Mackie MP220 review: What is it?
At this moment in time, buying a pair of the best in-ear monitors has never been easier. The level of quality has gone up, and prices have come down - meaning you can get so much more for your money nowadays. There’s a bunch of competition from big brands like Shure, Fender and Sennheiser, but we think Mackie’s MP220 in-ears deserve your attention.
But why do you need specific in-ear monitors when playing live? Well, simply put - a pair of even the very best earphones just won’t cut it. They might make things sound very lovely for casual music listening, but when performing live you need your in-ear mix to sound as close to your on-stage sound as possible - something which a pair of music-listening earphones won’t provide.
The world of in-ear monitors - and even budget in-ear monitors - has been pretty cost-prohibitive until very recently. Thankfully, we’re now seeing higher-level professional grade technologies filter down into the more budget-friendly realm. With the Mackie MP220’s, this fact is more apparent than ever - and with Mackie being one of the biggest names in live sound and tech, we were expecting these in-ears to provide a solid, high-fidelity experience.
In the box, the MP220’s come with a pretty wide range of extras and accessories. Nine different ear buds of all different types - from small to large and silicon to foam - and a 3.5mm to ¼” adapter come housed within a Pelican-style hard case, while the detachable cable makes portability straightforward. The hardcase also features an all-important carabiner clip, so you needn’t worry about losing them on the road.
Mackie MP220 review: Performance & verdict
The Mackie MP220’s dual-driver setup is the main attraction, so that’s what we’ll focus on first of all. Now, Mackie’s ability to offer two drivers at such a low price-point piqued our interest, but unfortunately also woke our inner cynic. When spending such a small amount on a pair of in-ears, we lacked confidence in Mackie’s ability to provide two drivers of sufficient quality - but our doubts were quickly suppressed. What the MP220’s provide is a balanced and genuinely impressive soundstage, covering anywhere from 20 to 20,000Hz with no signs of strain.
With in-ear monitoring, decent sound isolation is high up on the list of must-have features. Reducing the amount of sound bleed you experience makes live performance significantly easier, and even when you’re just listening to music on the bus, that extra degree of separation can be glorious. The MP220’s don’t feature any fancy active noise cancelling though - instead opting for a tight, comfortable seal inside your ear. Achieving a good seal within your ear canal can provide you with up to 40dB of sound isolation with the MP220’s, which we found to be plenty.
Our MP220’s got a pretty thorough testing. Using them for general music listening - both at home and out for a run - as well as recording, light mixing and a band rehearsal, we got a decent image of how they respond in various musical scenarios. When fitted securely there was no unwanted movement or discomfort brought about while being active, and they survived a whole set’s worth of shameless headbanging with relative ease, only needing some minor adjustment.
As a music-listening earphone, they dealt with many genres quite happily - with even some of the most violent parts of Oathbreaker’s Rheia remaining distortion-less, and the huge low-end of Bon Iver’s 715 - CRΣΣKS taken care of without too much hassle.
It seems that, with the MP220’s, the fit plays a big role in the sound you hear. This can work either way though - as when we pushed the earpiece in a bit too far, we found the bass to be overwhelming and the overall clarity compromised - and when we didn’t put them in far enough, a tinny, bright tone took over. Once you’ve tried a few different-sized ear buds and found out the best fit for you, you should be good to go.
Mackie MP220 review: Hands-on demos
Mackie MP220 review: Specifications
- Connectivity: Wired
- Drivers: Two
- Impedance: 8 Ohm
- Frequency range: 20-20,000Hz
- Earbuds: Foam, silicone, double flange
- Sensitivity: 104dB
- Contact: Mackie (opens in new tab)