Hands-On Review:Mackie SRMv2 Active PA Speakers


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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