We’ve barely had time to get Mackie’s new CR-Buds, their two over-ear models MC-150 and MC-250 under the magnifying glass – or rather put them on our ears – but the American manufacturer’s next earphones have already landed in our office. The MC-350s expand the product portfolio upwards and are currently the leading model in the closed studio headphone segment.
At first the technical data looks unremarkable: 50-millimetre drivers whose frequency range extends from 20 Hz to 20 kHz are used, and these compete against the amplifier with an amazingly low resistance of 36.2 ohms (on average). Accordingly, the “350s” can deliver a decent sound pressure level even on somewhat low-powered equipment.
Obviously the 350s cost about twice as much as their little brothers – the 250s. This is because the headband and the ear pad covers are made of real leather, and the earpads are sewn, which lends them a noticeable quality. In general, the MC-350s make a pretty solid impression, since a lot of material has been used and it makes them look quite bulky. This is also noticeable in their weight, because with 395 grams including cables, these headphones are not exactly light. However, they distribute their mass well on the head and the tight fit, where nothing “wobbles”, contributes to the fact that the MC-350 can be worn comfortably. Having said that, my head is not that big – people with a larger head will probably find the fit a bit too tight. All in all, the MC-350s are not the sort of headphones that you will forget you are wearing after a while. Considering the fact that these are primarily monitor headphones and that an airtight fit of the ear pads on the head is an essential criterion, I consider this a plus – and not a minus point (but this would be completely different if we were talking about hi-fi headphones).
The connection cable is replaceable and it locks in place by the left ear via a bayonet connector. Three different cables are included in the package and these cover a wide range of applications: in addition to a fabric-covered 3.30-metre cable, there is also a 1.20-metre spiral cable and another 1.20 straight cable with integrated media control (functions: volume +/-, play/pause) and hands-free microphone, plus a mini jack adapter. All this is housed in a solid fabric case, which should protect the headphones sufficiently even when subjected to heavy use and is of real added value if you use your Mackies in the rough and tumble world of live music.
From the start, I was impressed by the MC-350’s sonic qualities and their remarkable “punch”. On a technical level this is usually described by the term transient reproduction – it defines how precisely headphones reproduces extremely short pulses (often in the microsecond range). But the MC-350s not only have an exceptionally crisp transient reproduction, they also have a striking directness – if you didn’t know it, you might think you had an in-ear in your ears here. This “crispness” is achieved by the MC-350 with relatively pronounced highs and high mids (which is because this is where the “fast” impulses happen). This also provides clarity and transparency, and is extremely advantageous for studio work or recording situations, because no detail escapes you. On the other hand, for relaxed music enjoyment in your lounge, such a sound pattern is rather “stressful”. In addition, the bass – which tends to balance the strong trebles – also has its priority more in the impulse range and less in volume. All in all, I would be inclined to credit the MC-350’s sound impression with the attributes “precise”, “clear” and “punchy”, rather than “beautiful”, “rich” and “relaxed”.
The quality of the hands-free microphone didn’t really convince me – as an emergency solution, if you’re mixing a live concert in front of forty thousand people and want to order a pizza, it should work, but for a longer call the sound is too dull and washed out.
Mackie market the MC-350 as professional monitor headphones and that’s what they are – period. They impress with a firm fit, robust workmanship, a great supply of connection cables, a practical case and last but not least, a convincing sound. This is especially ideal for the intended application, because they demonstrate themselves to be sonically assertive, with very stable levels and precise transients. These are exactly the qualities that are needed for recording music and speech, in the studio and during live mix-down – in short, for use in all professional, result-oriented work situations.
Measurement ResultsMore measurement results
- Ear couplingOver-ear
- Transducer principledynamic
- Frequency response (headphones)20 - 20.000 Hz
- Impedance36,2 ohms
- Sound pressure level (SPL)98,67 dB
- Pressure averaged from big and small head785,5 g
- Weight with cable395 g
- Weight without cable343 g
- Cable length330 cm
What's in the box
- 3.30 meter cable (straight)
- 1.20-meter cable (spiral)
- 1.20 metre cable (incl. mic & remote)
- 6.35mm stereo jack
- Transport Case