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Mackie SRM-Flex

Bill Evans • February 2020Road Tests • February 10, 2020

It seems like every speaker company on the planet is making a portable system in this column-array-over-subwoofer format. For a long time, the only entry in this format was the (revered by singer/songwriters) Bose L-1. But at NAMM, I saw at least three other systems from three different manufacturers in addition to the Mackie SRM-Flex, which was sitting at home in my garage waiting for the right gig.

‡‡         Enter the SRM-Flex

So, what is “this format?” It starts with a tower of small-driver HF devices in a column quasi-line array arrangement that attaches to a small sub. In the case of the SRM-Flex, that means six 2-inch drivers on top of a 10-inch sub. Total system power is 1,300 watts — peak. Does anyone even remember RMS?

The built-in, six-channel mixer built into the top panel of the subwoofer unit includes two line/mic/instrument inputs; two ¼-inch line inputs and a Bluetooth/aux feed. Bells and whistles include a built-in six-channel mixer with three selectable reverb types, two-band EQ and the “now-required by some kind of cosmic law” Bluetooth connectivity for streaming and remote control. Operation is so straightforward that you probably will rarely — if ever — need to consult the manual.

View from above

‡‡         At the Gig

Setup could not be easier, and when Mackie advertises the system as portable, they’re not kidding. I arrived at the venue with the tower split into three pieces (in a carry bag with a shoulder strap that comes included with the gear) over one shoulder, the sub (also with an included slip cover) in one hand, my iPad in the other hand and walked into the gig. No cart. No second trip.

Two of the three pieces of the tower are just spacers. You can customize the system height to a degree by using either one or two of these to raise or lower the level of the top module, which houses all of the HF drivers. (See Fig. 1). The whole thing went up in less than five minutes. The act was a musical duo. Mostly tracks, but the male singer also plays keyboards. The female singer generally carries the P.A. — also a Mackie — consisting of a small mixer and a couple of powered speakers on sticks. We left all of that in the car. Her wireless Sennheiser mic connected to Channel 1, and the outputs of her iPad went into the combo channel 3-4. When her duet partner arrived, he handed me an XLR from the mixer that he used for one keyboard and a wired mic.

‡‡         And the Results…

The system was set up directly behind the two of them, doubling as monitors — clearly one of the selling points of this kind of system. And it worked. There was one little feedback squeal incident, and that was only when a mic was pretty much shoved right into the HF tower.

The room was maybe 40 feet deep and 20 feet wide and filled with an older crowd. This is a classic Vegas property that caters to an over-60 clientele. The music was a mix of everything from The Rascals to Donnie Hathaway to Jimmy Buffett to Patsy Cline. It’s really the perfect gig for this kind of system. We pretty much maxed it out in terms of volume, and I would not want to do anything bigger with this unless I had a second set or connected another speaker to the unit’s XLR Mix Out jack. But for something this small, it filled the room pretty impressively.

I carted it out to that gig, set it up and left before they got past sound check. The keyboard player basically looked at it and decided it was too small. But that was totally a psychological thing. He also kept pushing the female singer to boost the low-end on her mic well beyond the point of mud. So that tells you all you need to know. The SRM-Flex could have done that gig just fine, but it didn’t look “loud enough” for this guy.

I also downloaded the ‎SRM-Flex Connect™ Bluetooth control app for iOS and Android devices. The Bluetooth pairing procedure was easy and even let me sit at the back of the room and control the system while writing this review.

Detail of the mixing platform, with two mic/line inputs

‡‡         The Verdict

This system is marketed for musicians. Where does it fit into the more “serious” audio side of things? A small duo or singer at a corporate event or a simple lecture-plus-PowerPoint presentation in a meeting room. Any kind of audio need that does not require a lot of inputs or more than 100 people, although I’m actually more comfortable saying the 50-person range is probably closer to the ideal.

Am I gonna go out and buy one? Probably not. I already own a couple of small systems, and when I provide P.A. for my own gigs, it’s a band with five to eight pieces. That’s too big for the SRM-Flex. But if I was doing this kind of track gig a lot or a solo acoustic guitar/vocal thing in a local bar, I would strongly consider it. It’s just the ticket for walking into the gig with all of my gear in one trip and setting up in five minutes. Sometimes, there’s a lot to be said for keeping it simple.

An SRM-Flex Connect app for Android and Mac iOS offers wireless Bluetooth control

Fast, and Easy to Use

Mackie joins the column-on-a-mixer/powered subwoofer movement with a lightweight, portable design.

Mackie SRM-Flex Portable P.A.

PROS

  • Compact, lightweight
  • Clean sounding
  • Built-in mixer
  • Enough for a small gig with no additional gear

CONS

  • Only two mic inputs on “six” channel mixer
  • Although advertised as 1,300 watts, we had it cranked to cover the room
  • Monaural operation

STATS

Drivers: 10” LF; (6) 2” MF/HF drivers

Enclosure: Matte black polypropylene

Peak Amplifier Power: 1,000W, LF; 300W, HF

Frequency Response: 50 Hz to 20k Hz (-3 dB)

Dispersion (HxV): 90° x 50°

Max Peak SPL: 118 dB

Dimensions (HxWxD): 78.8 x 13 x 14.4”

Weight: 29.6 pounds

Remote Operation: iOS and Android Bluetooth control app available

Street Price: $999 with shoulder bag and dust cover

Manufacturer: Mackie

More Info: www.mackie.com

Bill Evans is a former editor of FRONT of HOUSE and independent writer.

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