Hands-On Review:Mackie SA1532z Active 15" 3-Way High-Definition Professional Speaker

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Bulletproof, studio-quality sound for your PA

By Bert S. Moore


Mackie SA Series

Well, it had to happen. My PA speakers finally bit the dust. My band and I were playing a private party recently and encountered a power surge that not only took out my speakers, but also fried one of our power amps. Not a pretty picture! Luckily it was late in the evening, so we managed to get through the last set by using the monitors as mains, but it wasn’t much fun for the audience or the band.


This couldn’t have happened at a worse time. We’ve been getting a lot of gigs lately and I really wasn’t looking forward to renting gear just to get through the next few gigs. To me, renting just feels like throwing money down a hole in the ground, so I’ve always owned and maintained my own PA equipment. Time to shop for PA cabinets.




Loudspeaker systems have become a lot more sophisticated since I put my old system together. Used to be just a box with a speaker and a horn, and you hooked it all up to a rackmounted power amp. But since I needed a new power amp as well as new speakers, I decided to go on a quest for the ultimate all-in-one system.


What do I need?


We’re beginning to play to some fairly large crowds (from 250 to 400 a show) and my old system, which ran 800 watts a side, wasn’t quite cutting it in the bigger rooms. So I figured we’d need at least 1000 watts per side. That should give us a little headroom and, at the same time, improve our overall sound.


Mackie on the scene


I have lots of friends that work in the club scene, and one thing I’ve noticed time and again, is that most of them are using Mackie SRM450s. One of these friends uses a pair of SA1521z cabinets, so I asked him what he thought of them. I couldn’t get him to shut up. He had nothing but good things to say about them. They do sound really good, but I remarked that I needed more power for our gigs. He told me that Mackie builds an even bigger, dual 15" model, the SA1532z, and that might be just what I needed. So I decided to check out a pair.


The next gig


I wasn’t prepared for the comments I got at our next show. People said we’d never sounded better. One guy even asked if we were rehearsing more than usual. The only thing different about our setup was the two Mackie SA1532z enclosures. So I bought a pair.


Easy setup


My new Mackie SA1532z loudspeakers sure make it easy to load in and setup—just two trips to the van with the hand truck and two mic cables run from the mixing board. No more complex crossover or power amp wiring schemes to sort out. Now anyone in the band can set up the sound system.


The built-in electronics provide not only amplification, but also handle the crossover and speaker protection duties. I never have to worry about blowing speakers or high-frequency drivers with this setup, because the amps and speakers are designed to work together. And these babies go all the way down to 38Hz, eliminating the need for sub cabinets, which means more room in the van and less stuff to move.


What makes these loudspeakers so special?


Mackie doesn’t merely build powered speakers; they build Active loudspeakers. What’s the difference? They didn’t just grab any old amp and strap it on the back of the enclosure. The amplifiers and crossover electronics used in the SAz Series are specifically designed to achieve optimum performance via neodymium mid- and high-frequency drivers and dual 15" woofers. Mackie pioneered Active electronics design in their legendary HR824 studio monitors and SRM450 loudspeakers, and that technology is at the heart of the SAz Series.


EAW, a company widely recognized as one of the best in touring sound, took Mackie Active Technology to the next level. Their audio engineers fine-tuned the circuitry and the enclosure, maximizing speaker efficiency and generating virtually flat frequency response from 38Hz to 20kHz. It took the concerted efforts of both of these companies to produce the SA1532z; a superb loudspeaker system—that thinks it’s a studio monitor.


Now we sound great at all our shows, and the fast and easy setup gives us more time to hang with our fans and friends.


Features & Specs:

  • Ultra high-output Active system featuring integrated electronics and acoustic design by EAW loudspeaker team

  • Tri-amplified, with independent 1100W RMS low-frequency, 100W RMS mid-frequency, and 100W RMS high-frequency amps (1300W total)

  • Optimized wide-dispersion WaveFront high/mid horn system

  • Wide-dispersion, ultralow distortion, high-frequency horn design

  • 1.75" neodymium HF compression driver

  • 6" horn-loaded neodymium mid-frequency transducer

  • Dual 15" LF woofers with high-temperature voice coils

  • 138dB SPL @ 1kHz/1 meter

  • Complete electronic and component circuitry protection

  • Weight balanced with carrying handles for easy transport