Mackie is a name you will often hear when budget monitors are discussed. Their CR3 have been among the most popular monitor speaker designs under $100 for a long time. These days they are still holding strong, which is why we are going to give them a closer look today.
One thing that really puts Mackie above most of the companies on the market, is their approach to exterior design. While we all know that this isn’t really that important in the grand scheme of things, it still matters. Instead of truing to emulate high-end, black box, bookshelf speakers, Mackie went with a much simpler and more assertive design.
The cabs are made of decent quality materials and are painted gray. However, the surrounds on both speakers as well controls are highlighted in bright green. The speaker almost looks playful in a way. However, that shouldn’t be mistaken for poor performance. Mackie has loaded these up quite well, especially considering the price range. All of the controls are located at the front of the active unit, which can also be said for the AUX in/outs. Mackie CR3 simply come across as practical without making a lot of fuss.
When it comes to features, you are looking at a fairly standard configuration. We have a 1“ tweeter at the top, followed by a 3“ woofer at the bottom. There are no waveguides or anything similar, just a baffle with speaker ports. These are active, with a built in amplifier that is capable of delivering some 50 Watts of power on demand. The I/O cluster includes balanced RCA along with a set of balanced/unbalanced 1/4“ TRS ports.
As expected, the back side is where you will also find reflex ports. One cool feature of the Mackie CR3 is the switch located in on the back panel, which allows you to set the position of the active speaker. You can choose if you want it to be the left or right speaker in the system. Again, nothing extraordinary, but definitely a nifty feature to have.
Performance is what ultimately drove people towards Mackie and their CR series of monitors. If we were to say that these are perfectly flat, we would be lying. There is an obvious bias in there, however, it is completely nondisruptive. A professional would most likely find it irritating, but someone who is just starting out won’t.
Budget users with experience will quickly get used to these speakers and learn how to ignore the bias in order to find even the more subtle imperfections in the mix. These have a decent amount of power behind them, so you can easily use them in a smaller or even medium-sized home studio. Bang for the buck, CR3 from Mackie really take the cake when it comes to affordable studio monitoring rigs.
Mackie CR3 are awesome little speakers that pack quite a bit of heat. They arecolorful, completely standing out for the standardized dull design of their competition. Bang for the buck, you will rarely find something as versatile as Mackie CR3. It’s exactly that versatility that has brought them fame.