Pros: full mids, punchy sound, sturdy build, replaceable pads,good bass,decent soundstage,tangle free cables, smooth rich sound,scalable
Cons: upper mids could use some presence, needs some air in its balance, a little too much leakage,fit can be awkward.
While I believe that this price range is crowded, I don't believe that there are many headphones that cover enough bases all at once out there. Questionable build qualities, over coloration, small ear cups, gaudy designs, weird cables, and tons of predictable company house signatures.
Enter the Master & Dynamic MH40 that takes a crack it with the loaded bases for a home run and knocks it into the bleachers. While I do have some minor gripes, this headphone is an easy one to recommend for a number of reasons.
I have to admit where confession is due that these do not appear to have any weak spots in the build of the headphone. To quote the back of the box... "Forged aluminum body with stainless steel components in all high strain areas. Heavy-duty woven cables and replaceable lambskin ear pads. All metals are anodized or PVD coated, not painted." Well I'll be impressed because there is an exceptional amount of thought put into the construction of these headphones. Everything feels heavy duty.
Oooh Ooooh and the pads come of via magnets!!! So you simply pop them off and pop them back on with no issues at all. Why didn't anyone else think of that!!!! Id imagine if Master & Dynamic decided to provide different color pads, it would become somewhat of a personalized headphone.
The headphones swivel about 120 degrees and can lay flat on a table. They have dual entry for the cables. The fit is adjustable with numbers on the sliders for those wishing to match slider heights. There is also a mute button on the right cup that works fairly easily.
Ooooh the cables again. They are tangle FREE and very pleasant on the eyes in a simple way. It comes with two cables. One longer one for home use and the perfect length of cable for mobile use with volume control, mute, and microphone that works fairly well for phone conversations where peers affirm me sounding clear to them.
The headphones are packed decently. It comes in a box that has the has an outer cover that the headphone packaging slides out of. I like the presentation when you open them though. The headphones lay flat in a foam insert that has a cylinder leather case in it for the cables and 1/4 inch adapter. Underneath is an canvass carrying pouch for the headphones and a manual incase someone doesn't know how to use them, or wants to understand the warranty.
Hmm. Well They are not uncomfortable and do better than a lot of other compact models. My ears tuck inside without fuss even though the opening isn't that big. They are fully circumaural and my ears aren't crammed up against the driver housing. The padding is actually pretty good as well. The headband is pretty thin but contrary to what I assumed its not bothersome. It has a very practical and simple design that fairs well in comfort.
*member gelocks loaned pair
While these headphones isolate fairly well, I will make a gripe about leakage. As easily as these seal around my ears I would expect them to leak a little less. They leak a little more than average without striking them out from being portable. If I was on a loud bus I would be able to enjoy my music easily but the person next to me would be hearing much of my music if it was loud. I wouldn't say you would be obnoxious though. This is not deal breaking leakage but also not ideal.
*update 10/25/14: FIT
The ear cups require a good seal for optimal performance which fortunately isn't hard to get. However when laying down if you are not careful the cups will swing open and you will have to readjust them. The clamp isn't too tight or too loose but I did notice a little less of a seal at the bottom. Dropping the cups down a little more than normal will give better seal at the bottom. While adjusting the fit you will notice the sound change drastically in volume, almost sounding like you turned them off and on due to pressure changing which is pretty unique. Once you have a good fit you are ready to rock.
The bass on this headphone is somewhat addicting. I wouldn't go so far as calling it bass-head level in quantity but I would say that it has some of the qualities that most bass-heads covet. It is a pretty fast bass that keeps a decent amount of texture in it. It is not planar magnetic driver-tight, but among the dynamic drivers I have heard this headphone keeps an ideal composure. It is a very dynamic bass that for its quantity will hit extremely hard. You would be hard pressed to find a more impactful bass than this that isn't extremely boosted. The Vmoda m100 for example will hit harder but is also a lot more in quantity. If eq'd to have the same quantity the MH40 will hit harder. The MH40 bass has a very focused and enjoyable punch that is very hard to find. Honestly its hard to find punchy cans like the MH40 that aren't super bloated. While Vibro with all plugs open can hit as hard as this can and a shade harder with better resolution, the MH40 will take better to bass boosting and has more of a focused punch. I have guiltlessly eq'd the bass on occasion to be senselessly consumed by it and found it to take very well to eq'ing and boosting. I think the words smooth yet punchy would apply here. The bass is not the tightest I have heard but I find it to be closer to the tight side of the spectrum than loose.
The extension is not wanting by any means and though I can see some wanting more sub bass, this headphone goes low and clear.
My 808's sound weighty and strong. My drum and bass kicks knock with authority. I can feel the pressure of the pulsating baselines. Hey, I am satisfied!!!
*updates 10/25/14: bass impact is seal dependent like most headphones but even more so with this one.
If anyone says the midrange is recessed I will be very surprised. It is actually the opposite and I sometimes wish for a slightly less heavy presentation in the midrange which is unusual for me. Master & Dynamic describes this headphone as having a rich, warm sound profile. That statement is 100% accurate. The tones sound really sweet and sultry with what sounds to be a nice amount of fidelity to them. I personally desire to eq them to be a little airier. The Focal Spirit Professional for example sounds airier and less rich than these but are more dry and less musical. What is funny is that when A/Bing them side by side I preferred the MH40 instantly even though I recognize this headphone as skipping out on the Focal approach in neutrality. This doesn't become tiresome because the headphone is not shouty by any means. No way.... its far too smooth sounding to be called anything close to shouty, harsh, or abrasive in the midrange. I believe that this level of richness I am not used to. This is due to there being what I perceive as a dip in the lower treble or somewhere close by, namely the upper midrange, that takes the lightness out of it. Male vocals sound full and weighty but miss just a tiny bit of presence and projection that fully convince you they delivered from their diaphragms. This may be perceived differently by others but it is not that bad of an issue for me.
The music doesn't sound too dry or too wet. My pianos sound pretty convincing and it has a little bit of reverb to the notes while staying clear. How ever each individual tone is very realistic and non metallic. It has good texture to it as well.
I like these highs a lot. Sorry to start this section that way but I really do apart from the lower treble that would help the mids some, the highs here are not sibilant yet are fairly detailed and make a case for its price tag. I read elsewhere that these were considered sibilant but I have to respectfully disagree. The area of sibilants ("s") is emphasized compared to the rest of the upper mids to upper treble section but its not painful. The Yamaha hph mt220 for example was more sibilant than these, as well as the k545, k550 and Denon D2k, to name just a few. The headphone can come off as dark and rich sounding but the treble is snappy and smooth as is the rest of the headphone. There is a very steep roll off in the upper highs though that may be the reason I feel it is missing some air in the vocals. When I eq +4 db in the upper treble, this up along with the lower treble dip at 4khz it awakens the sound a bit. It has a good amount of response in the mid treble by itself as to not miss too many details. This headphone can be called relatively detailed. The reason why I like them a lot though is because they are not splashy or mushy, but rounded and straightforward with a smoothness about them.
When I leave the bass right where its at, take down the middle mids just a decibel or so, bring the area of sibilance down a bit, and raise the upper mids and high highs up a few decibels then I am met with a lifelike sound that is very convincing. My eq setting can be a little fatiguing for long listening so I often just set it back to flat . This headphone takes to eq'ing extremely well. ALL BY ITSELF, its a colored listen, but a very likable one with a slight bass bump, full mid range, and dark treble. I could def leave it alone and listen for a long time. This headphone reminds me of the Sennheiser hd8dj in the fact that it has a steep treble roll off after 10 kHz and needs some upper mids. BUT its far less extreme in its coloration and the more enjoyable. Its close to being a genre master but those that listen to Jazz and classical music may wish for a slightly less colored sound. I however enjoy these very much so with jazz and acoustic music.
Quick eq in Audirvana plus (clarity eq)
I like this soundstage. I have come to not expect to much in terms of soundstage from a headphone of this kind(portable). To say this headphone has a small soundstage would be inaccurate. To say it has a good sized one is more like it. It has some height to it if not much depth and a decent amount of width. The panorama of this headphone is a breathable one that isn't cluttered, nor compact, or extremely wide. It has respectable imaging capabilities that are really good but don't boast too far beyond its price category into Alpha dog territory. Possibly less wide than the akg k550 but far more natural sounding. Also these have a far bigger soundstage than the momentum, and maybe bigger than the Focal Spirit Professional. I do prefer its scene to the Pandora hope VI however because the instruments have good layering and are bold/soft against each other, whereas the Pandora Hope is bigger and sounds more open but less clearly layered(this MH40 headphone doesn't sound as good overall though, the Pandora is in another class above it by a good margin).
The more I listen I find it to have very good instrument separation and placement. This would be one of its stand out qualities. It never sounds like mush but has great focus to the notes.
This is a very admirable quality of these headphones. A lot of its musicality resides here. simply put, though the music is a bit rounded, it pops and snaps with intention. It has some decay to keep it from sounding dry and harsh while its doing all of this action. I find it quite enjoyable.
None required though I find it very scalable. I would say its more source dependent than amp dependent. My iPhone gets them fairly loud and sounds fine but they deserve more than just an iPhone out. Once I plugged them into my Bushmaster MKII they sound excellent and the clarity is night and day.
Just like my other favorite closed back this has the moniker "Musical" written allll over it. I would say it is the most musical closed back I have heard under 500 dollars. It only lacks a tiny bit of neutrality to make it a genre master. Some may want a little more bass or air but it has a very good punch and snap too it that keeps it from sounding dull. With a couple of tweaks can be a swiss army knife to a playlist. As it is I recommend it for ambient electronic, hip hop, jazz, reggae, soul, country, blues, acoustic and anything modern(honestly it will work well with most genres). This would go into the sennheiser hd650 category of warm, smooth, but potentially potent. The fact that they got the cables the right length, the fit to be fully over the ears, the build to be practical and easy to carry around, and the sound quality worth its penny, makes this headphone a worthy recommendation. I feel like I am listening to a high quality headphone that will scale up with what you plug it into. It has a good amount of fidelity to it and the gripes aren't deal breakers.
IM FEELIN THIS SET... NAH MEAN!