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Mackie MC-250

Rating:
4.25/5,
  1. FullBright1
    Mackie MC-250
    Written by FullBright1
    Published Mar 26, 2019
    4.0/5,
    Pros - Comfy, Midrange quality, price = value.
    Cons - Bass lite, plastic, generic cosmetic aesthetics.
    We are living in the golden age of quality headphones.
    Im almost concluded that any set of headphones built post 2016, with the exception of the worst sort of imported Chinese junk, are going to be ither good, really good, or fantastic.
    Of course, the reservation that accompanies this revelation is the fact that not all good sounding headphones will sound as we all need to make us happy, no matter what you spend, hoping for the best.

    Having said that, let us engage together a quick review of the recently released Mackie MC-250.
    Currently im waiting for my Stax SRS-3100 to arrive from Japan, so, in the meantime, i bought another set of fun and inexpensive headphones, and here is my opinion.

    Comfort : 7.9. Light as a feather, small cups, pleather.

    Build Quality : Looks like cheap plastic, because it is.

    Sound : Best for classical, acoustic, vocals, ... not good for anything that needs big deep bass extension.

    Accessories : Box, Adapter, and a decent "clip-loc" cable that is very long.

    So, here we have what Mackie "Designs" have designated as an affordable studio monitor that offers "reference" sound.
    Well, can $109 USD headphones that are made of medium grade and very light plastic, combined with small over-ear cups, deliver on their promise?
    Well, almost.
    Where they fall short is regarding bass extension, as these are bass-lite.
    But regarding treble, mids, clarity, detail retrieval, ....they are a good value for the money, as they sound good with all genres of music that are not related to dance, big beat, or big bass.
    They have more midrange clarity then the AKG 275s, and have a more balanced tonality then the Klipsch HP-3.
    Soundstage is in your face, not much depth, and decent extension from L<>R.
    Being a very light - plastic headphone, they succumb sound wise to a smaller body of sound.
    They are not thin sounding, but they do have a delicate and airy sound signature, that definitely puts the spotlight directly on their midrange performance.
    I'd love to hear this set of drivers inside a really well made set of cups like the AudioQuest Nighthawks, or the HP-3s.
    This product's sound is something that Sennheiser fans would recognize, to a degree.

    Who will love them : Fans of Vocal, Strings, Piano, Acoustic guitar, and Classical music.

    Who will hate them : Fans of Dub, House, or any music which needs a thick, solid, and well extended low frequency, as these will not take you there.
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  2. Dsnuts
    Mackie MC-250 High performance Monitors
    Written by Dsnuts
    Published Jan 10, 2019
    4.5/5,
    Pros - Studio reference tuned. Well balanced with a solid plastic build. Affordable with a versatile tuning for monitoring and even better to enjoy music with. Easy to drive. Light and very comfortable for hours of use. Decent isolation. Scales well to amplification.
    Cons - 10 ft straight cord only,Leaks a bit of sound, all plastic build means you can't throw these around.
    Mackie MC-250 Headphones were on loan for review purposes. MC-250 is a new headphone from Mackie. I believe it is their first foray into the headphone market which includes 5 earphones and 2 headphones, MC-150 MAP $69.99,MC-250 MAP $99.99. The review sample was loaned to me for the sole purpose of reviewing after which I am to return the MC-250 to Mackie. Mackie MC-250s can be purchased here.

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    I remember Can Jam in Denver 10/18/2018 when I first met the crew at Mackie and their station with some new phones at the booth. The crowds were buzzing with anticipation of what is new and Mackie the makers of premium studio audio gears have thrown in their designs for some new phones. The MC-250 is a closed monitor type headphone which is described for professional to personal use.


    A statement from Mackie:

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    Mackie has been an innovator in studio gear since 1989. Mackie is bringing their legendary acoustic engineering and “Built-Like-a Tank” quality to the world of headphones, in-ear monitors, and earbuds. With over 30 years of innovative, affordable, and category-defining products in the pro audio world, jumping into headphones was a natural fit. In typical Mackie fashion, they sought to create headphones that deliver performance and sound quality that rivals high-end models, at a price anyone can afford with the MC Series. With the first two models, they went with large 50mm drivers in a closed-back design for maximum versatility and sound quality in both the studio and on the go.


    The MC Series includes two models – the MC-150 and MC-250 – both with large 50mm transducers that deliver the clarity and accuracy Mackie is known for in stunning, closed-back designs tuned for studio monitoring, mixing, and personal listening. The MC-150 is the perfect entry into professional headphones providing the audio fidelity and punchy bass response of much more expensive headphones. The MC-250 is tuned for exceptional accuracy and detail making them great for mixing and critical listening. Both models have ultra-soft ear pads and headbands, detachable cables, and come with a Mackie carry bag.


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    Mackie MC-250 is a headphone that was made for the purpose of monitoring music for professional use or can easily be used for music enjoyment. I have listened to the Mackie MC-250 for the past month exclusively with a wide variety of daps/ Amps, Fiio X3ii, Ibasso DX90, Pioneer XDP-30r, Shanling M3s, M5s. Ibasso PB3, Fiio E12A and IFI Black Label and wide range of music to get a good handle of their sonic abilities and limitations.

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    The MC-250 design is common closed type monitor headphone design incorporated by industry standards such as Audio Technicas M50s or the Sony V6 headphones. While the MC-250 does not separate itself in the way they look from other monitor type cans. They have minimal clamp and are very comfortable and easy to use. The oval plush headphone pads does a great job isolating from outside noise. I find passive isolation when listening to music to be decent. I had more than a few instances when the wife would call out my name and I would be listening to the Mackie MC-250, I would have no clue she was calling me out. So a good indication of the isolation capabilities. It does leak out a bit of sound however.

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    The build of the MC-250 is practical, light, with good sturdy hinges made of plastic. The cups are adjustable with an arm that extends out from both sides to about an inch and half from both sides with the phone arms reaching 3 inches max when fully extended. This is long enough to extend the cups comfortably for my medium sized noggin and more than likely for fat heads too. There is no pressure felt from the top of the band and has minimal clamp. I found that they are comfortable to use for hours on end with no uneven pressure on the head of any sort. Displayed here with a friend who wears glasses. Very comfortable.


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    The one caveat of the build being all plastic that while looks and feels sturdy enough, I can foresee with rough use some issues. As a former DJ I know how rough folks can get with their Cans when on the road. Again these are plastic fairly solid but plastic none the less. The cups swings out fully to face out so folks that need the cans for DJing or monitoring through one side can do this. With regular normal use these should hold up the task of being used for audio production just fine. Perhaps another negative is that they include a longer 10ft straight cord with them which is not really practical for portable use so you will have to braid the included cable or get a different cable to use with the MC-250 for portable use on the go. The included cable has a lock mechanism on the cup end which secures the cable into place and can’t be yanked out without turning the cable end. A good design choice for production and or just being in a crowded environment.


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    SpecS:

    38 Ohm

    50mm Driver

    10Hz-20KHz

    9.8 ft straight cord with ¼” adapter

    100db sensitivity

    Weight: 265g / 9.35oz.

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    The sound of the Mackie MC-250 has a well thought out sound design while not overly prominent in any one area of the frequency range has a very well balanced monitor presentation. These immediately reminded me of the tuning that is on the Thinksounds ON2s. Sound balancing is identical to those phones which are also designed for monitor use.

    The closed sound design of the MC-250 is not a ruler flat or a neutral tuning. Mid to upper treble has a tasteful lift giving the MC-250 a good sense of bite, extension, definition and clarity for a closed can. The bass area while having a moderate amount of mid bass punch emphasis is very linear all the way to the sub bass giving them a slight V type FR to my ears with no drop off in the deepest ends of bass. Decay in the bass area is not overly slow bloomy nore is it too quick and dry. Bass is not the speediest or the most accurate but it does do a fine job of representing the low notes without much in the way of overly done thickness or does it take over other frequencies which can skew the tonality to be warm.

    Bass abilities keeps up with a quick pace of a speedy double bass drums to a deep reaching 808 textured rumble in the sub bass with ease. With any decent monitoring cans, the bass should be one of the strong aspects and on the MC-250 it delivers. Bass shows a good dynamic range with agility and is textured well in the sub bass region. Guys looking for a neutral more reference type bass will not find it on the MC-250 but for folks that love their bottom end to have some prowess the MC-250 is satisfactory in the bass area while not being overly cooked.
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    Overall balancing of the MC-250 is done with the idea of emphasis of the beat and treble attack which clearly shows in the tuning of the MC-250. The areas of lift has been done with good taste in that I don’t find the MC-250 fatiguing or has any type of grain/ unevenness in any of the important detailed regions of sound. The mids however do not suffer much from the enhancement of the bass and treble. There is a very slight masking of the lower mids from the upper bass but does not deter the overall musical monitor presentation of the MC-250.


    The sound design of the MC-250 has good transparency, clarity and detail with a natural slightly rich tone. Their strong suit is how they throw out a more honest take on the recording than more colored tuned headphones in the market. While not exactly a flat neutral type tuning they do lean more toward a neutrality in tone with a slightly rich portrayal of your music. They have a good sense of space, accurate imaging and decent depth for music to sound correct. The technical abilities of the MC-250 is very good while having just enough coloration for them to not sound sterile or too analytical.


    In fact the more I was using the MC-250 be it out of my Shanling M5s or my Black Label, the more I appreciated the level of sonic qualities they were producing. These are just as enjoyable for synthetic music like Deadmaus, bass lines are on point, as much as Aretha Franklin’s soulful vocal renditions,Slayer’s raw guttural metal, A Tribe called quest low hitting bass notes, Stan Getz instrument separation, to the Beatles older analog recordings. The sound tuning is very versatile and suits well for enthusiasts with eclectic taste in music as I do.


    Stage of the MC-250 has a medium amount of stage for closed headphones and does not sound canned narrow or confined. The good use of space mixed with accurate imagery of the sound leads to a more honest renditions of recordings from Rock, Jazz, vocals to hip hop tracks. Music depth and headroom is another strong aspect of the MC-250.


    Drivability of the 38 Ohm MC-250 is just as suited for your cell phone as it is with studio equipment. They are easy enough to drive but with more dedicated sources and amplification, the MC-250 sound expands throwing out more body and definition to the sound. Using my Black Label, the MC-250 simply sounds outstanding much more engaging than the price would indicate. I would love to see Mackie come out with a more audiophile tuned take on the MC-250 with a semi open or open can design that lets the drivers stretch out even further for a more airy and wider take on this tuning.


    While the MC-250 is not the most resolving or does any one part of the frequency stand out to be top tier. Taken as a whole and especially given its price point, this headphone simply rocks your music with an effortless musical quality to it. Can’t really nit pick any one area of sound that it is actually lacking in. It has all of it. Detail, imaging, balanced proportionally well, good depth, decent stage for a closed can, extended clean non fatiguing treble. Present mids with slight richness in tone, bass that has authority with addictive deep reaching rumble when called for. Instrument timbre has good timing, imaging and has just enough to be what I consider more accurate in this regard.


    Treble detail is done in a crisp detailed manor and has good extension without any weird peaks or piercing fatiguing aspect to it that I can hear. Neither overly warm nor cold the tonality of the MC-250 is on the neutral very slightly warm side with a decidedly natural tone. Considering what these cans cost to own. Enthusiasts or studio pros looking for a good solid stable sounding pair of Cans that can double as a monitoring tool or just to enjoy your music with. Mackie has done a fine job with their first monitor headphone release.


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    Some comparisons

    Vs the ATH-M50. MC-250 actually has the wider stage and while depth is similar with the 2 cans the Mackie MC-250 has the more accurate tuning. M50 has a dark metallic sheen to the treble that comes off a bit artificial sounding. Mid bass to sub bass is greater in quantity in the M50 with a mids recession. Much more V shaped. MC-250 has the better balanced sound with better clarity having the better more accurate treble over the M50. Much better mids over the M50 as well. Honestly these are what the M50 should have been. M50 has a much greater clamp.


    Thinksound ON2. These two comes very close to how they are tuned. In fact it would not surprise me one bit if the FR. Of these two cans are very identical. I do find the ON2s have better timbre of the 2 cans and has a slightly richer sound to it but otherwise the sound balancing from bass mids and treble emphasis are identical. Mackie wins at depth with a slightly wider stage. MC-250 easily wins on the comfort here as the ON2s being on ears, the comfort is not bad but the plush over the ears on the MC-250 wins. Passive Isolation is better on the ON2s but as mentioned above MC-250 is decent for isolation.


    ATH- MSR7. More leaner with higher end clarity and detail on the MSR7 vs the MC-250. The MSR7 has a wider stage better resolution of sound but the fullness of sound is better on the MC-250 providing a thicker fuller slightly warmer sound. MSR7 has the the edge in treble extension and definition. MC-250 has more authority in the bass region over the MSR7 with a fuller more natural mid range, sounding more musical vs a bit more leaner analytical take on music on the MSR7.

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    The time I had to get to know the MC-250 was very enjoyable and are a blast to listen to. Their sub bass rumble to the extended treble done tastefully makes them versatile for a variety of uses. I know guys are always looking for a good value in sound and I do believe Mackie is providing just this with the MC-250. It is amazing what your $100 will get you here. They are a good mix of solid light build, great sonics and ease of use that makes them truly versatile and that just means they are more than worth your hard earned cash. I would like to thank the kind folks at Mackie for lending me the MC-250 and now I get to put the cans back in the box it came in back to their makers.

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    I am wondering just how cool Mackie folks are. I can send it back but I have lost a few items in the mail before. Who hasn’t?. Joking aside. These are very good cans with a solid sound, a good mix of technicalities and musicality considering how much they cost and in the end, I will miss having them around.
      Light - Man, Dawnrazor, Zelda and 2 others like this.