We put Mackie's portable and affordable column PA system to the test.
The mini line–array format certainly appears to be flavour of the decade for smaller gig applications, and now Mackie have joined the game with an extremely portable system of their own. We've covered the benefits of such systems more than once but the quick recap is that they are easy to set up, with no big speaker stands to create trip hazards, they tend to be kind to the vocals as the smaller drivers handle the crucial mid–range more cleanly than typical two-way boxes, and they have a wide, shallow dispersion that both puts the sound where you most need it and reduces the propensity for acoustic feedback. The downside is that unless you have two, the output is strictly mono.
Mackie designed the Flex for performers needing a lightweight, portable sound system capable of moderate sound levels combined with clarity of reproduction and wide dispersion. The foundation for the system is a 10–inch sub in a moulded, ported enclosure measuring just 432 x 330 x 361 mm, this supporting a three-piece column housing six two-inch, silk–domed drivers in the upper section. An integral top-mounted bar handle makes the sub very easy to handle and there's a green LED bar on the front of the sub enclosure (and mirrored by another at the top of the column) that can be set, via the app, to show power-on status. It can be turned off, or it can be made to light only when a signal is being passed through the mixer. Power comes in on the usual IEC connector, which is on the rear panel along with the power switch.
The lower two column sections are essentially spacers and conduits for the electrical connections between the sub and the top section, which is where the six mid/high speakers are housed. Powder-coated steel grilles protect the sub and column...