Field Report: Mackie HR824

I do some freelance. I also have a great radio job at KCFX-FM, Kansas City. That does not mean that my freelance work is not lucrative; it has done me very well. KCFX is a guarantee and I also produce "The Kansas City Chiefs Radio Network" (KCFX being the flagship station of one of the largest networks in the NFL). I produce promos and sweepers for many medium-to-large market, KCFX and The Chiefs, and the occasional national radio or television commercial. I've heard most studio monitors known to radio.

The Mackie company has long been known for its monitors. Realizing that what you hear is the ultimate end-product and flat-real sound is the key to good production of any nature, Mackie produced a small, powered monitor that delivers real, accurate sound. With a 150W amp on the back of each cabinet, it's not lacking for power.

Performance at a glance
  • Flush connection points on back
  • 10kHz, +/-2dB high shelving
  • Overload light triggered by both amplifiers
  • 80Hz bass roll-off switch
  • Front on/off switch
  • Switchable acoustic space applications
  • Foam-filled cabinet interior
  • Ruler-flat response
  • Unlike many powered speakers, Mackie's are well designed. A TRS 1/4-inch or XLR plug can be connected without it sticking out horizontally from the amp. In other words, you can place this speaker flush against a wall. Many powered speakers prior to the HR824s have had the plugs perpendicular to the monitor surface. With the 824s thus designed, they preserve a major benefit of powered monitors: space saved by a bulky power amp taking needed rack space.

    Something I found pleasing were the option switches on the back of each speaker. They are switchable positions based on placement and room size. Mackie calls them acoustic space applications. There is a performance switch for "against the wall", "in corners" or "away from walls". This is known as "full-space", "half-space" and "quarter-space."; Also, if you know your room well, there is a switch to tweak the low- and high-frequency response. It's a joy to experiment with these settings because each decision really does affect the sound.

    The particulars

    Mackie also gives you a roll-off option. The bass roll-off reduces low frequencies below 80Hz. For high frequencies, there is the availability to decrease sounds above 10Hz by 2dB.

    Another bonus to powered speakers is the front panel power switch. It's nice to know when you leave the studio for the day that your monitors are off. Also, you're not as likely to change a setting by mistake while fumbling on the back for a power switch.

    Also on the front panel is an overload switch. I've already said the HR824s are loud, but they are also punchy. The throw is short and hard. At 50 percent and plus volume they are accurate and flat. The sound picture is uniformly accurate.

    The HR824s can compete with any powered speaker-sub combos with two times the price tag. There are two power amps on each unit. The low-frequency amp is 150W into 4ohms with a burst power output of 300W. The high frequency amp is 100W into 6ohms with a burst power output of 210W. From directly in front of the monitors or at a 15-foot distance, the sound is similar to a "live" sound.

    The tweeter is a one-inch alloy dome that has fantastic power handling. An 8.75-inch woofer with a mineral-filled cone and a long-throw voice coil handles the bottom end. Inside the speaker is a massive magnet, which lends to the over-all weight.

    The cabinet of the HR824 is a resin wood material. The enclosure is filled with sound dampening material. Many smaller monitors have that boxy sounding midrange as a result of not enough fiberglass dampening inside. The extra foam keeps that sound pure and not bouncing around the cabinet until it finally finds a place to exit, thus delivering less-than-true sound reproduction.

    Each monitor comes with a signed certificate of performance verifying the flat response of +/-1.5dB from 39Hz to 22.kHz, and certifying that the monitor has undergone a thorough bias and quality-control adjustment. The verification is made with a DSP-based audio measurement system. With this, any two HR824 monitors are perfectly matched.

    Look, we all know the "sweet-spot" sound we long for. If you did it right, the Mackie HR824 will let you know. No sound will come out of these monitors that was not there when you recorded it. If, through the HR824, your piece sounds the way you envisioned it, then it's done.

    Taylor is creative services director of KCFX-FM, Kansas City.

    P 800-898-3211
    F 425-487-4337

    Editor's note:
    Field Reports are an exclusive BE Radio feature for radio broadcasters. Each report is prepared by well-qualified staff at a radio station, production facility or consulting company.
    These reports are performed by the industry, for the industry. Manufacturer support is limited to providing loan equipment and to aiding the author if requested.
    It is the responsibility of BE Radio to publish the results of any device tested, positive or negative. No report should be considered an endorsement or disapproval by BE Radio
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