Review: Mackie HR824 Monitors

Mackie HR824 MK1
So I thought a good place to start would be my monitors..

I am using a set of monitors that are getting a little old now but I have found them to be brilliant.  These are the Mackie HR824’s.  Don’t confuse them with the HR824 MkII which are widely considered by most to have slightly inferior drivers and build quality, the MKI’s have been brilliant.

The cabinets themselves are designed with the end user in mind.  Useful information like on/off switches and overload LED’s are placed on the front of each speaker so no fuss when quickly booting up for a session.  One clever but simple idea is the auto on function.  The monitors recognise when there is a signal input and automatically power on.  This is great when working at home but I have found that certain sound cards make a lot of noise when powering on resulting in some pretty horrendous thumps and clicks which can’t be good for the drivers.  Usually to protect the speakers I power them up last and turn them off first, just incase.

I’ve mentioned the build quality already but they really are solid. The cabinet is MDF with a brushed black wooden finish and a moulded, hard plastic front. The cabinet itself is filled with a type of foam which helps prevent standing waves and reflections.  Both tweeter and bass drivers are secured using pentelope screws and I have heard of and seen people replace them in the past.  Each speaker is served by its own amplifier which means 2 amps per speaker and a fairly heavy unit overall, weighing in at just under 33 lbs per unit.  The design allows the speaker to be positioned on its side but for best results it’s preferable not to.

Connection wise you have some pretty useful options. Not only do you have the standard balanced jack connection you also have RCA and female XLR.  I’ve always used the XLR connection and it has been perfect.  in essence this means that there really shouldn’t be any issues connecting to any major console, sound card or monitor controller.

IMG_0638

Rear casing of Mackie HR824 monitor

Then there are the speaker presets and cut offs. Usefully printed on the back of each speaker so you don’t have to dig out the manual every time you move them to a new environment.  The input sensitivity pot gives you a -10dB pad on the output, which is great if the input is a bit hot but not so great if you accidentally knock the control during movement.  Luckily the control has a detent which allows you to easily switch between -10dB normal and off.  The acoustic space switch allows you to move between three environment presets. Again the printed directions on the back of the unit make it really easy to select the right setting for your environment. Each setting adjusts a low frequency roll off  within the amp designed to compensate for the reflections and resonances caused by the listening environment. Two other filters allow you to roll off the high and low end frequencies depending on material and listening environment. I’ve always left the top end alone and rolled the bottom end of using the inbuilt filter at 47Hz.

In summary these monitors are pretty bass heavy in any environment and it’s good to have that in mind whilst working with them.  As I’ve mentioned, a  low end cut switch can be engaged if needed but I have found that, provided you know what they are doing, you can mix pretty effectively with them. I will often switch to smaller monitors and sometimes headphones for another perspective if I can just to make sure I’m not making any major mistakes.  They are a great pair of monitors with plenty of power and for the price do exactly what’s required of them.  If I was to criticise them for anything it would be the weight of them which has always seemed excessive to me.  Second hand the MKI’s still sell for a lot of money and they are a go-to midrange monitor speaker in a lot of studios.

Check out some of the related articles for more advice on monitoring solutions.

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