It’s a rainy day here in Midtown, as I sit at my review desk in the top-secret MajorHifi Review Headquarters. Surrounded by tomes of some of the greatest headphone reviews ever written, I carefully unbox the Mackie MP-240 for my next listening session.
This is untrue, of course. I’ve been rocking the MP-240 for several weeks now – not because I need to, but because I can’t put it down. Of all the headphones and earphones I’ve reviewed so far in the past four or five years, the Mackie MP-240 is hands-down, without a doubt my absolute favorite. It isn’t the best earphone, it’s the perfect earphone -an immaculate if unassuming monster packing truly beastly sound. And it only costs $199.
Mackie MP-240 Review
Packaged in a fairly large, showy box, the MP-240 comes with nine pairs of eartips – including double-flange silicon and foam tips. There’s also a 1/4” stereo adapter and a heavy-duty plastic carrying case with a carabiner clip.
Where design is concerned, the MP-240 sports a sophisticated swagger. This earphone relies on dual hybrid drivers to deliver phenomenal performance. A dynamic driver handles the low end, while mids and highs come from a balanced armature driver.
Complimenting this driver setup is a removable MMCX cable measuring a liberal 59 inches. There’s no silver-plating or other audio voodoo going on here – just a copper cable that packs damn good audio. Surprisingly, it sounds less sibilant or harsh than pricey aftermarket cables – while still not coloring the sound.
Comfort comes in spades, too. The ergonomic earpieces fit just fine, but the angling of the nozzle provides near-perfect sound. Like most in-ear monitors, the MP-240 also features semi-pliable plastic hooks for looping the cable over the top and back of the ear.
The sound and comfort may be of the utmost importance for the MP-240’s intended market, sound professionals. As an in-ear monitor, it’s definitely a durable workhorse, but for audiophiles it presents a even more impressive package.
Frequency Range: 20-20,000 Hz
Nominal Impedance: 16 ohms
Sound Pressure Level: NA
These specifications reveal a fairly standard frequency range – at least for a professional monitor. The low impedance of just 16 ohms works perfectly with low-output devices like phones and laptops. Sound pressure, while not rated by Mackie, appears to be close to 96 or 98 decibels, so finding adequate volume shouldn’t be an issue.
The MP-240 features a solid low end. During my very first listening session, the lows appeared subdued and odd; subsequent listening sessions with tracks featuring more low-end detail revealed a natural, detail-heavy sound with no coloring. But that’s the professional monitoring aspect on display – the sound is matter-of-fact and all business. Bass has some impact, but again does not seem colored or emphasized. Heavy rocking tunes and hip-hop tracks with thumping bass will sound just as they should, but this sound will not be wooing any bassheads.
Mackie has really done an impressive job with the midrange on the MP-240, offering a forward-leaning sound that just won’t quit. I’ve never heard mids this fat before, and detail seems to simply pour from these earphones. If you’re big on vocal-heavy music – or just a mid-heavy sound in general, you must try these earphones.
Not bright, but highly detailed, the high end easily compliments the lows and mids. It rounds out the sound nicely, without skewing too uncomfortable or piercing even when other, more expensive earphones do. Violins sound perfect, female vocals sound smooth, and if there’s a downside to this high end, I haven’t heard it in about a month of daily listening.
With good depth and accurate placement, the MP-240 boasts some serious soundstage. Sure, it’s not as impressive as a pair of over-ear open-back ‘phones, but for spacious headroom on the go, this earphone sports some real chops.
Clarity remains near-perfect with this earphone, no matter what I throw at it. While the lower-tier MP-220 can sound a tiny bit sibilant at times, the MP-240 always sounds clear and precise.
As a monitor earphone, this model is very no-frills. It doesn’t really follow the usual audiophile recipe for high highs and low lows, but delivers a overflowing midrange and accuracy all around. I wouldn’t recommend it to every listener everywhere, but for those who want a reference point, there really is no alternative to this sound. It’s perfect.
I’m especially taken with the MMCX connection. Apart from being durable and offering plenty of fidelity, the connection opens up TONS of options for aftermarket cables. Paired with Alo Media’s high quality SXC8 cable, you’ll get a slightly warmer sound with more lows and just a whisper of emphasis in the high end.
For mobility-minded folks, I can also highly recommend the Shure Bluetooth cable, which keeps things classy by preserving that impeccable MP-240 sound.
Some headphones, like the Sennheiser HD 600, by virtue of their sound, become reference staples for the audiophiles and professionals alike. The Mackie MP-240 is one such headphone. The brilliance of the design – and by extension, the sound – isn’t in how it changes what you hear, but in how it changes your perception of music at a fundamental level.
For those seeking dynamic sound with throbbing bass and screaming highs, skip the MP-240. The sound here is simply too analytical for such tastes, and you would be better off buying the $179 Final Audio E4000.
Folks looking for a similarly-balanced sound, but with less emphasis on the mids, would do well to consider the brand new $199 Campfire Comet.
Really, though, for audio professionals in need of an in-ear monitor (and audiophiles in search of a reference point), the MP-240 delivers a peerless sound at a sensible price. It might not be the only earphone for everyone, but it is the only earphone that belongs in every collection.
At $199, the Mackie MP-240 won’t break the bank. With a solid design and a revealing sound with no coloration or undue emphasis, this stalwart earphone is best-suited for working professionals and serious listeners who want the straight dope. You can buy something cheaper, or you can buy something more expensive, but if you want to hear music the way it actually sounds, you need the MP-240.
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