Mackie SRM-Flex Personal Column PA

Can something this small and light deliver the sound you need for small venues?

Editor’s Note: This is an “executive summary” of the full review, which is now posted on the Full Compass blog. Both Mackie and Full Compass saw the review that appeared here, thought it was fair, and offered to post it to the wider audience of their combined web sites. However, Google frowns upon duplicate content, so this summarizes the key points of the full review.

“Personal” PAs are portable, flexible, and powerful enough to fill small venues. The SRM-Flex takes another evolutionary step forward—and typically costs under $1,000.

Portable. The whole system weighs under 30 pounds (Fig. 1). The base unit has a handle, while the three columns fit in an over-the-shoulder carry bag.

Image of the SRM-Flex system's individual components (base unit, column speaker, and two extenders), disassembled for transportation and also assembled.
Figure 1: The left image shows the base, column, and extenders. The right image shows the unit assembled, using the column without extenders.

Flexible. The mixer has six channels: two mic/line/instrument inputs, stereo line inputs, and stereo Bluetooth for streaming or 1/8″ aux input (Fig. 2).

Image of the top control panel of the SRM-Flex, showing the controls, inputs, and output.
Figure 2: The SRM-Flex control panel, with I/O and controls

For example,with an arranger keyboard-based act, the keyboard goes into the line ins, there’s another input if you double on guitar, a mic input for vocals, and Bluetooth to stream break music from your smartphone. A singer/songwriter can use a mic in, acoustic guitar in, and dedicate the line in for an electric guitar pedalboard. An XLR Mix Out jack can feed another unit, a supplementary PA system, or a recording setup.

The two main inputs (with combi input jacks) have high and low tone controls, volume, and reverb send (three reverb variations, or off). The other two input pairs have their own volume controls, and there’s an overall master volume.

A three-position EQ switch chooses among curves for Music, Speech, or Live. The Speech option is for stand-up comics, workshops/seminars, sermons, and corporate presentations. Music applies the “smile” EQ curve (more bass and highs). Live is flat.

iOS and Android apps that connect with Bluetooth can handle remote control. During sound check, it’s easy to tweaks EQ and levels.

Power. The power spec is 1,300 Watts. The 10″ subwoofer handles the low end well, while six, 2″ high-frequency drivers are designed for wide sound dispersion. The height extender to raise the high-frequency drivers is really clever. If people are standing, extend the height with two extensions; if they’re sitting, use one extension.

Protection includes built-in limiting, thermal shutdown in case of overheating, and subsonic filtering.

CONCLUSIONS

There are several competitors in this price range, so evaluate your needs and look for the best match. But the SRM-Flex is easy to operate, has a solid build quality, performs well, and offers some bonus features. I agree with Mackie that it can handle venues with up to 100 people or so, but more importantly, in my opinion the sound quality keeps ear fatigue at bay.

Although there’s no shortage of personal PA options, the SRM-Flex hits a sweet spot of price/performance. You may be able to find something that suits a specific set of needs better, but I recommend not making any final buying decision before hearing (and seeing) for yourself what the SRM-Flex can do.