How Did I Get Here?
Before we kick this review off, a little background on how I even came to possess a Maui 5 Go. I was on a couple of Facebook group chats talking about general speaker placement for ceremonies and the criticality of sound in a situation where hiding wires and your equipment is a massive challenge along with trying not to be an eyesore for a photographer.
One of the DJs made a profound statement that sound is so important that placement be damned; if it’s in the picture it’s in the picture. Now as someone that has always tried to stay out of photographs completely it somewhat ran against my philosophy of being completely transparent. But the more I thought about it, after years of doing ceremonies, it started to ring true that placement is critical. Having to place speakers further out introduces delay and echo, along with the potential for more feedback. So one just has to use the right tools to make it as elegant as possible. The goal is super stealthy and elegant.
And I have to admit, when I first heard about the Maui 5 Go I was a bit skeptical with the numbers. Great sound with a 5-hour battery life near max output and 30 hours nominal output. And with an all-plastic design, I was worried the sound might be a bit hollow sounding. But since I had a pair of weddings that placement would be absolutely critical while trying not to be in the shot would be harder than ever. So with the Maui 5 Go I invested in a second Sennheiser IEM 300 for my ceremony rig to give me not only an extended battery option but a completely cordless option, allowing me to place my speakers anywhere need be.
And with this solution, it gives me a unique selling point for ceremonies. Not only can I now offer all these complex mixing capabilities with multiple mics, but now I can have a completely cableless speaker option.
Now with a couple of gigs out of the way, I can report I am pleasantly surprised that the sound is pretty damn good. Is it an EV Evolve 50? No, not even close. Its design is pretty minimal with an 8″ subwoofer on the bottom, and it’s a small driver column array on one of a 3-piece stem that is part of the design. But for me, this is not meant as a replacement for that for reception sound. But what it does offer, it has a pretty rich sound, a little bit hollow, but that can be mitigated by EQ a bit. For a ceremony or cocktail, it certainly can be a great option, especially in super tight situations where power is in a bad place or non-existent.
For the battery design, it has an ingenious concept of being part of the stem and it can be swappable. So if you need more than 5-30 hours, you can have a spare battery stem on hand, and within seconds be on that battery.
I want to make sure I set expectations properly. The sound is not spectacular from my critical observation. You do have to push them a bit hard to get to that moderate playback level a Mobile DJ would desire. But it’s far from terrible, or bad, it’s actually quite good. And don’t take my observation of sound. I had one of the couples from both events specifically tell me how good the sound was with the Maui 5 Go. This was a question that was not sought out by me and serves as a testament to what a couple will think of it.
The First “Extreme Use”
I had a situation where I decided to use the Maui 5 Go not only for my ceremony but throughout the entire event. Things kicked off at 4pm for pre-Ceremony sounds and carried on till 10:30pm for the final song. For the first 90 minutes, the Maui 5 Go was unfortunately not in a sheltered area from the intense sun and 88º temperatures. But it performed flawlessly for the entire pre-Ceremony and Ceremony time. As a side note, the officiant out of the blue commented on how great things sounded and once again I wasn’t even seeking out that question.
After that, I moved the array over to a higher level of the venue where it was serving as fill for cocktail, dinner, and dance. The area was shaded and the sound was superb. When I collapsed things down, I still had three LEDs of four illuminated. That is somewhere around 50-75% power still available after 6.5 hours of significant use. I am beyond impressed.
Long Term Use
So after a bit over a year using them what are my thoughts? Would I buy these again? Simply put, yes. For what they offer in a battery-powered column array there are few that stand toe-to-toe with this. The sound is damn good and while yes there are other speakers on the market that sound better (say my Evolve 50s) they lack the ultra-portability and battery power that makes this product fairly unique. Unique enough that I place this front and center of almost all my ceremonies now.
Real-world battery life has been very good, never falling short of any event I have done thus far. And marrying it up to my In Ear Monitors makes this the ultimate portable solution.
At $899 retail and $99 for the bag, I’d consider this a bargain. You can now get them in black or white for those going for the ultra-elegant wedding look.
The speakers have a 5200mAh battery that goes for 6 hours in “DJ mode” (120dB), 10 hours in “Live Music mode” (104dB), and 20 hours in “Lounge mode” (96dB). I guess I am a cross between Live and Lounge since I’ve done two events together before pushing time to 12 hours and still had some charge left.
A point to note if you have long quiet spells (which I have personally not had). They will go into a battery-saving standby mode after 15 minutes. So if you have prolonged no-output points in your events this is something to make note of.
The 8″ sub comes in at 19.6lbs (8.9kg) and is an 8″ design with a 2″ voice coil and ferrite magnet. The top stalk has 4x 2.8″ drivers with 1″ voice coils and neodymium magnets and weights a paltry 8.3lbs (3.8kg). This is all tied into a Class D amp with 200w RMS / 800w peak output. Now I personally would not run these solo for an entire event. This is not their purpose IMO. But for ceremony, cocktail, and dinner fills these are simply outstanding.
Like my Evolve 50s, the Maui 5 Go’s has a 120º dispersion pattern capturing the widest audience footprint.
On the panel, you have a couple mixing options with a mic in with an XLR combo jack, a 1/4 Hi-Z jack, and a 3.5mm input. That 3.5mm input is tied into the Bluetooth option for the main gain control. There is also a two-band low/high EQ that I have found that running the low on max makes the sound a bit hollow. I have settled to the 3 o’clock position for it.
One of the most common complaints I hear is how there is no headroom on the speaker. And yep, the critics are right. I run the output on max and my IEMs a couple of notches off max. I then control my output with my Soundcraft. While there is no headroom in that regard there is still plenty of power to push this through ceremony, cocktail, dinner, and even light dance fills.
One blessing is also its curse, just how lightweight the setup is. So much so that the column tends to be a bit too much for the < 20 lbs sub to the point if you are outdoors and catch a cool breeze they can topple over. I had mine topple over a couple of times, first in October on a very breezy oceanside wedding, and then again at a local venue who has concrete on their grounds and my middle post broke. Now, this is not the fault of the LD or the design. It’s just lightweight enough that if you use these in outdoor applications I would snag some inexpensive sandbags to put on top (one each will do).
Yep, It’s That Good
Is this a remarkable device? No. But for what it is it’s pretty damn close. Extraordinary battery life, lightweight to carry around with ease, and really damn good sound especially if you EQ it out a little bit. Add an IEM and you have the ultimate portable speaker solution. I would certainly buy again and I will likely add a third to my arsenal in the near future.