Gearbox Review: Mackie Thump 12A
By Jason Allen.
Mackie’s low-end, stalwart plastic powered box range, the Thump Series, have been given an update. Sporting a new 1300W amp, there are four new top boxes and a sub, the 12A, 15A, 12BST, 15BST and 18S respectively. The ‘BST’ models include Bluetooth streaming and control, which comes with tricks like paring or zoning speakers, adjustable EQ options, and fly points. The regular ‘A’ models are more basic – two combi ins, a thru, and four EQ presets. The 18S is a 1200W 18” sub.
This review saw us put the 12A through its paces. No bells, no whistles, just a 12” woofer and ¼” titanium compression driver allocated 1000W and 300W respectively from the new power-factor correcting amplifier that triggered the redesign of the series.
Physically speaking, the redesign has given the Thumps a more solid, contemporary look, a little like QSC’s K.2s. The new boxes have a dual angled design so you can run them as monitors either way. The two combi jacks on the rear panel have their own gain pots, and the mix out its own volume control. The four presets are selected with a simple button. ‘Music’ is a slight scoop for DJ mode, ‘Live’ is flat, ‘Monitor’ a slight HPF with a 3kHz scoop, and ‘Sub’ is a HPF for running with subs.
So how do they sound? Let’s be honest, we’re all grown-ups here. This is a magazine for people working in professional production and installation, and these boxes can be had at around $500 each. They are a sonic compromise – if you find yourself being asked to put them in an installation, buy a smaller, higher quality, surface-mount speaker. For rental, save up and get something better. I honestly do not expect them to go into any serious rental or AV application. They are squarely an MI box for MI customers.
So what’s wrong with them? Just the usual for a 12” at this price point – terrible phase response resulting in confused mids and highs. Vocals and details vanishing, a general temporal smear across the frequency spectrum, and honky bass with obvious lobes. Yes, that is very critical, but when listening to a professional loudspeaker, you’ve got to imagine what it would be like to mix live music on it, and on these, it would be hard work getting a vocal to sit right. However, most pros would be able to stomach using them for playback.
But, if someone’s looking for a cheap 12” as a vocal monitor in a band rehearsal room, there’s certainly worse products out there at the same price. The warranty offered is more than reasonable, and they’re incredibly light at 13.2 kg. For schools, break-outs in churches, and weekend warriors, they’re a reasonable solution compared to disappearing down a no-name rabbit hole.