Mackie SRM150(2)

Essentially shrunken down versions of Mackie’s flagship SRM450 powered P.A. speakers, Mackie’s new SRM150s ($389 retail/$299 street each) are hardly bigger than a lunchbox, yet each boasts a three-channel mixer, a class-D power amplifier, and some serious cute factor. While the obvious way to use these adorable mini-mains is as a small P.A. system (two of ’em are more than adequate for rocking cafés or small bars), they also come in handy for more guitar-specific tasks.
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For instance, with its 5.25" full-range speaker and convenient Instrument setting, a single SRM150 makes a pristine acoustic-electric rig. (For the record, though, despite being rated at 150 peak watts, the monitor doesn’t deliver quite as much perceived volume as you’d expect from a similarly powered guitar amp—perhaps because onboard limiting ensures the speaker never reaches clipping). To maximize the SRM150’s sonic throw, use the included connector to mount the monitor atop a standard mic stand so it hits your audience at ear level. (Also included is a boom extender that allows you to affix a vocal mic atop a stand-mounted SRM150—hip!) To really fill the room, though, use the SRM150’s handy rear-panel XLR Thru jack to daisy chain it to another SRM150. Or, if a stereo electric guitar rig is what you’re after, instead of daisy chaining the two monitors, feed them the left and right line outputs of your favorite preamp/ effects processor, and let your riffs roar.

My favorite way to use the SRM150s is on stage as a supplement to a guitar amp. When you show up at a gig where there’s a guitar mic waiting for you, but no monitor—or there is a monitor, but only one shared mix, and you don’t want lead vocals, horns, and everything else blasting in your face all night—just use one XLR cable and the Thru jack to insert the SRM150 between the mic and the mixing board, and presto! You’ve got a personal wedge. Or, if you’re using a low-wattage amp, and you’re not in the P.A., but you still want to be heard, put a mic on your amp, and run it into one or two cranked SRM150s aimed at the audience. Your stage volume will be several times louder. On a recent gig using a reissue Fender Princeton Reverb, this ap-proach saved me from being buried by the bass and drums.

For some guitarists, the final frontier with SRM150s will be using them to create a mini Larry Carlton-style rig—a tube amp running dry between two SRM150s that, by routing a miked signal from the amp’s speaker to an outside processor, brings stereo effects (such as a touch of reverb or a subtle ping-pong delay) into your mix. This wet-on-the-outside, dry-in-the-middle sound is a win-win situation for you and your front-of-house engineer. You get a lush stereo sound onstage, while the soundperson can run you through the mains as dry as necessary to suit the natural ambience of the venue. Unfortunately, as is the case with most small mixers, the SRM150 doesn’t provide send/return jacks on its input channels, so adding effects to a mic plugged into an SRM150 becomes a bit of a hassle. You’ll have to run the mic straight into the processor, set the effects blend in the unit, and then run the processor’s left and right outputs into the SRM150s. Nonetheless, with onboard phantom power (for condenser mics), two mic/line channels, and a stereo RCA input (blended to mono) for running audio from an iPod or CD player, these multi-featured mini-Mackies are great to have in the trunk of your car, because there are countless ways they can save your ass on the gig.

Kudos Clear sound. Ultra compact. Ultra handy. Damn cute.
Concerns An aux send would be welcome.
Contact Mackie, (800) 898-3211;