The latest iteration of the Thump loudspeaker series improves on the original series in nearly every way. The Thump 215XT tops the lineup and offers fantastic performance at a very reasonable price point.
The Mackie Thump215XT is a near perfect entry-level loudspeaker. Its powerful output and easy-to-use features set it apart from many other 15-inch loudspeakers. But as always, there are some nuances to be aware of.
Setting up a system for performances can be a confusing and frustrating affair. But the Mackie Thump215XT offers a streamlined and accessible approach that goes a long way to ensure you have quality sound for your events.
The first thing that struck me with the Mackie Thump215XT was the powerful and lush output level this 15-inch loudspeaker offered. Bombastic, full of life, and ready to tackle even the most demanding of performance spaces.
The low end was the highlight for me. It’s rich, full, and lives up to the namesake of the speaker with ample thump and kick in the low end. For some, it might be a little over-emphasized, but as a DJ, it was marvelous and just want I want from an entry-level speaker.
The mid-range offered warmth and precision, with vocals and instruments shining. I play a wide variety of electronic music genres, and the Thump215XT had no trouble providing satisfying sound across the mid-range. Performance for other genres was equally impressive, but this speaker is best suited for bass-heavy pieces.
Excellent sound both horizontally and vertically.
The top-end offered some emphasis but was not overblown like some loudspeakers I’ve come across. It’s sharp and clear without straying into the realm of causing ear fatigue. Hi-hats and cymbals crash with elegance and energy and don’t feel excessively removed from the rest of the spectrum.
I’ll be the first to admit these are not the most clinical of speakers, but at this price point, there is little to fault. They perform much better than much of the competition in the entry-level space.
It’s a harmonious output that is simply a joy to listen to. The outcome remains engaging and fun even as you begin to creep up to the upper limits of what this speaker offers. An impressive entry-level loudspeaker that punches well above its price point.
There was a point in Mackie’s history where I felt that the build quality of their entry-level gear was below expectations. Even for budget-focused equipment, they never inspired an ample amount of confidence.
But it seems they have taken that on board, and in recent years the quality level of their entry-level gear has improved in leaps and bounds. The Thump215XT now outshines my expectations for entry-level gear with high build quality and attention to detail.
Excellent balance between quality and price.
The robust plastic cabinet is dependable and offers an excellent finish to help it avoid scuffs. This is matched with a steel grille that helps protect the drivers while giving the unit a clean look.
Internal components are excellent with a ferrite woofer and polymer compression high-frequency driver. The efficient Class D amplifier completes the package. Switching to the unit’s rear, you’ll have access to a range of knobs and connection points which are secure and reliable.
The Mackie Thump215Xt also features several in-built protections to ensure you don’t accidentally damage the unit. Peak, RMS limiting, power supply, amplifier thermal protection, and a feedback eliminator are fantastic inclusions.
The Mackie Thump215XT packs a mighty punch with 1400 Watts of peak Class D power. 1200 Watts for the low-frequency driver and 200 Watts for the high-frequency driver. This combines to give the Thump215XT a high max SPL of 129 dB.
This level is enough to handle larger crowds, especially if you have a pair of these and a subwoofer in your setup. But even as a standalone unit, it is more than enough to handle small to medium gigs or as a primary announcement PA.
The Mackie Thump215XT features loud output levels.
The coverage also aligns with what you would expect from a loudspeaker with 90 degrees of horizontal coverage and 60 degrees vertically. While some other speakers offer a slightly broader spread, the Thump215XT projects well, especially outdoors.
The frequency response is also impressive, with 40Hz – 23kHz at -10 DB and 47Hz – 20kHz at -3 dB. This is enough of a spread to accurately deliver satisfying bass response while maintaining clarity in the top end.
Many entry-level loudspeakers offer limited tuning options, and in most cases, that is reasonable, considering the low price point. But Mackie has flipped this convention on its head and offers a surprising amount of flexibility to sculpt the output.
At the unit’s rear, you’ll have access to a range of easy-to-use functions that take the guesswork out of tuning your unit to different gig types. The primary mode is Music which serves as an all-purpose mode.
The presets are effective and easy to use.
Supplementing this mode is Live Mode which is ideal for singers due to its increased emphasis on the upper mid-range and high frequencies. Next is Club Mode, which emphasizes the lows and highs for a satisfying smiley face curve for electronic music genres. Finally, the Monitor Mode reigns in the lows and mids to keep performance clean when the unit is placed on its side in the Monitor position.
The flexibility doesn’t end there, with a few extra bells and whistles included. The first is an Outdoor mode which does an excellent job of boosting the output to accommodate the lack of reflective surfaces in outdoor settings. The final Music Ducking option will reduce the volume of music when the microphone is in use. Highly effective and helpful in a range of situations when announcements are required.
You can connect the speaker to the Thump Connect 2 app for remote control.
But while these features are superb, the Mackie Thump215XT also offers remote control via the Thump Connect 2 App…..if you can get it working. This is perhaps the biggest downfall for what is otherwise a fantastic speaker.
Connecting the speaker to the app can be clunky and unpredictable. If you do manage to finally connect, you will have access to a range of remote controls. However, be prepared for your hard work to disappear once the loudspeaker is turned off.
I won’t deduct too many points for the sometimes frustrating app, as this can rapidly change with updates. Plus, the Thump215XT already offers a wealth of tuning controls at this price point. But if you want to use the app frequently, prepare for some potentially frustrating moments.
The appearance of Mackie products has also evolved over the last few years, and they look better than ever.
The Mackie Thump215XT doesn’t look like a cheap loudspeaker with clean and professional styling throughout. The iconic Mackie running man logo makes the unit instantly recognizable, and the grille pattern adds an industrial edge.
The Thump215XT features pole mount and fly point installation options.
Beyond appearance, the Thump215XT also offers a range of functional design inclusions. The unit features carry handles to make transportation easier. It also provides angular wedges for a 40-degree angle when in the monitor position.
The Thump215XT also features pole mounting points for easy integration into pole setups. Completing the options are M10 fly points for hanging installation. Comprehensive features on a unit that looks fantastic but is also flexible enough to adapt to various potential situations.
The Mackie Thump215XT is a large loudspeaker, so you’ll need to factor that in before handing over your hard-earned money. A pair of these plus all your other gear can easily chew up a lot of space which could make transportation an issue.
The Thump215XT is large but lightweight.
On the weight side of things, the Thump215XT is not overly heavy, thanks to the plastic cabinet. At just 32.6 lbs. (14.8 kg), you can easily move this unit around, especially with the integrated handles. Lifting these up to place on stands is also not a back-breaking ordeal.
The Thump215XT offers a basic two-channel setup that features an XLR/TRS combo jack for channel 1 with a Line/Mic button. Channel 2 provides another combo jack and a 1/8-inch input jack, a quick and easy way to connect a phone, MP3 player, or tablet.
An XLR Thru connection is also available for daisy-chaining multiple ThumpXT speakers together. The manual includes several diagrams for different potential setups, which will help beginners get to grips with establishing a full range system for their gigs.
The Thump215XT offers a 2-channel mixer plus Bluetooth.
The Thump215XT also features Bluetooth connectivity. This is a great way to play a warm-up mix or background music between performances. Pairing is straightforward, and it essentially serves as an additional channel so you can stream music and sing over the top, for example.
You can also link ThumpXT speakers without needing cabling, but I found this occasionally temperamental, much like the app connection. If you are chaining speakers, I urge you to stick to a cabled link for maximum peace of mind.
For an entry-level loudspeaker, the Mackie Thump215XT offers a solid range of connectivity flexibility and takes full advantage of the benefits of Bluetooth.
The low price point is one of the most appealing aspects of the Mackie Thump215XT. While cheaper loudspeakers are out there, they often feature subpar performances and are not on the same level as the Mackie.
It might be a lower-cost entry-level speaker, but it includes features often found on much more expensive gear. The dependable build quality and punchy sound make it an excellent choice for mobile DJs and performers that want solid sound without having to fork over the big bucks for some of the more premium options on the market.
Excellent value for money from a company that is solidifying itself as one of the best entry-level gear makers in the market.
The entry-level price has caught the eye of many people looking for a good deal, so the Thump215XT has a lot of reviews out there. Most buyers are highly impressed with the sound quality and feature set that the Thump215XT offers. However, I’m not the only one who has had some trouble with the app.
Dealing With Outdoor Performances
A certain level of joy comes from performing in the open air. Some of my favorite gigs were outside, and some of my favorite concerts I’ve been to were in an outdoor environment.
From a performer’s perspective setting up your speakers outside presents some challenges you won’t encounter in an indoor gig. The most notable is the lack of reflections from walls and floors that can sometimes make your speakers sound soft.
It can be challenging to get the sound right at an outdoor gig.
The other notable issue is environmental factors. If the wind is blowing toward the audience, your sound might travel further, but equally, if the wind is blowing toward you, it can sound much softer in the crowd than you might think.
While there are other factors to consider, these two significantly impact the general feel of the sound outside. Because of this, I appreciate a setting like the Outdoor mode on the Thump212XT. It helps to give the overall sound profile a boost that can help smooth out the soundscape.
It might not be a complete solution, but for a beginner, it is great to have access to a function to help out. But at the end of the day, your ears will be the best judge. Take some time to walk around the space and observe how the sound is impacted in the environment, and if needed, adjust the speaker placement or your EQ settings to accommodate.
The entry-level market for loudspeakers is a hotly contested one. But competition breeds innovation and constant one-upmanship, resulting in a range of affordable options for budget-conscious buyers. Below we take a quick look at some other options worth exploring.
EV ZLX 15BT Review
The EV ZLX 15BT is another entry-level 15-inch speaker with a lot going for it. Modern design and powerful output make it a worthy alternative to the Mackie Thump212XT.
- Excellent clarity throughout the frequency range without a hint of muddiness.
- A small onboard screen to navigate the extensive tuning options.
- The Bluetooth is prone to dropouts and is less reliable than the Thump212XT.
JBL EON 715 Review
The JBL EON series has been one of the go-to options for loudspeakers for years. Ultra reliable and brought into the modern era in the form of the 700 series.
- Clean sound profile that offers a high degree of balance without sounding bland.
- A solid and dependable cabinet that can handle the rigors of frequent gigging.
- It loses some of its impeccable balance as you crank the volume.
JBL EON 715
PreSonus AIR12 Review
If you are looking for a speaker that is a little smaller, the AIR12 from PreSonus is a transport-friendly option that still packs a decent punch.
- Fantastic detail in the mids and high with respectable bass output.
- Lightweight yet durable with an extended warranty.
- Does not get as loud as the Thump215XT.
Should You Buy?
The Mackie Thump212XT ticks nearly every single box when it comes to what I look for in a capable entry-level loudspeaker. It offers a powerful, punchy sound profile that will surely get a party rocking. It features a clean and modern design that looks professional. And it features enough flexibility to be adaptable to different gig types. Combining that with a price tag that won’t make your wallet cry makes it easy to recommend the Thump215XT.