I’ve had the Mackie CR4 Studio monitors in my office for a year now, I’m surprised it’s taken me this long to write a review for them, because I pretty much use them everyday to listen to music. I also did a bit of amateur music production during the lockdown of 2020; I wanted to do something new to alleviate some of the boredom.
With that in mind, I have a great understanding of what these are capable of. I also had a bit of time to spare, so I thought I’d write down my assessment of these entry level monitors.
I can’t really remember what the packaging looked like, but I do remember that they were packaged well. I also remember what my first impressions were. So, we’ll dive right into the review of the Mackie CR4’s and I’ll let you know just how good these are.
Mackie CR4 Review
The Mackie CR4’s are a pair of speakers, one is powered and one is passive that connects to the other via the speaker wire.
What were my first impressions of the CR4’s then? Well to put it simply, great. Once I’d opened up the box and removed the packaging I could see the matt black body of the speakers with just the hint of neon green.
They had a bit of weight to them, but they weren’t too heavy. I suspect the weight is due to the substantial MDF used in their construction.
I also noticed that they came with foam pads, which was a big plus; the foam pads are to be used to increase the sound quality.
There was quite a bit of single use plastic included with the CR4’s so there is some work to be done to increase the green credentials of the product.
Overall I was really pleased with my first impressions and I felt like I made the right choice, I deliberated for quite a while before settling on these. Let’s just hope the proof is in the pudding, as they say.
My initial idea was to try my hand at music making, I wanted a budget pair of studio speakers that had good reviews on Amazon. I hooked them up and followed a Youtube tutorial on how to make a hip hop beat.
My beat was terrible, but the speakers sounded great. This was my first introduction to how studio speakers sounded. I guess I could describe the sound as being a bit flat.
The included foam-isolation pads are a good addition. You will need to use them if you have them set up on a desk either side of your production station.
The speakers don’t have foam or rubber feet, so if you don’t use the foam pads they’d sit directly on the desk. The foam pads do take a little while to get used to as it a looks a bit strange, but it did grow on me.
Most studio monitors offer an overall flat sounding profile throughout the spectrum, but the Mackie CR4’s produce a slightly heavier bass sound than you’d expect.
The bass produced by these sounds punchy and well defined, It won’t shake the tiles loose on your roof, but offers enough thump and a great deal more than ‘pure’ monitors.
The mid-range is as you’d expect, perhaps just a tad too much at the fore-front for my taste, however otherwise it’s good.
I like a loud high end to really make the high-hats and snares pop, the CR4’s aren’t like that. They do sound crisp though and allow you to hear the raw sound of the instrument you’ve used in your beat.
They are only rated at 50 watts, which is plenty of power for their size. I also think they are really balanced in terms of how loud they get, I didn’t experience any distortion at the upper ranges of the volume levels, but did at the extreme end.
These aren’t for music pros, but are absolutely perfect for someone who is just starting out in the world of music production. Alternatively, the Mackie CR4’s are ideal if they’re going to be dual use, amateur music production and audio playback.
Overall I’m pleased with my purchase, how well are they made?
Build Quality & Features
Setting up the speakers was extremely simple, which is a plus. I didn’t really like the power cable as it can’t be removed. It’s fixed in position, which should be fine, however if you did want to buy and use a longer power cable, you can’t.
I’m unsure why they didn’t decide to use a replaceable ‘kettle’ style power cable. I can’t imagine it’d add to much to the manufacturing costs to include a power port.
The powered speaker includes a switch to select it as the “right” or “left” speaker, which is a really good feature to have included. It allows you plenty of flexibility when setting up your speaker layout.
I really like the green and black, it looks modern with a futuristic twist and would look brilliant in an amateur home studio setup, or wall mounted. I have these wall mounted in my office, 2 meters off the ground and around 2.5 meters apart, they look brilliant.
They are really well made too, the thick MDF covered with a plastic vinyl will stand the test of time. The ports on the back of each speaker are robust and won’t become bent, if you’re enthusiastically trying to plug in your RCA cables.
I like that the combined power / volume control knob is lit up with a green LED to match the green surrounds of the tweeter and woofer, it also offers great tactile feedback once it ‘clicks’ on.
The inputs and passive speaker connection is located at the back of the speakers, right next to the bass port. The AUX / Line in is placed on the back of the powered speaker, as is the TRS ports. These ports allow you to plug your phone and other devices straight in, so it offers good connectivity.
I like that they’ve hidden it out the way as to not clutter the front too much. There is a headphone port on the front of the passive speaker, but it’s subtle and doesn’t distract you from the styling on the speaker too much.
Overall I really like how well built these are, most of the parts are made in China, but I believe it’s fully put together in the USA. Which means it does offer that traditional USA quality.
How Much & Where To Buy
These speakers are still available to buy from all good retailers including, Amazon, Ebay, Target, Walmart etc. Hit the button below to check the current price and deals on Amazon.
Summary & Verdict
I think the decision to call these ‘studio monitors’ is perhaps a bit of a stretch. As I mentioned above they’re perfectly capable of being used in amateur music production or music playback. I guess they’d even perform well for checking mixes, with a more realistic consumer sound.
Score: 7.5 / 10
I reckon you’d do well to find a better pair of basic studio monitors than these, they sort of remind me of the Edifier R1010BT, which are could be an option also.
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The Mackie CR4’s used to write our review we’re paid for by us.