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Road Test In Process: Mackie HD1531 Three-Way Self-Powered Loudspeaker
The kickoff to an ongoing Road Test of a brand-new entry in live sound loudspeakers from Mackie
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Mackie describes the HD1531 as a “15” High-Definition Powered Loudspeaker System”.

Yep, it’s got a 15” woofer, and it’s a three-way system, and it’s powered. Now what’s all this about being “High Definition”? I suppose I could try to explain it, but it might be easier if you just go here (pdf) and get the Mackie explanation.

The ordinary every-day non-HD attributes of this powered loudspeaker include 900 watts of power with an 1800 watt peak. Power is divided 700/100/100 (900/200/200 peak) into the Lo/Mid/Hi sections. There is a three-band EQ section that can be turned on and off as needed.

A noteworthy feature of the built-in EQ is that the total boost/cut of each band is 3 dB. I like this. It’s useful, but it does not give the inexperienced user enough rope to hang themselves. The mid band sweep range is from 100Hz to 8kHz with a Q of 1.5. It has a pole cup so you can mount it on a stand and 12 fly points. At 96 pounds, it’s at the top end of what you’d want to put up on a stand.

Cabinet construction is of 11mm birch plywood finished in good ‘ole basic black. Fit & finish is top-notch. The grill is a bit on the thin side, so I don’t recommend using this speaker as a backstop. No, not even for slow-pitch softball.

This is just a brief general description of the product so you know what I’m talking about. Details can be found here on the manufacturers website.

So how does this thing sound? Lemme tell ya…

First, let me say that I have used the Mackie SRM450 and SR1530 quite a bit, and I find that when used for what they are designed to be used for, I find them to be very useful products. I also find that when asked to perform beyond their design limits, they tend to fall short, often with disastrous consequences. This however, is the fault of the user, not the products.


My first use of the Mackie HD 1531 was in my back yard for a celebration of my son’s high school graduation. I used just one, and although it was not a very demanding application, I found listening to CD playback of a wide range of music all day to be very pleasant.

Next, I brought them to the club where I am the regular house sound guy. The room is on the small side, with a capacity of about 200 people. This size room is typical of the rooms where these speakers would get a lot of use. The room books a lot of bands that play music on the ‘harder’ side, but my plan is to use them for the ‘80’s cover band on a Thursday, and put the regular rig back up for the weekend.

The speakers worked out so well on Thursday, I decided to use them for the weekend with the heavy bands, and give them a true beating.

Like a lot of small club installations, there are issues with the installed system. In this case, The loudspeakers I am taking down are very good. The problem is that when properly splayed, the pattern is too wide for the room, so I have to choose between overlapping the horns or bouncing sound off the walls. The 90 degree pattern of the Mackies is narrower than the (properly splayed) 140 degree of the usual house speakers, but the installed speakers have a much higher output capability.

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