REVIEW: Mackie SRM-Flex Portable Column PA system

These portable “column style” PA systems seem to be all the rage these days, and it’s no surprise why. With their lightweight design, and easy-to-assemble form factors, coupled with a line-array inspiration, and you can see that the ease of use combined with the sound reproduction of more high-end solutions in an affordable package is pretty darn tempting.

Mackie enters the fold with their new SRM-Flex system, which features a base unit and a 3-piece tower that all clicks easily into place. One of the nice things about this type of design is that compared to a fixed-driver type of PA speaker (which is what you’d normally throw up on poles, fly in a larger setting or use on stage as a wedge), you can actually change out where each of the high and mid-range drivers sit (and disperse sound) so you can adjust them to the real-world height of your audience. So, if you need to adapt to different types of stage setups and floorplans a lot in your gigging, this can be just the thing for you. 

The whole package is pretty lightweight, overall, and will easily fit into just about any touring vehicle (even a Smart Car). For house concert performers and small combos, you’ll appreciate the on-board I/O and built-in mixer, meaning that you can  plug all your gear (mics/acoustics/keys) into the SRM-Flex without the need for an additional powered mixer (and more cables to trip over). You even have on-board Bluetooth for streaming backing tracks, as well as some pretty useful reverb options. 

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The unit sounds great in action, mixing instruments and vocals with ease. You can do this on the unit itself, of course, or even better with the Mackie SRM-Flex Connect app for your smartphone. We’ve controlled a number of Mackie mixers and PA solutions in the past using their apps, and they’re super easy to use and setup. A lot of manufacturers’ apps flat-out suck, and are totally unintuitive. But Mackie’s been nailing the wireless app game for years, and this is no different.

If you want to be able to mix easily from the stage, or even have someone mix FOH-style from their iPad in the crowd, you’re covered. But the good thing is that even though you can access everything through the app for wireless control, you can also get to everything you need with physical buttons and knobs. No menu-diving, which if you’ve read any of our reviews before, you’ll know we hate menu navigation as much as Sonicstate’s Nick Batt loves Pulse Width Modulation. And that’s A LOT. 

At the end of the day, this is a serious PA solution for serious musicians. It sounds phenomenal, it has all the inputs and control you’d need for most singer/songwriter and small band applications, and it’s dead-simple to use and lug around no matter what your gig situation calls for. 

If you’re in the market for a PA solution for yourself or your group, and you don’t want o buy huge bulky speakers and a separate compact mixer, we recommend you check it out. 

PROS:

super easy setup, great sound quality, wonderful app, no external mixer needed

CONS:

none

STREET PRICE:

$999

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