still stands head and shoulders above the competition. And our Onyx Series technology has once again set the benchmark for legendary sonic performance, bringing great sound within the reach of even the most modest budgets.
The Mackie name is still synonymous with innovation, great sound, and Built Like a Tank dependability. Today, Mackie touches every corner of the creative space. From studio recording, mixing, and monitoring to a full range of live sound solutions, microphones, studio and live mixers, headphones and in-ear monitors, podcasting tools, amplification and processing, and more, Mackie continues to innovate, bringing the next generation of tools to the next generation of creatives. If you’ve got a dream, we’re here to help you realize it.
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