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Master & Dynamic MH40 review

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Master & Dynamic MH40
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  • Master & Dynamic MH40

Summary

Our Score:

8

Pros

  • Wide soundstage
  • Thundering bass
  • Beautifully built
  • Mute button

Cons

  • Not the most detailed mid-range
  • Heavy
  • Bass might be too much for some

What are the Master & Dynamic MH40?

The MH40 are premium over-ear, closed-back headphones with a striking retro design and sumptuous build quality.

If the overly hipster-ish looks of these brown leather ones aren't to your taste, there are six other colour combos, including a stealth option with black leather and blackened metal.

Related: Best Headphones You Can Buy Right Now

Master & Dynamic MH40 2

Master & Dynamic MH40 – Design

These truly are beautifully crafted headphones. The combination of matte and polished metal, the neat stitching on the leather, the photo-etched logos – it's all impeccable. Even the detachable cables – there's a choice of with or without a three-button inline remote and mic – are silver-coloured braid with gorgeous etched and knurled plugs.

Master & Dynamic MH40 3

Unusually, the MH40 have a 3.5mm jack socket on each earcup, so you can choose which side you want the cable attached. It's a very neat touch, and another is a small mute button on the right earcup which can be pressed to instantly silence the headphones.

Master & Dynamic MH40

The earpads are a little bigger than those on the Sennheiser Momentum, meaning they didn't feel such a squish as the Sennies, and the ability to twist the earcups meant they positioned on my head better.

However, the MH40 are monstrously heavy at 360g, and still not as comfortable as many other over-ear models, especially on long listening sessions.

Despite the mesh backs of the MH40, which are just for show, these are closed-back headphones, so the earcup behind the 45mm Neodymium drivers is sealed. The disadvantage of this design is that it doesn't deliver the wider, airy sound of open-back headphones, and makes the music more boxed in around your ears. On the upside, closed-back headphones are far better for public places instead of just home listening.

Master & Dynamic MH40 6

Master & Dynamic MH40 – Performance

In spite of their closed design, the MH40s manage to give a glimpse at what truly high-end open-back headphones can really do. Soundstaging that makes the music feel like it's coming from further away than just your outer ear, wonderful timing, bass that gets you right in the gut... But they just fall a little short of offering the complete sonic package.

Master & Dynamic MH40 4

The mid-range is a tad congested, with vocals feeling oddly closed in, and really fine acoustic detail getting a bit lost. The Sennheiser Momentum do a much better job in this respect, even if they have nowhere near the breadth of soundstage. AKG's open-backed Q701 offer a better overall sonic balance.

The bottom end, while undoubtedly tight and thunderous, can also be overpowering and offputting. The bass drums in Beirut's “Postcards From Italy”, for instance, are so prominent as to become distracting.

Master & Dynamic MH40 1

Should I buy the Master & Dynamic MH40?

If you value a huge, warm sound over subtlety, the Master & Dynamic MH40 are well worth a listen. They're so eye-catching that you could even just leave them on the coffee table as a talking point.

However, I did find they weren't quite the best at controlling sound leakage, so the Sennheiser Momentum and OPPO PM-3 are worth considering as better travel companions.

Related: Best USB Headphone Amps

Verdict

Fun headphones with powerful bass and a wide soundstage, but they lack subtlety.

Overall Score

8

Mr bob

February 5, 2016, 10:51 am

I own these headphones. They are actually closed back, the grill is just for decoration, but that may explain the sound signature you got. The noise isolation is excellent when on your head properly - I got them for office work and had no complaints. I'm not sure why your pair would leak so much sound. they either didn't fit around your ears properly or you've gotten a badly made pair. If you research other reviews or the spec you can find they are well documented as closed back. Put them face down on a desk and play music. It should be quiet.

toboev

February 5, 2016, 4:24 pm

Which makes it kind of funny when they waffle on about how "MH40s give a glimpse at what truly high-end open-back headphones can really do..." yada yada yada.

Better off doing a proper blind listening trial to prevent unconscious and unavoidable bias that comes from preconceptions.

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