This was the second surprise from Mackie over the NAMM show weekend. They are bringing out some interesting pieces of kit that make the most of their tech in some original ways. Combining their knowledge of small low-cost professional PA systems and their digital mixing solutions, they now present an interesting combination.
Over the years there have been several attempts by manufactures to offer a compact, portable live sound reinforcement solution for small venues & conferences. The new Mackie Reach looks as if it could be the most comprehensive solution yet, even though it’s probably not the smallest. However, this suggests professional quality sound, paired with a modern interface.
For me, this product hinges on the benefits of wireless technology to provide practical and low-cost mixing. There appears to be some on-board control for basic setup, but the new Reach is intended for wireless control from nearly any iOS or Android device. The idea is that the performer controls their own sound, aiding their performance in situations where an engineer isn’t available or needed. Mounting a wireless device on a mic stand for flexible control and streaming audio via bluetooth should provide a seamless show or presentation bypassing most of the hassle.
The speaker design is also intriguing with what they are calling “ARC Array Technology”, as seen above in picture 2. This arrangement is designed to deliver a consistent coverage of 150 degrees, hence the name “Reach”. This would be particularly advantageous when using just one unit in mono as I think many will. This could present feedback issues for some, but Mackie have also included a feedback destroyer. Perhaps later models will include automatic room calibration.
The feature list doesn’t stop there, either. Mounted on each side of the unit is an additional speaker driver for their aptly named “EarShot Personal Monitoring System”. Individually selectable, there isn’t the need for additional monitoring for those needing to travel lightly or setup quickly. It looks like you get a lot of tech for under GBP 1000 which will be an ideal solution for many small-format presentations. With my technical background, my reservations only lie with simplicity of the digital mixer – surely if they’ve included the function of a digital mixer it could be used to its full potential? Maybe an advanced and basic mode would be more useful?
More Information: http://mackie.com/products/reach