M4U 2 Headphone Review
These headphones are one of the best products PSB has launched.
THE HIGH NOTES
- Our Favorite Noise Cancelling
- Paul Barton Design
- Listen Long in Comfort
If you are familiar with PSB, you know scientist Paul Barton created the brand close to 40 years ago. Over time, his speaker designs have received more top value ratings than most other brands combined, and he currently has seven speakers in the recommended components list of a popular audio review journal.
Barton spent years on today’s review, the PSB M4U 2, and in the process made many models of the human ear to determine how a headphone could best interface with a typical ear canal. Since PSB is a Canadian-based organization, they were able to take advantage of conducting this research at the Canadian National Research Center. There are several acousticians there, along with countless testing and modeling equipment.
Packaging, Design & Build Quality
The M4U 2 headphone (Music 4 U) is designed to be used at home or on the go and is packaged using a dustcover with a book format inside. Once removing the outer layer, you’ll discover PSB put a great deal of effort into presenting their newest headphones in the best possible light. The high quality carrying case is on the right side, along with diagrams identifying the accessories on the left.
The M4U 2 is an over-the-ear design, and the back of the left earpiece pops off to reveal a chamber for two AAA batteries, which allows for three listening modes (passive, active, and noise canceling) controlled by a small switch on the back of the right earpiece. The batteries are good for about 55 hours and they will give you an amber warning light in active mode to signify that you have about 3 hours left. You can also listen in passive mode with no need for batteries.
The M4U 2 is efficient and easily driven with a portable music player, comes with two adapters: one to convert the mini plug to a full-sized plug, and one with dual mono mini plugs that fit into some airline seats where you need both for stereo.
The M4U 2 has a soft cup mounted with a gyroscopic system that completely seals it off while maintaining maximum comfort. The part resting against the top of your head feels like memory foam wrapped in soft leather. Overall, these plush-cupped headphones rank high for comfort.
As soon as we played the first track, we knew they were a winner. The sound from the M4U 2 is almost identical to PSB speakers: natural, non-fatiguing, and an incredible value.
In active mode, a small amp inside the headphones is engaged. We found that when driving with portable devices we preferred the sound of active, but when driving with headphone amps we enjoyed passive a bit more. When engaging the noise canceling mode we detected a small degradation in the audio quality. You would really only want to engage noise canceling in a noisy environment, where canceling out all the external noise would far outweigh the slight audio degradation.
Timing was perfect for a full test of both noise canceling and long term use since one of our testers had to fly across the country for business (complete with long delays to offer even more testing time). They never became uncomfortable, and the noise canceling feature held up incredibly well.
During the second leg of the flight our tester’s seat was in the next to last row, in the aisle, dead center between two huge engines. When he flipped to the noise canceling mode he discovered the roar of the engines was reduced to soft background noise and the music came through pure and clean. When pressing mute to give a drink order, he could hear clearly with very little airplane noise. For reference, he even tried switching to normal active and passive modes several times but determined the engine roar was so loud that he could only enjoy listening with the noise canceling mode.
In conclusion, the PSB M4U 2 headphones are a home run. They sound like they should sell for $1,500, but are only $299. Additionally, most headphones offering this high of sound quality are not easily portable, and none of them have active noise canceling. We believe these headphones are one of the best products PSB has launched.
HIGH NOTES UNPACKED
Our Favorite Noise Cancelling
Not only do they knock out noise, they sound fantastic
Paul Barton Design
Over 40 years of R&D experience went into these from one of the worlds best speaker designers.
Listen Long in Comfort
Gyro suspended earcups with super soft pads make these great for coast to coast flights.