I'll start with the MR6mk3. The 6 in the name of this active monitor refers to the 6.5-inch polypropylene woofer, which is accompanied by a one-inch silk dome tweeter, with the frequency crossover point set at 3.5kHz. The unit is pleasingly hefty for a speaker at this price point, providing plenty of front-to-back depth in its design. Connections and controls lie on the rear panel. You can connect a number of source types to the MR6, with XLR (balanced), 1/4-inch (TRS, balanced) and RCA (unbalanced) inputs making connections from a range of equipment straightforward. As well as a level control to set volume output, high and low Filter switches are offered with +2 and -2 dB offsets at the top-end and +2 and +4 dB increases for the bottom-end, so that you can tailor frequency response to the demands of your room. Overall frequency response for the MR6 is 46 Hz to 20 kHz, which is certainly a generous bass extension for a monitor of this size and price.
Specs aside, what's clear upon listening to these monitors is that they're well suited to the dynamics and demands of electronic dance music production and mixing. They offer an immediately pleasing, transparent sound that balances a naturally musical tone with one that responds well to subtle EQ and dynamics tweaks particularly. The design has been optimised for a nice, wide sweet spot. This helps enhance the stereo imaging, too, which is rewardingly deep and detailed. Perhaps the most pleasing aspect of the design, and the corresponding sound, is that Mackie have thought carefully about how to deliver crisp, sharp transients, making the monitors a joy to use on beat-based music. Kicks are crisp and punchy, and the way that snares and hi-hats sound reminds me of the clarity synonymous with Genelec's monitor range. As a result, they're pleasing to mix on, offering a deep front-to-back image, with the clarity of percussive foreground elements backed up capably by deeper, more spatial sounds behind.
The frequency response—particularly with the bass end extending to 46 Hz—means that, for most producers, the depth of the MR6mk3s alone should be sufficient. For those looking for more bass reinforcement and assurance that sub frequencies are also under control, the MR10S is designed for ready integration with the MR6s. This provides a 10" glass aramid composite woofer via an all-wood cabinet design. Again, connections can be made either via XLR or 1/4-inch TRS inputs in stereo, with the MR6s then fed from 1/4-inch outputs. Usefully, you're able to set the crossover frequency from 40Hz to 180Hz via a non-stepped rotary dial, so again, tweaking this to the design of your room and the requirements of your tracks is flexible. As you'd hope, the MR10S provides plenty of bass power, hugely extending the capabilities and depth of the MR6s on top. However, there's no need for the sub to overwhelm your mixes. At lower levels, it provides a natural-sounding extension of the bass response, and its rubber feet lift it off the floor to reduce unwanted reinforcement of low frequencies via vibrations alone.
My only regret is that the system, with the MS10S and MR6s combined, isn't readily optimised for use within surround mixing environments. With this much quality offered at this price-point, such a system would be desirable to media composers. Of course, for those determined enough, there are ways around this issue, by feeding individual audio interface outputs to the sub and each speaker in turn. So if your line of work requires surround provision, this system still deserves your attention.
The MRmk3 series also sees revisions to the siblings in the range. The smaller MR5 and the larger MR8 (which feature more compact and generous woofers, respectively), with reduced and enhanced frequency responses to match. Without question, if you're shopping at this price range, you should give these speakers an audition. The marketplace is busy with models from KRK, Yamaha and Adam Audio to name but three, and they're all highly capable performers around the same price point. For those looking for dramatic and accurate bass, however, the ready inclusion of Mackie's own sub, optimised for use with the main monitors in the range, might help swing you in this direction. In truth, there's never been a better time to make a quality monitor purchase if your funds don't run especially deep, and with Mackie's revised MR range, the competition just got even stiffer.
Ease of use: 4/5