With a new year only a few days away, it seems only fitting that I should revisit the brand that gave me my favorite headphones of 2018. And while I might own two pairs of the Mackie MP-240 already, I’m still excited to sit down with Mackie’s new budget-minded pro earphones, the CR-Buds+. At $39.99, these earphones may be as affordable as pro audio gets. But how do they sound?
Mackie CR-Buds+ Review
The CR-Buds+ comes with a small carrying pouch and seven pairs of eartips.
Its thin but resilient cable measures just over 4 ft (1.3 m) long, and features a mic and remote for adjusting volume and playback.
Drivers-wise, the Mackie CR-Buds+ uses a dual dynamic driver setup, and all of the gear has been jammed inside a relatively small earpiece.
I’m tempted to pick up a pair based on the look alone; the outside of each earpiece features a black plastic shell with the Mackie logo, while the inside uses a clear plastic housing.
Frequency Response: 20-20,000 Hz
Nominal Impedance: 8 ohms
Sound Pressure Level (SPL): 93 dB
Like most Mackie earphones, this one offers a standard frequency range with no crazy Sony-esque figures. Nominal impedance comes in at a highly-efficient 8 ohms. Sound Pressure Level seems a bit low at 93 dB, but more than enough for an in-ear headphone.
The Mackie CR-Buds+ offers some good detail. Natural but thin, this sound seems slightly improved with the use of the included foam tips. This aside, the bass response seems fairly tight and accurate, though it may lack the weight and emotion of other earphones.
Astounding for vocals, the mids don’t lean so far forward that they seem oppressive. But the detail comes through without noticeable compression or distortion, and there’s a certain edge or clarity to vocals that works to the CR-Buds+ advantage.
If there’s a weak spot in sound of the CR-Buds+, it’s the shouty high end. While not a total deal breaker (especially at low volumes), these highs can seem a bit out of hand on tracks with female vocals or lots of strings. Just a bit too harsh or grating, this high sounds acceptable for most instrumentation, but it tends to butcher vocals in the high end.
There’s some soundstage here – a sense of depth and some rudimentary placement give the impression of space. However, it’s still nowhere near as good as the soundstage found on other Mackie earphones, like the higher-end MP-120.
If you need a pair of cheap professional earphones, it’s hard not to recommend the CR-Buds+. Costing a measly $39.99, they still pack a punch for critical listening.
However, if you’re after music enjoyment or just listening for fits and giggles, there may be better options. At the same price, the Audio Technica CKM-300i offers a smoother high end, though the mids may not be as detailed.
For those wishing for more extension in the highs and lows, I would probably recommend something from Final Audio – the E2000 (at $45) or the E3000 (at $55) offer solid buys for this type of sound profile.
Despite the shouty high end, the Mackie CR-Buds+ offer a relatively good listening experience – especially for those who need a sharp, contrasting sound below $50. Indeed, for $39, the CR-Buds+ offer a decent professional earphone for Working Joes who need an earphone that gets the job done.
Get the Mackie CR-Buds+ for the best price here: