Hands-On Review:Mackie SRMv2 Active PA Speakers
Studio monitor clarity at block-rocking volume
By Mike Fitch
Musician’s Friend Staff Writer
Working musicians have a lot of reasons to love powered speakers—the amplifiers are built into the speaker enclosures so there’s less gear to haul, and custom components such as internal crossovers and active EQ circuitry provide superior sound. In recent years, Mackie’s SRM Series monitors have become something of a standard in live sound installations due to their sound quality, durability, and sophisticated engineering.
The SRM450 has been the leader of the pack among Mackie’s portable active series monitors, used in live sound systems for everything from main speakers to stage monitors to keyboard combo rigs to portable sound systems. Mackie has just released a new and improved version, the SRM450v2.
I received a sample to test just in time to try out as both a PA main and monitor on a gig with a nine-piece salsa band. With three horn players, three percussionists, and three vocalists crowded onto stages that are usually too small, this group presents a musical scenario that makes it challenging to get a good, balanced mix onstage and out front.
Improving on top-shelf tone
When Mackie set about improving their legendary Sound Reinforcement Monitor (SRM) series, they knew what was best left untouched. The SRM450v2 retains the crucial features of the original SRM design—active architecture, roadworthy ruggedness, and an asymmetrical shape with no parallel surfaces to reflect resonant sounds that can interfere with woofer response. Its shape allows it to sit on the floor at an angle or be easily standmounted via an integrated socket mount.
So what’s new about the SRM450v2? The two-way, biamplified active system deploys new class-D Fast Recovery amps that are fine-tuned to match the drivers, pumping 300W continuous power to the low frequencies and 100W to the highs. A sweeping low frequency filter adjusts the low cut-off frequency depending on the amplifier output, protecting the woofer and amp and preventing possible distortion. High-efficiency switching power supplies, a lightweight neodymium woofer, and an all-new compression driver round out the improvements.
Trial by tunes
During sound check, I positioned the SRM450v2 as a main out-front speaker and played some CDs through the system. First I put on a track by Angelique Kidjo. The difference between the SRM450v2’s sound and our band’s usual speakers was dramatic. The Mackie had more presence, punch, and detail in the midrange and highs. I heard nuances in the sound of the drums and vocals that I hadn’t noticed before.
Engaging the Contour switch on the back made the sound fatter, boosting low and high frequencies by 3dB. The Contour function is particularly useful for providing fuller sound at lower volume levels. Turning up the low EQ on our band’s mixer made the bass deeper yet.
To further gauge the SRM450v2’s low-end response I put on Barber’s “Adagio for Strings,” a piece of music that challenges a speaker’s ability to articulate bass tones. The Mackie reproduced the complex lows and mids of the string section accurately and clearly, without perceptible distortion. I felt like I had a front-row center seat at a symphony concert.
Sound field sonics
I moved around the room to test the SRM450v2’s lauded 90° up-to-20kHz dispersion. The sound held together with remarkable integrity wherever I stood. The speaker’s uncanny dispersion is due in part to the radical wide horn flare and multi-cell throat aperture that are molded right into the cab’s shape.
Stage monitor mosh-up
Satisfied that the SRM450v2 would do an excellent job when used as a main, for the actual gig I used it as a stage floor monitor. I engaged the low-pass filter switch to crunch the sound a bit and make it stand out in the onstage mix. The filter rolls off frequencies below 75Hz, so it also minimizes stage rumble and mic noise. The band’s vocals and percussion came through with a heightened presence and clarity that I had not experienced before.
The female XLR input takes a balanced or unbalanced mic or line-level signal and doubles as a mic input, in effect allowing the monitor to be used as a standalone PA system. Next to the input is a thru XLR jack that outputs the same signal that’s plugged into input. The level knob adjusts the signal that’s fed to the power amp from off to up to 40dB of gain, using Mackie’s esteemed mic preamp design.
The new standard
For many bands, these speakers would cover most gigs as main PA speakers quite nicely. Groups or DJs with extremely drum-and-bass heavy mixes may well want to add a subwoofer such as Mackie’s SWA1501. And if you play smaller venues that don’t require as much power, check out the smaller SRM350v2 and SRM150.
As a performer, when it’s sound check time before a gig I’m always glad to see Mackie monitors onstage—they’re a sign that, if the sound engineer and I are on the same page, I’m going to be able to hear a clear, balanced mix. And with the new SRM450v2 in the house, the sound is going to be better than ever.
Features & Specs
- 2-way biamplified, optimized active loudspeaker system
- High-output precision titanium compression driver
- Neodymium long-throw, low frequency transducer with 3" voice coil
- Servo Feedback-controlled woofer for tight low-end punch
- 300W class-D, Fast Recovery LF amp/100W HF amp
- Ultra-wide, smooth dispersion via multi-cell horn aperture and HF waveguide
- Built-in phase-accurate 24dB Linkwitz-Riley electronic crossover
- Mackie Active Electronic time alignment, phase correction, and EQ for studio-quality sound
- Mic/line input and pass-thru connector
- Lightweight for ultimate portability (40 lbs.)
- Flyable, pole-mountable, floor wedge-able