Mackie CR4 vs AV42 | Ultimate Comparison Guide 2020

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One dilemma most customers struggle with is deciding which studio monitor is better. Is it the Mackie CR4 or the AV42? We’ve done extensive research and explored the best things both speakers have to offer.

The Mackie CR4 has better value; this doesn’t mean the other isn’t a good product; the difference in quality and value between the two is marginal. Read on to discover why the CR4 wins the battle between Mackie CR4 vs AV42.

Mackie CR4 Vs AV42 Reviews

Mackie CR4

Mackie CR4-X Four-Inch Creative Reference Multimedia Monitors Bundle with and Pro Cable Kit Featuring Pro Tools First DAW Music Editing Software

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Mackie was founded in 1988 in Seattle by Greg Mackie. As an inventor, he sought to create affordable professional-grade audio equipment. This equipment had to be easy to use and efficient.

The CR4 speakers personify everything the company is about. They’re high quality and offer versatility to their owners. They’re perfect for content creation at home and designed to be suitable for gaming and home entertainment too.

What makes this product stand out is the disproportionate value it offers on the price you pay. At under 180 dollars, these speakers make you feel as though you paid much for them. The crisp and clean sound offered ensures you have a more immersive experience.

Such value has made the product popular. In the past, one would need expensive equipment to create a musical masterpiece; this is no longer the case with products like the CR4.

Also, the build quality is impressive; they’re not cheap or brittle, and the robust brushed metal front panel gives a premium feel to the speakers.

There are versatile inputs included; these ensure you can connect this audio device to a variety of other devices. The inputs included are quarter-inch, eighth-inch and RCA inputs.

Pros:

  • Studio quality sound.
  • Broad frequency range: 80 Hertz to 20 Kilo-Hertz
  • Various inputs.
  • Premium materials that offer durability.

Cons:

  • Performance declines after two years of use.
  • Equalizer settings are not the best.
mixer vs audio interface cartoon letters

M- Audio AV42

M-Audio AV42 | Compact Active Desktop Reference Monitor Speakers For Premium Playback, Professional Media Creation and Immersive Gaming Sound

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M-Audio manufactures the AV42 speakers; it’s a subsidiary of InMusic Brands. It specializes in building and selling MIDI interfaces, controllers, and related technology. Established in 1988 by Tim Ryan, it focuses on providing exceptional value to customers.

The AV42 speakers are some of the most compact and stylish speakers you can get for your desktop setup. The trend of minimalism has provoked designers to create smaller, more functional products. The AV42’s craftsmanship has these attributes in mind, ensuring they have become nation-wide best-sellers.

Besides their size, what makes these speakers stand out is their premium sound. The polypropylene-coated woofers produce a crisp and distinct base, and the accuracy of the sound is very impressive. The one-inch ferrofluid-cooled silk cones also create pure, high-pitched sounds.

The built quality is decent, and the product offers the same versatile inputs provided on the Mackie CR4; these are quarter-inch, eighth-inch, and RCA inputs.

Pros:

  • Premium material used.
  • Easy to use.
  • Reliable and durable.
  • Versatile inputs are a great convenience.

Cons:

  • Doesn’t compare well to its predecessor, the AV30.
  • Monitors pick up a lot of interference.

Mackie CR4 vs AV42

M-Audio AV42 | Compact Active Desktop Reference Monitor Speakers For Premium Playback, Professional Media Creation and Immersive Gaming Sound
Mackie CR4-X Four-Inch Creative Reference Multimedia Monitors Bundle with and Pro Cable Kit Featuring Pro Tools First DAW Music Editing Software
M-Audio AV42 | Compact Active Desktop Reference Monitor Speakers For Premium Playback, Professional Media Creation and Immersive Gaming Sound
Mackie CR4-X Four-Inch Creative Reference Multimedia Monitors Bundle with and Pro Cable Kit Featuring Pro Tools First DAW Music Editing Software
$262.24
$159.99
M-Audio AV42 | Compact Active Desktop Reference Monitor Speakers For Premium Playback, Professional Media Creation and Immersive Gaming Sound
M-Audio AV42 | Compact Active Desktop Reference Monitor Speakers For Premium Playback, Professional Media Creation and Immersive Gaming Sound
$262.24
Mackie CR4-X Four-Inch Creative Reference Multimedia Monitors Bundle with and Pro Cable Kit Featuring Pro Tools First DAW Music Editing Software
Mackie CR4-X Four-Inch Creative Reference Multimedia Monitors Bundle with and Pro Cable Kit Featuring Pro Tools First DAW Music Editing Software
$159.99

Design

Products need to include aesthetic value to be relevant. The design offers many benefits to the consumer and manufacturer of the product. People are willing to buy products for their aesthetic value, even if this means compromising on performance, which is good news for any manufacturer.

Speakers need to blend well in your environment. As peripheral devices, they need to compliment your computer screen and keyboard.

Mackie CR4 Design

The CR4 offers a simple and clean design. A dark color dominates most of the speaker, and green highlights surround the edges; this gives visual symmetry when combined with the speaker’s rectangular shape.

This product’s build quality is great, but splashes of bright colors on any device make it look cheap; this is because most premium electronics use metals like aluminum. And products that wish to portray this premium finish should only use colors found in metals.

M-Audio AV42 Design

The speakers keep the design we’ve come to expect from M-Audio. They’re more compact than the CR4s; this should incentivize designers to have a somber approach with their design. But they decided to include a glossy surface and rectangular inserts.

These features may look hip at first glance, but make these speakers look cheap. Since they use inferior materials in their construction, this is a huge disadvantage for them in my comparison.

Winner

M-Audio AV42 | Compact Active Desktop Reference Monitor Speakers For Premium Playback, Professional Media Creation and Immersive Gaming Sound

With a marginal victory, the AV42 takes the prize. The CR4 is superior in almost every design aspect. But that green line is horrific and looks out of place. More importantly, it may not complement most people’s setup, as well as the AV42 will.

Features

I also analyzed the features included in each product; this helps determine which product offers better value. Features should provide versatility and convenience. You shouldn’t have to choose between function and form. Modern design techniques have ensured people never have to choose one or the other. Both these products offer these attributes, but which is better?

Mackie CR4 Features

The CR4 isn’t a premium speaker. To expect an outrageous amount of features is unreasonable. Similar to most speakers in this price range, it includes the bare essentials; this shouldn’t disappoint you.

What makes premium speakers more expensive is the plethora of features included. But for most home creators, these are unnecessary. A stripped-down speaker, like the CR4, then becomes more relevant.

The speaker includes a one-inch tweeter, paired with a four-inch woofer or low-frequency driver. When combined, they give a power output of 50 Watts. This output is divided between two channels.

The switches and control knob are sufficient, and the back-lit front panel volume knob gives you control and power indication. The speaker placement switch allows you to decide which side of your desk gets this volume knob. There is no acoustic switch; this is expected of a product at this price point.

The inputs offered by these speakers are great; they include quarter-inch, eighth-inch, and RCA inputs. You can also connect your smartphone to these speakers.

As stated before, the amount of features included isn’t brilliant. What makes this product a value purchase is the quality of these features. They’re similar to those you’d expect from more expensive products.

Mackie CR4 vs AV42

M-Audio AV42 Features

It’s easy to see how similar these two speakers are when comparing their features; this is why it’s hard for most customers to choose which is better. They offer almost the same features but in different packages. The AV42 manages to pack these features in a more compact size, but this does hinder its performance.

The AV42 is also equipped with a one-inch tweeter, which is located on the glossy surface mentioned earlier. The bottom part includes a four-inch low-frequency driver, again, similar to the CR4.

When purchasing, you get these speakers as a pair, unlike the CR4. The combined power output is 20 Watts, and the maximum sound pressure is 101.5 decibels at one meter. These numbers aren’t impressive and make this product suitable for small rooms. In comparison, one CR4 speaker has a power output of 50 Watts. That’s twice as much from the output of two AV42 speakers.

Inputs are conveniently located; the RCA inputs offer effortless connection to gaming systems and DJ gear. The eight-inch stereo auxiliary input, located on the front panel, is handy for laptop, desktop, or audio device connection. Included in the device are also sturdy speaker wires and acoustic traction pads.

M-Audio has tried to put value in this speaker, and their efforts are worthy. Such small-sized speakers, competing with larger counterparts; this is great to see. And although they fall short in some aspects, it’s important to gain perspective. These are ridiculously cheap speakers, and world-class features shouldn’t be expected.

Winner

Mackie CR4-X Four-Inch Creative Reference Multimedia Monitors Bundle with and Pro Cable Kit Featuring Pro Tools First DAW Music Editing Software

The winner here is the CR4. It’s bigger and more functional, and the speaker’s configuration ensures it offers better performance, which is the most important thing for content creators. The AV42 may have better aesthetics. But having better features is a much greater award to have. The CR4 is leading this competition.

lady sitting in the music studio

Mackie CR3 | Complete Review

Performance

Performance is the primary reason people buy speakers. If they don’t sound great, then they’re useless. Earlier, I mentioned how some consumers could compromise on performance for aesthetic value; this should never be the case with you. Fortunately, both these speakers are well designed. So the visual appeal is there. How about the performance?

Mackie CR4 Performance

It’s hard to discover the true value of this speaker by only looking at its specifications. You need to listen to the sound produced by the speaker to understand the value it offers. The professional-grade sound quality is next to none for speakers in this price range. It’s pleasant and provides the accuracy needed for content creation.

The speaker sounds excellent when flat. A tiny drop occurs after reaching 100 Hertz. To correct this performance, you may need to adjust some placements. The four-inch driver delivers the mid and low sounds; an exceptional base is produced here, and the thump remains tight during base sounds.

The only disadvantage the speakers have, from a performance perspective, is durability. One would expect at least five years of use. But the CR4 doesn’t offer that. It won’t last that long with the same, consistent performance you had when you first bought it. This is the compromise of buying cheaper products.

M-Audio AV42 Performance

The sound quality of the AV42 is not great; in comparison with the CR4, the AV42 doesn’t compete. There isn’t a great deal of accuracy in the sound; this will affect most content creators. Regular users are unlikely to tell the difference. But those with a keen ear will notice a difference in quality.

The treble is sharp, and this creates the bias one hears. The placements are a bit difficult to configure, but the speakers are easy to use once you have.

With such performance, it’s hard to make a case for the M-Audio. It’s not a bad product; only, there are better products for a similar price.

M-Audio includes a warranty with this product. This means you can expect more consistent performance from this pair than you would from the CR4.

Winner

Mackie CR4-X Four-Inch Creative Reference Multimedia Monitors Bundle with and Pro Cable Kit Featuring Pro Tools First DAW Music Editing Software

The winner here is the CR4—superior performance by far. The sound quality is excellent, which is the most important thing. The small price difference between the two speakers (with the AV42 being cheaper) could convince some consumers to opt for the CR4.

Specifications: Mackie CR4 vs AV42 

CR4AV42
Powered100 to 240 VAC, 50/60 HzAC 120/230 VAC power adapter 
Power Configuration50 Watt Peak2 x 20Watt 
LF Driver Size4 inch 4 inch
LF Driver TypeWooferWoofer 
HF Driver Size0.75 inch 1 inch
HF Driver TypeTweeter Tweeter
LF Driver AmpFull-Range AmplifierFull-Range Amplifier
Frequency Response60 Hz to 20 kHz (at -10 dB)65 Hz to 20 kHz (at -3 dB)75 – 20000 Hz 
Crossover Frequency3 kHz2700Hz 
Maximum Peak SPL100 dB90 dB 
Input Types2 x 1/4″Unbalanced Female/TRS Balanced Analog Input1 x 2RCA Analog Unbalanced Female Input1 x 1/8″ / 3.5 mm TRS  Analog Unbalanced Female Input2 x Push Terminal Analog Unbalanced Female Output1 x 1/8″ / 3.5 mm TRS Analog Unbalanced Female OutputRCA x 2, mini-phone stereo 0.14 inches
Enclosure TypeActive 2-WayActive 2-Way
Height 8.3 inches8.4 inches
Width 6.1 inches5.7 inches
Depth8.9 inches7.4 inches
Weight10.1 pounds7.56 pounds

Standout Features

The Mackie CR4 has some standout features. These are: 

  • Studio-quality design: Best product for content creation at this price point.
  • Ultra-wide frequency range: This is ideal for content creation. It offers versatility for a wide range of multimedia.
  • Choice: You can decide which side of your desk gets the volume knob with the speaker placement switch; this feature is convenient for left-handed people who are marginalized by most product designs. 

Conclusion

Here is a summary of Mackie CR4 vs AV42: 

Use the Mackie CR4 if:

  • You’re a content creator.
  • Need accurate and rich sound daily. 
  • Want to improve your cinematic experience in your home. 
  • You’re a professional short on cash.
Mackie CR4-X Four-Inch Creative Reference Multimedia Monitors Bundle with and Pro Cable Kit Featuring Pro Tools First DAW Music Editing Software
  • legendary Mackie acoustic tuning means every pair of CR-X monitors will give you the studio sound you’re looking for.
  • A plethora of connection options makes it quick and easy to start listening. They even include cables in the box to get you started.
  • Whether you need ultra-compact monitors for a small desk, or you want huge wall-shaking sound, CR-X has what you need.
  • Avid Pro Tools | First and Other Included Software
  • Custom-tuned rear ports for smooth, even bass extension

Use the AV42 if: 

  • You need quality on a budget. 
  • Don’t need speakers for professional use. 
  • Need reliability without breaking the bank. 
M-Audio AV42 | Compact Active Desktop Reference Monitor Speakers For Premium Playback, Professional Media Creation and Immersive Gaming Sound
  • Premium sound reproduction: 4 inch polypropylene coated woofers produce tight, accurate bass and 1 inch ferrofluid cooled silk cone tweeters produce clear, pristine highs
  • 10 watt per channel amplifier and optimage IV tweeter wave guides for punchy sound reproduction and superior imaging
  • Versatile, conveniently located RCA inputs for seamless connection to gaming systems, DJ gear, mixers and more
  • Front panel 1/8 inch stereo auxiliary input for connecting your laptop, desktop computer, MP3 player or other audio sources with a 1/8 inch output
  • Easily accessible front panel 1/8 inch headphone output for private listening
  • Includes everything you need to install the system; 1/8” cable, 1/8” to stereo RCA cable, premium speaker wire and acoustic traction pads
  • M-Audio (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)