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CR3 3” Multimedia Monitors – $99
PROS: GREAT price, great sound, worth it!
In the past, the gap between computer speakers and studio monitors was a pretty big one, but Mackie has closed the gap both in price and performance with their CR3 Monitors. [Editor’s note – a 4-inch version, the CR4, is also available. We just happen to be giving away a pair, click here to enter to win!]
Size-wise, they’re fairly compact, and inside the wood cabinet sits a 3” woofer and a .75” tweeter, in addition to a rear port that allows for enhanced bass response. The back of the main controlling speaker has 1/4” inputs, as well as connections to the secondary speaker. RCA jacks are also available. The main speaker (the one with the volume control) has a selector switch, allowing the control to be on the left or right side, which depending on the setting (and whether you are right or left handed), is a nice ergonomic feature.
The front panel has the lighted on/off/volume control, and a 1/8” headphone out, and a 1/8” input jack as well, allowing an external device to be plugged in, such as an MP3 player, tablet, or smartphone. All the cables are included, as are acoustic isolation pads to angle the speakers and keep unwanted vibrations to a minimum. Rated at 50 watts, the CR3s have plenty of clear headroom.
Sound-wise, they are simply fantastic. Plenty of bass, and excellent clarity in the top end. The ability to plug in an external device (to compare mixes) is sweet. Not everyone listens to music on a high end set of speakers (in most cases it’s ear buds or a set of computer speakers), so running a mix through these can show any deficiencies that a high end set of speakers might wash out. These are closer to consumer level speakers, with better construction and components, and comparing a mix through a second type of speaker (usually less “pro audio” type), is well worth the time.
For a high-end multimedia studio, find it in your budget to get a set. A small home studio will really benefit from a set of these as well, and they won’t break the bank. You don’t have to be a professional engineer to get a good sound, and these will work great for even home audio use, but they are so much more than that. At a $99 street price, they’re worth every penny.
50 watts of clean, articulate stereo sound
3” polypropylene-coated woofer
.75” ferrofluid-cooled silk-dome tweeter
Ultra-wide frequency range (80Hz – 20kHz)
Convenient front panel volume knob with lit power ring
Front-facing headphone jack auto-defeats speaker output
Choice of inputs (1/4”, 1/8”, RCA)