Feb 5

INTRODUCTION


Mackie Speakers have been around quite a few years now and I have been a few bands that have used their SRM (Sound Reinforcement Monitors) range of speakers and I must say I have always thought they do a very professional job, are reliable with a great build quality and sound great. Mackie decided to re-design them and they now have a version 2 range of SRM speakers and following my review of their cheaper Mackie Thump range, I decided to look at the SRM 450v2.

I thought that the SRM 450 (both version 1 and 2) had 15inch woofers because of the frequency range that they both cover from 45Hz – 20KHz, but they do in fact have 12 inch woofers. This frequency range is as good as many 15” active monitors on the market.

WEIGHING UP THE MACKIE SRM 450 v2

As I have said before, the weight of a speaker is becoming more of consideration when purchasing active speakers especially as they include built-in amplification which seriously adds to the burden of what you have to carry about. Today to keep the weight down companies are using injection-molded polypropylene for their cabinets The Mackie Thump with a 15 inch Woofer weighed and incredible 36 lbs. / 16.3 kg and this weight is extremely hard to beat. The SRM 450s are of a stronger build and unfortunately do weigh more. Version 1 weighed 51 lbs. / 23.2 kg and this felt a bit on the heavy side however, the Version 2 SRM 450’s are 11lbs lighter – coming in at a very acceptable 40lbs / 18 kg. The fact that they have a 12 inch woofer mean that they are slightly smaller than the 15 inch monitors from other manufacturers, combined with a great weight mean that these are a very portable option.

I really noticed this when I mounted it on a speaker pole as it felt easier due to three of its attributes; size, weight and weight distribution. The two comfortable handles on either side are positioned perfectly to provide you with this evenness as you lift – they say that the design is Asymmetrical Trapezoidal (try saying that after a few drinks). There is also a third handle on top to help with manoeuvres. With their optional extra holder bag, they pack easily in the back of your car. The sizes are:- 660 x 390 x 376 mm which is 26 x 15.4 x 14.8 inches

WHAT IS VERSION 2 ALL ABOUT?

Well apart from being 11lbs. lighter, it looks identical to its predecessor but version 2 houses a new lightweight neodymium woofer, a new heat-treated titanium compression driver and Class-D Fast Recovery amplification which allow the units to stay very cool. On top of this, the transducers have been upgraded, along with the three-inch voice coil. These improvements provide greater power with more clarity and punch than version 1 had.

TRANSDUCERS – WOOFER AND COMPRESSION DRIVER

Mackie’s main design criteria were to have studio sound quality on stage and I seriously believe that they achieved this. Version 1 type SRM450s delivered a punchy bottom to the sound, incredibly this has improved in version 2 by way of its servo feedback technology, which locks the 12 inch woofer in place with the positive and negative outputs of the amplifier to make them sound even larger. For the lower frequencies the 12 inch / 300 mm Woofer which has a 3 inch / 75mm voice coil and a frequency range of 45 Hz to 3kHz, whilst for the higher frequency range there is a heat-treated titanium 1.75 inch / 44.5 mm compression driver which has a frequency range of 1kHz to 20kHz for accurate reproduction of the Mid and Upper range. Both have a nominal impedance of 8 ohms.

AMPLIFICATION

There are two power amplifiers (Low and High) which Mackie say are “Fast Recovery” which basically allows them to quickly recover if they were driven into ‘Clipping’. The Specifications for them are: – The Low Amp produces 540 watts peak (300 watts continuous) before clipping and the High Amp produces 150 watts peak (100 watts continuous) before clipping.

Mackie also tell us that “you get a complete loudspeaker system, with complex electronics and carefully chosen components, all precisely tuned and tweaked to work together. The result is a loudspeaker with phenomenal sound quality and power, that’s completely plug-and-play and no EQ is needed”. I wouldn’t fully agree with that statement. Despite Mackie doing a great job, there are many situations which require some EQ. In my own case I have been used to a 15” woofer as some Synth sounds really have a big low-end and although these 12 inch woofers cover a similar frequency range they are not as warm as some 15 inch woofers, but with a little bit of EQ in my opinion, this can compensate to some extent for this.

With nothing plugged into the SRM450v2 I found that there is no unwanted noise or hiss, you only hear a little bit as you get anywhere between very high and maximum volume, which you are unlikely to do anyway. Also I used the SRM450v2 for a good 4 hours and it did not get warm and the sound was still very clean.

THE MACKIE CROSSOVER

Mackie explain their crossover very well given you every confidence in their product. They tell us that “the built-in electronic crossover is a 24dB / octave Linkwitz-Riley design which is more expensive than other designs but that the benefits include:- 1) Absolutely flat frequency response throughout the Bandpass without the characteristic ripple near the crossover point exhibited by other designs. 2) The sharp 24dB per octave roll-off of the filters ensures that the transducers are not reproducing frequencies outside of their capabilities. 3) The acoustic sum of the two driver responses is unity at the crossover frequency resulting in perfect power response. 4) They provide perfect phase response yielding phenomenal accuracy even at 20 feet away”.

This sounds extremely impressive but how good do these Version 2 speakers sound?

LIVE SOUND TEST

My main use is to use one as a keyboard / vocal stage monitor. As I played, the band commented on the warmth and clarity of the sound. They were able to hear my keyboards clearly through the loud guitar and drum sound on stage and I think this was partly due to Mackie’s ultra-wide dispersion of sound because no matter where you stand you get the full depth and definition of the mix. Sometimes I struggle to hear my own vocals against the power of our lead vocalist but with this Mackie, this was much more defined. I have to say, I don’t think I have had a better on-stage sound. If you can hear clearly, you can play tighter and you are more relaxed. I experienced all of these and it was a very pleasing experience. The dynamic range of my synth certainly put the SRM through its paces but it performed admirably. The other thing that I was aware of was that I had little to no feedback from my vocals during the sound-check, where it was pushed to ascertain the limit.

SETTING UP CONTROLLING THE MACKIE SRM 450 v2


You can really position/ angle these in every way possible as they have been designed to be pole-mounted from the bottom, you can fly them vertically or horizontally via their integrated M10 mounting points or use them as a wedge monitors and of course with their lighter weight now, this is so much easier.

OK so let’s have a look around the back where you will find all of the connections and controls logically laid out and clearly labelled for you. At the top of this control panel are three indicator lights for Thermal, Peak and Signal Present. The Power On/Off button has a useful addition in the form of a ‘Time Turnoff’ switch. I like this because it puts it into an energy saving mode after three minutes of silence, then cleverly reactivates if it receives an input signal. My first surprise was the fact that there appeared to be no EQ, so what have Mackie done instead? Well there is something called a ‘Contour’ button which reduces the mid-frequencies between 100Hz and 12kHz and a ‘Low-Cut’ button which allows you to roll off the bass frequencies below 75Hz. These do a good job and could be a very quick solution to playing in places where there are already high levels at these frequencies but I think I would prefer a 3 or 4 band EQ.

Also on the back panel are: – XLR Input and Thru sockets and a Level control. The XLR input can take either a line or microphone signal, which allows you to use the SRM450s as a basic vocal PA without the use of a mixer and can be adjusted with the input level control knob. I put my Shure SM58 directly in and although there is no EQ, it gave a great clear crisp sound to my voice. If you need to add more SR450v2 monitors for a larger PA, you can daisy-chain them by use of the XLR Thru socket. Lastly there is a thermal cut-out indicator that activates if the unit has been driven too hard for too long a period of time. This automatically switches it into a protected mode until it has been given time to cool down.

CONCLUSION

Well there you have it a very reliable, high output powered speaker with a great frequency range, great punchy, clean sound in a very portable nice looking package. They do not get hot, however hard you push them and at this quality level they are a great price. They have been designed to sound like monitors so that under a ‘Live’ setup they give a detailed and accurate mix but also have a fantastic ultra-wide dispersion to hear the sound clearly wherever you stand. They have a built-in protection circuitry for long life with a built-in limiter for less distortion at peak levels. You can position and mount them easily anywhere and at only 40lbs they are not going to break your back – they sound just right for me.

Absolute Music

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