The MC range from Mackie features a range of headphones that have quickly become favorites. Both among professionals and casual users. In this review, we check out the only open-back option in the range. The MC-450. Considering how well the other headphones performed I was looking forward to getting my hands on these.
The Mackie MC-450 is a top-of-the-line open-back pair of headphones with some outstanding features. Check out the quick pros and cons before we take a closer look at these studio-orientated headphones.
As the only pair of open-backed headphones in the Mackie line-up, the MC-450 has a lot to prove. Below we take a deep dive to see how capable these headphones are.
As with all our headphone reviews the number one priority is always how good do they sound? In this area, the Mackie MC-450 excels. These are a joy to use and are perfectly suited for serious studio work.
Studio headphones need to maintain neutrality so that you can accurately mix and master. Luckily the MC-450 has no issues here. The balance across frequencies is well-defined without any frequency dominating the sound stage.
The Mackie MC-450 offers excellent clarity for detailed studio work.
The highs are clear and precise but don’t display any overt brightness. Some people prefer bright headphones but I find them to be overbearing for longer sessions. Clarity is high with the MC-450 which makes picking out details in the top-end a breeze.
The mids are equally impressive with plenty of tonal balance. Vocals and instrumental components are clean with plenty of definition and life. The transition into the lower mids and lows is also smooth.
Speaking of lows these deliver a lot more punch than I anticipated. The lows are more spacious but retain plenty of kick and warmth. There is no low-end build-up thanks to the open-back design. But if you are wanting a deeper more aggressive low end I’d suggest you check out the closed-back MC-350.
The most impressive part is how accurate these are. They offer a response of 20Hz – 20kHz which is the same as the MC-350. But here thanks to the open-back design the sound has more room to breathe. The sound stage is nice and full. This results in a pleasant and satisfying listening experience. Excellent for long and focused sessions in the studio.
The MC-450 delivers great sound across the full frequency range.
These do offer a higher impedance of 54 ohms but you can still utilize these with lower-powered devices. With a sensitivity of 101dB, there is also plenty of room to push these to higher volume levels. Distortion is not present, even when you do push them to their limits.
The Mackie MC-450 ticks all the right boxes in the sound department. Fantastic for general listening but equally impressive in the studio.
The MC range from Mackie offers high comfort levels across the full range. And the MC-450 is no exception.
The memory foam earpads are fantastic and feel a little softer than the closed-back versions in the line. I like this direction as long sessions in the studio can quickly be fatiguing with poor headphone padding. The oval shape also hugs your ears better than the MC-350.
The same firm fit is also present here. I like my headphones secure and there is no risk of these shifting off your head. I’ve also got a fairly boxy head which has caused me issues with other headphone brands. But these were very comfortable even with the tight clamping force.
Real leather and high-quality memory foam combine for a comfortable fit.
The earpad coating is another impressive feature. Real leather and intelligent construction offer excellent durability. The stitching keeps everything secure and in place. Heat build-up is also not an issue. The open-back design provides plenty of airflow to keep your ears cool.
The headband also features secure padding and the same leather coating. There is enough give here to not feel like your head is stuck in a vice. But still offering plenty of stability and balance. At 0.77 lbs. (349 grams) these are on the heavier side. But there is no impact on comfort levels.
The only issues I could foresee are people with large ears or people that wear glasses. The tight clamping force and smaller earpad hole may not be ideal in these situations. But for most people, the MC-450 will offer superb comfort.
Aesthetics is always a very subjective issue. One person’s masterpiece is another’s atrocious monstrosity so take any opinion on appearance with a grain of salt. With that disclaimer out of the way, I like the Mackie design aesthetic. I like gear with some character. But I also don’t like overly gaudy gear. I think Mackie strikes an excellent balance here.
The distinct Mackie green is present but not as overt as some of their gear from times gone by. Just a simple line to help tie their product lines together. There is a clear refinement and attention to detail here.
The Mackie MC-450 features high-quality components.
The all-black plastic offers a subdued and professional appearance. The stitching is a different color and helps to break up the dominance of black. The singular ring of silver around the earpad grille also helps give the headphones a little more character. The Mackie running man logo takes center stage on each earcup.
Beyond appearance, there are a few notable design decisions worth highlighting. The first is the move to an oval design for these headphones as opposed to the round earcups on the rest of the range. The same cable lock mechanism as the other MC headphones is also here. I’m a big fan of this style of connection. Plenty of flexibility to choose cables and security from unwanted unplugging.
It’s a smart and attractive pair of headphones that don’t look out of place in a studio setting. But it still maintains enough style to make these a great choice outside of the studio.
I already had a chance to check out the MC-350 so I had a fair idea of what to expect from the MC-450. The plastic build may make some people nervous but rest assured these are solid. These are not flimsy. I’ll admit I can be a little rough with my gear. Plus accidents happen so I am always on the lookout for rugged and durable gear. These headphones tick that box.
Component quality is high throughout. The memory foam, earpad leather coating, and stitching are excellent. There is give in the plastic but at no point was I concerned that I would snap anything. No exposed wires and high-quality 42mm drivers. The grille is also solid and not thin as I’ve found on some other headphones.
The semi-rigid case protects an already highly durable set of headphones.
Cable options are also fantastic with a choice of three. The 9.8 ft (3 m) fabric-jacketed cable is my favorite and likely to be the cable that most people will use. But the inclusion of a shorter coiled and straight cable is welcome. Phone control and microphone are also available on the short straight cable. The microphone isn’t amazing but good to have as an option.
There is also a durable and well-executed case. This semi-rigid case does an excellent job of protecting your headphones. The foam insert offers a snug and secure fit. The inclusion of a dedicated pouch for cables is also a nice touch. But be aware that fitting all three cables does result in a tight squeeze. I’d suggest placing one of the cables in the mess pocket. One of the best aspects of the case is the textured finish. No scratches, ugly dings, or sweaty fingerprints. A great case that is ultra-tough and functional.
The Mackie MC-450 does have a high retail price. Headphones can range from dirt cheap to ultra-expensive. But anyone who has spent some time in the studio knows it is worth paying more for quality.
The MC-450 comes with a heap of fantastic accessories.
These are expensive but worth the investment. High-quality components and excellent accessories more than make up for the price point.
If you can get these below MSRP it becomes a no-brainer. Excellent sound quality, durable build, and great accessories.
The Mackie MC-450 is a relatively new set of headphones. But there are already several early reviews that highlight how popular these are likely to become. Sound quality is high on the list of praise. But some people do feel the clamping force is a little tight.
Taking Care Of Your Headphones
As with anything you buy for your studio it is worth taking the time to look after it. This is especially important when it comes to headphones. You’ll likely spend hours upon hours with them on your head. Look after them and you’ll avoid having to upgrade sooner than you’d like. Here are some quick tips to keep your headphones in tip-top shape.
Keep Them Dry – Moisture and electronics are not good friends. Unless the headphones have a waterproof rating you’ll quickly damage them. Be mindful of potential water sources especially when out and about. Avoid rain, excessive sweating, or spilled drinks.
Prolonged exposure to extreme temperatures will damage your headphones.
Avoid Extreme Temperatures – Super cold and super hot environments can also lead to damage. Aim to not leave your headphones in your car. Also, be aware of exposure to direct sunlight. There have been times I’ve placed my headphones down on my desk and the afternoon sun has blasted them.
Basic Cleaning – Avoid excessive moisture but a lightly damp cloth is a good way to clean grease and buildup on cables. A dry cloth is also good for removing dust and other residues as well.
Protect Them – When not in use the best place for your headphones will be in a case or pouch. A solid case like the one that comes with the MC-450 is ideal. It keeps dust out, protects them from the elements, and makes transporting them hassle-free.
Open-back headphones open up a new listening experience and are excellent for studio work. But there are lots of options available out there. Here is a small selection of headphones worth considering.
Shure SRH1840 Review
Shure offers a large range of premium quality headphones. The SRH1840 is among the best in their lineup. Excellent sound quality and high-quality components make it an appealing option.
- Excellent neutrality across the whole frequency range.
- Lightweight and comfortable for extended studio sessions.
- A very expensive pair of headphones.
Read our full Shure SRH1840 review for more detailed information.
Beyerdynamic DT 990 Review
If you are looking for a pair of open-back headphones with a lower price point the DT 990 is a good choice. It features great sound quality but doesn’t offer some of the extra bells and whistles.
- Great level of clarity and detail along with a spacious sound stage.
- Ultra-comfortable ear pads that are plush and inviting.
- Hardwired cable eliminates flexibility in cable choice.
Read our full Beyerdynamic DT 990 review for more detailed information.
Beyerdynamic DT 990
Sennheiser HD 650 Review
Sennheiser is another brand that often tops best-of lists. The HD 650 is a high-end set of studio headphones that is excellent for critical listening.
- Super flat response and rich imaging for analytical studio work.
- Very comfortable with a light clamping force that is great for people with larger heads.
- High-end studio gear with a high-end price tag.
Read our full Sennheiser HD 650 review for more detailed information.
Sennheiser HD 650
Should You Buy?
The MC-450 is another excellent set of headphones from Mackie. Once again they are displaying their evolution in both technical aspects and design sensibilities.
By far the sound profile is the stand-out feature. Rich and detailed while maintaining excellent accuracy. When you factor in the included accessories it makes for a compelling package. Plus it’s great to see Mackie offer up a high-end open-back option for studio work. If you are looking for a workhorse set of studio cans the Mackie MC-450 is a great option.