Mackie are expanding their product range with a bold price cut: With the MC-100, they are introducing a pair of truly affordable closed headphones. They round off the lower end of the product series consisting of the MC-150 and MC-250. This is particularly exciting because the other two models have already earned a price-performance recommendation from us. So we say: Raise the curtain, or rather your ears, for the MC-100.
As with the rest of the MC series, the MC-100 are closed, circumaural headphones. They are equipped with 40-millimetre drivers, whose frequency response ranges from 15 Hz to 22 kHz. The impedance is 32 ohms, so that they can be used with just about any audio device – from mobile phones to studio headphone amplifiers.
Unlike the more expensive models, the MC-100 have to make do with a connecting cable that is soldered onto the left ear cup. That’s okay because their low price must be reflected somewhere. The connection cable has a well-meaning length of 3 metres, which is practical in the studio, but it’s a little oversized for home use. At the end of the cable, there is a stereo mini-jack plug with a screw-on jack adapter waiting to be connected to the auxiliary device. At 233 grams, these headphones are relatively light, yet surprisingly the MC-100 don’t feel overly “cheap”. In other words: I’ve had headphones with a three-figure price in my hands that didn’t look much more expensive than the MC-100. They’re pure plastic, but sometimes the manufacturers manage to make it look pleasantly “imperfect” – and that’s the case with these Mackie’s. The design of the headphones is agreeably earnest, just the “Mackie Man” placed prominently on the back of the earphones, which is reminiscent of the work of artist Keith Haring and adds a little bit of 1990s flair, which can be seen – positively- as a nice retro touch.
With many headphones you are pretty certain within minutes after putting them on whether or not you will like wearing them for hours. The decisive factors here are essentially the weight and how it is distributed on top of your skull (with lightweights such as these MC-100s, the issue is, of course, easier to resolve than with heavy headphones). The second factor is the subjective contact pressure resulting from the ear padding and the stiffness of the headband. Another important issue when thinking about wearing comfort in a circumaural model like the one tested here, is whether your ear fits completely under the padding, so that the headphones rest on the skull and not on the ear lobes. In any case, my ears were completely covered without any problems by the oval-shaped ear cup (width 4 cm, height 5.5 cm), and I also found the contact pressure to be excellent: Just the right combination – a firm fit that did not become obtrusive during longer listening sessions – very good.
As I said at the beginning, all headphones in the MC-series have so far totally convinced me in terms of sound. These new, most reasonably priced headphones prove to be worthy of this legacy – albeit with limitations. In contrast to the next highest priced MC-150, which cost about 80 Euros, the price/performance factor is a little more important here. It is amazing what you can get for just 30 Euros: Basically, a fairly appealing sound image that doesn’t have to hide behind headphones that are twice or three times as expensive, but know how to please.
What clearly stood out in our listening test and analysis was their powerful bass performance – it was very dominant and determined the overall characteristics of the headphones: the MC-100 produces a lot of bass – period. Unfortunately, unlike its MC-series siblings, this little Mackie does not really make up for this in the mid and high frequencies. On the contrary, the further you move up the frequency range, the weaker the reproduction performance becomes. Fans of crystal-clear, transient-rich crunchy highs with fairy dust and gold glitter in the sound will find this too dull. If you listen predominantly to R’n’B, Trap, Hip-Hop and other bass-focused music, on the other hand, you might like the sound, as it seems very muscular and – due to the subtle trebles – largely unstressed and intimate.
As for using these as your main headphones for critical work processes in the studio, at multimedia workstations or for hi-fi fiends, I wouldn’t want to recommend the MC-100 because of this low treble information density – here, spending a little more for the next level model pays off. However, they are not a bad choice as a low-priced hobby headphone for the gaming PC, for listening to music on a smartphone (with a financially bearable loss if they get “lost” on the way to school) or maybe for taking your first steps in beat-production with a tablet and a music app.
Speaking of kids: I would certainly go so far as to make the MC-100 a recommendation for kids, not only because of their low price but also and above all because of their characteristics. With strong bass and very subtle treble, they act as a kind of safety device in case the young music lovers overdo it with volume. And experience shows that they almost always do because children initially want to experience music mainly as a “spectacle” and often have not yet developed a proper sense of volume. This is where the MC-100 scores points because even if the bass is infernally loud with a youthful, boisterous mania for loudness (which is crucial for the high volume experience, especially for children), their ears will be spared an overdose of hearing-damaging mids and highs (these are more problematic for the hearing than basses).
For just 30 Euros, the Mackie MC-100 are entry-level headphones with which you can do very little wrong. The neat workmanship and the very comfortable fit on the head make you forget their low price. But this is not quite the case with the sound: It is basically good and not to be criticised for hobby applications, but the weighting towards a very strong bass, rather unobtrusive mid-range and weaker treble, is not ideal for critical applications such as sound work in the studio or post-production or for hi-fi enjoyment. However, as cheap playback headphones (perhaps when large groups have to be supplied), in the multimedia or hobby area, they are completely acceptable. For parents who want to give their kids a low-cost pair of headphones with a built-in “wow” factor in the bass range but a safety margin in terms of the volume of the mid and high frequencies, I would even strongly recommend the MC-100.
- Ear couplingOver-ear
- Transducer principledynamic
- Frequency response (headphones)15 - 22.000 Hz
- Impedance32 ohms
- Sound pressure level (SPL)95 dB
- Weight with cable233 g
- Cable length300 cm
What's in the box
- 6.35 mm stereo jack