Mackie Thump Boosted Series Thump15BST 15" Powered Loudspeaker
By Chris Loeffler |
Mackie Thump Boosted Series - Thump15BST - 15" Powered Loudspeaker
Thump's got bump!
by Chris Loeffler
Mackie has long reigned in the mid-tier category of powered monitors, offering quality and power to stomp the competition with a feature-set that typically pushes it beyond comparably priced powered speakers. Mackie’s Thump series, in particular, bring the sort of exaggerated (if you want it) bass to the powered monitors that quash any concepts of thin or feeble sound reproduction at a modest price point, so it makes sense that their Thump Boosted series would only take this concept further.
The Mackie Thump Boosted 15” powered monitor set I evaluated features wireless streaming capability, their well-received Vita+ preamps for microphone inputs, onboard three-channel mixer, and each produces a staggering 1300 watts of power per speaker.
What You Need to Know
Here’s a quick tech rundown of the Mackie Thump 15BST speaker-
- 15″ high-output woofer
- 1.4″ titanium dome driver
- 1300 watts of system power
- Class-D amplifier with Dynamic Bass Response
- Built-in three-channel digital mixer
- Effective DSP for high and low-frequency distribution
- Two-way crossover
- Built-in stereo Bluetooth
- Three-band EQ
- Variable high-pass filters (channel 1 and 2)
- Six built-in application-specific modes
- Three memory recall presets
The rear panels of the speakers provide a pretty deep level of tweaking the monitors, and includes two input channels with Vita preamps (more on that later) for microphone or other line-level signals, a mix output that allows you to connect either a subwoofer or perhaps additional full range speakers, and an additional mixable channel for bluetooth streaming. A full-color display reveals channel metering, levels, and EQ for a quick visual reference, and a nice touch is the ability to dim or even completely turn off the display for darker venues and performances. Better yet, every control on the backside is also adjustable remotely via the Thump Connect App (iOS and Android compatible).
Syncing the two 15BST units I reviewed together was less of a challenge than I expected due to previous (not so great) bluetooth technology. Syncing is as simple as accessing the menu and selecting ‘sync’ to both speakers. Within a couple of minutes both were perfectly paired and didn’t drop out during the weeks of evaluation I put them through. Pairing with my phone was also seamless, with the Mackie Thump Boosted showing up a logical ‘Thump15BST’ in the list of sync-able devices and flawless connections (I’ve experience some devices that occasionally drop the signal at random, but not the Mackie Thump).
Avoiding hyperbole, I’ll simply state the Mackie Thump Boosted monitors I reviewed at LOUD. There’s more than enough volume to address a mid-sized venue and within the context of a coffee-house type setting you’d be unlikely to go past 10 o’clock before people started walking. The Thump has a very clear hit to the subs that both befits its name and is likely to appeal to DJs and people who like sub-heavy music loud (and that wasn’t even evaluated with the additional subwoofer offering). While falling short of getting cartoonishly exaggerated, experienced sound people used to more traditional mixes for performing bands will likely pull the lows back in line with the other frequencies, but there’s comfort in knowing you can get the walls shaking if you want to.
The three-band EQ goes a long way towards adjusting it’s three frequencies well (mids and highs perform equally admirably, if less up front, than the bass). This level of control isn’t as fine as running several rack parametric EQs and a full-functioning mixing board, but it took care of 90% of the situation I tested the speakers in without ever leaving me feeling there was need for additional tweaking. The clarity of the audio is due in large part to the Mackie Thump Boosted’s separate circuitry for low and high-end processing and two—way crossover. Unlike similar price-point speakers, the Mackie Thump Boosted takes the incoming audio signal and creates two separate signals for the lows and highs and re-aligns the two signals to make sure they’re in sync for a more clearer, crisp audio signal. The Dynamic Bass Response operates at a higher voltage supply than normal and quickens the processing response of the built-in amplifier.
There are six application-specific audio modes to the speakers… preset EQ and tuning settings that are tailored to create a damned good start to a set-it-and-forget-it EQ for live music, DJ, and music streaming settings. The speaker modes are Music, Live, Speech, Music+Sub, Live+Sub, and Monitor. Music mode is the fullest in frequency, with a note of a lift to the highs and lows to add feel to the bass and punch to the highs. Live mode features a bit of a scoop on the low end to keep instruments from getting too flabby, and is especially useful in acoustic singer/songwriter applications. Speech more also rolls back some of the lows, but also adds presence and volume to the upper-mid range for clear vocal applications with minimal feedback. The +Sub modes are designed to distribute the sound similarly but with the additional consideration of the ground the optional subwoofer would add, and Monitor mode features some low and high end reduction to keep stage noise uncluttered.
The aforementioned Vita preamps, which have already been installed in some of their best selling newer monitors, work extremely well to boost the signal in microphones or low-output devices in a musical and multi-dimensional way. No, they aren’t going to have you tossing your vintage Neve preamps, but they sound great and remove one more barrier from building a budget live/recording rig without needing to invest in off board gear. The Vita preamps feature Mackie’s Wide-Z technology built-in, which allows for some intelligent handling of input signal conversion.
The Mackie Thump Connect app gives you control of everything on the back mixer on the go. Through a simple, look-alike GUI, the app allows you to engineer a performance from the sweet spot in the room and eliminates a lot of the guesswork and hassle of dialing in your sound when you don’t have a dedicated sound person on your crew. For DJs or house parties, this is as simple as getting a track going and walking the floor to make sure you’re pushing through the sound the way you want it to be heard. I’ve yet to really fall in love with app-controlled features in my music gear, but I found no fault in the initial sync and overall stability of the app and its connection to the speakers.
The Mackie Thump Boosted cabinets are finished in a textured black finish polypropylene and feel overbuilt and sturdy. Side handles and a top carry make moving the not insignificant weight of the monitors as easy as moving 35 pounds at a time can be, and the mounting design offers multiple options, including standard upright positioning, horizontal for a wider dispersion, and the obligatory pole and M10 mounting options for elevated stations.
Sonic purists will find themselves pulling back the bass on all of the presets, as the low-end is musical but undoubtedly exaggerated out of the box.
The Mackie Thump Boosted 15BST is a force to be reckoned with, and two paired via bluetooth produce more high-quality audio output than nearly an venue you perform in will be able to handle. Even as a simple system to stream music, it is formidable (overkill, maybe?) and brings forward the audio in a musical, sweetened way. Even in a market as crowded as mass manufactured powered monitors within $100 of the price of the Thump Boosted, there’s nothing I’ve demoed that will match the simplicity, sound quality, flexibility, and raw volume of the the Thump 15BST. - HC -
Follow my Pro-Review Express here and join the conversation, ask questions, and share your experiences with the Mackie Thump Boosted 15BST! -HC-
Buy Mackie Thump Boosted 15BST Powered Monitors at Sweetwater (MSRP $499.99, Street $449.99)
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.