A good pair of speakers is worth their weight in gold! Well, that’s what I think and most other audiophiles would probably agree. There is no shortage of speakers available these days and competition is tough. But in my Mackie CR4 review I’ll be taking a look to see if these monitors could be the right choice for you.
Mackie is no stranger when it comes to audio equipment. You’ll find a wide range of different products under their range including microphones, mixers, monitors, and much more. The Mackie CR4 monitors are actually part of their CR-X range.
This range includes a variety of different sized monitors with the CR4 being 4-inches. They are the ideal size for people with more limited space. However, as I’m sure you know there is much more to speakers than just their size.
So, like always I’m going to be taking a deep dive into the Mackie CR4 monitors to see exactly what they offer. Like always my review will be looking at the good and bad and comparing and contrasting with their competitors. That way I can fairly give my opinion of the CR4s.
Related: Check out the best speakers for small rooms.
Key Specifications of the Mackie CR4
For the more serious audiophiles out there, here is a quick lowdown of the technical specifications for the Mackie CR4 monitors:
|100 – 240 VAC
|L/R 1/4” TRS, L/R RCA, Stereo 1/8”
|50 W Peak
|Full-Range: Class-D50 W Peak
|Check Latest Price
Core Specifications of the Mackie CR4 Speakers
Looking at the technical specifications won’t tell you the whole story, will it? So, I’ll be taking a look at the design, sound quality and features of these speakers.
Design and Construction
Mackie has a good reputation for their build-quality and thankfully I can say it is well deserved where the CR4s are concerned! They feel very premium and use both wood and brushed metal in their construction.
I love the use of wood in speakers and the strong cabinet of the CR4s really gives these speakers a luxury feel. This is even more impressive when you consider these speakers are quite budget-friendly. Designs like these are often seen in more expensive options.
The speakers feature a 4-inch woofer and a three-quarter-inch tweeter. The bass port like in many similar-sized speakers can be found at the rear. This helps ensure a more even distribution level. But enough of the technical talk, what about the aesthetics?
With their black coloring, the Mackie CR4 might look a little boring. However, their design is enhanced with the addition of an illuminated green trim. This trim goes around the speakers and volume controller.
While I admit illuminated green is not going to please everyone I personally quite like it! I could certainly see these making a great pair of bookshelf speakers although I admit some people may find the color a little garish. So, that’s a look at the design but what about the sound quality?
The CR4s have an unusual set-up. One speaker is powered with an AB amplifier while the other is passive. They are then connected via a stereo cable and you can decide which speaker is powered. It’s easy to switch between speakers as well but how is the overall sound quality?
Because these are labeled as monitors you would expect high-quality sound suitable for home studio projects. But, a look at the average price will likely tell you that you might want to keep your expectations low.
However, I’m happy to report that the Mackie CR4s certainly offer impressive sound. For the tech-savvy readers out there you can expect a frequency response of between 70 to 20,000 Hz. With a sound pressure level of around 100dB.
This is perfectly adequate for most home studio projects. If you make music as a hobby then they will certainly do the job. However, there are definitely more impressive monitors available. But for their price, the Mackie CR4s are very impressive.
Related: Check out our look at the best studio monitors for under $1000.
Other Important Features
Now I couldn’t call myself an honest reviewer without looking at what else the Mackie CR4s offer, could I? So, let’s take a quick look at some other points of interest worth knowing about. First of all, the CR4s include a sound-enhancing waveguide which is designed to help them handle higher frequencies.
It has to be said that at both low and high frequencies the CR4s sound-quality does suffer. So, this is a useful feature to have that can help alleviate this issue. The rear controls are also well placed and easy to use.
I also do like the addition of an AUX input on the front as well for some extra convenience. The standard model doesn’t include Bluetooth so do keep that in mind if you want some Bluetooth speakers.
However, for an additional cost, a version with Bluetooth is available. Overall, while the CR4s aren’t the most feature-packed monitors they still offer some nice features sure to please the majority of people.
Mackie CR4 Performance
So, far it’s probably quite clear that I’m quite pleased with the Mackie CR4 monitors. They offer a stylish package ideal for home studio work or for people just looking for some quality home speakers. But everything has pros and cons, so let’s take a look at them in more detail.
Pros of The Mackie CR4
So, what do the Mackie CR4s offer for their price? Let’s take a look at what I think the main pros of these monitors are compared to their competition.
Great Build Quality
I could gush about the build quality of the Mackie CR4s for a long time. With wood and brushed metal these monitors look and feel premium. Even their eye-catching color scheme is very nice, at least I think so. But even if you hate the black and green combo these monitors are incredibly well built.
Impressive Sound For The Price
The Mackie CR4s do offer impressive sound which is ideal if you’re using these in a home studio. Yes there are some areas where it could be better but when you consider the budget-friendly price it’s hard to argue with their performance.
Overall the Mackie CR4 monitors offer excellent value. Given their price range they offer a great overall package to suit most people. If you’re looking for a good pair of at-home monitors or speakers for a more budget-friendly price they could certainly be a good choice.
Cons of The Mackie CR4
Well I can’t look at the pros without taking a look at the cons can I? While, overall I quite like these monitors there are some cons to consider as well. Let’s take a look at the potential cons of the CR4s in more detail.
Lack of Features
While the Mackie CR4 monitors aren’t bare bones by any means they aren’t exactly a feature packed product either. Having to pay extra for Bluetooth functionality is also a bit of disappointment.
Sound Quality Might Not Be High Enough For Everyone
This might seem strange given that I also highlighted the sound quality of the CR4s as a pro. But while the sound of these monitors is by no means bad it simply might not be enough for everyone. If you want more professional sound mixing these likely won’t do the job.
Alternatives to The Mackie CR4s
So, now you know my views on the Mackie CR4s before you make a decision on whether they are right for you, let’s take a look at some alternatives. Whether you want them as monitors or home speakers (or both) there is a lot of competition to consider.
The Yamaha HS7
The Yamaha HS7 offers excellent sound quality and they are available for a great price point. However, that all-important sweet spot for sound is very narrow and the build quality of these speakers simply isn’t as impressive as the Mackie CR4s.
Check out our review of the Yamaha HS7.
The Full Audioengine P4
The Full Audioengine P4 might look quite similar in shape when compared to the Mackie CR4s but they are very different. These speakers are best suited to home casual use especially when placed on a bookshelf. They are quite stylish as well but they do come with a higher price tag.
Check out our Full Audioengine P4 speakers review.
The JBL LSR305
The JBL LSR305 is a great option for anyone looking for some home studio monitors. They offer excellent sound quality that is surprisingly rich. They do have some similar cons to the CR4s and are a little more expensive on average. But they do have their own unique pros as well which makes them a good alternative.
Check out our JBL LSR305s review.
Frequently Asked Questions
Question: Can The CR4s Be Used For Gaming?
Answer: I’m pleased to report that Mackie CR4s do work brilliantly for gaming! If you are looking for a good pair of desktop gaming speakers then the CR4s are easy to recommend. They offer great balance and audio for gaming and I find the color scheme lends itself particularly well to gaming setups.
Question: Can You Connect Headphones?
Answer: You can easily connect headphones to the CR4s through the front panel. When you connect the headphones the speakers will also be muted automatically. Whether it’s for home studio use or just listening to video/ music the sound through headphones is very high-quality. Check out some of our picks for the best headphones for mixing.
Question: What’s Included With The Mackie CR4s?
Answer: Alongside the two speakers, you’ll also receive a 1/8″ RCA cable, an 1/8″ to 1/8″ connection cable, a speaker wire, and finally Pro Tools recording software. The software also includes a Mackie exclusive plugin bundle. If you have always wanted to give the home recording a try then you certainly get everything you need to get started.
Question: Are The Mackie CR4s Available In Other Sizes?
Answer: The Mackie CR4s are 4-inches and while this version, in particular, isn’t available in other sizes, you will find similar smaller and larger monitors in the CR-X range. This includes a 3, 5, and 8-inch model.
There is also an 8-inch subwoofer available in the CR-X range as well. If you like the look of the CR4s but want something larger or smaller then the CR-X range is worth checking out.
Question: Are The Mackie CR4s Bluetooth Compatible?
Answer: I mentioned this briefly in the review, but for anyone skim reading it’s worth highlighting this point. The Mackie CR4 monitors aren’t Bluetooth compatible as standard. The good news is there is a Bluetooth model available. You will need to pay extra for this though. If Bluetooth is important to you, make sure you buy the right model.
Are The Mackie CR4s The Right Choice For You?
The Mackie CR4 monitors offer an excellent overall package especially given their budget-friendly price. Their build quality was something I was particularly impressed by and they work well as monitors or casual speakers.
Their small size offers good sound quality and they are certainly usable for home studio use. However, it can’t be denied that when it comes to the professional applications of monitors the CR4s are a little lacking in places.
If you want something that offers professional high-level sound quality the Mackie CR4s likely won’t be enough. They also are a little lacking in features compared to some other options. However, with everything considered the CR4s do offer an excellent great value package.
In my opinion, the Mackie CR4s are designed for the hobbyist not the industry professional. If you want monitors for casual home studio projects these will certainly do the job. But if you want something for more professional use then there are likely better options out there. Although these will almost definitely be more expensive.