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Rocking the New Mackie FreePlay Live (And In The Woods!) With Saint John and the Revelations
[Editor’s Note: Earlier this summer we put out a call for readers to win a cool new Mackie FreePlay Personal PA. We wanted someone to test out the new system live, at gigs, and give us the rundown on what they think. Below are the thoughts of Seattle’s Saint John, after using the system for a few months live – and in the woods! For your chance to win awesome gear and get featured in the mag, keep an eye out for more “Tour Test” opportunities EXCLUSIVELY at performermag.com]▼ Article continues below ▼
“It looks like a boombox!” was my first thought when I saw and lifted my newly arrived Mackie FreePlay PA System, but this little 11-pound beast has since replaced another sound system that was at least eight times its size and weight, improved my overall sound, and made me more portable.
Setting up and connecting the Mackie FreePlay was quick and simple. Within about four minutes, I downloaded the free iOS FreePlay Mixer app, turned on the PA, plugged in my mic and guitar, paired it over Bluetooth to my phone, and started sliding the mixer controls through the app. I adjusted the EQ, Gain, and Reverb with a few quick swipes of my finger, strummed and sang a couple of songs, and smiled happily realizing the FreePlay will create many more possibilities of when and where I can perform, and it will sound fantastic doing it.
The Mackie FreePlay is surprisingly loud. Within one week of getting the FreePlay I performed with it at shows in bars, a convention center, and even in a forest; it sounded full and present in each scenario. With 300 Watts to push sound, the FreePlay rises above chatter and background noise but still carries the nuances and character of my voice, and my acoustic guitar comes through strong and pristine when strumming heavily or picking finely.
The Mackie FreePlay is superb for events and parties. I hosted a couple of shows using my FreePlay and at least 40 singer-songwriters have performed through it – we’ve all been surprised and awed at how loud and good it sounds for being so small and convenient to carry around. It is also very cool when I’m hosting a show to be able to adjust the mix levels while wandering the room so I can really hear what it sounds like to the audience rather than having to guess from beside the stage. In between sets, I stream music from my phone through the FreePlay Bluetooth/Aux channel mixed through the FreePlay app: seamless and convenient.
I mostly use the system untethered via the optional lithium-ion battery so I can position it wherever I want rather than having to be near an electrical socket, and also outdoors.
The exact specifications for the Mackie FreePlay are easily found in their online manual, but as a singer-songwriter who performs 200+ shows per year, the relevant specs to me are: 300 Watts of strong clear sound, 2 mic/instrument channels, 1 Bluetooth/Aux channel, very light and easy to carry, quick to set up and adjust with the app, and a long-lasting battery.
The Mackie FreePlay is an excellent personal PA; I’ve only had it a few weeks but it sounds so good I have quickly integrated it into more of my shows, and because of its portability I can book shows I couldn’t have booked before. I highly recommend it.
For more on Saint John and the Revelations, head to www.sjatr.com. And for more info on the Mackie FreePlay, be sure to visit mackie.com/products/freeplay.