MASTER & DYNAMIC
MH40 Headphone Review
Closed-back design delivers warm notes and isolation perfect for channelling creativity.
Company & Product Overview
Master & Dynamic’s headquarters are in New York, New York. The vibrance and artistic creativity of this city shines through in the design philosophy of this emerging audio company. It all started when the son, a burgeoning musician, of one of the original investors in the company could not find a pair of headphones that satisfied both his design tastes and sound expectations.
With today’s collaborative work environments, Master & Dynamic headphones allow you to further embrace your own creative space. Once you slip a pair on, the comfort and rich, warm sound provide the perfect ambiance for the creative process.
Specifically, we are examining Master & Dynamic’s debut model, the MH40. These are an over the ear, closed back design available in a variety of colors, and offer some of the best components we have ever seen in a headphone.
Packaging, Design & Build Quality
The MH40 arrives in a high-quality box depicting the headphones and specs. Upon opening the box, you’re struck by their premium design and build. You’ll find the headphones themselves, as well as a carrying case for included cables and a cloth carrying pouch for the headphones.
The team at Master & Dynamic says if you were to take the typical headphone and melt down all the plastic in it, you’d get a ball of plastic the size of a baseball. With the MH40, however, it would be smaller than a pea. This basic example sums up how well these headphones are made.
Most of the MH40’s components are made out of stainless steel, aluminum, or leather. While some are quick to classify this design as retro, the designers refer to it as “classic,” which nicely correlates to the MH40’s longevity.
Virtually any part on the MH40 is replaceable. However, due to the fact they are all made so well, we doubt you will even need to replace anything. Should you wear out or want to change the earcups for style, they are magnetized to effortlessly click in and out of place. There are even three tiny, tapered guides to help instantly center the earcups.
Upon removing the headphones, you’ll notice an extreme attention to detail. For example, the tiny mute button on the right cup is striking in both design and accessibility. Even the inner metal that you would never normally see is beautifully finished. We also love both the fact that you can plug the cord on to either side of the MH40, and that while this woven cord feels soft to the touch it internally contains high-quality oxygen-free copper for the best sound transfer. We also appreciate how the MH40 folds flat for travel.
The controls operate most iDevices and there is even an optional boom microphone you can add if you plan to often use them in conjunction with your phone.
The MH40’s superior comfort is known the instant you place them on your head. When you place lambskin on top of memory foam and wrap the headband in leather, you’re inevitably left with a comfortable pair of headphones.
Soft lambskin allows this over-ear design to fit comfortably over both the average and oversized ear. While the outer earcups are made of lambskin, the inner section’s soft, textured fabric works well to reduce any heat from building up.
The stainless steel bracket is infinitely adjustable to fit almost any sized head. We found Master & Dynamic wildly successful in their efforts to create the MH40 to be worn at work or play for long periods. We were able to wear them for hours without head or ear fatigue, and could hardly detect any pressure from their expert ability to isolate noise. Overall, we give the MH40 high marks for comfort.
The team at Master & Dynamic aimed for a very specific sound with the MH40. Specifically, they did not want an overemphasized bottom end or an overtly bright high end. Those sound characteristics might be fun for a few minutes, but over time they quickly become fatiguing. In contrast, the sound space the MH40 reproduces is warm and rich.
The MH40 is very easy to drive. You’ll be able to get it far louder than you would ever need with only the feed from your smart phone. Should you wish to connect the MH40 up to a better amp, a full-size plug adapter is included in the box.
The MH40’s closed back design blocks out just about everything but a load airplane roar, making them perfect for those seeking escape into their creative space. While the sound field may not be as flawless as some of our favorite open-back headphones, it’s still quite three dimensional for a closed-back design. It’s important to remember that if isolation for your creative space is an overriding feature, an open-back design will simply not work.
The custom-made neodymium drivers do an excellent job at revealing the little subtle micro dynamics that make music sound live.
When running through our favorite test tracks we noticed an overall sense of stellar musicality. No part of the spectrum jumps out as these are very balanced. They definitely lean towards warm rather than thin and bright. On “Axel F” by Harold Faltermeyer the bass reached down extremely deep yet maintained its clearly defined characteristics. When you play Muddy Waters’s “I Feel Like Going Home” you can easily hear him bending the guitar strings to achieve the classic sound he is known for.
If you love classic design coupled with extreme comfort, please put the MH40 towards the top of your list. Couple these features with a company who wants their products to last for decades, it’s hard to go wrong with the MH40.
HIGH NOTES UNPACKED
Lambskin, aluminum, and steel designed for decades of use.
Mobile Warm Sound
This portable sound is never tiresome, yet always warm and rich.
Easily pack up your mobile thinking cap.