Mackie DRM12A 2000W 12" Active Array Speaker
By Chris Loeffler |
Mackie DRM12A 2000W 12" Active Array Speaker
For flying high or laying low ...
by Chris Loeffler
Live sound installation was a cost-prohibitive proposition for decades, resulting in either neigh-impossible to recoup costs or, more often, inferior sound for most medium sized venues, such as performance halls, auditoriums, and Praise and Worship houses. As a result, musicians have learned to deal with less-than-optimal sonic situations. However, the reinvigoration of performance spaces (and likely not in the traditional areas you are thinking) and continued refinement and cost-reductions of technology have brought the costs down and quality up to a point where outfitting a venue with professional sound has become more affordable than buying a used car on Craigslist.
Mackie is stepping up to own the mid-level market for live sound with their Winter 2019 NAMM debut of the Mackie DRM Powered Series, a collection of loudspeakers designed to bring professional quality and features at a value-proposition price point and an ease-of-entry integrated system that makes setup accessible to anyone with basic audio gear knowledge. I was sent a pair of the Mackie DRM12a arrayable loudspeakers to evaluate. The DRM12a are 2000W class-D amplifiers fed into a 1” titanium driver and 12” woofer featuring dual-angle pole mounts, flybar integration for connecting up to four cabinets and two optional subwoofers, and weighs in at 55lb.
What You Need to Know
The new Mackie Powered DRM Series features 12” and 15” loudspeakers, an arrayable 12” loudspeaker, and 18” subwoofer offerings to kit together for medium-sized venues. Varying in power from 1600W to 2300W, they are designed to be loud, clean, and flexible.
The DRM Series loudspeakers were designed to be as flexible as possible, meaning they can be configured to fit nearly any application in which you might need sound from the board, from front-of-the-house to the primary stage sound. While it would be massive overkill to use them as stage monitors, yep, you can do that too. M10 flypoints allow for this versatility, and while it has benefit for a one-and-done venue setup, I can see even more opportunity in tackling sound as a touring setup, where a configuration that works in one place may not in the next.
2000W of Class-D amplification meant deafening volumes were available at 500-1,000-person spaces without ever touching the bottom end of headroom clipping. I didn’t have an occasion (nor venue) permissive enough to find the point at which distortion entered the equation, tapping out when I filled a one-block long warehouse from one end to the other. Testing different genres of music, I found the bass deep enough to exceed the requirements for any type of music but the “feel it more than hear it” subs of extreme EDM without needing to incorporate the optional subwoofers. Highs were crisp and musical and the mids were strong and rich.
DSP-controlled Advanced Impulse leverages filters, transducer time-alignment, and crossover to intelligently compensate for the work parallel speakers are doing, and while I couldn’t attribute the alignment of the frequency spectrum specifically to physical construction and components versus DSP support, the low end stayed tight, present, and inline.
The compression driver array is composed of Triple 1” titanium diaphragms matched with a 12” high-excursion woofer for a balanced representation of the entire frequency range I would expect from a complete band or recording.
The DRM Powered Series includes Mackie’s proprietary Power Factor Correction technology that compensates for power fluxuations. I attempts a few tricks to mess with the average-at-best power conditions of the warehouse I used for testing, including running animated neon signs and turning industrial equipment with heavy draw on an off to test output and clarity of the speakers, but couldn’t crack it. Depending on the venue, your mileage may vary.
The DRM Control Dashboard is a visual display on the back of the monitors that creates instant access to all parameters and tweaks in the DRM series. The GUI is bright and full color, allowing access to the various controls via a single control knob. From this display, you can access EQ and voicing, metering, and array configuration. There are up six user preset banks to save your work, and the system can be locked via a four-digit PIN.
The DRM12As that I tested seemed well designed and ready to take a beating without damaging the electronics or speaker. It’s frowned upon to intentionally rough up evaluation units, but I handled the loudspeakers the same way I would any other piece of gear as I hauled them across locations. The cabinet itself is made of 15mm plywood and, popping open the enclosure, I was able to see robust bracing.
This comes at a price, though, as these things are as heavy as one would expect this sort of power and performance to kick out at.
There is some, but minimal, menu diving to adjust in the GUI.
Mackie has a reputation for building quality, road-worthy gear at affordable prices, and the DRM Powered Series loudspeakers I evaluated didn’t deviate from this path. High headroom, large volume live sound at an incredibly affordable price is the name of the game, and I’m thoroughly impressed that a club, auditorium, or place of worship can bring professional sound to their audience for only a couple of thousand dollars. Even removing the accessible price from consideration, the Mackie DRM Powered 12a loudspeakers stood out as quality solutions to mid-sized venue audio needs. -HC-
Chris Loeffler is a multi-instrumentalist and the Content Strategist of Harmony Central. In addition to his ten years experience as an online guitar merchandiser, marketing strategist, and community director he has worked as an international exporter, website consultant and brand manager. When he’s not working he can be found playing music, geeking out on guitar pedals and amps, and brewing tasty beer.