Hands-On Review:Mackie SRM Series Active Loudspeakers
Versatility, great sound, and sizes for any setting
Being in the market for PA speakers, the opportunity to try out Mackie’s SRM Series active loudspeakers couldn’t have come at a more opportune time. I’m a singer-songwriter who performs both solo and with a backing band. After playing several venues with subpar PA systems, or no PA at all (forcing me to rent one), I realized I needed to get one of my own—that way I’d always have control over how my performances sounded. I needed to find loudspeakers that were versatile and easy to transport. Like magic, the SRM Series speakers landed on my doorstep.
I received a pair each of the SRM450s and SRM350s, as well as one of the “snack size” SRM150 Compact Active PA systems. The SRM350 and 450 are two-way, biamplified systems, whereas the SRM150 has a single 5-1/4" driver and also boasts an onboard mixer.
Big sound for big(ger) gigs
I decided to try out the largest of the bunch, the SRM450s, at a friend’s 10th wedding anniversary party, a 250-person affair for which I’d been asked to perform with my band. I’d heard from other musicians that SRM350s make great stage monitors, so I also brought along one of those to monitor my acoustic guitar and vocals.
Lightweight polypropylene enclosures make the SRM450s very manageable size-wise and easy to set up. With their sophisticated onboard biamplification, there’s no need for external power amps or crossovers; we plugged in our mixer directly via XLR cables. While the band played, I jumped off the stage to hear how everything sounded—it was like I was listening to studio monitors. With their incredibly wide, even dispersion, even standing off to the side, the SRM450s produced warm, detailed mids, sparkly highs, and bass that was super tight and punchy. Thanks to the advanced electronic time-correction feature, which enables high frequencies to reach listeners’ ears at the same time as low-frequency sounds, there was no muddiness at all. And when we launched into our most raucous number, the SRM450’s FR series amps handled the extra volume with ease—no distortion whatsoever. The overall output of the SRM450s—300W LF and 100W HF—suited the size of the venue perfectly too. Sound reached every inch of the room.
As for the SRM350, it worked great as a monitor. Like all loudspeakers in the SRM Series, its unique shape lets you easily place it on its side. What a difference it makes when you can truly hear yourself too—my performance was all the better for it. I couldn’t wait to see how they worked as mains.
To find out, I brought a pair of 350s to my next gig, which was at a 100-person capacity pub. We put on a loud set—the drummer was particularly rowdy that night—and ended up pushing the SRM350s hard. Nevertheless, they performed spectacularly, delivering crystal-clear sound—with no distortion—all night long. One of the bartenders and several regulars even came up and told me they’d never heard music sound so good in that space.
Great sound, small package
My last experiment involved the SRM150 as a PA—I planned to use it in a solo coffee shop gig. The coffee shop in question is a tiny place, but the noise of the espresso machine drowns out performers who aren’t amplified. It’s hard to find an appropriate amplification system—most PA speakers are so large as to be overkill. I thought the SRM150 might do the trick . . . and I was right.
The SRM150 delivered that same trademark SRM quality I had heard from its larger counterparts. In other words, it sounded brilliant. Using each of its two mic/line inputs, I plugged in my vocal mic via an XLR cable, and my acoustic guitar, which has a pickup, was connected with a standard 1/4" cable. I tweaked the onboard EQ to downplay my guitar’s midrange-heavy pickup but, beyond that, I didn’t need to change anything else. It’s also pole-mountable, so I stuck it on a mic stand and it was good to go. It was the perfect solution for this challenging space.
All the right stuff
The sound quality of the SRM Series loudspeakers is phenomenal and each model offers the bonus of being ultraportable. Appropriate for a variety of applications, they are also extremely versatile—you can easily mix and match, using the larger speakers for mains and the smaller ones for stage monitors. But they needn’t be limited to music performance—from class lectures to boardroom presentations, you’re sure to find the right loudspeaker for the job in the SRM Series. My mind’s made up. I’m going to arm myself with models from the entire line, and I’ll never have to worry about the house PA again.
Features & Specs
SRM150 Compact Active PA System
- For audiences up to 50 people
- Extremely portable active loudspeaker system
- Complete system protection with built-in limiter
- 5.25" premium-quality, full-range neodymium driver
- 120dB Maximum SPL @ 1 meter
- 150W of high output, Class-D power
- Integral aluminum heat sink
- Frequency Response: 100Hz-17.5kHz
SRM350 2-Way Powered PA Speaker
- For audiences up to 200 people
- Makes a great compact floor monitor
- Waveguide horn for wide 90x80° dispersion
- 10" light-mass woofer, 1.4" titanium dome compression driver
- Dynamic Bass Boost for rich, full lows at all volume levels
- Built-in 165W LF and 30W HF amplifiers
- Frequency response 61Hz-22kHz @ -10dB
SRM450 Powered PA Speaker
- For audiences up to 325 people
- Makes a great compact floor monitor
- 12" light-mass woofer, 1.75" titanium dome compression driver
- Program-dependent sliding high-pass filter
- Built-in 300W LF and 100W HF amplifiers
- Multi-cell aperture, exponential geometry HF horn
- 90x45° dispersion
- Frequency response 45Hz-20kHz @ -10dB