Master & Dynamic headphones review
Let’s take a quick look at Master & Dynamic’s MH40 over-ear headphones ($399 0n Amazon). They’d been out for a few years and generally garner positive reviews. Plus they offer premium materials and workmanship that’s sometimes missing at the $400 price point.
MH40s are passive headphones, meaning there’s no Bluetooth or active noise cancellation, but also no battery to worry about charging. These headphones with mobile devices and come with two cables, one that’s two meters long with no microphone and another that’s 1.2 meters long and includes an integrated mic.
Master & Dynamic’s top-of-the-line passive headphones come in nine different color combinations; the pair featured in this review is the gunmetal and black leather option. These headphones rely on 45 mm dynamic drivers in a sealed design. 32-ohm impedance means that they are easy to drive, even with a mobile device. Master & Dynamic also sells a wireless Bluetooth version of these headphones—the MW60 ($549 on Amazon).
Check out this video which gives a clear view of the high quality components and construction of the Master & Dynamic MH40 headphones:
A convenient feature of the MH40 is that it has a 3.5mm jack on each earcup, so you can choose which side you connect to, or you can attach a second pair of headphones to the second jack and share a source.
Master & Dynamic’s marketing emphasizes build quality and with the MH40 headphones the fine craftsmanship is readily apparent. There’s no plastic involved in the construction of these cans. Instead you get aluminum ear cups, stainless steel components for all the hinges plus headband, and real lambskin leather earpads that attach magnetically. In all, the MH40 has the makings of a product that will last a long time… decades, according to the company.
Good ergonomics are mandatory at this price and the MH40s are easy to adjust for a good fit. Thanks to the plush cushions, these are the sort of cans you can wear all day long without discomfort. Overall, the seal is tight and sound isolation is decent if not great.
These headphones are easy to drive and produce punchy, toe-tapping tunes with the built-in amplification in your phone or tablet. Most mobile devices are able to drive ’em at more than satisfying volume levels on their own.
Master and dynamic does not publish frequency response specifications for the MH40. However, using simple listening tests, I determined that bass extension is very good, as you’d expect from modern, full-sized, sealed, premium headphones. Using sine waves, I determined that the MH40 creates usable bass all the way down to 24 Hz without injecting undo amounts of distortion into the equation, but they did struggle with 20 Hz.
The marketing for these headphones makes no claim of absolute neutrality, instead Master & Dynamic touts a rich warm sound. And I’m not one to argue with that descriptor, these are euphonic headphones that are fun to listen to. For a closer look at how these headphones measure, check out Tyll Hertsens’ review on innerfidelity.
On the music side, checked out a wide variety of my favorite tunes covering genres including rap, rock, dubstep, ambient, classical, and even some jazz. The tuning of headphones is a matter of taste, of course, but I can’t imagine there are many people who would have any objection to how these sound, regardless of what kind of music they enjoy.
I had a great time using the MH40s for PC gaming on a laptop, as well as mobile gaming with my iPad Pro. Sound effects we’re clearly delineate it in the soundfield and the bass delivered the impact of gunfire and explosions effectively. Similarly, streaming movies with good soundtracks—like Thor: Rangerock and Justice League—sounded very good, with impactful effects and clear voices.
The beauty of headphones is they are are a purely personal item. You choose headphones that are comfortable on your head, sound good to your ears, and work well with your playback devices and your taste in music.
Master & Dynamic presents the MH40 as a long-term investment in good sound. My take is this: If you have four hundred bucks to spend on headphones, you don’t need digital or wireless connectivity, you do enjoy punchy, engaging sound, and you value style, workmanship, and the use of premium durable materials, then I recommend that you check out these headphones to see if they fit your needs.