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Inexpensive Studio Monitors: Mackie MR5 vs CR3

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  • Inexpensive Studio Monitors: Mackie MR5 vs CR3


    I just put together a secondary DAW in my apartment (secondary to my main bigger PT rig in my rehearsal studio) and had a question about studio monitors here...

    I just needed some inexpensive monitors for this second rig as I won't be cranking things too loud on this rig and I'll be using headphones a lot. I saw a pair of used Mackie MR5 (first edition they made) and bought them. Brought them home and they felt a little big for my desk.

    Then I saw online the Mackie CR3 which are a little smaller in size and considering selling the MR5 to buy the CR3 instead.

    So my question is... considering my purposes for this rig, would you recommend I switch to the CR3? It seems that the MR5 are better speakers however size is a consideration for me as I need space on my desk. Do both models have same wattage? I'm know that for the MR5 they have the mkii and mkiii out which I'm sure are better. However I have the first version of the MR5 that Mackie made.

    I'm using apogee duet btw, and iMac. I'll be recording keyboards using virtual instruments, some electric guitar and some vocals. I won't be recording live drums on this rig. Thanks in advance for the suggestions!

  • #2
    Mackie MR5 is a better monitor. Its biamped which means you have a separate amplifier driving your woofer and tweeter in each. The CR3 uses a single amplifier for each and passive crossover for the frequencies so there's more phase shifting and less accurate details in the audio imagery.

    The MR5 also has better bass response. The CR3 only gets down to 80Hz and the MR5 gets down to 57hz. Because you can hear those lows better on the ME5 you'll be able to mix them better. A bass guitars open E note has a 41Hz. fundamental tone. Much of that wont even be heard with the CR3 so you'd be working with the first order harmonic of 82Hz with those monitors.

    That may still be fine for most music because you usually remove those sub harmonics with a high pass filter anyway because they eat up headroom that isn't heard by the ears, but in cases where a keyboard synth or the bass player low tunes the bass or uses a 5 string your ability to properly adjust the bass levels are going to be severely handicapped with speakers that only give you 80 Hz lows.

    If you do get the CR3's I suggest you also get a matching sub woofer to reference those lows properly, otherwise your mixes may wind up bass heavy because you'll be adding more bass to mixes to compensate for what your monitors cant reproduce well.


    • #3
      The main thing you need to realize, like the person above is telling you, is that by the time you dip to 3 inch woofers you can kiss your bass response goodbye. A lot of us use our monitors for watching movies and streaming online too, as well as listening to music. I wouldn't tell you to go below 5 inches, ever, honestly.