How many Mackie mixers/consoles do you suppose there are in the known universe? I’d estimate a few hundred thousand. Mackie revolutionized the mixer industry by making them affordable to many who could not otherwise purchase mixers. The company is now doing the same thing with power amplifiers — making high power available at an affordable price. Its new line is the FR Series and this particular model is the M-2600 ($1,199).
Product PointsApplications: Live sound
Key Features: High output at 2 ohms, internal crossovers
Contact: Mackie at 800-898-3211
FR stands for Fast Recovery. The technology has to do with the way an amplifier responds to high transient sounds, which may drive an amplifier into clip for extended periods of time and cause excessive distortion as well as discomfort to the listener. The concept with this amp is that the recovery time of such transients is limited, thus minimizing the period of time one must endure such harsh sounds to enjoy a clearer output signal.
There are additional goodies on this Mackie power amp that add significantly to its value — internal 24 dB/octave active crossovers, available at filter frequencies of 60, 90 or 120 Hz. Each channel has a switch to assign high or low out for biamping. Additionally, separate high-pass filters (low-cut) for both channels, infinitely variable from no filtration through 170 Hz. A chart explains their uses right on the amp’s back panel.
The output controls of the amplifier provide a limiter on/off function, stereo input and output, mono input with two identical outputs and a bridged mono mode, which makes the M-2600 act like one really big amp with single input and output (the Channel A and Channel B Neutrik NL4 outputs are separate from that of the mono-bridge output). The input connectors are 1/4″ TRS and male and female 3-pin XLR style. The power cable comes with a 20 Amp/125 V connector and if you wish to plug the M-2600 into a conventional power outlet, you must have the optional plug adapter.
Mackie provides these specifications (all Watts are rms continuous, both channels driven, unless otherwise noted): 500 W at 8 ohms; 850 W at 4 ohms; 1,300 W at 2 ohms; 1,700 W at 8-ohms-bridged mono; 2,600 W at 4-ohms-bridged mono. The weight is 55 lb., and size is three rack-spaces by 15.5″ deep.
Prior to racking the power amp, I opened up the chassis and inspected Mackie’s work; I found it to be quite rugged and roadworthy. The printed circuit boards looked to be of high-grade construction and the parts well mounted.
I put the M-2600 through some basic tests, which include using it to power my Atlantis Audio 4.4 proprietary four-way speakers in low-mid, high-mid and high frequencies. It responded well on all counts. As I have stated before, a good test of any amp is powering subwoofers and observing the clip and distortion points it exhibits. This amplifier sounded friendly at levels of up to -3 on the console, but clipped slightly when hit hard with levels exceeding 0 dB, as do most amplifiers when used in that frequency range.
When I powered the monitors, the M-2600 reproduced voice, drums, guitars and keyboards with friendly accuracy. In monitor mode, I never achieved clip level and absolutely no distortion was ever heard. In fact, it responded quite well as a monitor amp, driving some passive JBL and EV wedges.
I used the Mackie all day and night at -3 to -2 levels and it did just fine in all the frequency ranges (including sub-bass), showing that it is more than adequate for any condition a band will throw its way.
I worked this Mackie amp pretty hard for a whole day and it was a trooper, working well up to expectations. The M-2600 is a good investment for bands, performers and rental operations, and it should provide quality operation for a long time.