Hands-On Review:Mackie SAz and SRz Series Active Loudspeakers


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These audiophile cabs will have you perfecting the art of Active listening

By Madeline Woodfield

 

 

 

 

These audiophile cabs will have you perfecting the art of Active listening

You know those magazine ads with dirt and grass smeared across a speaker? That's exactly what I think of when I think of Mackies. I used to have a pair of SR1530s and I gave those babies a weekly workout, so I jumped at the chance to review the new version, part of the updated SRz Series, as well as the top-of-the-line SAz Series with acoustic design and tuning by Eastern Acoustic Works (EAW).

 

 

I received a pair of both SR1530z and SA1532z speakers from Musician's Friend to take for a spin. Both three-way cabs are very portable for their size, thanks to their weight-balanced Baltic birch construction and convenient carrying handles—a big plus for me, as I planned on dragging them around a bit.

 

Super speakers

 

I played with a funk band at a large outdoor party with the SA1532z Super Active speakers. It was an easy set up thanks to the active electronics—we miked the drums and the guitar and bass amps, plugged in a few vocal mics, routed it all through the mixer, hooked up the speakers, and it sounded incredible. Not only do these speakers not require any external amplifiers, crossovers, or processing; according to Mackie they also ensure the amp and electronics are perfectly tuned to optimize the output and frequency response.

 

I've heard good things about EAW's practically bulletproof, dance-inducing speaker designs in the past—I know they've made high-quality, rugged sound-reinforcement products since the '70s and are known for their amazing audiophile-quality designs—and I was definitely impressed with their collaboration with Mackie on the SAz Series. The clean, crisp bass is the tightest I have ever heard and the beats are clear and defined, not to mention the warmth and accuracy of the mids.

 

With the overall 1,300W output—1,100W from the lows, 100W from the mids, and 100W from the highs—these dual 15" cabs were perfect for the large venue. Plus the power was translated with superb accuracy. Mackie says they've completely recalibrated the electronics with precision crossovers, thermal and transducer protection, and electronic time correction. This meant our blisteringly loud sound was, at the same time, tight and focused.

 

I was curious to see if I could actually hear the effect of the WaveFront—a one-piece horn that blends the mid- and high-frequency output that Mackie says creates a focused, single wave. I went out into the audience and the blending of the high-range and midrange driver outputs made for a more natural, seamless sound no matter where I stood. According to Mackie, this blending is achieved by the WaveFront horn's 90° x 40° dispersion pattern which sends the highs slightly downward into the midrange dispersion area.

 

Mackie's new neodymium 6" horn-loaded mid-frequency transducer and 1.75" high-frequency compression driver are lighter, louder, and more accurate. Two 15" low-frequency woofers with high-temperature voice coils made our bass so thunderous, we didn't even need the subs the drummer brought along.

 

Bring in the muscle

 

The next night I played at a local bar known for its terrible acoustics, so I brought along the SR1530z pair. Setting up these 500W 15" three-ways was a snap, again thanks to Mackie's active electronics. The SR1530z retains the easy set up of the original SR1530, and the 18mm Baltic birch plywood construction provides plenty of thump for bigger audiences. Everyone in the place was dancing as soon as the needle hit the record and it sounded incredible.

 

The SR1530z features the same WaveFront horn technology as the SA1532z for the same room-filling dispersion. The SR1530z's 500W output is split with 300W to the 15" woofer with high-temperature voice coil; 100W to the 6" horn-loaded, high-output midrange transducer; and 100W to the 1.75" titanium dome compression driver with optimized symmetric phase plug. This perfectly matched combination of amps and drivers made our system sound like it was putting out much more than 1,000W, and output was stellar across the entire response range of the cabs.

 

We got plenty of compliments on our sound and every gearhead in the place was asking where they could get a pair, especially after we told them the price. The best part about these real-wood, active, large-format speakers is that Mackie kept them affordable.

 

Two of a kind

 

 

 

 

I really liked both the SR1530z and the SA1532z and my friends and I decided to go in on a pair of each to be ready to play out anywhere. These speakers sound phenomenal and are miles ahead of speakers in similar price ranges. That's the danger of testing out great gear—you never want to give it back.

 

The SAz Super Active Series includes enough incremental models to cover anything from club bands to installs to concert-level applications with the SA1232z 1,300W dual 12" three-way high-definition cab, the SA1530z 1,300W 15" three-way high-definition cab, and the SA1521z 500W 15" two-way high-output cab, in addition to the SA1532z. All Super Active speakers feature an ultrahigh output active system with integrated electronics and acoustic design by EAW and low-distortion high-frequency horns.

 

The SRz Series also includes the SR1521z 15" 400W two-way cab and the SR1522z 500W dual 15" two-way cab. All models feature active circuitry; wide-dispersion, low-distortion high-frequency horns; and complete electronic and component protection circuitry. Together they comprise a terrific selection of affordable, portable, great-sounding Mackies. When you need an innovative, great-sounding, well-designed loudspeaker, Mackie has what you're looking for. I am glad to have them back in my arsenal.

 

Features & Specs:

 

 

SR1521z:

  • 300W RMS LF & 100W RMS HF amp
  • 15" LF woofer & 1.75" HF driver
  • 130dB SPL @ 1kHz/1 meter
  • Frequency response: 40Hz-20kHz

SR1530z:

  • 300W RMS LF, 100W RMS MF & 100W HF amps
  • WaveFront™ horn design
  • 15" LF woofer, 6" midrange transducer & 1.75" HF driver
  • 126dB SPL @ 1kHz/1 meter
  • Frequency response: 38Hz-20kHz

SR1522z:

  • 400W RMS LF & 100W RMS HF amps
  • Dual 15" LF woofers & 1.75" HF driver
  • 133dB SPL @ 1kHz/1 meter
  • Frequency response: 43Hz-20kHz

SA1521z:

  • 400W RMS LF & 100W RMS HF amps
  • 15" LF long-throw woofer & 1.75" HF driver
  • 133dB SPL @ 1kHz/1 meter
  • Frequency response: 44Hz-20kHz

SA1530z:

  • WaveFront™ high/mid horn system
  • 1,100W RMS LF, 100W RMS MF & 100W RMS HF amps
  • 15" LF woofer, 6" MF transducer & 1.75" HF driver
  • 135dB SPL @ 1kHz/1 meter
  • Frequency response: 38Hz-20kHz

SA1232z:

  • WaveFront™ high/mid horn system
  • 1,100W RMS LF, 100W RMS MF & 100W RMS HF amps
  • Dual 12" LF woofers, 6" MF transducer & 1.75" HF driver
  • 136dB SPL @ 1kHz/1 meter
  • Frequency response: 39Hz-20kHz

SA1532z:

  • WaveFront™ high/mid horn system
  • 1,100W RMS LF, 100W RMS MF & 100W RMS HF amps
  • Dual 15" LF woofers, 6" MF transducer & 1.75" HF driver
  • 138dB SPL @ 1kHz/1 meter
  • Frequency response: 38Hz-20kHz