Having the ability to set up a gig anywhere can be incredibly liberating. But with that comes some challenges. The most notable one is a power source. In this review, we check out the Mackie Thump GO. A powerful and compact portable PA system with battery power for remote gigging.
Mackie Thump GO
The Mackie Thump GO has much to offer the on-the-go performer and ticks many of the core boxes you’d want from a portable battery-powered PA. Let’s take a closer look at this enticing portable system.
The Mackie Thump GO aims to provide mobile performers with everything they need in a compact and convenient package. And in many regards, Mackie nails the execution, but there are also a few drawbacks worth highlighting. Let’s dive in!
The Mackie Thump GO offers impressive sound quality for a small portable PA speaker. And when you consider the approachable price, it gives more expensive units a real run for their money.
The top end is crisp and clear, with ample clarity to bring life to higher frequencies without introducing harshness or tinniness. Equally, the mid-range offers excellent depth and vibrancy and is relatively clear and mud-free.
The low end was also surprisingly robust, with more punch and warmth than I initially expected from a speaker with an 8-inch woofer. No, it won’t pump out rumbling bass, but no 8-inch speaker can achieve that, so if you demand bone-rattling bass, you’ll need to pair this speaker up with an appropriate subwoofer. But in the context of portable PAs, there is enough here to provide a satisfying bass experience for smaller, more intimate gigs.
The balanced across the frequency range is also smooth. There is an emphasis on the low end to provide that satisfying smiley face curve that is great for gigs but not to the point where it is overbearing and unbalanced.
For a reasonably priced 8-inch portable PA system, the Mackie Thump GO sounds great. With the addition of voicing modes and remote tuning, it’s highly versatile and able to adapt to different gig types.
Portable PA systems must be durable and rugged to withstand the rigors of constant transportation. And in some cases, some less-than-ideal locations. The Mackie Thump GO is decently durable with some excellent elements.
The polypropylene cabinet is robust and thick and is scuff resistant. The added metal grille adds a layer of protection for the drivers. It also features a weather-resistant coating to keep it looking at its best for the longest possible time.
The knobs, buttons, and connection points are all acceptable. My only gripe is with the compartment at the system’s base for the lithium-ion battery. The compartment features some relatively thin clips that I could see breaking if handled poorly.
For a speaker at this price point, there is little to fault. It isn’t flawless, but equally, it isn’t a pile of cheap components haphazardly slapped together without any thought for its intended application.
Digging into the specifications also highlights how capable this portable PA system is. Under the hood is a Class D amplifier with a total power rating of 200W at Peak. There is 175W for the 8-inch low-frequency ferrite driver and 25W for the 1-inch high-frequency polymer compression driver.
The stated power amplification can be a little deceiving as it’s not always an accurate indicator of potential output, but with a maximum SPL of 115dB, the Thump GO packs a powerful punch.
For a small PA, the Thump GO can get very loud.
The frequency response is 50Hz – 20kHz at -10dB, so even when pushed to the limit, the Thump GO still provides a solid spread and depth across the frequency spectrum.
Coverage is also in line with most PA systems with 90 degrees horizontal coverage and 60 degrees vertical. A pair of these can give you even and smooth coverage over a decent area. With enough power up its sleeve, this little unit can comfortably accommodate small gigs.
The Mackie Thump GO also provides a good selection of tuning options to help you adapt to different gig types making it among the most versatile portable PAs in this price bracket.
On the side of the unit, you’ll have access to 4 voicing modes that you can rapidly switch between via a dedicated button. Music is the default, with a noticeable boost in the lows and highs. Speech is relatively flat, with a cutoff on the low end to improve speech legibility. Mon mode turns the GO into a capable stage monitor, while Sub voicing allows the unit to play nice with subwoofers.
The Voicing Modes are a quick way to alter the output.
You’ll also have access to an Outdoor Mode option that tweaks the output to ensure smooth and consistent performance outdoors. Music Ducking is also available, and it will automatically reduce music volume when the microphone is engaged. An ideal setting for weddings or even a DJ set where you might want to hype the crowd up.
This suite of settings should cover you for the majority of applications. In addition to this, you can also manage the system via the Thump Connect 2 app, which is available for Android and iOS.
I’ve seen a fair few reports of crashes, but as with all applications, it could be down to user hardware. From my experience, I didn’t have any issues with the app. I would have liked a few more options for more granular EQ controls, but as it stands, it’s still a convenient alternative to using the buttons on the unit.
Design is subjective, but I’ve always had a soft spot for the aesthetic of Mackie products. The Thump GO offers a relatively basic appearance with minimal flourishes. The only color is the green ring around the Mackie running man logo, a splash of green on the handle, and a front LED strip.
The Mackie logo could be more discreet, but it doesn’t bother me. Likewise, the LED strip could also be more discreet, but thankfully there is an option to switch it off if you prefer your speaker to blend into a dark environment.
The Thump GO looks great vertically and horizontally.
The metal grille features an engaging and industrial pattern completing a clean, smart, and professional-looking PA speaker.
Moving beyond appearance, there are multiple design elements worth highlighting. The most important is the battery configuration. It’s a lithium-ion battery with up to 12hrs of battery life. Of course, expect this to be much lower if you push the system, but you should still be able to cover 5hrs of gig time comfortably.
The battery is also removable, so you can pick up a spare battery and have it available for longer sessions. I love the freedom that battery-powered PAs offer, and the Thump GO executes it almost perfectly, but I do have one minor gripe.
You can swap the battery out easily.
The indicator for the battery is bare bones. It will be green when the unit is between 20% and 100% power, then slip to yellow between 5% and 20%, and finally, Red when in its final 5%. I would have loved a better and more accurate percentage rating or maybe even another level to help distinguish where the battery is at. Thankfully if this is a pressing concern, you can get a more accurate indication of battery levels via the Thump Connect 2 app.
The Thump GO also features an angular design so that it can be used as a monitor and offers a convenient carry handle for easy transportation, and the unit is pole-mountable. But the unit doesn’t provide any water protection, so keep it covered if there is a chance of rain and be especially careful at pool parties. I’ve seen far too many speakers bite the dust due to careless and very wet partygoers!
The Mackie Thump GO is the definition of portable. Even though it is an 8-inch loudspeaker, it isn’t overly bulky and reasonably sized for easy transportation. You can also buy a reasonably priced carry bag to make transportation easier.
The Thump GO is lightweight and portable.
The Thump GO is also remarkably lightweight. At just 17.6 lbs. (7.98 kg), this unit is super comfortable to carry, and you could easily have one in each hand without placing undue strain on your back. Considering how much other gear you might have to bring, it’s a lifesaver to have speakers that don’t weigh a tonne.
The Mackie Thump GO offers a simple 2-channel setup that will be enough for most situations. But if you are a multi-piece outfit, you’ll need an external mixing board or a portable PA with more channels.
Both channels feature an XLR/TRS combo jack, with Channel 1 offering Line/Mic. And this is where I feel the Mackie Thump GO has the most trouble. The gain on mic inputs is relatively low and might not be enough for some applications. I’d suggest an external board if you have a heavy emphasis on microphone work.
The Thump GO features Bluetooth 5.0 connectivity.
Channel 2 also offers Bluetooth 5.0 connectivity, impressive range, and straightforward pairing. An excellent option to stream music directly to the unit. A Thru XLR point is also available to chain speakers, but it is worth mentioning that it will only send Channel 1 signal, which does restrict its potential.
For an aggressively priced portable battery-powered PA system, the Mackie Thump GO can handle a good spread of potential gig types, but depending on your setup, you might need additional hardware to complement it.
Mackie has a superb reputation for offering affordable gear that works well and sounds great. The Mackie Thump GO continues to fly this flag proudly.
For an 8-inch battery-powered PA with Bluetooth connectivity, the Thump GO offers excellent value for money. Even more impressive is that it can stand toe to toe with more expensive options.
Getting a gig-ready setup can be an expensive endeavor, so I’m always happy to see some reasonably priced alternatives on the market without huge compromises on sound quality. If you want a punchy yet budget-friendly portable PA, the Thump GO is worth your consideration.
The Thump GO has proven to be a popular portable PA system with multiple 4 and 5-star reviews to its credit. Most highlight the impressive sound, its excellent portability, and intuitive features. A few reviews highlight the low mic volume, but it’s not enough to sway people away from giving the unit a high score.
Keep Out Of Trouble
Portable battery-powered PA units like the Mackie Thump GO open up an endless amount of opportunities to take your gigging to new locations, but before you rush out, there are a few things to keep in mind.
The most notable is to be aware of any laws regarding public performances in your area. Some cities have strict rules around busking and performances in public spaces. The last thing you want to do is fall foul of the law and end up with a hefty fine. The other thing to be mindful of is to avoid private property or request permission before you start performing.
Playing outside is heaps of fun, but make sure to take precautions.
Likewise, factor in other people. Not everyone might be into the idea of someone blasting their music at full volume while trying to enjoy a lazy afternoon at a local park. Also, if you are recording your performance, you might need to seek permission from people on the recording before you share your content.
There has been an explosion of YouTube videos of performances in remote locations. They can make for some stunning content, but keep your safety in mind. No backdrop for your video is worth you destroying your gear or putting yourself in physical danger.
Keep all those things in mind, and you’ll be well on your way to unshackling yourself from a power source and enjoying playing in locations you would have never dreamt of.
Mackie isn’t the only player in the battery-powered portable speaker game. Below we take a quick glance at some other options for you to consider.
Bose S1 Pro Review
The Bose S1 Pro is a superb battery-powered system that is worth considering. It offers excellent sound quality but does feature a smaller woofer than the Thump GO.
- Excellent tonality and rich, vibrant sound.
- High build quality with premium components.
- It lacks tuning flexibility and is more expensive than the Thump GO.
Bose S1 Pro
Roland BA 330 Review
If you need more channels, the Roland BA 330 is a rock-solid unit that can accommodate multi-instrument setups. But it doesn’t offer some of the modern bells and whistles that the GO provides.
- Capable sound profile that is loud and clear.
- Super tough cabinet and convenient AA battery setup.
- It doesn’t feature Bluetooth and is noticeably heavier than the GO.
Samson Expedition Express Review
For those that want to stretch their budget, the compact Expedition Express from Samson is a reasonable choice. Highly portable, and it comes with an included wireless microphone.
- Decent sound quality that is well suited for speech.
- Affordable price point while maintaining good build quality.
- It lacks grunt in the low end and is not ideal for music.
Samson Expedition Express
Should You Buy?
The Mackie Thump GO achieves its mission of offering a highly capable and excellent-sounding battery-powered PA at a reasonable price point. The build quality is excellent for this price point, and the tuning options add flexibility. Dependable Bluetooth and a robust battery seal the deal.
If you want to break free from a power source without sacrificing volume levels and sound quality, the Mackie Thump GO should be high on your list of options.
Mackie Thump Go