Professional songwriters and performers learn quickly that a good sound system can make all the difference in a live performance. For that reason, when it comes to sound systems, performers in-the-know don’t settle and look for full-range, powered and portable systems like the recently redesigned Mackie SRM450 powered PA speaker.
The SRM450 benefits from Mackie’s team of professional designers who have included some features in this very portable speaker system that you won’t find in many of the competitor’s speakers. The Mackie website touts that these light-weight speakers (about 37 lbs) deliver accurate bass down to 55Hz; midrange that’s free from ear-fatiguing harshness; and detailed treble out to 20kHz. While I didn’t measure their claims, I was pleasantly surprised at how these light speakers put out a full-range and accurate sound in both small venues and some fairly large rooms (well over 100 seats). Both in a solo acoustic setting and for a full band, these speakers put out a big sound that reproduced vocals and instruments well. It’s likely that several of the innovative features that Mackie has built in the SRM450 make the difference.
Two important features distinguish the SRM450 from its competitors. First, the electronics: a bi-amplified and active system. This is a similar design to previous versions of the 450. Bi-amplification allows highs to have a separate amp from lows, so there are actually two amplifiers in each speaker. In addition, there is an active (many systems are passive) 24dB/octave electronic crossover that precisely divides high and low sounds for clean reproduction and efficient operation. In addition to the electronics, a well designed polypropylene enclosure enhances both the accuracy of the highs produced by the titanium compression driver and helps to produce clear, deep bass sounds. The cabinet design also delivers a wide (90° horizontal and 45° vertical) dispersion which is important for good coverage at any venue.
The back panel of each 450 has two combination (Wide-Z) inputs for both XLR and ¼” inputs, as well as stereo RCA inputs. Gain controls are provided for each channel along with a clipping LED that lets you know if your input signal is over driving the speaker. You can easily select speaker operation modes that tailor the speaker’s response instantly for general PA use, DJ, Monitor or Solo performance. These provide surprisingly effective tweaks to the output, enhancing bass, mids or highs to suit your purpose. The solo option is particularly handy for the singer-songwriter with guitar or piano and vocal. While you could mix two inputs right on the back of the 450, I found that using a mixer gave me more flexibility and a better overall sound. Finally, at 500 watts (1,000 peak) they get plenty loud, but if you need more, you can also chain multiple 450s together or add a powered subwoofer.
Mackie SRM450s sound brighter, clearer and more open than many of the portable speakers I’ve used. They produce reliable, full-range sound for acoustic instruments and vocals making them a great choice for songwriters and performers who need to transport a simple PA. Look into Mackie’s warrantee on the 450s to see how to extend it an extra four years.
MSRP: $629.99 Street Price: $499.99