First, there were affordable Mackie mixers, followed by affordable Mackie power amplifiers. Mackie is actually the company that started this whole “affordable” business. It has now unveiled its latest speaker product, the SR-1530.
Product PointsApplications: Bands; rentals; schools; houses of worship
Key Features: Full range; 500 W
Price: $1,199 each
Contact: Mackie at 800-898-3211; www.mackie.com.
+ Manageable weight for three-ways
+ Sound quality
– No unbalanced input
– Too heavy to stand-mount
The Score: A solid and versatile three-way active speaker at an affordable price.
The Mackie SR-1530 ($1,199 each) is an active, three-way speaker system. Its trapezoidal plywood cabinet is finished with a rugged polymer skin and has recessed handles on both sides. The proprietary components are a 15-inch woofer (rated at 250 W RMS), with a 2.5-inch voice coil, and a 6-inch cone midrange (rated at 60 W RMS), mounted to a cabinet-integral, wide-dispersion horn.
The high frequencies are handled by a 1-inch Mylar-diaphragm driver coupled to a wide-dispersion horn that resides at the top of the front surface, just above the mid cone. The internal power amplifiers are rated in the Mackie owner’s manual by “burst capability” (peak) – 300 W to the woofer, 100 W to the mids and 100 W to the tweeter. The heat fins from the power amps protrude about an inch on almost half of the entire rear surface.
The low-to-mid crossover frequency is at 700 Hz and mid-to-high at 3 kHz. The entire package is sizeable, being almost 4 feet tall, 19 inches wide and 18 inches deep.
In addition to the heat fins, the rear panel is home to the power on/off switch and male and female XLR connectors, allowing for main connection as well as daisy-chaining to another Mackie or other powered speakers. Mackie recommends having eight amps of 125 VAC available to fire up the SR-1530s.
Mackie sent me a pair of the SR-1530s just in time to take them to a weekend festival for which my company was providing sound and lighting on three stages.
The first application for the Mackie speakers was simple voice and music playback on the midsized stage. I fed signal from a Soundcraft 400B mix console with dbx one-third-octave EQs inserted on the main outputs. The initial test was to run a CD player through the system and check out the frequency response of the speakers.
The response was quite good, with the 1530s exhibiting good, full-range sound. Although they required a little tonal adjustment to compensate for the poor acoustics of the tent in which the speakers were located, they were quite smooth with both voice and recorded music through them.
For the next test, I relocated the 1530s to a stage unencumbered by the acoustic nightmare canopy and the audience surrounded the system to a depth of about 50 feet. This time, live music was mixed through the Mackie powered speakers and the results were far more favorable. With a normal assortment of SM58s and 57s and Sennheiser 421s, they sounded quite good.
Both male and female vocals were smooth and friendly. There were a few noticeable frequencies that required equalization, but for the most part, the SR-1530s sounded great. Such instruments as acoustic guitar, piano and drums sounded clear and full.
The Mackie SR-1530s are good all-around, affordable active speakers. These 100-pound workhorses were not too cumbersome for two people, but they would require a hand truck or cart for one person to move. The XLR-style connectors make for an easy hookup, but these speakers will accept only XLR signal. If your mixer has unbalanced outputs, you could experience some buzz when converting connector styles. I would like to have seen 1/4-inch, unbalanced inputs (possibly RCAs as well) in addition to the XLRs, to accommodate the more casual users of a speaker system like this.
The 1530s are definitely too tall and heavy to stand-mount, but not quite tall enough to floor stand. Risers or road cases are needed to elevate them, if you do not have enough room on stage. I liked the 1530s for their very good sound and rugged durability; they will give you years of solid use.