Gear Review: Mackie MP-Series Professional In-Ear Monitors

Mackie MP In-Ear Monitors (pictured: MP-120, MP-220, MP-360)

I’ve used Mackie wedges onstage for decades, both as monitors and main speakers. I knew it was only a matter of time before the manufacturer would dip into the in-ear monitor space. Their new MP Series are a sleek and ergonomic IEM which provide crystal-clear performance and rugged sustainability, which will last for years with proper maintenance. After using these in different settings night after night, I’m pleased to report they delivered the same durability and performance musicians have come to expect from Mackie products.

Product Overview

Each IEM in this series features several common pieces: a molded enclosure designed to give you the perfect fit to wear all night without them slipping from your ears; a durable internally braided cable that will stay sleek during onstage performances and not tangle in between shows, and a molded hard-shell case to ensure that they will make it safe and sound to the next gig. Each of the monitors snaps on to the included braided cable or the MP-BTA adapter (a separate purchase option). The comfort of all these IEM’s made me want to buy them even before I pumped any music through them, and once I found the right sized tips, I was ready to go in no time. Speaking of tips, it’s imperative that you find the right ones that fit your ears best to ensure proper stability and sound, especially if you’re like me and run around like crazy on stage. Mackie includes a wide selection of styles to test. None of them are fatiguing, and each of these MP IEM’s have valid points of why I’d use them each in my arsenal.

There are six different IEM’s offered in this series, with the main difference being the number of drivers each one offers, which enhances the listening and performance experience. We received three IEM’s for review: MP-120, MP-220 and MP-360. All are high quality buds, yet each have their own sonic characteristics that make them better for certain applications. It’s important to research and get the ones that work best for your needs. With each of these models, I’ve included my feedback on which monitor would fit each performer. Whether you’re the lead singer, guitarist, bassist, keyboard player or drummer, you’ll be sure to find a set of in-ear monitors in the MP series that fits your needs and gives you the Mackie sound from gig to gig.

Mackie MP-360 In-Ear Monitors

MP-360

The MP-360’s are the highest priced model IEM’s we received for review (only the MP-460 is higher). The MP-360 features triple Knowles balanced armature drivers in clear, durable enclosures. These have the best clarity and detail and work exceptionally well for vocalists. When I’m playing three hour shows with my band, singing the entire night and leading the crowd in a high energy experience, I need a set of ears that will let me hear my voice in my head above all else that surrounds me, and I need pristine accuracy from what’s coming off the board. The MP-360’s delivered that to me upon first try. Their frequency response is rather flat, and provides an honest, dynamic mix with whatever you throw at it. Vocals, keys and guitars definitely are placed in the forefront of the mix, and reverbs and delays are accentuated through the sides giving you a spatial stereo image that takes you on quite a musical journey whether you’re performing or doing some critical listening. As per all the other models, the isolation is incredible. I cranked up my guitar and sang a tune with just my vocals going into my ears and could have actually used a little guitar in my mix as well. The MP-360’s get rather loud without any sign of overdrive or harsh limiting that I’ve experienced with other IEM’s in the past. When properly fitted, the amount of isolation and outer rejection meant I didn’t need to turn these up to piercing volumes.

Despite there being a focus on the mid to highs with the 360’s, these are not fatiguing whatsoever. I was able to listen to an hour worth of new studio mixes and my ears felt completely healthy and ready to work even at the end of that listening session. There’s not too much definition below 100hz, but they weren’t designed for that. You’ll be sure to get the accuracy, width and detail that you need with the MP360’s.

Mackie MP-220

MP-220

The MP220 IEM’s were my overall favorite for a complete listening experience. They feature dual dynamic drivers per monitor, giving you more detail all throughout the frequency spectrum. They can go from punchy to warm depending on what kind of mix you are throwing at it, and the bass response is ginormous. I tested it on a couple of big, wide-ranged mixes that I have been working on recently (hence, being super close and critical towards) and the accuracy in the low’s almost hit sub territory. 808s, the sub-kick mic on my bass drums and my synth-bass work are detailed and clean, giving me a similar experience to what I heard coming out of my studio monitors and sub when I was mixing. This would be the perfect set of ears for a drummer or bass player who needs their mixes focused on sub-lows to mids. Naturally, these do not put the vocals in focus as detailed as the 360’s. However, with a little pre-eq from the bus on your console, you can bring up the high mids to your liking. The highs are definitely still there and depending on what you send to your ears you might be able to leave the EQ flat. As lead vocalist in my band, I tend to take a little bit of the full band in my mix to give me the sense as if I was still in the room. When I bring these out live, I will properly alter my mix choice to get the correct balance.

Mackie MP-120

MP-120

The MP120’s might be the baby in this range, but they are definitely beasts. They feature a single large dynamic driver which gives you a dynamic mix and punchy lows while maintaining detail in the highs. The frequency range and character is similar to the 220’s, and while there’s less definition through the mids and highs, you still get an even mix and huge bass that makes you think that these have at least 2 drivers as well. These would be a great set of everyday monitors to pair up with the MP- BTA adapter to listen to tunes before the show and get a broad listening experience. Bass players will kill for the power and punch in the lows these offer. I also listened on these for an extended period of time and experienced zero ear-fatigue, which is a must if you are using a pair of ears on a daily basis. The MP-120’s are comfortable and sleek, and, at a $99 street price, a great addition to any IEM arsenal inexpensively.

Mackie MP-BTA Bluetooth Adapter

MP-BTA

The MP-BTA is a Bluetooth adapter containing MMCX connectors that snap right onto your MP series monitor enclosures, making for an incredibly sleek and useful addition to any IEM in this collection. This is an amazing tool for the van, bus or daily life, giving you the chance to use the MP in-ear monitors with your Bluetooth-equipped device without the need for a dongle. The MP-BTA transmits a clear and open sound just like you would hear if it was wired, with no added noise or interference. This adaptor can easily clip on to your shirt or belt, and easily connects to any of your devices within seconds. You can also wirelessly control the volume of your device as well as hit the middle button to take calls.

Manufacturer product page here.

Leave a Reply

Why Don't We

Why Don’t We Is All In on New Album, ‘The Good Times and the Bad Ones’

Bringin’ It Backwards: Interview with Kaleena Zanders