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Editor’s note – back in May we put out a call for product testers to win and demo the new Mackie Reach Professional PA System. After all the entries were collected, we chose Nashville-based singer/songwriter Katie Cole to demo the new PA and share her experiences on social media. Her final review appears below.
My first impression of the Mackie Reach PA System was “excitement.” And it was completely validated from opening the box until my first use. The PA system is a tall, sleek tower. As you may have noticed from photos, I am not a super-buff muscular gentleman, and this system was light enough for me to lift on my own. In the past I have owned JBL Eons, RCF and Mackie 12-inch speakers. All of those were powered and therefore fairly heavy to lift over my shoulders onto a stand, but the Mackie Reach was a comfortable weight that felt right for a small performance. Equivalent weight to perhaps less than a single powered 10-inch speaker.
The functionality was hard to beat, too. It has an easy-to-adjust back insert for four XLRs or quarter inch cables, and more for Aux use or foot switches. No need for a separate mixing desk either – it’s ALL built in! The side panel was a favorable design feature. Push-button channel select, master volume fader and also the button to toggle between the small built-in (yes, built-in) monitors left and right on the speaker for user listening. And these monitors can be selected individually or together and when in use, they engage with the master volume. Once you’re plugged into the Reach and have your levels, the sound quality was excellent. Lots of low end, crystal clear mids and highs that you’d expect from the Mackie brand. Being used to using larger speakers, it was hard to come to terms with exactly how this full-bodied sound was able to come out of such a slim tower. I liken this to when you see a small framed singer with a huge voice. Boggles the mind, but in a good way.
The “wow” factor for me with this system was the Mackie Connect App. I immediately downloaded the App and it synched seamlessly when paired via BlueTooth with the Reach. The App features a virtual mixing desk to give the user the ability to tweak levels, mute channels, add effects and crank the master from anywhere within range of the system. For me, there is peace of mind knowing I can place my phone in front of me when performing and change my levels without even putting my guitar down. This is a truly smart feature.
Overall, the system is best suited to scaled-back performances with the 4 inputs offered, but it can be paired with a second tower, so it is possible to add more inputs for larger shows. It really does sound great and if you get the carrying case you’re honestly ready for any type of live performance. I love it so far and recommend it as the perfect choice for musicians for house concerts or cafe set ups. It’s plug and play with all the perks of a much larger system and much more. I look forward to the next time I use it.