The Mackie CR range has consistently been one of the market’s most affordable studio monitor lines. In this review, we check out the largest option in the range. A feature-rich choice that is well suited for casual listening, DJ monitor applications, and as a replacement for computer speakers.
The Mackie CR8-XBT updates a popular studio monitor with a refreshed design and consumer-friendly features. The highlights are below before we take a closer look at this reasonably priced set of monitors.
For many beginners, studio monitors tend to be too narrow in focus, and while ideal for production work, they fall short in convenience and modern features. The CR8-XBT aims to tackle this issue head-on. It offers a surprisingly well-rounded monitor that pairs well with bass-heavy genres such as EDM & Hip Hop.
High-quality sound is a must for any studio monitor, but finding affordable monitors that can deliver in this area is often challenging. While the CR8-XBT is far from perfect, it’s also much better than other cheap monitors.
The highs are clear and crisp while retaining enough restraint to prevent them from sounding overly forward or sharp. It’s a tricky balance to strike, but Mackie has done well to deliver a pleasant top-end.
The mid-range is equally smooth, with a satisfying, well-rounded delivery that highlights vocals and instruments well. Neutrality is respectable, but to a keen ear, there is a slightly more v-shaped curve to the profile that leans more towards a consumer-friendly sound rather than a production-focused offering.
The CR8-XBT offers a punchy and satisfying sound profile.
The lows are chunky and rich, as expected from a monitor with an 8-inch woofer. They are a little muddy, but at this price point, they comfortably outperform alternatives. But if you want extra thump in the lower frequencies, you’ll still need to look into adding a subwoofer to your setup or spend more for 8-inch monitors with a more robust low end.
The balance across the frequencies could be better, and I wouldn’t recommend these for serious studio work. But they are more than appropriate for multimedia projects and light studio work.
Overall, the sound profile is ideal for listening to music or as a pair of studio monitors for DJ practice sessions at home. I also like these as a replacement for generic computer speakers that lack depth and punch.
To achieve a low price point, quality will inevitably be reduced. But this is where you can begin to separate the good manufacturers from the bad. Mackie has consistently proven that while their entry-level lineup is cheap, the build quality is still quite reasonable.
The cabinet is lightweight but offers a good-quality finish that is decently robust. There are better cabinets out there, but they also come with a much heftier price tag, so at this price point, I have no complaints.
Respectable build quality considering the low price point.
The addition of a brushed metal front face plate is a nice touch to give these a more premium look compared to other monitors that stick to a plain cabinet.
Component quality is also respectable for monitors in this price range with a polypropylene woofer and a silk tweeter. Connection points on the rear of the cabinet are secure and reliable, as is the volume knob on the front of the speaker.
Mackie once again manages to balance price with durability, and compared to the previous generation of CR monitors, these feel much more robust and reliable.
The Mackie CR8-XBT features a 160W Class D amplifier that can deliver up to 108 Max SPL at 1 meter. While this might seem relatively high, it does begin to struggle at the upper end, with a noticeable increase in muddiness as you push these.
But there is enough headroom to crank these up to a satisfying level when DJing or casually listening to some tunes. They appear at their best around the 80dB range, which is still ample to fill a smaller space with sound.
The CR8-XBT offers enough power for loud output.
As for frequency response, it offers a range of 40Hz-20kHz at -10dB. There is enough range here to hit nice and low for bass delivery while high enough to preserve high-frequency detail. But as mentioned in the sound quality section, if you want warmer sub-bass, I’d suggest adding a complimentary subwoofer like the Mackie CR8S-XBT.
Likewise, the tightness of the response is a little lacking if you demand supreme accuracy. But it is near impossible to find ultra-flat 8-inch monitors at this price point.
The Mackie CR8-XBT does not offer any tuning options to sculpt the output. In one regard, it is understandable to keep costs low, but on the other, it can lead to some issues depending on your space.
The lack of control over bass output can be problematic since these are rear-ported. Having these close to a wall will lead to bass build-up, which you could tame if the CR8-XBT offered some low-frequency control.
Additionally, everyone has a preference regarding sound output, so some tweaking options would have been nice to give the end user some control. But considering these offer a clean and impressive sound profile out of the box, most people should be satisfied.
It is hard to expect all the bells and whistles at this price point, but I hope to see extra controls in future versions of the CR monitor series.
The overall design of the CR series has also seen an update, and in my opinion, for the better. The previous series, while attractive, was a little in your face.
The new CR series now offers a more mature and grounded design while maintaining the iconic green highlights that are a signature feature of this line of monitors. The smooth lines and brushed metal face plate also add to the appeal.
The iconic green styling catches the eye.
But as with previous CR monitors, the most desirable design features are more functional than aesthetic.
The CR8-XBT features a forward-facing volume control knob which is more convenient than what most studio monitors offer. The forward-facing headphone port is also handy, something professional monitors rarely provide. This highlights the more consumer focus of these monitors.
You’ll also have the option to switch the primary powered monitor to Left or Right, giving additional flexibility in placement. The result is a hybrid between traditional studio monitors and computer speakers while maintaining a unique, functional, and attractive design.
8-inch studio monitors are relatively large, and the Mackie CR8-XBT is no exception. These big monitors demand space, so you must be mindful before handing over your money. This is especially the case if you are replacing slimline computer speakers.
The CR8-XBT is a large rear-ported studio monitor.
The sheer size and depth also make them a poor choice for bookshelves. Even if you go for a smaller model in the lineup, I still would advise against placing these on shelves due to the rear-facing port, which will lead to bass build-up.
Combined, the Mackie CR8-XBT pair of studio monitors comes in at 35.2 lbs. (15.9kg) which is reasonable for monitors this size. If you want to place these on monitor stands, I suggest double-checking their weight capacity to ensure they can handle these.
The Mackie CR8-XBT provides an impressive range of connection options to ensure maximum flexibility.
You can access a balanced 1/4 inch TRS connection option on the rear panel and an unbalanced RCA and 1/8 inch Stereo In connection. This is more than enough to handle most potential connection situations.
The two monitors connect via bare wire connectors, with the secondary monitor serving as a slave monitor to the primary powered monitor. The cable is long enough to be able to have an appropriate amount of distance between them.
The CR8-XBT offers an excellent selection of connection options.
Supporting the rear hardwired connections is the addition of a headphone jack on the front and, as the name implies, Bluetooth.
The Bluetooth functionality is fantastic for casually listening to music. Pairing is relatively hassle-free, and the range is decent. I would still suggest you stick with a wired connection for DJing applications, as there is always some inherent lag in Bluetooth audio, making beatmatching difficult.
For an aggressively priced set of 8-inch monitors, the CR8-XBT offers excellent connectivity flexibility. It can comfortably adapt to different situations as your needs change.
The value offering of the Mackie CR8-XBT is superb. These ultra-affordable monitors pack a serious punch without taking a massive toll on your bank balance.
Two 8-inch monitors that look great, offer impressive sound, and provide useful features that set them apart from the competition. You can acquire cheaper monitors, but they will struggle to match up to the performance-to-dollar ratio that the CR8-XBT offers.
If you need a set of reasonably priced monitors that perform above their price point, the Mackie CR8-XBT studio monitors are an excellent choice.
The Mackie CR8-XBT has picked up multiple favorable reviews. People point out the punchy and satisfying sound and the reasonable price point. Some people mention that the sound is less polished than more refined and expensive monitors. Still, they also say these are impressive, considering their low price point.
Can You DJ With Bluetooth Monitors?
The Mackie CR8-XBT features a bombastic and punchy sound profile, making it an excellent choice for DJs that want a set of monitors for practicing at home. But while they offer Bluetooth, you should stick to a wired connection when DJing.
You should stick to a wired connection when DJing.
Bluetooth is fantastic for casual listening, and depending on the latency settings on your TV, they can even be a good choice for watching TV shows and moves. But for DJing, the inherent latency of Bluetooth connections makes it a poor choice.
DJing is all about timing, and you’ll be carefully matching the tempo of two songs and then transitioning from one to the other. Any amount of latency and lag can make matching beats more complex and can result in poor-sounding transitions. So when you are behind the decks, plug those cables in and leave the Bluetooth functionality for day-to-day listening.
While the Mackie CR8-XBT studio monitors offer excellent value for money, they might not be the right choice for you. Below we take a look at some alternatives worth considering.
PreSonus Eris Studio 8 Review
The PreSonus Eris Studio 8 is a fantastic 8-inch monitor that is still reasonably priced. If you can find these at a discount, they are worth the extra investment.
- Balanced and neutral sound profile make these better suited for studio work.
- Front-facing bass port, along with some basic tuning controls.
- Not as aggressively priced as the CR8-XBT.
PreSonus Eris Studio 8
Mackie MR824 Review
If you want to step up from entry-level monitors, the MR824 is a refined studio monitor with fantastic sound and a sleek modern appearance.
- A flat frequency response that retains high accuracy without sacrificing enjoyment.
- An ultra-modern design and flexible tuning options to adjust to your space.
- Substantially more expensive than the CR8-XBT.
JBL 306P MkII Review
The JBL 306P MkII is an excellent alternative for those wanting a smaller monitor. It’s a time-tested monitor that has become a staple for beginners.
- A rich and detailed sound profile that is flat enough for studio work.
- Capable bass and a broad sweet spot make it an excellent choice for room-filling sound.
- It does begin to distort when pushed into higher decibel levels.
JBL 306P MkII
Should You Buy?
The Mackie CR8-XBT is an enticing pair of studio monitors thanks to its capable sound delivery that is warm and pleasant. The additional extras like front-facing volume control and headphone port are also great features.
The tonal balance could be better for studio work. But for everyday listening, it’s hard to beat these within this price category. Add Bluetooth functionality on top of this, and there is little to fault. Affordable, attractive, punchy, and versatile without a big-ticket price tag.