Mackie, a household name in studios for decades, has entered the over-ear headphone market with a very capable set of closed backs at a highly competitive price. Let’s find out if they’re any good and how they stack up against the competition.

  • Relatively natural sound
  • Excellent value for money

Pros list with SoundID Reference calibration

  • Accurate subbass
  • High frequency boost fixed
  • Detailed sound throughout spectrum
  • All plastic build might not last forever
  • Some pairs have unmatched channels
Use cases Recommended music genres:
Just about anything
Best use case:
Recreational listening on the go
Tech specs Type
Closed back, Over-ear
38 Ohm
Threaded 3.5mm straight jack
Screw-on 6.3mm adapter
265 g (without cable)
Require headphone amp
Headphone amp

Not much to say here, any device will provide enough juice to drive them louder than you should be listening to for any period of time.

Build quality

The all-plastic build is not surprising at this price point and the plastic feels on the cheap side to touch. Mackie makes up for it by making sure that all the contact points do feel nice. The headband doesn’t exert much pressure on the head and ear pads are exceptional – they’re very soft and conform to the shape of the listener’s head nicely. The ear cup hinges squeak and make some cracking sounds when handled which, again, is nothing out of the ordinary for headphones in this price range. The collapsible design and the included carrying pouch suggest that MC-250’s are made with mobility in mind and the overall construction seems sturdy enough to take some beating in the backpack. They perform best where it counts the most – the actual sound and contact points. One unknown variable is how much work hours it takes to deform the earpads to a point that the frequency response is altered significantly enough to void the calibration. They’re really thick though, so I assume this will not happen quickly, but we haven’t tested them for long enough to be sure. 


The frequency response is remarkably neutral for a closed-back set. For most of the spectrum, deviations fall within a very respectable +/- 5dB with only frequencies above 5k significantly exceeding that. Out of the box, these are some of the flattest sounding closed-back headphones we’ve ever tested, the fact that you can get a pair for about $100 makes it even more impressive. The natural sound can be largely attributed to the very even frequency response curve in the high-mids, very few headphones manage to reproduce 2-5 kHz range without abrupt spikes and dips. The low-end extension is also impressive – the curve drops below 0 at very low 40 Hz.
So they show many good traits, but they’re not perfect though, the high boost above 7kHz is very prominent and is an obvious giveaway that MC-250 does color the sound and can not be trusted for critical decisions unless you run them through Sonarworks calibration. To their defense, I may add that the hyped highs are a painfully common trend among every other model one could compare these Mackies against, so this is no unique drawback by any means.

Channel balance

The channel inconsistency is the greatest weakness, two of the pairs we measured show an imbalance of up to 5 dB at 300 Hz and below which is enough of an issue to play with your head when doing critical mixing work. The average calibration profile for this model in Reference won’t help you with this either, as the average profiles are mono, but on the other hand, individual calibration profiles do sort out channel balance. While it may sound weird to buy a $150  service for headphones that cost less than that, it may be a good idea, as you do get a very capable set of closed backs, fit for any task you can throw at them. With all this being said, the low end imbalance wasn’t present in all of the measured pairs and the rest of the spectrum balance consistency, while being far from perfect, most likely wouldn’t impact your mix decisions in a significant way.



These headphones can be worn for long sessions with quite low fatigue when compared to their rivals apart from the pricier Beyerdynamic DT 770 Pro which is a clear winner when it comes to comfort. While the design of the headphones can be considered over-ear, the squishy ear pads do compress pinna a bit, so after a few hours of usage, your ears might start to notice some discomfort. The headband is barely noticeable, most likely your ears will get hot long before the headband pressure becomes an issue. The all-plastic construction that might raise some concerns of the longevity, does ensure low weight which helps to wear them for longer with no worries.


Value is superb! MC-250’s deliver as natural sound as you can get in a closed-back headphone (only the discontinued Oppo PM-3 scores significantly higher here, but they’re way more expensive) at a very affordable price of about $100. The potential channel imbalance is a concern though and one of the very few reasons why one might consider looking for a pricier alternative. 

Total Harmonic Distortion

They’re taking the sub bass boost with ease and introduce very little distortion, outperforming even Audio-Technica M50x which can be considered a benchmark for sub $200 headphones. There’s a little 2nd harmonic spike at about 2.1 kHz but that’s nothing to worry about really.

How accurate and consistent is the correction effect among different listeners?

Very high marks here! MC-250’s are up there with the best of closed-backs when it comes to delivering accurate sound to any listener. 

How much do they differ pair to pair in terms of frequency response?

The mids are nice and even among the measured pairs, but below 400 Hz you can expect about +/- 3 dB differences and more than that when going over 10 kHz. It’s a fair result when compared to similar models.



6.5 / 7.6 / 9.1

Sound rating is a weighted average of Frequency Response, Adaptiveness, Harmonic Distortion and Channel Balance scores, with Frequency Response and Adaptiveness having the greatest influence.

5 / 8 / 10

The flatter the frequency response – the higher the score. When evaluating the frequency response score with the Average calibration profile, the pair to pair consistency of the given model is taken into account – if we have measured a considerable frequency response inconsistency among multiple pairs of the given model, the score drops, as the profile loses accuracy. Individual calibration will grant perfectly flat frequency response.


Adaptiveness shows how capable these headphones are at delivering the same perceived frequency response to any listener. Headphones with high score will sound nearly identical to everyone.


Harmonic distortion – the lower the Total Harmonic Distortion (THD) figure, the higher the score. Headphones with prominent 3rd harmonic distortion above 100 Hz will score lower.

6 / 10

Channel balance – the closer to identical the frequency response of both channels, the higher the score. Individual calibration delivers perfect channel balance.


Comfort – shows if headphones can be used for long listening sessions comfortably. Every model is tested by at least a few individuals.


Build – evaluates how well the headphones are put together, the materials used and indicates the expected longevity. Easily replaceable (and easily available) parts will boost the score. We don’t do any stress tests and very few models are used for longer than a couple of days, so this is a fairly subjective score.


Value – indicates the price-performance ratio of the given headphones and how they stack up against the competition. High score means that you won’t find more neutral sounding alternatives for the price.

Out of the box
With SoundID Reference calibration


Truly impressive debut in the over-ear headphone arena from Mackie! Neutral-ish sound out of the box? Check. Fantastic sound after calibration? Check. Low THD? Check. Consistent sound among different listeners? Check! Perfectly balanced channels? Well, sadly no. Maybe we were unlucky with our pairs but considering their price point, it wouldn’t be a surprise if it turns out to be a common issue. Nevertheless, the channel balance can be fixed via individual calibration, which enables you to get a highly accurate and dependable monitoring tool for about $250 which is an immense value for money. The non-existent replacement ear pad availability (Mackie support says that they will be in the future) and the channel imbalance are the only issues for an otherwise highly impressive set of headphones.

Final Rating

With SoundID Reference
Calibration Enabled
Without SoundID Reference

Remove coloration from your headphones
with SoundID Reference from Sonarworks

Learn more Supported headphones