Mackie HD 1531 Review
Live2Play checks out Mackie's Latest Powered Speakers
Today we will be looking at Mackie’s latest generation of powered loudspeakers, the HD series. Specifically the HD1531 (there is also a HD1521). Mackie has been producing powered loudspeakers for more than a decade now. So, I would expect these new speakers to be a great improvement over past models or less expensive or both. I own a pair of SA1532z powered loudspeakers and they sound very good. They are durable, powerful and can handle a variety of different gigs. However I am not reviewing those speakers but they will serve as my mental reference for Mackie speakers in general. Now, let’s take a closer look at the HD1531’s.
WHAT IT IS
Mackie loads a handsome trapezoidal birch plywood box with a 15” neodymium woofer, a 6” midrange transducer and a heat-treated 1.75” compression driver. All these components were designed by the engineering team at Eastern Acoustic Works (EAW). These three components are driven by three Class-D, fast recovery power amplifiers. The low frequency gets 700watts RMS (1400watts peak) the mid frequencies and highs get 100watts each (200watts peak each). All the sound frequencies emanating from the HD1531 are divided up by a phase-coherent 3-way electronic crossover and transducer time-alignment. Mackie also incorporates patented acoustic correction processing in every speaker box. Not only are these speaker enclosures packed with fun on the inside, they have lots of bells and whistles on the outside.
The back of the HD1531 sports a female XLR main input and a male XLR loop out connector. Mackie also gives you a 3-band EQ with sweepable mids and had enough insight to add an on/off button for this feature. They also installed and on/off button for the power light. This feature can come in handy in many situations. Of course the HD1531 components have complete thermal protection circuitry. This means that if the amplifiers exceed a safe operating temperature the input signal is muted to allow the amps to cool. The thermal LED will also light up to let you know it is engaged. You will find a signal/limiter LED below the thermal LED. This bi-color light let’s you know a signal is present (green) or the limiter is engaged (yellow). You are left with an on/off power switch and an IEC receptacle to finish of the back panel appointments. Mackie built their HD speaker enclose with 12 fly points for vertical and horizontal rigging and a pole mount was included. They painted the birch box with durable black paint and added a powder-coated galvanized steel grille to protect the transducers. The enclosure is 35.4 inches high by 18.25 inches wide (front), 11.82 inches wide (rear) and 18.81 inches deep. And the whole package weighs in at back saving 96lbs. After checking out the speaker enclosure and reading through the specs, I was anxious to use the HD1531 in some live gigs.
HOW IT WORKS
I tested the HD1531 powered speakers in a variety of live sound settings but always as front of house enclosures. I am pretty sure if you pick up a pair of these boxes you will use them as F.O.H. speakers. At any rate, my first outing was at an outdoor event with an audience of about 500. I was mixing a blues band consisting of drums, bass, guitar, keys and a four-piece horn section. I teamed up the Mackie’s’ with a couple of powered subs to round out the low end of the mix. I used my own graphic EQ and disengaged the HD1531 EQs. I was really impressed with how good the loudspeakers sounded right at the get-go with almost no added EQ. The speaker enclosures were able to handle the wide variety of instruments with exceptional clarity. Especially the horn section.
My next show was also outdoors and I had another four piece horn section, along with four singers, a keyboard, bass and two percussionists. The group was a very high energy Latin jazz outfit with a lot of music and vocals happening all at once. I again teamed up the loudspeakers with a pair of subs and again I had great success without a lot of F.O.H. equalization. There was a lot of EQ required to get the band frequencies balanced but the Mackie speakers handled all the music and vocals with smooth, distinct clarity.
I had one more gig with Mackie HD1531s and that was at a relatively small indoor wedding. The event started with a girl singing to tracks, then a solo acoustic guitar player followed by an IPod playing dance music. I did not use subs for the gig and I put the Mackie’s on tri-pods. By the way, if you try to set these enclosures on sticks, I suggest you get some help. Anyway, this time I used the onboard EQ and was very satisfied with the quality and precision of the live and canned music.
I would sum-up the Mackie HD1531 powered loudspeakers as a really good tool for your trade. For a working band, these speakers will make your set-up easier and they sound great. My ears and my experience with the speakers tells me that Mackie has definitely taken another step forward in their efforts to build better and better powered loudspeakers.