Mackie Powered Speakers: Best Setups for DJs and Bands
If you like to watch bands play at the local bar or have hit a dance club recently, chances are you’ve heard Mackie speakers in action. Mackie is probably the most recognized name in powered loudspeakers for professional use, especially in the United States.
Since most working musicians and DJs have to set up their own equipment and don’t have the luxury of a soundmen and roadies, ease of use, quick setup, breakdown, and portability are top concerns. A PA rig that uses active speakers greatly increases the convenience of gigging. Stick around to find out why.
Advantages of Powered Speakers
Most music-makers are on a limited budget so creating a sound system that is easily upgradable is key. If you decide to add a powered monitor to your current PA setup for example, you don’t need to worry about the extra power it will consume, taking the guesswork out of amplification. With powered speakers, the amp is built right into the speaker, so you merely need to add a mixer or sound source.
Portable or High-Definition?
Mackie’s powered speakers are split into two camps: portable powered and high-definition powered. The portable line uses moulded resin cases to cut down on weight, while the HD line focuses on no-compromises sound quality.
If you are constantly moving your speakers to gigs, and do most of the lifting yourself, the portable line is a no-brainer. Most DJs, acoustic acts and moderately loud rock bands will find the portable line more than ample.
If you play in a loud metal band, have plenty of willing hands to help with the load and fancy playing outside (where enclosures with a wooden interior carry the sound further), the HD line may be for you.
It goes without saying that bands that need a stationary solution for a rehearsal space and don’t need to bring their rig to out of the garage should be looking at the HD line, if the price is within grasp. A pair of HD1221 with 12” speakers will provide more than enough power for rehearsal situations.
10”, 12” or 15” Speakers?
The speaker cone size alone says plenty about a particular model and is the most important specification to consider.
A 10”, although highly portable is next to useless for main speakers in all applications but light DJ music for a restaurant or a solo acoustic act. Most people will only want to look at an enclosure with a 10” speaker if they need a small monitor.
Two 12” speakers are extremely flexible since they will do a moderately loud act just fine in small or medium-sized venues. Plus you can add or subtract a subwoofer according to want you need for a given situation. There isn’t a whole lot of bottom end with 12” speakers, so if you want to mic the bass drum you will need to look at adding a 15” or 18” powered subwoofer. Those on a budget may want to consider getting two 12” speakers first and upgrading by adding a subwoofer later.
Two 15” speakers will have a nice low-end kick that can handle running a bass guitar line or mic’ed bass drum. This is an ideal setup for those that don’t want to bother with a subwoofer and yet crave great bass output. DJs especially tend to love 15” speakers in a light-weight portable enclosure as it is perfect for the needs of most gigs.
Do I Need to Add a Subwoofer?
Unless you plan to mic up the drums or run bass guitar into your PA system, a subwoofer will give you little advantage. Most bands in need of a rehearsal rig will find that the money is better spent on better main speakers or a mixing board.
Ideal Powered Speaker Setups for Specific Applications
To make deciding even easier here are a few recommended Mackie rigs perfectly suited for applications that may be close to what you do.
- Versatile DJ rig for small to medium venues – 2 x TH-15A (15” speaker)
- Acoustic solo/duo act – 2 x SRM350v2 (10” speaker), 1 x SRM1801 subwoofer (18” speaker)
- Moderately loud rock/jazz/blues/country band (HD) – 2 x HD1221 (12” speaker), 1 x HD1501 (15” speaker)
- Moderately loud rock/jazz/blues/country band (Portable) – 2 x SRM450v2 (12” speaker), 1 x SRM1801 (18” speaker)
- Loud rock/metal band rig – 2 x HD1521 (15” speaker), 1 x HD1801 subwoofer (18” speaker)
It often isn’t realistic to hear what a given rig will sound like in a music store. Consider renting a setup similar to what you are looking at buying and test it on a gig/rehearsal, with your DJ equipment or band. Also, bring a friend and see how manageable the size and weight of a given speaker is. If a speaker seems like a pain to pick up for just a few seconds, just imagine how fun it will be to load onto a flatbed truck at 3:30 AM.