Mackie entered the headphone market late last year with four models, each at different price points and levels: the MC-150, MC-250, CR-Bud and CR-Bud+, which are reviewed here. The MC-150 is designed for audiophiles and D.J. applications, while the MC-250 delivers reference quality sound that is great for critical listening and mixing. Both models feature large 50mm drivers, ear pads and headbands, detachable cables, and a carry bag. The CR series are earbuds and aimed for the general listening consumer. A fifth model, the MP Series, is an in-ear monitor series for live performance.
We put these two sets of headphones through the test, and we were able to crank both the MC-150 and MC-250 to pretty loud levels without them distorting or compressing. They each delivered a crisp and clear sound that wasn’t fatiguing or painful to listen to, which is an extremely important factor when choosing a set of headphones to record for hours on end with . The frames of both are sturdy and easy to adjust and the ear pads are soft and comfortable, furthermore allowing you to wear these for an extended period of time without wanting to rip them off your head. The closed-back design of both models blocks out ambient noise around you, which is a must for live studio recording or D.J. applications.
The MC-150 and MC-250 really start to differ with their unique frequency curves. The MC-150 definitely enhances and excites what you’re listening to, and while listening I can visually picture the midrange scoop and a bit of a bass boost. This is great when you’re listening and enjoying sophisticated mixes. It will enhance your sub bass from, say, ginormous 808 bass drops while maintaining a crisp and clear high-end sheen. I come across a lot of different kinds of headphones while recording in different studios, so my first instinct is to always reference the way my voice sounds in a new pair. Without any EQ or compression on my mic, I sounded reminiscent of a radio DJ: pretty cool!
The 250s are comparable to the flagship models of other popular recording headphones. They deliver an honest replication of your mixes, which is important while catching little nuances while tracking or mixing. It features a broad frequency response from 10Hz – 20kHz, so you will be able to pinpoint even the smallest details in your mix. The feel and flat sound felt familiar to me from other studio headphones I’ve grown to love, so these will fit right into your studio headphone collection.
The CR series are smaller headphone buds designed for use with phones and MP3 devices, and are portable on the go. Calling them buds doesn’t do them justice, given that people think of buds as almost disposable. These pack a nice punch and deliver a nice listening experience. Both the CR-Bud and the CR-Bud+ also worked well for us when A/B’ing mixes of new tunes we recorded. After all, most music fans are listening on buds these days (for better or worse) so why not listen the way most people will be? Both models come with multiple ear tip sizes to find your best fit, and the CR+ also comes with a nice velvet carry bag.
Specs-wise, the CR-Buds model features a high-performance dynamic driver for rich lows and highs with a traditional earbud form factor, plus an in-line mic with play/pause/answer button. The CR-Buds+ model features dual dynamic drivers, which is typically only found on much more expensive earphones and monitors providing an exceptionally smooth response across the entire frequency range. In addition, the CR-Buds+ have a professional in-ear monitor inspired, over-ear design for maximum comfort while staying in place and out of the way, plus a choice of foam and silicone tips.
Mackie is a familiar and trusted name for the working songwriter, going all the way back to their legendary 1604 mixer, SRM 450 speakers and other live sound and recording gear. You would expect, then, that the reliability, quality and user friendliness of their new headphone series would match Mackie’s reputation and, indeed, the new MC and CR series of headphones are no exception.
MC-150: $84.99 MC-250: $119.99 CR-Buds: $24.99 CR-Buds+: $49.99