New Mackie S400 Series Precision Passive Loudspeakers Bring the Advantages of Large-Format Touring Systems in a Compact, Affordable Loudspeaker

At this year’s PLASA show, Mackie is unveiling a new family of passive loudspeakers that utilize design techniques originally developed for large-format touring systems to deliver greater pattern control and sonic performance than is currently possible with traditional two-way loudspeaker designs.

The new S400 Series are the first loudspeakers to benefit from Mackie Tetrad Technology, that was co-developed with the loudspeaker design experts at Eastern Acoustic Works (EAW). Tetrad Technology effectively challenges the commonly accepted compromise in traditional two-way loudspeakers designs—that a perfect sonic image will deteriorate rapidly as a listener moves off-axis or further away from the loudspeaker.

“It’s not that a narrow dispersion isn’t a good thing, sometimes it’s exactly what you need,” commented John Boudreau, Live Sound Product Manager for Mackie. “However, many applications call for a much wider dispersion pattern than traditional two-way boxes can provide. This is why the technique of arraying multiple two-way boxes in larger venues is so common. It’s the most efficient method of getting both effective coverage and great sound.”

Boudreau continued, “With the S400 our goal was use design techniques originally developed for high-end touring systems to get both from one loudspeaker. And since EAW and Mackie are both part of LOUD Technologies, we had access to some of the best touring loudspeaker designers in the world. Tetrad Technology is the result of this collaboration and the S408 and S410s subwoofer are the first Mackie products to incorporate it.”

About Tetrad Technology and the S400 Series Loudspeakers:
Tetrad Technolgy starts by replacing the single woofer found in traditional two-way Loudspeakers with four smaller 8-inch woofers, and then adds an unusually large horn in the center of the S408. The result is greater overall low-frequency driver surface area that can deliver more punch than a single 15-inch woofer and a horn that delivers far better pattern control in the upper mid frequencies.

Additionally, since four smaller drivers have a quicker attack (transient response) than a single 15-inch woofer, they can be made to deliver a much tighter and focused low-end with a great deal more impact. As such, this quad driver design is applied to both the S408, which features four 8-inch woofers, and the S410s Subwoofer, which features four 10-inch woofers.

Pattern control for the S408 was further enhanced when spacing of the four 8-inch woofers was calculated so that the polar pattern of the drivers matched the polar pattern of the horn at the crossover—both horizontally and vertically. This consistency is important because when sound radiates from a loudspeaker, listeners will typically hear the direct sound first; then they’ll hear the energy that is reflected back from the room. If the low-frequency directivity is wide, and the high frequency directivity is narrow, there will be a lot more reflected low-end, which results in a “muddy” tone. Careful attention to detail has eliminated this anomaly in the S408.

The Big Horn:
Because of the smaller 8-inch drivers, the S408 is able to incorporate a large, central 75-degree x 40-degree horn. A big horn presents a friendly load impedance to the high-frequency device, which means lower distortion. And big horns offer better pattern control at lower frequencies than smaller horns—which is why they’re used in large-format touring systems. Additionally, the large horn also eases the crossover transition from the 1.75-inch titanium compression driver to the 8-inch drivers. This allows the S408 to keep the crossover frequency low enough that the critical vocal and midrange frequencies are all reproduced by the horn. Put simply, the S408 sounds and projects better than any other portable PA speaker in its class.

Taken together, the spaced woofers and central horn allow for a horizontally and vertically symmetrical design. This means that the off-axis frequency response is the same on one side of the S408 as it is on the other. This is particularly useful when the S408 is used as a stage monitor. As the performer moves, the sound remains the same.

Top-Notch Construction and Versatile Array Options:
The S400 Series is comprised of the S408 Precision Passive Loudspeaker and the S410s Subwoofer. Both models features solid 18mm Baltic Birch plywood enclosures that are coated with wear-resistant textured black PVC vinyl paint. Both also incorporate weight-balanced carrying handles and integrated pole mounts. The S408 includes 12 integrated rigging points for flying and permanent installations. The S408’s trapezoidal shape allows it to function in both traditional and stage monitor applications.

The S400 Series Precision Passive Loudspeakers featuring Tetrad Technology™ make their worldwide debut at PLASA 2005 and can be seen at the Mackie stand J48.