Mackie CR4 or Edifier R1700BT - Budget speakers comparison

Hi and welcome to my comparison/review of two popular budget multimedia speakers from Mackie and Edifier. Mackie CR4 is a budget multimedia speaker system with excellent studio credentials, Edifier R1700BT is a budget multimedia speaker system from Chinese maker - Edifier, budget multimedia speaker champ. Both of these cost about the same money (at least here where I live), and are similar in size and power. Is solid studio credentials an indicative of superior audio quality in this duel? Let's find out, shall we??







As I already mentioned, Mackie and Edifier have similar dimensions. Edifier is slightly taller at 25cm vs 22cm Mackie, deeper at 21cm vs 18cm Mackie, and has similar to Mackie width of 16cm, but overall You have to sacrifice similar space to accommodate either of them. Advantage of Edifier's design is front panel with drivers that is leaning backwards to angle the sound towards users ears. Mackie compensate this with foam pads, that comes as a nice bonus with the speakers and allow to tilt speakers as well (as a side note, foam pads on pictures are not the ones included in the box). Edifier is quite a bit heavier and feels much denser in comparison. Set of Mackie CR4, at 5kg, weighs almost 2kg less than R1700BT. This difference in density translates to better build quality in Edifier. As one of my usual build quality tests, I did a knock test on enclosures and what I found out was very suspiring. Side walls, top and bottom of Edifier and Mackie made reassuring inert thud, but plastic front plate of Mackie sounded very hollow and cheap, with green plastic rings making cracking noises. Edifier was as inert on the front as it was on the sides. Here is a video showing what I'm talking about, so You can judge it for Your self :



As we concluded, Edifier boxes are build better, but they also look more classy on desk as well, especially with grills on. With grills off they look more busy and cheap, more "Chinese" You might say. Wood looking finish of on Edifier's sides looks and feels suprisingly premium, black vinyl finish on the rest of the speaker not so much. Mackie looks very generic in comparison, and those green plastic rings around drivers look tacky and should be dropped by Mackie, especially considering that they are source of noises. Feature wise, Edifier beats Mackie on its head again. Excellent Bluetooth connectivity, remote control with volume control, source selection and mute function, tone controls, all of them are features in Edifier and none of them is present in Mackie. To turn on power and control volume in Mackie we use knob on the front. This knob is surrounded by another green ring but this time it is functional, as it is also backlit to inform user if power is on. To turn on the power in Edifier, You have to reach behind one of the speakers an use the switch. This is one of my few complains I have towards Edifier functionality. Another complain would be the LED light placed with volume and tone control on side of the speakers. This placement makes it hard to see it. Also the remote is plastic and feels cheap, but it is nice to have it nonetheless.







Let's have a look on the spec sheet. Mackie CR4 is a powered "master - slave" type speaker set, with two channel amplifier built in "master" speaker, "slave" speaker is just a enclousere, drivers and crossover only. Total power of Mackie's is around 50W so it is close to 66W power of Edifier, but Edifier took different approach to amplification and crossovers, as they went more "studio like" way with active crossovers and bi amping. So, both enclouseres of R1700BT has built in active crossover and two amps, one for each driver. Edifier also uses DSP to control the sound of R1700BT. To feed the signal to Mackie CR4 we have choice of RCa unbalandec or TRS balanced inputs on back of master speaker or 3.5mm auxialirity input on front. Edifier accepts only unbalanced connection, we can use two sets of RCA inputs, or we can use Bluetooth to send the signal wirelessly. Both speakers use bass reflex to enchance the bass response, Mackie places ports on the back of cabinets where Edifier uses front placed ports. Both CR4 and R1700BT uses 1 inch soft dome high frequency transducers, and 4inch midwoofers.







Listening

So far, for me Edifier has the upper hand, but now comes the most important part of review, that can change everything - listening. I did many A/B tests between both and also compared both with my reference budget speaker - JBL LSR305.

When listening Mackie right after Edifier, the first thing I noticed was rolled off high end and smooth but veiled midrange. Overall character of Mackie is warm with overcooked bottom. Edifier is much more lively in midrange and more balanced overall. Bass of Edifier is also overdone, both CR4 and R1700BT have big boost in upper bass region (110-130Hz) to mask the lack of bass below 70Hz. This was especially highlighted when compared with JBL. Bass boost was more stronger in Mackie, and this resulted in bigger kind drums, more pronounced bass guitars and more enjoyable overall bass response at first listen than Edifer's. Unfortunately, for Mackie, rest of the spectrum is more enjoyable and natural in Edifier. Low midrange in Mackie is boxy and colored, slightly nasal, upper midrange is better, nicely detailed but too laid back for my taste. Edifier is better balanced speaker. Edifier's bass is not as pronounced as Mackie's, but reached as deep (70Hz) with nice punch and good dynamics. Midrange in Edifier is present and clear, maybe slightly less detailed in upper midrange but much better connected with rest of spectrum. Also high end performance is more present and lively in Edifier, making Mackie sound veiled in comparison. Voices in Edifier steps foreword to listener and sound more natural and rich. Neither of them is fatiguing to my ears, but Mackie sounds more pleasing and forgiving to poor source material.





Both Mackie and Edifier sounded best on low to medium levels, but it was Mackie that introduced more distortions when level went up. Levels above 90dB resulted in boxiness of low midrange and  booming in upper bass in Mackie. Edifier was capable of higher levels with minimal distortions, and limits where reached first in bass regions that starts to feel a bit flat. Both Mackie and Edifier are speakers that work best in nearfield, but they can fill small to medium sized room with enjoyable sound, just as long as volume stays on reasonable levels.

Soundstage is good in both, with strong center image and nice spread. Mackie again is more laid back in its soundstage presentation, but with precise images. Edifier on the other hand throws bigger soundstege more foreword in listeners direction, imagining is good but less precise than in Mackie and lacks a bit of depth in comparison.

Thanks to more balanced and crisp sound, Edifier is more exciting and engaging speaker, but at the same time is less forgiving to poorly sounding music, something that most would expect from speaker with studio roots. Mackie suprisingly takes different approach to what one would expect from it, making speaker that sounds warm, bassy and forgiving, but colored and veiled at the same time. I did not expected that before I received these two for test. What is also worth mention, is that tone controls implemented in R1700BT can be very useful to tailor the sound to Your liking, something that Mackie is entirely missing, leaving user with sound, that can be total mismatch to their expectations and room conditions. To Mackie's favor, I have to report that it produce less self noise, but both are acceptable in that regard.





Comparison

When played against JBL LSR305, both CR4 and R1700BT sound like they belong to different category. Upper bass boost in Mackie and Edifier is very obvious, so is lack of bass uder 70Hz. But, at the same time JBL is much bigger, more powerful and costs twice as much as either of our duo, so it should not be a surprise. Natural and effortless midrange, sweet high end and expansive soundstage and tons of details, it is all well worth the asking price, but not every body wants to go that far with costs and size of speakers. For them Edifier will be closer to neutral and balanced sound of JBL, also throwing in a great set of features and elegant look to the mix. Mackie suffers from boxy colorations in upper bass and low midrange and veiled sound, but comes closer than Edifier (but still far) to JBL, when playing electronic music in terms of bass and punch.

Here is a video sample of Edifier R1700BT, Mackie CR4 and JBL LSR305 playing against each other:











Conclusion

Simply looking at value for money Edifier R1700BT is better package. Good build quality, elegant looks, great host of features and sound that is engaging and enjoyable, makes this speaker worth my recommendation of anyone looking for smart desktop speakers. Edifier, thanks to remote control and Bluetooth connection, also can be excellent replacement for small room entertainment system or be a great TV speakers upgrade. Mackie is not exactly a bad speaker, but it has some issues especially with build quality and feature set that is very limited. CR4 is a decent speaker, nothing more.

Verdict:

Edifier R1700BT     8/10

Mackie CR4            7/10

Komentarze

  1. Excellent reviews. I can see you are real audiophile and your words have weight. This is waluable blog to track.
    Just keep up good work mate.
    Zox Wolf

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  2. Just was considering these Mackies for home but will go for the Edifiers instead. Even that everywhere everyone says just how good the Mackies's are and this review surprises It is just the preciseness, complexity and details in your reviews that made me believe to this one. Also probably because I read your other reviews especially about KRK's which I had at the office (Rockit 5s) now VXT6 and I agree with you completely. Keep it up. Thanks for your work, detailed reviews with great amount of very good pictures as well. Thanks.

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    1. Thank You. I am glad my review was helpful. Also, You are right going with Edifiers as they are just plain better speakers, regardless off what others say about Mackie's. Cheers!

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    2. Thanks Michal. Just bought these Edifiers. I love my KRKs VXT6 i have at work at the office but due your review my next buy for home are definitely JBL LSR305. Cheers again!

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    3. Great! Let me know how You like them. Cheers!

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    4. Ten komentarz został usunięty przez autora.

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  3. I like your reviews. In Eris 4.5 review you said they weren't active. I think we call all speaker systems that require no external amp "active", (no matter if they are pair with amp in one). Anyway, have you compares the Edifier R1280T with the Presonus Eris 4.5 or any other competitors? I want that size, not 1700 size.

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    1. Hi Gerald. I said they are not active because they are not using active crossovers. For me it is a "powered" design that uses passive crossovers and built in amplifiers. I have not heard Edifiers R1280T so I can not say antything about them but I think I will try them soon as they get a lot of attention and good reviews around the internet. Edifier R1700BT is no bigger than R1280T though...

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  4. Michal it took quite a long time I know but here I am with my opinion about these Edifiers. I purchased Edifier 1800 BT just for the record but they are the same specs just a different finish (glossy piano black). I have to say I am impressed. Having and listening everyday during a day at my office KRK vxt 6 gen 2. Edifiers are obviously a different category and in a very different price range. But if I can say I always go home looking forward to listen to edifiers.. To my favourite tracks. They are so engaging... I have to say my set up is almost ideal. 3 metres in the back and almost 2 metres in front front of the speakers but no extra foam anti reflective treatment. WIth these speakers the right position is the key and a good dac as well. With all the rest I agree with you and with your review completely. Which proves once more again how valuable and great your reviews are. Conclusion. These speakers from a Chinese manufacturer nobody knows are amazing for it's price. Yes I will for sure upgrade to JBL 305s soon but in the meantime these are just a bargain and a blast to listen to. Yes the bass i did have set at almost the minimum and treble at +2 but that is my room :) Highly recommend these. Amazing speakers for it's size and price.

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    1. I'm happy You enjoy Edifiers, they are great little speakers. But wait until You hear JBL's, they are something different ;) Thanks for sharing Your opinion and for Your kind words. Cheers!

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  5. Hi Michal, thanks for your review. Woul you suggest this for listening classical music? I am looking for some a pair of speakers with bluethoot with good quality aroun 300 euro. Thanks

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  6. Hi my friend! In cases like Yours I have only one suggestion, good old JBL LSR305 ;) Nothing beats them at this price range. Cheers!

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  7. Hi, I love your site and your reviews. I have a question for you : At the same price, between the Edifier R1700BT and the Presonus Eris E4.5, which one would you choose? I'm only listening to music, not creating it. I like the Bluetooth functionality of the Edifier but maybe the Presonus has better sound? What would be your choice? I will only use them directly with PC or phone.

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    1. Hi Ralph! I'm glad You enjoy my blog :) Regarding Your question, for the same price, for music listetning I would sacrifice Bluetooth and choose Eris E4.5. Eris has more natural, accurate and detailed sound. Eris also has deeper more natural bass response that is not boosted at upper ranges as in R1700BT (upper bass boost is annoying in the long run, at least for me). Cheers

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    2. Thanks for you very fast response! I do like the looks from the Edifier more than the Presonus but if the Presonus has better audio I will probably get that one! Is the audio on the Presonus that much better to justify the lesser looks? I know it is mostly on audio quality but the speakers will be at a central place in the house so people will see it. Thanks again, great site!

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    3. This complicates matters a bit ;) For me Presonus looks OK, it actually looks better live than on the pictures, but still Edifier is more stylish and will blend with most decors more easily. Also having a remote control is great when You use speakers in different setup than nearfield where You just can reach them without a problem. So, to sum it up, If looks matter as much as sound than Edifier is as good if not better choice ;) Cheers!

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  8. Witam Panie Michale! Ok, so Edifier R1700BT is a different level soundwise and costwise. What about Edifier 2730db? Price is closer to JBL, but I really would like to see (hear actually) the comparison of those two. Is it possible in the near future? Cheers!

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    1. Witam :) Unfortunately 2730db is not really a desktop speaker (it is huge!) and desktop speakers are my main focus. What is more possible is that at one point I will test the smaller R2600. I think about testing them for a while now, but I did not have the opportunity yet. Cheers!

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  9. Thank You! Looking forward :)

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  10. Hello, great review comparison. I own the R1700BT for over a year and I'm happy with it.

    Side question, where dod you get those grey speaker base? What are those called?

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    1. Thanks! Those grey bases are foam pads. They isolate vibrations from desk and help to elevate and angle the speaker. I bought mine here: https://www.thomann.de/gb/the_takustik_isopad.htm

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    2. oh cool.. alright thanks!

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  11. Hola algun otro altavoz que pueda competir por precio y calidad de sonido con el edifier 1700 BT.
    Gracias por su blog.

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  12. Hello algun another loudspeaker that it could compete for price and sound quality with the edifier 1700 BT, is to listen to music principally, me done a bit for behind that the low ones of 1700 are not very royal.
    Thank you for his blog.

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  13. Hi Carlos. You could take a look at Presonus Eris E4.5. For a little more they sound considarebly better than R1700BT.

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  14. Ok but already they me go away of budget, are 50 € more and I do not want to spend any more money, for this range of price 150 € think that it does not have rival, insurance that I will buy 1700 michas thank you for information.

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  15. It is hard to buy something better without spending more. R1700BT is a good choice ;)

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  16. Between the Wharfedale DS-1 for 220 € and the Presonus Eris E4.5 for 190 € and the edifier R1700BT 150 is € worth paying 70 € more for the DS-1para listening to music only? They are for study and planes were sounding very and slightly enterteining?

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  17. He excuses for so many questions but since I buy a few loudspeakers I can make one more effort and spend a bit more and buy something better because I like to listen sunuds to very good quality, thank you very much, but do not know if this disbursement of money will be worth it, thank you very much.

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  18. I'm sorry but I have not tested Wharfedale speakers You mentioned, so I have nothing to say about them

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  19. Hi! i Can see that you recommend the Presonus E4.5 over the Edifier r17000. When it comes to "loudiness" wich one will feel up the room with better sound and volume?? Thanks for the response in advance! I´m considering this two models and the micca PB42x. I know edifier is slightly worst in audio quality, but I´m interest in the power and volume they can perform over the other two models i mentioned. If you have any comment i would appreciate it!

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    1. I have not tested Micca speakers so I will not speak about them. Between Presonus and Edifier I find Presonus to be more balanced and natural sounding speaker. Edifier has a bit too much boost in mid bass and top end, and not enough of lower mid clarity, compared to E4.5. Differences are not big but they are there. Both are capable of filling smaller room with nice sound but again Presonus will sound more natural in the process.

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