Mackie CR3 Review: Small But Mighty Monitors That Pack A Punch

mackie cr3 review
The CR3 are Mackie's most compact, portable studio monitor. But do they have the power to compete with the big boys? Our Mackie CR3 review explains.

Our Mackie CR3 review will answer the question you’ve been asking yourself.

Is the Mackie CR3 worth buying?

No matter how amazing your music might be, it isn’t going to blow your mind if you don’t have a great speaker setup. And any monitor worth its weight should meet a few basic criteria:

  • Compact
  • Look great
  • Sound awesome

Does the Mackie CR3 check all the boxes?

Yes, it does.

Here’s why we think so.

Mackie CR3 Review of Features

Mackie CR3 monitors are an awesome set of bookshelf speakers that give you the same quality of design and performance as speakers used in studios.

They have a wide range of frequencies (80 Hz to 20 kHz) with high-output drivers, a great studio monitor waveguide system, and a classy enclosure.

The CR3 delivers phenomenal sound through its superb design and has a few other snazzy extra features that make it easily usable.

  • Front panel aux input
  • Headphone out option
  • Volume button that also acts as an on/off switch

Mackie CR3s are suitable for music producers, gamers, and even home entertainment, and their portability makes them awesome for taking on trips or when traveling for work.

They’re a great alternative to the more expensive and larger CR4 and CR5 sound systems by Mackie.

Like any other monitor, the Mackie CR3 does come with its own advantages and disadvantages but overall, you’ll find that they’re a great choice.

Mackie CR3 Pros

  • Powerful and clean sound for a great price.
  • Extremely portable and very versatile.
  • Front-facing headphone jack is a nice perk.
  • Studio-quality sound is especially suited for vocal and instrumental performances thanks to amazing stereo separation and clean detailing.

Mackie CR3 Cons

  • Bass lacks depth and would benefit from the addition of a powered-up subwoofer.
  • Unlike the CR4 and CR5, the CR3 doesn't have Bluetooth capability.
  • No attenuation controls.
  • Bass extension tends to swallow up the top end.

10 Reasons Why the Mackie CR3 Checks All The Boxes

The Mackie brand is known globally as one of the best makers of compact and professional monitors. The CR3 is one of their renowned offerings and for good reason.

Here are 10 reasons why we love the CR3:

  1. Excellent value for the money
  2. Sound accuracy
  3. Compact build
  4. Sound power
  5. Low interference
  6. Sleek and clean design
  7. Superb frequency range
  8. Amazing compatibility
  9. Flat sound playback
  10. Great bass

Let’s look at each in more detail.

1. Excellent Value for the Money

If you want an audio output device that sounds professional while not wanting to pay for extra features you won’t use, the Mackie CR3 is your best bet. It’s doubtful you’ll find anything that performs as well or looks as good in this price range.

2. Sound Accuracy

The Mackie CR3 comes with foam isolation pads and angled wedges. These help improve listening accuracy and make these monitors a great fit for music producers as it gives your sound significantly more clarity. This makes reviewing your mixes and playback easier. You want your music to sound good across all speakers, and getting a good quality mix on a decent set like the Mackie CR3 is a good way to achieve that.

3. Compact Build

The super-compact design of the Mackie CR3 is one of its biggest selling points. These speakers are light, look great, and are really useful for users who want to port them around and create music in several locations. Thanks to their portability, the CR3 wins for practical, everyday use.

4. Sound Power

The Mackie CR3 comes with a 3-inch woofer and a 0.75-inch tweeter. This might seem inadequate when it comes to power, but the CR3 proves otherwise. The powered side can be set to either the left or the right side with ease. The volume control is easy to manage, and being able to plug in headphones right in the front make these speakers really flexible to use.

5. Low Interference

Interference can cause a lot of distractions when you’re producing music and keep you wondering how good your tracks actually sound when you’re editing them. The Mackie CR3’s balanced TRS connection keeps these issues at a minimum and makes your work easier.

6. Sleek and clean design

The Mackie CR3 monitors come with attractive green and black detailing that looks stylish and somewhat futuristic. They make your studio environment feel more professional and can inspire your creativity.

7. Superb Frequency Range

These monitors cover 80 Hz to 20 kHz and are suitable for all multimedia playback. If you’re planning to use your Mackie CR3s for more than just music creation, you’ll find this frequency range super useful.

8. Amazing Compatibility

The Mackie CR3 comes with input options that make them compatible with older systems that might not use Bluetooth. (Plus, these speakers aren’t Bluetooth-compatible.) They come with the cables you’ll need to connect to PCs and laptops. Though the Mackie CR3 might lack Bluetooth compatibility, they’re still a versatile set of speakers worth considering.

9. Flat Sound Playback

When you’re editing a track or video, you have to remove any humming or hissing to see how it really sounds. Flat sound through mid- and high-range frequencies makes it easier to identify these problems.

10. Great bass

The Mackie CR3 accentuates the bass in your tracks very well for a small monitor. While they might be a little lacking on the top end, the thumping bass is nice and heavy. This makes it suitable for heavier beats, and the pads that come with the speakers help prevent your desk from rocking as the speakers thump.

3 Alternatives to the Mackie CR3

If the Mackie CR3 doesn’t suit all your needs, one of these three four monitors will:

  1. The Mackie CR4 and CR5
  2. The Edifier R1280T
  3. The Bose Companion 2 III

If you’re insistent on Bluetooth connectivity but still want a compact build, the Mackie CR4 and CR5 are good contenders. They’re slightly bigger and more expensive, but they give you extra features and a louder sound.

Another option is the Edifier R1280T. These come in the same price bracket as the Mackie CR3, but they produce very clear highs and full, smooth mid-range sounds.

A third choice is the Bose Companion 2 III. They’re very compact and have two full-range drivers, but their build quality is nothing special and their sound can sometimes come out boxy.

Mackie CR3 Review: Final Thoughts

Most Mackie CR3 reviews are overwhelmingly positive, proving they’re a worthy contender in their price range.

Hopefully our Mackie CR3 review helped as you consider adding these small but mighty monitors to your home studio.

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