We’re huge fans of Mackie in general, and when we came across their booth at the NAMM 2020 show we were ecstatic to see they added a few more models to their reputable MC Series of headphones. Today we’re going to give you a bit of a detailed write-up on our experience and opinion on their open-back headphones in the series, the MC450. They come in at a relatively decent price-point within the middle of most pairs, so let’s see what they have to offer to the big world of headphones since we’re glad they decided to give us this option after doing so well with their closed-back headphones in the MC line.
Highlight features of the MC450 headphones
- 20 Hz to 20 kHz frequency response
- Leather adjustable headband
- Conforming memory foam ear pads
- 42 mm transducers
- Impedance of 54 Ohms
- Sensitivity: 101 dB
- Weight: 12.35 ounces
- Included in the box: cables with locking bayonet connectors (9.8 ft straight cable, 4 ft. straight cable, and 4 ft straight cable with a mic and phone control), 1/4″ adapter, and protective case.
Design and features of the MC450
Mackie is never disappointing us with their builds, and we’ve reviewed many of their gear through out the past few years. The overall design of the Mackie MC450 is great — we have soft padded headbands here that are adjustable, and the ear pads are memory foam and ergonomic for a lot of hours in the studio. This is a must considering we’ve had some painful times with our ears after about 5-6 hours with certain headphones. They’re also collapsible for easy storage or travel — we personally hang our studio headphones collapsed on our mic stand. We do have just one color here, but Mackie always has the sleek black with a little bit of green incorporated so it’s nothing new to us and most musicians who don’t bring their open-backs out of the studio don’t care about style (at least for us!).
Their 150 and 250 headphones in the MC headphones series became quite popular in the closed-back world so this is their entry into the more advanced open-back headphones game. As always, we’re a bit of specifications of snobs so we want to ask one of our favorite questions to quiz headphone creators with — why the certain size of drivers? What type of drivers do they actually have inside? (If we’re spending hundreds on a pair of open-backs, these are at least important to keep in mind instead of just blindly buying). Here we’ve noticed we have 42 mm, and their response was that they attempted to use quite a few different sizes and found it “just worked best with the open-back model”, although we trust that they were experimenting when it came to this aspect of the headphones since it’s a big factor when it comes to more advanced pairs like this.
We can leave this topic for the audiophiles, but to just overview a bit for those who are unaware with “driver size” and what it actually means, bigger doesn’t always mean better. Yes, drivers are responsible for how the sound is processed, and ‘larger’ drivers may help with a better bass response, but that can also start to get in the way of the higher frequencies in a mix. Therefore, open-backs aren’t necessarily concerned with the biggest and baddest — their most important facet is balance and the even distribution of frequencies many of us with open-back headphones are concerned with the mixing and mastering game. Combined with their standard frequency response of our recommended essentials range of 20 to 20k Hz, we’re good to go in regards to covering our number bases, at least for standard open-backs within this particular price-range.
The Mackie MC450’s sound quality
Of course with any headphones review and before purchasing, sound quality is a definite factor up at the top. However our gripe is always having a hard time really ‘communicating’ if headphones have a ‘good sound or not’. We’d love to just type out ‘yes, it sounds good’ but is that really going to help you? We always recommend our readers actually try a pair of headphones out, especially if their price-tag starts to get into the multiple hundred-dollar mark. But of course, we can’t always do that, so we’ll explain as best we can to give you some help when really deciding.
What we’ll ultimately say is that these particular headphones are only going to be geared towards a specific type of audience — those mixing and mastering in the studio, recording (we only record with closed-back headphones, so we’d look into their MC150 or MC250 for that), or audiophiles who don’t mind if some of their sound leaks out or will be in a controlled environment (or really won’t be near it, since these and other open-back headphones do not block outside noise at all). Open-back headphones are designed to allow at least some of the sound to leak out of the ear cups (hence them being ‘open’) to disallow musician’s mixes from getting clumped up inside of their ear cups (which happens a lot with closed-back, hence only used for recording). We are getting a very natural and balanced sound environment here for a particular use — and the MC450 cover that well.
Finishing our Mackie MC450 headphones review
All in all these are a great option to have at our fingertips when it comes to shopping for open-back headphones within the middle price-point of studio headphones. Ultimately it will take some time to compete with other standpoint open-backs that we usually recommend to people looking to get their feet wet into the world of mixing. Our favorite starter open-back headphones are the Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro‘s, but those are about half the price here if you’re willing to sacrifice a little quality for money. Otherwise, if you want to invest in a better pair and have an extra $150 laying around, the MC450 start to get enticing.
The Sennheiser HD 600 also are pretty legendary and hover around the same price as the MC450’s MAP price, so we’d check those out if you want something that’s already been out in the game for a while. Ultimately, we aren’t fans of comparing to headphones that have been out for years and reviewed by many, so we want to give the Mackie MC450 a chance to sit in the game for a while and let the musicians speak for themselves.
If you’re a fan of Mackie and especially their MC series of headphones, or want a pair of open-back headphones that are new to the game with a very nice build and natural soundscape, we love these as a great option. They’re perfect for mixing, studio recording, or even personal listening if you’re an audiophile and want to really catch those details all of your favorite musicians have intended you to hear.