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Mackie CR3-X LTD review: Multimedia Monitors delivering true sound

Mackie CR3-X Multimedia Monitors

The front panel houses the woofer and tweeter, volume knob, headphone jack, and a Mackie running man logo with an LED ring light around it.

Techaeris Rated 9/10

Monitors/speakers are a necessary part of content creation, video, and music production. The Mackie CR3-X Multimedia Monitors are designed for doing all of those things and more. You may be wondering what the difference between a monitor and a speaker is. A monitor is designed to give creators a flat soundstage on which to craft their product. The monitor reproduces sound without any added highs, mids, or bass.  

Speakers are designed to play the final product with a nice mix of highs, midrange, and bass. Of course, the manufacturer decides how best to tune their speakers and adds or subtracts from the different ranges as they see fit. That’s why some speakers have lots of bass, or mids or highs, and others less so. Basically, speakers have added punch, and monitors are faithful to the source material. So, with that distinction in mind, let’s take a look at the Mackie CR3-X Multimedia Monitors.

To clarify which model we are reviewing here, these CR3-X monitors are the Green Lightning Limited Edition. These are also available in a standard edition for slightly less money.

Specifications

  • 1/4”, 1/8”, and RCA inputs
  • Front-facing headphone jack
  • 3” polypropylene coated woofer
  • .75” ferrofluid-cooled silk-dome tweeter
  • Customed tuned rear bass ports
  • All wood cabinet (MDF) with vinyl wrap
  • 8.1” x 5.5” x 7.1” (h,w,d)
  • 10 lbs per pair

What’s In The Box

  • CR3-X Multimedia Monitors
  • 1/8” to stereo RCA
  • 1/8” to 1/8” cable
  • Speaker-to-speaker cable
Mackie CR3-X Multimedia Monitors
Mackie CR3-X Multimedia Monitors, everything included.

Design

For the most part, speakers are rather ordinary and bland. They are rectangular boxes with circular cutouts for the speakers. On the other hand, the Mackie CR3-X Multimedia Monitors designers manage to shake things up a bit with some understated design elements. The pair that I received were the Mackie CR3-X Multimedia Monitors Limited Edition Green Lightning series. They have a bright green vinyl wrap, and the front panel is black with “green lightning” shooting across its entirety. Mackie also offers an Arctic White Limited Edition that is all white except for the speakers and the standard version, which is black with a subtle green line running around the front panel’s perimeter. All three versions look great, and they even offer matching mics and headphones to complete the package. All in all, there are plenty of options to fit your own personal style.

The front panel houses the woofer and tweeter, volume knob, headphone jack, and a Mackie running man logo with an LED ring light around that illuminates when the speakers are on.  I like the LED ring light but would prefer it if the entire Running Man logo was lit by an LED instead.  But that’s just my personal preference and in no way affects the performance of the Mackie CR3-X Multimedia Monitors.

The powered Mackie CR3-X Multimedia Monitors’ rear panel has the AC power cord, power switch, 1/4”, RCA, and 1/8” inputs, speaker to speaker wire inputs, and the rear port.  The unpowered speaker only has the speaker-to-speaker wire inputs and a rear port.

Ease Of Use

The Mackie CR3-X Multimedia Monitors are very simple to use as they have no Bluetooth or apps.  First, connect all the wires from the source to the speakers and run the speaker wire between them.  Next, plug in the power cord, flip the rear power switch, and finally turn on the volume control.  Easy as that.  Mackie does offer other speakers in the CRX line with Bluetooth, but the units I received did not have that option.

There is a headphone jack on the front of the powered unit that defeats the speakers. This makes plugging in your headphones very convenient.  There is no need to reach around the back of the unit to insert the headphone jack.  This is excellent when you need to listen very closely to what you are producing or don’t want to disturb others.

Sound

As mentioned in the opening of this review, monitors have a very balanced sound.  The Mackie CR3-X Multimedia Monitors are no exception.  The sound delivery is very evenly distributed through all the ranges. You can always opt to alter the sound to your liking with the use of EQ.  Listening to rock or classical was perfectly fine. These speakers deliver a very crisp sound that is a joy to hear.  All ranges are very well represented here, with no one range overpowering the other.

The only issue I can find with the sound is that the bass response might be lacking if you are into bass-heavy music such as EDM.  This is not to say that there isn’t any bass in Mackie CR3-X Multimedia Monitors. It’s just that they lack the bass punch that you would get from having a subwoofer.  Listening to Unfinished Sympathy by Massive Attack, the bass drop at the beginning of the song lacks its expected impact. Adding a subwoofer would definitely remedy this.  Thankfully, Mackie does offer a subwoofer that you can purchase separately that should nicely fill in the bass that the speakers alone do not deliver.

Price/Value

The price of the Mackie CR3-X Multimedia Monitors is currently set at US$109.99.  For that price, you get a pair of monitors that sound excellent and give you lots of options as far as style and accessories are concerned.  You can add Bluetooth for an extra US$20.00, and Mackie also offers 4”, 5”, and 8” variants of these speakers.  If you choose to, there are also subwoofers, mics, and headphones that you can purchase to match the speaker’s style that you prefer.  And all this is just in the CR-X series. Mackie has many other lines for you to explore as well.

Mackie CR3-X Multimedia Monitors
Mackie CR3-X Multimedia Monitors, the powered monitor.

Wrap Up

The Mackie CR3-X Multimedia Monitors are a great monitor for any situation.  You can place them on your desktop for everyday use or hook them up to a laptop for gaming or music/video production.  You can even connect them to your smartphone for listening to music.  The sound that they produce is very crisp and clear. While they may be somewhat lacking in bass response for some users’ preference, there is an available subwoofer that you can purchase that should easily give you all the bass punch you need.

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Mackie CR3-X Multimedia Monitors

US$109.99

Design

10.0/10

Ease Of Use

10.0/10

Sound

8.0/10

Price/Value

8.0/10

Nailed it

  • Great Looking Design
  • Lots of style choices
  • Crisp, clear sound

Needs work

  • Bass may be lacking for some
  • Better bass response requires purchase of separate subwoofer
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