Recording - March 2017 - 42

Mackie

XR824 Professional
Studio Monitors
Get comfortable with these
very studio-friendly speakers
REVIEW BY MIKE METLAY

M

ackie has broken ground in many areas over
its decades-long history, providing an admiring
audio community with-among other things-
affordable and rugged mixers from small desktop designs to large-format live consoles, some of the world's
first musician-friendly active PA speakers, innovations in monitor
control and audio interfaces for DAWs, and lots more. But
there's one particular Mackie innovation that is near and dear
to my heart, and it takes me back to our May 1999 issue.
That was the issue when we reviewed Mackie's first active
studio monitor, the HR824. It was a 2-way active monitor with
an 8" woofer and a 1" dome tweeter, the latter set back into a
dispersive waveguide to assure smooth off-axis response and
proper time alignment with the woofer. As a debut from a company
not known for speaker design, it impressed a lot of people, one
young(ish) Assistant Editor included. The following year, I was
able to add a pair of HR824 monitors to my home studio, and
they served me well for many years.
As I write this, I'm listening to a new pair of Mackies, the first to
grace the Recording offices in a long time. The XR824 is an innovative
speaker with new drivers, an upgraded port design, and more. To
me, though, it was like slipping on a velvety-soft pair of old blue
jeans that I'd forgotten about in the back of my closet... only better.

The XR824 on paper

There are two new XR monitors from Mackie, the XR624 with a
6.5" Kevlar woofer and the XR824 under review here with an 8"
Kevlar woofer. Both speakers are biamplified 2-way designs with
1" anodized aluminum tweeters and large ELP bass reflex ports in
the rear; the port moves a lot of air and contributes greatly to the
speaker's bass response. Both speakers feature a 100 W (peak)
Class D power amplifier for the woofer and a 60 W (peak) Class
D amp for the tweeter. The front panel has a pale white power LED.
The rear panel is identical on both models as well. There are
balanced connectors (XLR and 1/4" TRS), a conventional IEC power
42

RECORDING MARCH 2017

PRICE: $499.99 each
MORE FROM: Mackie, www.mackie.com
jack with power switch, an energy-saving Auto-On Power Mode
switch, and a set of adjustments to tailor the speakers to your room.
A recessed trimpot sets input sensitivity, and there are switches for
Acoustic Space, Low Frequency cut, and High Frequency shelving.
The Low Frequency is for use with an external subwoofer that
doesn't have its own bass management circuitry; it rolls off the
lows at 80 Hz rather than at the speaker's natural bass rolloff
point. The High Frequency shelf gives you ±2 dB above 10 kHz
if desired. This lets you adjust for a more absorptive room
treatment situation, or tweak the highs of the speaker to your taste.
Acoustic Space is a 3-way switch that activates a shelf in the lows,
giving the XR824's frequency response an extra "step down" of -2
or -4 dB just above the natural bass rolloff. You'd normally leave this
switch set to A (Whole/Normal) if the monitors have a fair bit of breathing space around them, and set it to B (Half) if they're pushed back
against a wall or C (Quarter) if they're tucked into corners. This helps
to lessen the bass buildup common in those speaker arrangements.
A few specs are worth quoting from the XR824's documentation. Each cabinet is 15.7 x 10 x 10.5 inches in size and weighs
18.8 lb.-very manageable, with the lighter-weight Class D amps
making up for the heavier internally-braced cabinet. They're rated
to 109 dB SPL (presumably at 1 meter, although that's not specified in the docs), which is frankly stupid loud for more than a
minute or two at a time; I ran them at a consistent 80 dB SPL at
1 meter and they were perfectly happy... and so were my ears.
The really startling spec is the rated frequency response: 36
Hz to 22 kHz. There are no tolerances given, which is a shame,
as most folks will assume these are the -3 dB points when they
may not be. A speaker that's only 3 dB down at 36 Hz delivers
so much bass extension that only larger rooms and/or specific
applications will require a subwoofer. Mackies have always
been famous for their bass, and I looked forward to hearing for
myself how believable that 36 Hz number would turn out to be.

The XR824 in the studio

I set up the XR824 in my conventional monitoring arrangement:
an equilateral triangle roughly 60" on a side, as you'd have when


http://www.mackie.com

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Recording - March 2017

Contents
Recording - March 2017 - Intro
Recording - March 2017 - Cover1
Recording - March 2017 - Cover2
Recording - March 2017 - 1
Recording - March 2017 - 2
Recording - March 2017 - 3
Recording - March 2017 - 4
Recording - March 2017 - 5
Recording - March 2017 - Contents
Recording - March 2017 - 7
Recording - March 2017 - 8
Recording - March 2017 - 9
Recording - March 2017 - 10
Recording - March 2017 - 11
Recording - March 2017 - 12
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Recording - March 2017 - 18
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Recording - March 2017 - 27
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Recording - March 2017 - Cover3
Recording - March 2017 - Cover4
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