All new for this year, one of our favorite brands is out with an all-new pair of professional, dual dynamic driver in-ear monitors, the Mackie MP-220. Although very well-known for their high-end studio monitor and loudspeaker designs, we were ecstatic to get our hands on one of their newest IEMs to hit the market this year. We were able to grab a pair of these from Mackie to write a fair and honest review here today, so we wanted to write down our thoughts after some extensive use of these bad boys. Let’s see what the MP-220 has to offer.
Features of the MP-220 in-ear monitors
- Dual dynamic driver in-ear monitors
- Detachable MMCX connector (with swiveling)
- Internally braided cable with outer shielding
- Ergonomically molded low-profile enclosure
- Three pairs of three types of ear tips included
- Impedance: 8 ohms
- Frequency response: 20 to 20 kHz
- Cable length: 150 cm (59.1″)
- Gold adapter (1/8″ to 1/4″) included
- Numerous replacement ear tips included
- Hard-molded storage case included
Build of the Mackie MP-220 in-ear monitors
Upon first unboxing, the monitors themselves are great quality, having a durable plastic shell which we attempted to press and hit on our desk yet suffered zero damage to. They fit very sturdily in our ears (make sure you’re using the optimal sized tips here), and are actually slightly difficult to pull out — you need to twist them and give it a good tug, which in our opinion is a good quality to have especially since monitors can simply fall out in the middle of our use (has happened way too many times to us). They’re comfortable (especially with the foam tips, our personal favorite, but everybody is different) and we did not experience any pain whatsoever after long use (about 6 hours at a time). The monitors can also swivel\spin at the end for some more flexibility, and the MMCX connector is detachable to ensure longevity if you want to replace them — they come out with a simple snap very easily.
The cable itself is very stable, and in our opinion a lot better quality than some other competing monitors out there. This is where the ‘quality’ of a monitor can sneak by you — the cables. This particular model is braided (you can tell when you look up close to it) but then also surrounded by a rubberized outer coating that’s black yet slightly clear to see that braided interior. We tried pulling it apart, squeezing it and snapping to no avail — very stable here.
Fortunately, the entire cable can be replaced if you do indeed break it; however, that shouldn’t be too big of a problem if you take proper care of this monitor. It’s also a bit flexible when we bend it and although not as form-fitting as the outer layer near the monitors themselves (more near the top where they wrap around your ears) – they won’t tangle easily and can stay put pretty well where you’d like.
The top of the cables right near the monitors themselves are also exceptional for versatility and work well for wrapping a comfortable fit around your ears, which we’ve seen common in many in-ear monitors — there’s yet an additional special flexible coating in case you’d like to go behind the ears (you can wear it in front as well, don’t get us wrong). This special flexibility coating is only at the top however, and you can see in the photo where it begins — it’s about 2 inches long.
Lastly, we love the replacement ear tips we have at hand with the MP-220. We can’t tell you how many times we’ve either broken or purely lost tips as we traveled from gig to gig. You have three pairs of three types, plus three sizes for a total of 27 tips at our disposal. Most notably however as we conclude the overall build and stability of the MP-220 is the carrying case. This is by no means a cloth or even leather carrying case as some IEM’s like to give their users. This is an extremely hard, rugged and durable case. We dropped it many times outside to see how it held up, and not only did it not open up, but there wasn’t a scathe on the monitors inside. Big highlight here is the case, especially if you’re musician who likes to travel and of course, perform like us. You can fit the IEM, ear tips, and perhaps a few other additives like adapters or important cords for shows in here. Add the clip and you can keep it safe and secure wherever you feel it will fit best.
Sound quality of the MP-220
So what exactly does the ‘dual dynamic driver’ term mean? Essentially, there are two dynamic drivers in each monitor, as opposed to ‘normal’ IEMs with just one in each ear. So why have two? Well, why not? The drivers work together for even more power and clarity, which helps clean out the digital processing aspect of converting the audio into your ears (especially at higher volumes). The detail, nuance and overall efficiency is also greatly better across the frequency range (which is at the essential 20 to 20 kHz here). Basically — everything gets doubled.
And how do these dual dynamic drivers actually sound? We took a few days to use the MP-220 in-ear monitors not only when working and listening to music leisurely, but while we were producing as well. Continuing to use the MP-220 monitors (hooked up to our Scarlett interface) while we’re writing this now, there are zero complaints when it comes to the sound quality overall.
We do notice the deeper bass here, especially compared to previous IEM’s we’ve just reviewed (a bit more detailed than our ATH-M50x as well — you get a lot better sound isolation here, although that’s normal with in-ears as opposed to over-ear). The bass response in particular stands out as we listen right now; however, the highs are still noticeable with the great head room available to us. We don’t think the bass response here is ’embellished’ exactly, and although definitely ‘deep’ and a bit more prominent than some comparable IEM’s when it comes to the lower frequency, feel it’s a great representation of the frequency range available to us. It doesn’t overpower the mix.
We tried multiple genres to test the sound, since our usual choice (or at least our phase right now) of some electronic music may also give us a little ‘extra bass’. With some smooth jazz going, the highs were a lot clearer and we loved the overall mix we had here. The acoustic guitar highs were very crisp, however what stood out the most in this genre for us is the ability to determine the panning. This is of course crucial for IEM’s since they’re ultimately used for beginners, mixing and mastering, as well as artists on stage to hear what exactly they’re portraying to their audience (as well as what they’re singing or playing their instruments to without the crowd getting in the way).
Lastly, let’s talk sound isolation. When a track was playing, we couldn’t even hear our fingers typing on the keyboard here, so if you’re concerned with drowning out noise (especially you performers with particularly louder and larger crowds), you will be more than fine in this category. Technically speaking, we’re getting up to +40 dB, which is an extremely solid amount numbers-wise.
What’s in the MP-220 box?
- Pair of MP-220 in-ear monitors
- S, M and L pairs of silicone tips (3)
- S, M and L pairs of foam tips (3)
- S, M and L dual flange tips (3)
- 1/8″ to 1/4″ adapter
- User manual
- Fitting and maintenance guide
- Hard carrying case (with travel clip)
Concluding the Mackie MP-220 review
All in all, the MP-220 are quite impressive, considering Mackie typically dominates the studio monitor and loudspeaker game — we’re glad they’ve continued to expand their repertoire and included these very high-quality yet affordable IEM’s for the market to enjoy. Considering in-ear monitors are extremely broad when it comes to price-range (professional IEM can hit the thousands), it’s difficult to find an exact competitor that comes with this type of quality at only $150 retail. We’d think the MEE M7 PRO’s or perhaps Shure SE15 come close, but these here MP-220 come with a little extra bump to their step.
We will be reviewing their MP-240 after this, so it will be a nice comparison and we’ll be curious as to how the dual dynamic drivers of the MP-220 hold up to the MP-240’s hybrid dual drivers. Though those cost about $50 more retail, you may want to invest the extra few bucks for a pair of monitors that are better in overall sound quality.
Ultimately, the Mackie MP-220 are well-worth the buy if you’re a performing musician on the go and don’t want to spend thousands on a pair of in-ear monitors. We wouldn’t limit these to just performing, either — they can work very well for a normal pair of music listening or producing in-ear headphones if you aren’t into aftermarket, heavily marketed brand names (or perhaps the opposite, in knockoffs imported at super cheap prices on Amazon). Great work, Mackie.