With the MC-40BT, Mackie celebrate their successful debut in the Bluetooth headphone market. The quick pairing and balanced sound, as well as good speech intelligibility, have a positive impact. But are there also downsides?
Premiers are always something special – in this case, the curtain goes up on Mackie’s debut in the popular Bluetooth headphone market. Although the MC series from the American manufacturer (to the overview) has grown to five models in the last three years, with a price range from thirty to three hundred euros, audio transmission has so far been strictly cable-based. This is all set to change with the new MC-40 – with the addition of “BT” for Bluetooth to the name.
Mackie promise not only to make the impressive sound quality of the MC series portable but also to provide a good battery life of up to 30 hours. In addition, there are media control buttons on the underside of the right headphone, an integrated hands-free function and the option of using the headphones via a mini-jack cable if you forget to charge them.
The basic technical features of the Mackie MC-40BT seem unspectacular at first: 40-millimetre drivers are used and their frequency spectrum covers the usual 20 Hz to 20 kHz. The impedance is 32 ohms and the input sensitivity is 102 decibels per milliwatt. The headphones are charged via a USB-C socket on the underside of the right-hand headphone pod. All operating and connection elements are located on the right side. This includes the 3.5 mm jack for cable connection and the three function buttons for media control. These three function buttons are also found on the 1.20-metre-long connection cable. The charging cable, on the other hand, is considerably shorter at 32 centimetres.
Designed for gamers?
Except for the three bright green function buttons, the Mackie MC-40BT comes in a subtle grey colour scheme. The ear and head pads contrast in black. Plastic is the main material used which means a moderate weight of 270 grams. The overall look is quite futuristic with a design language that, in my opinion, is more likely to appeal to the gaming fraternity than to classic hi-fi fans.
On the surface, the loudspeaker has quite a presence and is fairly bulky, and this is mainly due to the large listening pods. This results in good passive external noise attenuation so that you feel comfortably cocooned even in noisier environments. Of course, the price you have to pay with all closed over-ears is a build-up of heat that develops under the earcup after a short time. If you are getting carried away with listening pleasure (or whatever you are doing), you will usually only notice this when you take the headphones off, and you have the feeling that your ears are “getting air again”. However, the fact that you “forget” that the headphones are on your ears is usually a good sign because it shows that these headphones are comfortable and unobtrusive. With the MC-40BT, this is the case, because both the headband and the earpads are decidedly soft and snug, resulting in a comfortable wearing experience.
Bluetooth: fast wireless communication
The Mackie MC-40BT is supplied in a robust transport case, and the headphones nestle inside to save space thanks to retractable side panels. Also included in the packaging is a brief instruction manual that could have been a little more detailed. It does not document what the status LED on the bottom of the right headphone actually indicates, nor how to connect the headphones to a playback device (admittedly, this is now almost a matter of general knowledge), nor how much time to allow for the charging process.
The media control buttons are also almost self-explanatory. Plus/minus makes the volume louder/quieter and the central button is used for switching on/off, the pause function (during media playback) and for answering calls. The connection via Bluetooth is initiated by holding down the power button, whereupon the MC-40BT identifies itself to the external player using the AAC codec. In practical tests, the connection proved to be extremely robust and worked through a wall as well as when my mobile phone was hidden in my back pocket. The connection was almost immediate after switching on, and the volume up/down commands were immediately activated, which was pleasing. In fact, I have never tested a pair of Bluetooth headphones that worked so quickly in this respect.
Sound: without peaks or troughs in the frequency response
I’ve had the pleasure of testing all the previous (wired) models in the MC series (to the overview) and I’ve not been disappointed by any of them in terms of sound, so my expectations were naturally relatively high for the Mackie MC-40BT.
And the new Mackie did not disappoint: over the entire listening range, it delivered a balanced sound image without peaks or troughs in the frequency presentation. A slight presence was evident in the high-mid range, which made for good speech intelligibility during phone calls or game chats. However, I wish they had a little more insight into the treble range when listening to music – here, the MC-40BT lack a little dynamic “effervescence”. I would like to assume that this was a deliberate sound tuning by Mackie so that the listening experience does not become exhausting even during longer sessions. Team chat while gaming and normal phone calls both benefit from the good voice quality provided by the integrated microphone.
With the MC-40BT, Mackie (RRP just under 179 euros) can celebrate a successful debut in the Bluetooth headphones market. The quickly established connection and the implementation of media control commands via the earpiece are well worthy of praise. Of course, the well-balanced sound and the good speech intelligibility are also positives.
The biggest disadvantage of the MC-40BT – due to their concept – is, of course, its closed design. Even though the wearing comfort is basically good, after a while – as with all closed earphones – you get “hot ears” and are happy to be able to take the earphones off again. In a gripping multiplayer online match, in particular, squad members might not have time to air their ears for a few minutes. In this respect, we can only hope that Mackie will also release a Bluetooth version of their open model (MC-450 – for review).
- Ear couplingOver-ear
- Transducer principledynamic
- Frequency response (headphones)20 - 20.000 Hz
- Impedance32 ohms
- Sound pressure level (SPL)102 dB
- Weight without cable270 g
- Cable length120 cm
What's in the box
- Mini-jack cable with remote
- USB charging cable
- Transport case
- BT codecs: SBC, AAC