Mackie CR4 belong to the already proven series of CR studio monitors. For a long time, these speakers have been the go-to choice for many beginner music producers. Today we are going to find out why Mackie CR4 is still one of the very best studio monitor speakers under $200.
In terms of design, most of the members of CR family share the same aesthetics. Mackie chose to keep things simple and stick with uniformity across the CR range. With that said, CR4 monitors are rather distinctive compared to most of their direct competition. Instead of going with a standard black cab design, Mackie went with a dark gray design where both transducers feature a bright green circle that adds some flavor to their surrounds. Build quality is solid as expected.
CR4 are made out of decently thick MDF with baffles featuring a solid plastic build. Nothing creeps or vibrates, even at louder volumes. Cabinets are somewhat compact, although you might want to put them on dedicated stands if you have a smaller desktop. Controls are split between the front and rear panel, where volume knob and AUX ports are on the front of the active unit.
What Mackie CR4 represents is convenience. They wanted to give the home user a plug and play package that makes mixing on a budget that much easier. Being active by nature, Mackie CR4 require no additional gear in order to be used. As for the transducers, you get a 1″ tweeter paired with a 4″ low-frequency driver. Together, both cabs deliver some 50 Watts of power split between two channels.
One thing that is missing is room acoustic controls. However, that can be explained by the very attractive price of this unit. Instead, we do get the active unit placement switch that allows you to choose whether the active speaker is going to be left or right oriented. The I/O cluster includes your standard unbalanced RCA and 1/4″ TRS inputs. Overall, the package of features on Mackie CR4 is fairly basic but acceptable.
Where design and features fell short, the performance has always been the main selling point of Mackie CR4. With a 4″ driver taking care of those mids and lows, you get a fairly detailed low end that isn’t thumping but rather tight. The whole output is fairly flat although there is a noticeable drop once you reach around 100 Hz. Proper positioning can do wonders in terms of the sound stage.
It takes some messing around to get good results but it is well worth the effort. Even though these bad boys pack 50 watts of sonic power, it is no secret that they were designed to be used in smaller home studios. Compared to most of their competition, Mackie CR4 comes across as a no-nonsense solution that gets you a great bang for your buck.
Going with Mackie CR4 is a low-risk move. These aren’t professional grade by no means, however, they do deliver the type of performance that will allow you to get the job done. We would definitely like to see a bit more features, but we really can’t complain considering the price.