Stepping up to 5-inch monitors offers producers a lot of new benefits not seen at smaller levels. In this review, we check out the updated 5-inch option from Mackie.
Mackie has an excellent history of delivering solid beginner options. Let’s see how the 5-Inch Bluetooth model stacks up.
With a fresh look and some tweaks to the sound profile, there is a lot to like about the new Mackie CR5-XBT powered speakers. Let’s dive into the details.
The Mackie CR5-XBT offers excellent sound quality. The 5-inch woofer delivers ample bass response that is tight and satisfying. There is plenty of depth here that you may be able to skip acquiring a subwoofer.
Much like their DJ speaker range Mackie places extra emphasis on the low end. But, if you are in a large studio you may want that extra oomph to fill the space.
The mids retain plenty of warmth and clarity. Excellent for multimedia editing and studio use. While not as refined as more expensive options they are an excellent choice for producers on a budget.
Tonal clarity is also maintained in the higher frequencies. The high-end is sharp without any grating tones. A few users have noted an audible hiss but this is often caused by interference from other electronics. Cables crossing can also be an issue so where possible use a balanced connection to avoid this problem.
Excellent balance across the frequencies makes these a solid choice for producing. The soundstage is impressive with a good depth of field. But, make sure you take into account accurate placement for the best results. This makes them an excellent candidate for general listening as well.
Keep in mind these are studio monitors so the sound will be “flat” or “neutral”. If you are coming from consumer-grade speakers this can be quite the change. Studio monitors aim to reproduce sound in its purest form. Consumer speakers tend to “color” the sound. While this does sound good it is not ideal when you are trying to mix or master your productions.
These are not top-of-the-line monitors and for some, they won’t be accurate enough for mixing. But it is an impressive outing in the budget space and a nice improvement over the smaller Mackie monitors.
Build quality at entry-level price points can be very hit or miss. This latest generation from Mackie feels solid and better than other budget options. The MDF wood cabinet has a decent amount of heft to it without it feeling excessively heavy. This gives it a premium feel without impacting convenience.
The Mackie CR5-XBT offers and all wood cabinet.
The previous generation of Mackie monitors did suffer from early failure in some units. But when you factor in the sheer amount of units sold it’s foreseeable to have a few duds. Early impressions point to this generation offering better quality materials. As for longevity, these have not been around for very long so only time will tell if they stand up to long-term use.
Mackie does have an excellent reputation for warranty fulfillment. If something were to go wrong I’d be confident in after-sales support.
The Mackie CR5-XBT offers a 5-inch polypropylene coated woofer. There is also a 0.75-Inch ferrofluid-cooled silk-dome tweeter. I’m used to seeing 1-inch tweeters to deliver the high end. But, I was pleasantly surprised to see the smaller tweeter performed just as well.
Frequency response is also solid at 69Hz-20kHz (-3db). Plenty of depth for the low end to help deliver smooth bass. The top-end wraps up where most monitors cap out. Anything beyond 20kHz exceeds average human hearing.
The Mackie CR5-XBT has plenty of depth in the frequency range.
On the volume front, these can get up to 105dB which is more than enough to fill a small to medium-sized space. Anything above 85dB can be harmful to your hearing so you wouldn’t want to push these that high consistently anyway. But, for those times where you need it to fill the room, there is plenty of capability here.
The class D amplifier also gets a bump from the 3 and 4-inch models with 80 watts at peak performance compared to 50 watts.
There are no extra tuning options available on the Mackie CR5-XBT studio monitors. This doesn’t come as a big surprise when you consider the price point of these reference monitors. If you do need to adjust output you’ll need to rely on an external device.
While it would have been great to have some options available these do sound great straight out of the box. Paying close attention to your room dynamics can help with achieving optimum audio quality.
The Mackie CR5-XBT is not a boring-looking speaker. The distinct and now iconic green is here again in the new generation of models. This time however the hue is a bit more subtle which helps give it a more polished and refined look.
The Mackie CR5-XBT offers a bold yet professional design.
The updated brushed metal faceplate adds another element of sophistication. It also adds to the more premium feel compared to its predecessor.
The speaker position select feature remains from previous models. It’s a great tool for controlling which side you wish to have the volume knob on. This offers flexibility that other monitors don’t provide. This flexibility also helps you incorporate these speakers into your studio with minimal fuss.
These look great in a modern studio and offer an excellent alternative to the bland straight black monitors that dominate the market.
As expected the 5-Inch woofer does result in a large footprint. You’ll need a decently sized desk if you plan on having these directly next to your PC monitor. At 9.3-inches (235mm) these are a full inch deeper than the 4-inch model. This may make it difficult to use these as bookshelf speakers.
5-inch monitors can be difficult to place on smaller tables.
At 14.9lbs (6.8kg) these are noticeably heavier than the 4-Inch model. Luckily this weight isn’t excessive but once again keep it in mind if you plan on placing these on shelves.
The Mackie CR5-XBT offers the same connection options as other models in the range. An unbalanced RCA connection option along with a balanced/unbalanced TRS option. This should cover you for the majority of potential setup configurations.
An added Stereo In option is also available. On the front, you’ll also have access to a headphone port for added convenience.
The Mackie CR5-XBT offers both balanced and unbalanced connection options.
Where the CR5-XBT also offers Bluetooth connectivity. Pairing is seamless and the unit maintains a constant Bluetooth connection. The range is excellent with no dropouts.
There is a noticeable difference in sound quality over Bluetooth. The low end in particular suffers from the limitations of Bluetooth. This is not unexpected but worth noting. When you consider the times you’ll use Bluetooth (streaming music/tv) the slight dip in balance and quality isn’t a big concern.
The Mackie CR5-XBT offers fantastic value for money. An affordable 5-inch pair of multimedia studio monitors that strikes a good balance between audio quality and price.
The 5-inch model also adds acoustic isolation pads to help prevent unwanted low-end build-up or boominess.
If you are on the lookout for good value monitors these should be on your list of choices.
What Others Have To Say
Mackie is a popular choice among budget-minded enthusiasts. But, most will recognize that there are better (but more expensive) options if you are serious about music production.
Do You Need A Subwoofer?
When setting up your studio space one of the key questions you need to address is if you’ll need a subwoofer. Each studio space is different. On top of this, you need to factor in your individual needs.
If you purchase smaller studio monitors you’ll likely need a subwoofer if you want a more pronounced low-end response. The small woofers will have a hard time giving you that oomph. If you listen to a lot of bass-heavy or electronic music you’ll enjoy the addition of a subwoofer. If you desk space is small a compact set of monitors and a subwoofer is an ideal combination.
Adding a subwoofer like the Mackie CR8S-XBT to your studio will improve low-end output.
If you do have a larger studio space or a big desk larger monitors may be better suited. Usually, 5-inch and higher woofers can deliver a solid bass response. These bigger monitors may be more difficult to place but you’ll save money by not having to buy a dedicated subwoofer. But, a subwoofer does add to the experience and also places less strain on your primary monitors. Something worth considering even if you do buy larger monitors.
Of course, nothing is stopping you from buying large monitors and a subwoofer. It all depends on how much emphasis you want to place on the low frequencies.
If you are looking for 5-inch studio monitors there are some appealing alternatives worth considering. Here is a handful of suggestions.
PreSonus Eris E5 Review
The PreSonus Eris E5 is a comparable studio monitor to the Mackie CR5-XBT. A solid monitor that leans more towards the production side of budget monitors.
- The flat response makes these more suited to production work.
- An affordable price point for new producers.
- The low-end response is lacking and may not satisfy.
Presonus Eris E5
ADAM Audio T5V Review
If you need a more professional set of monitors, the ADAM Audio T5V is a great choice. ADAM Audio has an excellent reputation for build quality and sound quality.
- Crystal clear and balanced sound that is perfect for studio work.
- Loud output that is distortion free. Great for people that like to crank up the volume.
- Expensive option compared to the Mackie CR5-XBT.
Adam Audio T5V
Edifier R2000DB Review
If you are not overly concerned about music production the Edifier R2000DB is a good option. It still offers Bluetooth functionality along with extras like a remote control.
- Offers good sound quality that is perfect for multimedia use.
- A solid range of connection options.
- Not as loud as the Mackie CR5-XBT.
Should You Buy?
The Mackie CR5-XBT is a great budget 5-inch set of studio monitors. The attractive design along with the low price makes these an easy recommendation for those on a budget.
The clean sound quality and distinct low-end is capable of a variety of tasks. From multimedia editing, sound production, or just general listening. Once you factor in the added Bluetooth functionality it presents great value. An excellent set of monitors that punch above their price point.