Speakers

Mackie CR3 Review – Is It Worth Buying?

Even your sickest beats will struggle to create the desired impact if you don’t boast the right speakers.

Back in the day, I used to waste good money on other accessories, but the value of a high-quality speaker system cannot be emphasized enough. My Mackie CR3 review will tell you why the little speakers pack a mighty punch!

Presenting The Mackie CR3 Speakers

The Mackie CR3 multimedia monitors are the more compact alternative to the CR4 and CR5 sound systems. The manufacturer promises to deliver studio-quality design supported by professional sound output optimized for sonic performance.

Mackie’s reputation for taking portability to the next level is evident across the CR range but the CR3s offer an ultra-compact design, packing a powerful output into 3” monitor speakers. Moreover, all purchases made after September 2019 are supported by the addition of free Avid software, unlocking even greater potential.

The CR3 monitor speakers are suitable for music producers, PC gamers, and virtually any form of home entertainment while their portability allows users to take the great sound with them – putting an end to the days of settling for the sound produced by smartphone headphones or cheaply manufactured PC speakers.

Pros

  • Excellent price for a powerful sound
  • Great versatility supported by portability
  • Front-facing headphone jack is convenient

Cons

  • No Bluetooth option (like the CR4 and CR5)
  • No attenuation controls
  • The top end can get swallowed by the bass extension

Features & Benefits

The Mackie brand is highly regarded as one of the best producers of compact speakers with professional sounds, and the CR3s are arguably the gem in their crown. The popularity can be attributed to a host of features and benefits, including but not limited to:

Compact Design

Appearances alone cannot compensate for poor sound, but the ultra-compact design is a major feature. The lightweight speakers are extremely useful for laptop users that may wish to create music in different parts of the home, at college, or with friends.

For practicality and convenience, the CR3 speakers are perfect.

Sound Power

The combination of a 3” woofer and 0.75” tweeter might seem like a recipe for low sound quality, but the Mackie CR3 system is surprisingly powerful. The powered side can be switched between left and right with ease too, which I love as a way to confirm my sound creations sound just right.

Volume control and the ability to use headphones offer great flexibility too.

Sound Accuracy

Mackie’s CR3 speakers are equipped with foam isolation pads and angled wedges for listening accuracy. While it might not be a feature needed by every user, and music producer will find the clarity to be a great addition. Directing the sound correctly makes the review and playback a lot easier.

Besides, you cannot afford to create music that sounds OK on your speakers but poor elsewhere.

Good Base

While the bass can be a little iffy at the very top end, the general quality of the base is still at a very good standard. The thumpy bass is pretty heavy, which is ideal for heavier beats and testing ideas in the music creation process. The aforementioned pads help prevent shaking on your desk.

A big subwoofer might not suffer the distortion that the 3” woofers do, but the CR3s are still good.

Excellent Compatibility

Despite lacking Bluetooth connectivity, the Mackie CR3 is a particularly versatile option that can be used with older systems that do not boast Bluetooth. Moreover, the speakers come with the cables needed for PCs and Macs, which is great when you produce music across multiple devices.

Why buy two sets of speakers when one will suffice?

Excellent Frequency Range

The responsive frequency range covers 80Hz to 20KHz, which supports the 50W power output to produce a solution that’s ideal for all multimedia playback. This is a positive feature as, if you’re like me, you will flick back and forth to YouTube tutorials or take breaks to consume other media.

If your music creation hardware is used for other tasks, the frequency range will be very handy.

Sleek Design

The black and green aesthetic detailing is ideal for music production as well as gamers. I find that the look instantly puts me in the mood to create great beats and actually makes home studio environment feel professional. This is something every creative can aspire to achieve.

Appearances aren’t everything, but they count for a lot and should not be underestimated.

Flat Sound Playback

Whether editing a track or a video, removing hums and hisses is vital for producing the best end result. The flat sounds through the mids and highs allows for easier identification of those issues. It has saved me hours while also removing self-doubts. This ensures that it is a key feature.

Anyone that’s serious about perfecting their work will appreciate the possibilities.

Low Interference

Interference can be very problematic for creatives, especially when you’re unsure as to whether it’s the speakers at fault. The balanced TRS connection keeps this problem to a minimum. I find this results in fewer distractions and more time spent on actually producing music and editing tracks.

This is a major issue with inferior products, as I know from firsthand experience.

Excellent Value

It’s hard to consider any purchase without considering the value. While you need a professional-sounding audio output, paying silly money for the benefit is not ideal. Not when you consider the costs of your other equipment, instruments, and software.

At this price point, it’s hard to find another solution that matches the performance or style.

Social Proof

Despite being personally impressed by the power of the ultra-compact speakers, I wanted to check that I’d not been conned by my love of the black and green appearance – did I mention how much I love that…

Most of the reviews I’ve read area positive, pointing out several of the key features and the exceptional performance for a product in this price range. Here are what others have to say:

The Alternatives

  1. Mackie CR4 or CR5
  2. Logitech 3.5mm PC Speakers
  3. Cyber Acoustics 2.1 Stereo Speaker System

Both the 4-inch and 5-inch models in the Mackie range offer Bluetooth connections, and a slightly louder sound. If, like me, you find that plugging in the wire is less hassle than reconnecting Bluetooth links on new devices, the CR3s are a better (and cheaper) option. Similarly, the minimal increase in power output is unlikely to justify the increase in price.

Logitech is a brand synonymous with PC speakers, and their compact PC Z130s are the best-known option. On the plus side, they are a budget-friendly option that do the job when watching Netflix or playing games on Facebook. Sadly, the sound is nowhere near the standard required for music production, either professionally or as an aspiring enthusiast.

The Cyber Acoustics system can be used for music production, gaming, and home entertainment. However, the 6.5” subwoofer makes the three-piece set far less portable. Having read a lot of reviews, it seems that they are prone to popping and cracking. Paying for a product that may need replacing after just one year is a false economy.

It is a largely a matter of personal preferences and finding a solution that suits your needs. Nonetheless, the CR3s are the best option for most users.

Mackie CR3 Conclusion

Any speakers included as standard with your laptop or desktop computer are unlikely to satisfy your music production (or home entertainment needs). I’ve been there, and can only confirm that a new sound system is essential.

The Mackie CR3 speakers are an ideal fit for several reasons. Their sleek design looks great with any modern setup without sacrificing durability. Meanwhile, their compact size is particularly great when you use a laptop or may wish to use the speakers in several locations. Crucially, their sound output is powerful, reliable, and suited to a range of activities.

To check the Mackie CR3s out in further detail, click here for full information on the ultra-compact speakers.

Things To Consider Before Buying Home Or Studio Speakers

The limitations endured by persisting with inadequate speakers are clear for all music producers, creatives, and gamers alike. Even when the other facilities are good, poor audio will significantly reduce your enjoyment levels and potentially stop you from making the adjustments needed to take your beats to a professional standard.

External speakers with studio-quality allow you to turn the performance of your home setup and laptop all the way up to 11. However, those wanting to use speakers for their home cinema may want to look at surround sounds instead.

Whether buying the Mackie CR3s or another solution, be sure to consider;

  • The maximum sound level,
  • Whether headphones can be used with them,
  • Their output sound and bass levels,
  • The size, weight, and general portability,
  • Their suitability for your specific tasks,
  • The durability and quality of all materials,
  • Brand reputation and customer care.

The Mackie CR3 speaker system ticks all the boxes, making it the ideal solution for music producers and more.

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