By Francis Preve
IN THE PAST FIVE YEARS, I’VE SWITCHED MONITORS THREE TIMES.
This is partly because I’m trying to find something that compliments my
studio acoustics, but more importantly, my ears. A lot of producers get
stuck in the “expensive equals better” trap. If that were true, Yamaha’s
legendary NS-10 (which gained mythical status for its everyman qualities,
not any audiophile specs) would never have become the gold standard for close
to two decades. So when Mackie’s MR8 Mk. 2 monitors arrived, I was curious as to
how I’d react to them, especially given their low price.
The MR8 Mk. 2s are two-way, bi-amped, active
monitors with 8" woofers and a ported design
that makes the most of their bass response. The
1" tweeter relies on an internal waveguide that
helps widen the sweet spot and in practice,
that’s on point. These monitors have a decent
width in my very near-field studio.
Inputs are balanced XLR and 1/4" TRS plus
unbalanced RCA. Two switches on the back modify
high and low frequencies to compensate for
room location (e.g., reducing the bass boost if you
put the speakers in a bass-enhancing corner). The
recessed trim pot has a center detent, useful for
making sure gain is identical on the pair.
I make dance music but I listen to everything,
so I ran lots of different material through the
MR8s: Foo Fighters, Brian Eno, some ’80s new
wave, and several mixes I’m working on. The first
thing I noticed was that the highs are a little crisp.
Not shrill, but crisp, and very different from the
shimmery highs of my usual monitors, which are
three times as expensive. The upper mids are also
pronounced, but again, not unpleasantly so. In
fact, this made me a lot more conscientious about
the 2–6kHz area of my mixes.
The lows were big and solid and way more
present than those on my usual pair, which
bothered me. Not because there was something
wrong with the MR8s—far from it. I was annoyed
because I could finally hear and fix some
problems in the low end of a remix I’m currently
doing. When it comes to low end, these
babies have oomph.
I was really surprised at how much I enjoyed
these monitors. They wouldn’t be my first choice
for delicate, detailed recordings of jazz or acoustic
music. But for pop, rock, hip-hop, or dance
music with lots of bass, they’re now among my
top recommendations for producers looking for
solid quality and Key Buy-winning value.
PROS Killer low end. Great
entry-level monitors for
pop, rock and dance. Highand
switches. Flexible analog
CONS Upper mids and highs
may be a trifle crisp for
$339 list each | $250 street each