The MC-450 headphones are Mackie‘s new flagship and the manufacturer‘s first model with an open design. The Model MC-350 is the more professional version of the MC-250 with a closed-back design. So, at least on paper, the MC-350 are more suitable for recording and the MC-450 for monitoring and mixing.
Both headphones are supplied in a practical storage box with additional storage space and have a significantly extended scope of supply compared to the low-cost models. Three high-quality exchangeable cables with locking bayonet plugs are included with the headphones: A chic three meter long straight cable with fabric sheathing, a 122 cm spiral cable and an equally long straight cable with telephone control and microphone (without lock), plus a gold-plated 1/4“ adapter.
The headband of both models is now also made of metal, the ratchet mechanism is more reliable, and overall the MC-350 and MC-450 look a lot more valuable than the cheaper models. Both headphones sit comfortably on the head thanks to the adjustable headband, without pressing too hard or being too loose. The padding of the headband and the ear cups is made of genuine leather and allows you to work for longer periods of time without feeling uncomfortable pressure.
We found wearing the MC-450 a little more comfortable in the long run due to the large oval shells, but the MC-350 sat a little firmer on the head - both are optimal for the respective applications mixing or recording. All in all, haptics and comfort are in line with the price. With the MC-350, one ear cup can be folded to the side, so that the singer can hear his or her own voice more naturally during recording in addition to the monitor signal.
As expected, the two headphones differ in the technical data. The MC-350 have 50mm drivers with 32 ohms at 97 dB, and the low impedance makes it easy to connect to portable media players and smartphones. In contrast, the MC-450 have a 44 mm driver, and 54 ohms at 101 dB. They are correspondingly quieter on mobile devices, but the field of application aims at high-quality headphone amplifiers anyway. The frequency response is specified from 20 Hz to 20 kHz for both models.
Honest sound, even in the bass range
In terms of sound, the MC-350 convince with a pleasantly honest bass. The headphones can also reproduce deep and full low frequencies if these are actually present in the mix. However, it sounds natural and not emphasized. Mackie has found a good balance between the exaggerated bass reproduction of many modern headphones for music consumption and the low and dry bass of some monitor headphones. Medium and high frequencies sound open and realistic, so it‘s possible to hear all details without unpleasant sharpness. Compared to the MC-250, the differences in sound are within limits, but the MC-350 seem a bit more linear in the bass range.
In direct comparison, the MC-450 initially appear to have a little less bass, but after a certain playing period and getting used to it, this quickly improves. Then you can hear the better separation in the bass range as well as the more resolved, transparent highs and the better sense of depth. If you experiment a little with the position of the headphones, the bass reproduction and spatiality can be optimized even further. Even if the MC-450 do not quite come close to the next price category with ADAM SP-5 and Neumann NDH-20, we consider them to be quite sufficient for creating professional mixes with it. The impulse response of both headphones is above average, and transients are reproduced crisply and without compression.
The two new headphone models from Mackie unmistakably demonstrate the strengths of the respective system. The closed-back Mackie MC-350 offer a well-balanced sound image with a honest bass response, unstrained treble and above-average impulse response for this price class and are suitable as recording headphones and for pure music listening. The biggest difference to the 100 Euro cheaper MC-250 is the better build quality. In contrast, the open MC-450 (checkout Mackie headphones in the Thomann shop) with their dry sound are predestined for detailed mixing and mastering. When properly fitted, they enables a clean frequency separation even in the bass range, airy highs and a generally very linear tuning of the individual frequency ranges to each other.