With its extremely low-priced CR-Buds, the in-ear newcomer Mackie primarily addresses the consumer segment. The Plus version costs about twice as much, but also comes with a two-driver system and promises nothing less than “Pro Studio sound wherever you go”.
Thanks to the transparent plastic used in the construction of these headphones, it’s easy to see that the CR-Buds+ does indeed utilise two drivers. These drivers provide an average frequency response of between 20 Hz to 20 kHz, while being able to compete against the amplifier with an impedance that’s relatively low at 8 ohms. Sensitivity is also low, with the manufacturer estimating this at 93 dB/mW.
The CR-Buds+ are constructed with robust plastic housing, with a black exterior that’s accented with the Mackie logo. Transparent plastic at the inner side of these in-ears allow the user to view the drivers within. When these headphones are used correctly, the angled earpieces fit snugly into the ear canal, ensuring a very satisfactory fit. The CR-Buds+ are suitable for light activity while you’re on the go, provided you don’t encourage too much contact with the cable. Included with the headphone model itself are six different pairs of earpieces, with both silicone and memory foam varieties to choose from. Each material offers earpieces in small, medium and large sizes. Unfortunately, Mackie neglected to add an adapter for these in-ears. It’s a small gripe, but a pity all the same.
While the little brother of these headphones is a real no brainer thanks to its low price and impressive performance levels, the Plus version carries with it some higher expectations and requires further thought before parting with your cash. It transpires that a two-driver system does not automatically equate to better sound. In fact, I found the CR-Buds a better performer than the Plus version. Although the sound on offer here is sufficient for the whole listening spectrum, it’s clear that tuning isn’t really ideal. Things become most obvious in the highs, with a sharpness and granularity a signature of the issues at work here. Keyboards, guitars and vocals can therefore become quite tiring on the ear. Highs are present, although they quickly fall away a little into the background. Although switching the volume to a higher level would help bring these out, doing so would have the unwanted result of the mids becoming even more dominant. The CR-Buds+ are never going to win any prizes for performance, especially when it comes to liveliness and audio agility. On the other hand, the bass range does shine, with a welcome stability and defined low frequency range to savour.
People with a hatred of tangled cables should be cautious when approaching the CR-Buds+. The cable tends to find a way to tangle itself, with the situation made all the more of a regular occurrence thanks to the over-ear earpieces serving like small hooks when folded, regularly catching the cable. The media control elements of this headphone model are integrated into the right side, with a hands-free microphone that performs its function well without any problems. Play/pause can be accessed from this control interface, while volume and call acceptance/termination is also available.
The CR-Buds+ from Mackie make a great first impression, with a slick appearance and stable fit in the ear. They’re also incredibly affordable considering they use two drivers. However, faced with the choice of these of the cheaper version that came before it, I think I’d sooner go with the CR-Buds. The sound is more balanced with that model, with the rounded audio character more appealing than the two-driver Plus version. In fact, apart from the volume control integrated into the cable, there’s no significant functional differences to set this Plus successor model above what came before.
- Ear couplingIn-ear
- Transducer principledynamic
- Frequency response (headphones)20 - 20.000 Hz
- Impedance8 ohms
- Sound pressure level (SPL)93 dB
- Cable length130 cm
What's in the box
- 3 pairs of silicone ear tips (S, M, L)
- 3 pairs of ear tips (S, M, L) made of memory foam
- Carrying pouch