Master & Dynamic MH40

Rating:
4.07692/5,
  1. sk2290
    All my big-headed brethren, be cautious...
    Written by sk2290
    Published Jul 29, 2015
    2.5/5,
    Pros - Sound, build quality, probably about as stylish as they come.
    Cons - Comfort, weight.
    Forgive me in advance for this review won't be focused too much on the sound.  From the little while that I was able to listen to these headphones, they sounded amazing.  They had a neutral tone and clarity.  They were certainly capable of putting the low end out there, and they worked well with my Cowon IAudio 9+ without an amplifier.  They were built like a brick outhouse, they'll turn heads when your wearing them out and about, and if you have a small enough head, they'll be highly comfortable.
     
    Of course, that's only if you have a small enough head...
     
    If you have a prominently sized cranium, you should probably steer clear.
     
    For one, they might not even fit.  When I first put them on, I had to set the rods on the highest setting.  Doing so, I thought maybe I had lucked out, but that's only where the issues started.
     
    After about 30 minutes of listening, I started to feel the effects of the clamping factor of the headphones where the bottom part of the earpad was making contact with my neck.  It wasn't much, but it was enough to notice, and if the pads themselves hadn't been as soft as they were, then who knows how much more intensified the discomfort would've been.
     
    About 2 hours in, that tight clamping factor started to diminish, giving way to a fit that was less than secure when coupled with the headphones relatively massive weight.  On top of that, the middle of the headband started to press down into the top of my skull, skipping discomfort and going into pain territory.
     
    I suppose I can't put fault on Master & Dynamic for the fit of their headphones.  They can't make a headphone that's suitable for everyone.  And I'd still recommend these to anyone with regular sized noggins.  Anyone else....well, make sure you hold on to the receipt.
    1. RERO
      "I suppose I can't put fault on Master & Dynamic for the fit of their headphones."
      You kinda just did by dunking it with a 2.5 ★ rating.
      RERO, Aug 25, 2015
  2. AnakChan
    Master & Dynamic MH40 Impressions: A fashionable headphone that's comfortable on the head and decent tonal signature
    Written by AnakChan
    Published Sep 6, 2015
    3.5/5,
    Pros - Very comfortable headphone, fashionably stunning looks, tonally decent
    Cons - Congested sound with a small soundstage

    Thank You's

    With big thanks to @shigzeo who's patiently loaned this to me since early this year and I've still hung on to it till now.
     
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    Introduction

    I've not heard of Master & Dynamic until @shigzeo asked if I was interested in giving it a listen. I have to say that I fell in love with its looks when I first googled it up. Aesthetically it's extremely fashionable and would really fit into the fancy shopping districts in Tokyo. But let's get into the product more. The MH40 uses 45mm Neodymium drivers, with lambskin earpads and cowhide-covered headband. Metal components are made from aluminium.

    There are 2x 3.5mm ports leaving the listener to choose plugging into the left or right earcup, whichever he/she feels more comfortable with. It comes with a 2m long detachable cable or with a 1.25mm mic/remote. It comes with a portable durable clothed case.

     
    The earcups are circum-aural  with an inner diameter of 65mm x  35mm and a depth of 25mm. The cups swivel out so that the headphone can be laid flat.
     

    Comfort Wear & Aesthetics Design

    These are probably the strongest traits of the headphone from my personal perspective. I find the headphones very comfortable to wear. Despite being circum-aural, they still do rest on my ears. The lambskin earpads are very supple and the depth from the drivers provide sufficient space that my ears don't feel too warm. Overall they're also decently light on my head at 360g.
     
    I think it does a decent job in isolation however I think to the colleagues (or strangers surrounding), the headphone does leak.
     
    The design though of the MH40 is probably the most attractive point in my eyes. There was a "alternate" design styling to it that make sit perfect for some of the fashionable districts in Tokyo. In fact whilst googling up the MH40's, I was rather bummed the limited edition Proenza Schouler MH40-PS white leather with black earpads ones were sold out - I found out about the Master & Dynamic too late!
     
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    Sound

    I have to admit, when I saw it I was yearning for it to sound good too. Overall I feel the tonal balance of the MH40 to be mostly neutral but with a slight added bass boost. There is no doubt these headphones have a strong bass but all the way to the midrange and trebles it's pretty neutral to my ears. I'll start with the trebles, that they are pretty well extended with a decent sparkle. The midrange is also full extending down to the midbass which starts to bloom into the subbass level. Overall tonal signature is quite decent and palatable to the ears.
     
    Unfortunately it didn't have the clarity across the frequency response I was hoping for. The sub & mid bass to me were a little too flabby for my tastes whist the midrange although full didn't have the detail I wished for. Similarly, whilst the trebles were extended and sparkly, it seemed to have lacked the air and finesse I had hoped for. The soundstage was somewhat small and has an overall congested presentation that if I listened to a reasonably fast track with lots of instruments and vocals, it all sounds rather "cramped in" that it starts to sound noisy.
     
    I'm not a headphone designer but I can't help feel if cups are too small for the 45mm drivers it houses. I had high hopes for this aesthetically beautiful headphone to exhibit a premium sound too. Unfortunately,  there are other headphones which are a little cheaper that produce a somewhat (what I define to be at least) premium sound.
     

    Summary

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    Overall these headphones are pretty decent. Although they may not provide the premium sound the audio enthusiast seeks, they are tonally palatable to the ears and for the average listener they suffice. Aesthetically they're visually stunning to my tastes - extremely fashionable and for those who have in mind a an overall artsy presentation, these headphones fit right in. If Master & Dynamic ever consider revamping these, personally I do hope they don't change the style so much but tweak and improve the sound instead.
      shoe73 and trellus like this.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. peterdc
      They have the potential to be as deep and punchy as the amazing (underrated) Blue Mofi. I wonder how much the sound was compromised by the excellent design and build. Not a huge fan of the HD600. Preferred the Fidelio X2 but I never use them so selling them.
      peterdc, Oct 6, 2015
    3. AnakChan
      IMHO, I'd be curious to see if the makers would be keen on trying smaller drivers for the same sized housing. Alternatively is to have bigger housing however that'll change the aesthetics of the headphone considerably.
      AnakChan, Oct 6, 2015
    4. vnmslsrbms
      Fully agree.  The form factor is just about perfect for portable use.  With the shape of the HP maybe they can put two drivers?  One for bass?  like one of those racetrack shaped speakers to compensate for a smaller driver for the mids and highs.  Anyway, yeah they probably should hire a better engineer to create a sound that's up to par with the great (not just mediocre) headphones that we have today. 
      vnmslsrbms, Oct 6, 2015
  3. Blinxat
    Great quality!
    Written by Blinxat
    Published Aug 8, 2018
    4.0/5,
    Pros - Design, Build Quality, Comfort, Bass
    Cons - no enough air in the treble to my ears
    The Master & Dynamic MH40 immediately oozes quality. There is not a single plastic piece on them visible on the outside, it is all metal, with real leather. Comfortable too. There isn't much clamping force either. You can run the cable on either side and there is a mute button.

    The bass on these headphones is of reasonably good quality and has some slam to it. It remains tight but does have some bloat to it. It reminds me of the B&W P7 (now discontinued).

    Overall I find vocals and instruments natural sounding, the only thing missing is a little more treble sparkle, it does come back for 8-10khz but above that it is rather laid back. I think it could use a general rise in the treble starting around 6khz up to the limit of 16khz. But maybe it is my broken ears, or that I am listening to the Audio-Technica MSR7SE and DT770 too much both of which have substanitally more treble bite to them.

    Luckily they do have slightly better treble than the V-MODA Crossfade Wireless 2, which is a DJ can and a bit too relaxed up top for my liking, unlike the M100 which was quite sparkly.

    But this headphone is a good buy for the build alone, UNLESS you are super obsessed with clarity, since these are slightly warm and laid back.

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      trellus likes this.
  4. ryanjsoo
    Master & Dynamic MH40 Review – Pure Decadence
    Written by ryanjsoo
    Published Dec 6, 2017
    4.0/5,
    Pros - Exquisite build and design, Comfortable for a portable headphone, Dynamic bass, Smooth and refined mids, Spacious stage, Excellent accessories
    Cons - Can sound dull and overly laid-back, Thin headband causes some discomfort over time
    Introduction –

    New York City-based Master and Dynamic first emerged in 2014, making a big entrance into a market already crowded with portable headphones. Despite this, the company rapidly caught ground though their classic luxury designs and unique yet distinguished tuning. The company have since expanded their product line to include wireless and in-ear models, but the MH40 easily remains one of their most popular designs as the headphone that first popularized the company.

    And much of the MH40’s appeal stems from its fully-featured design that holds an important place in the $400 over-ear portable headphone category. Of note, the MH40 offers luxury and quality that many competitors either don’t aspire for or fail to quite wholly encapsulate. But that’s not to discount the fierce competition offered by rivals Oppo, B&W, B&O and even Denon that all provide myriad acoustic flavours with strong combinations of build quality and distinct aesthetic design. Let’s see how M&D’s portable headphone stacks up.



    Disclaimer –

    I would like to thank Andrew from Master and Dynamic very much for his quick communication and for providing me with the MH40 for the purpose of review. I would also like to thank him for his ongoing support. All words are my own and there is no monetary incentive for a positive review. Despite receiving the headphones free of cost, I will attempt to be as objective as possible in my evaluation.



    Accessories –

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    The MH40 has one of the most lavish unboxings I’ve experienced from a portable headphone and though it has quite a typical accessory set, the presentation is top notch. Master & Dynamic provide buyers with two cables, a 1.25m unit with a 3-button remote and mic and a 2m audio-only cable for use with desktop amplifiers and perhaps electric instruments.

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    They also include a 1/4′ adapter, a very nice leather cable box and a soft pouch with an internal pocket that carries the cable and a few accessories.

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    It’s a nicely comprehensive setup overall, I do usually prefer hard cases, but the MH40 is solid enough and the fabric pouch is sturdy and hard-wearing while consuming less bag space.



    Design –

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    Master and Dynamic harken back to the classic Grado style aesthetic with a twist of contemporary opulence; the MH40 is an absolutely gorgeous set of headphones with a timeless design realised through meticulous manufacturing. This starts with the forged aluminium earcups coated in a resilient cowhide leather and extends to the super supple lambskin earpads and stainless steel slider mechanisms. The MH40 implements a complex yet thoughtful combination of complementary materials to promote both hard wearing and ergonomic properties.

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    Master & Dynamic’s particular choice of leather does lack the ultra-supple feel of B&W’s lambskin P7 but the MH40 has worn better over my past months of testing, this is a headphone designed to last well into the future. Moreover, the finish on each element is immaculate and the design is eye-catching in the best possible way. The right cup also has an additional button that mutes the headphones, a practical addition when attempting to hear alerts and co-workers.

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    The MH40 makes use of a smooth slider with unlimited adjustment points over a traditional stepped mechanism. However, due to their design, they have an especially narrow range of adjustment so I would recommend interested buyers with especially large or small heads to try a set out in person. I usually set my headphones to roughly 2/3 of their maximum length though I had to fully extend the MH40 for a comfortable fit.

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    Apart from this, the headphones produce a mostly ergonomic experience but run into similar issues as the B&W P7 due to a combination of weight (at an astonishing 360g) and a thin, inadequately padded headband. And though clamp force is well-judged, not too firm but with enough pressure to promote a stable fit, the MH40’s tended to form a mild hotspot at the top of my head after just half an hour of listening. After two hours I was always forced to take a break, the headband is simply too thin to support the weight of their metal housings.

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    Luckily, the supple, plush and deep earpads delivered outstanding comfort as one of the few models that fully encompass my ears without contact. With dense memory foam innards, they easily conform to produce an incredibly strong seal. Fabric lines the inside of the pads making them a little scratchy at first, but they quickly wear in and are far more breathable than typical leather and especially faux leather competitors. Though my set has hardly worn at all over my 2 months of testing, the pads are also easily removable using a magnetic mounting plate and a replacement pair from M&D are a well-priced $49 USD. Those having issues with the stock pads may also want to look into the MW60 ear pads that are softer and more comfortable at the cost of sounding a little darker.

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    The headphones are semi-open with rear facing mesh obscured by dampening fabric. This does affect isolation to a degree, but in my uses, their strong seal offsets their semi-open nature, producing similar isolation to certain closed sets like the P7 if not quite as much as the class-leading Oppo PM3 and B&O H6. None of these headphones attenuate nearly as much as a good set of noise cancellers like those from Bose and Sony but they do provide a considerably more engaging sound in low to moderately loud conditions and the MH40’s were sufficient for public transport.

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    Though the headphones uses a single side entry cable, the bottoms of both earcups contain a 3.5mm jack, enabling users to choose their preferred side and daisy chain several headphones together. Of note, my newer revision unit has recessed plugs so I didn’t run into any of the issues outlined by Nathan or Tyll in their reviews though the stock units are still easily swapped with any case-friendly cable due to a lack keyed housings. The cable itself is also of very pleasing quality, one of the best included units amongst portable headphones. They instantly impress through their supple and flexible nature in addition to their tough fabric sheathing.

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    The terminations are aluminium with tactile knurling and pleasing strain relief. The 1.25M cable has a clear mic and clicky remote. Interestingly, all 3 buttons functioned on both my Android (Fiio X7 II and HTC U11) and IOS devices.



    Sound –

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    Tonality –

    The MH40 has an L-shaped tonality focussing on sub and upper bass with a sprinkle of added upper midrange and treble energy. They are a clearly sculpted headphone but one with tasteful and purposeful deviations in line with competitors like the Bower and Wilkins P7 and Bang and Olufsen H6. Of course, the MH40 doesn’t sound similar to either of these headphones but it does demonstrate a similar mastery of signature alteration and Master and Dynamic ultimately deliver a sound that is simultaneously full, clear and spacious. The MH40 focusses on smoothness, excelling during long-term listening; bass is full but doesn’t pound the eardrums and neither their midrange nor treble ever sounds forward without sounding veiled. This is an atypical headphone presentation that almost emulates a speaker style sound though results inherently differ due to form factor.



    Bass –

    The MH40 has a strong low-frequency response focussing on rumble, slam and an organic hump into the lower midrange. It’s a very unorthodox presentation, but one with plenty of appeal whether you’re looking for balance or engagement due to some interesting tonal weightings. Sub-bass extension is excellent with tight yet physical rumble that blitzes the looser P7 on tracks with double bass. Sub-bass is elevated above more linear sets like the Oppo PM3, granting enhanced slam, and deep-bass feeds quite evenly into the mid-bass frequencies. As a result, bass notes aren’t especially full or organic like portable Denon and Meze sets, but sub-bass sounds more defined and separated as a result. There also isn’t too much bloat spilling over the smaller details though a considerable upper bass emphasis makes bass sound somewhat tubby and the MH40 can drone on slower tracks.

    That said, texturing is quite good, among the best I’ve heard from a portable headphone and definition is commendably high considering their tone, especially with regards to deep and sub-bass. Bass does lack separation between notes and the MH40 loses a fair amount of detail due to their uneven tuning, but they still sound noticeably more nuanced than the P7 and Sony MDR-1A, they just fail to match class leaders like the PM3. Resultantly, the MH40 sits within the middle upper pack in bass quality but with nicely tuned quantity and emphasis that will certainly find fans. Their notable lack of mid-bass warmth imbues a cleaner tone though they still sound coloured due to other emphasis. I’m not a huge advocate of their tubby upper-bass and lack of articulation and delicacy at times, but this is a highly dynamic and engaging headphone that doesn’t present as overly bloated or sloppy.



    Mids –

    The MH40’s upper-bass hump imbues lower mids with a warm, full character. This precedes rising emphasis into the upper midrange and some little frequency response bumps throughout that grant the middle and upper midrange with increased clarity. Mids still sits behind the MH40’s larger bass response though enhanced upper midrange clarity creates what is subjectively one of the more balanced tones among portable headphones. Lower mids are notably recessed and deeper male vocals can sound somewhat veiled due to some over-warming and bass spill. That said, though male vocals tend to sound thick and a bit distant, rising emphasis into the middle and upper midrange does prevent muddiness. Though this, instruments such as piano, higher male vocals and female vocals all sound considerably less coloured. In fact, the MH40 has clearly enhanced clarity within their upper midrange with smooth, present and layered female vocals and guitars.

    Despite their brighter tilt, they aren’t the most resolving headphone with a presentation that lies on the smoother, more laid-back side. This is mainly due to their more relaxed upper-midrange/treble transition that lacks any aggression and enhanced bass that makes vocals and instruments sound fuller than neutral. As a result, they aren’t the most realistic or transparent sounding headphone on the market, but they don’t sound as unnatural as the thinner, more clarity orientated sets either. By nature of their tuning and semi-open form factor, the MH40 also provides notably strong midrange separation and space which benefits background detailing. So ultimately, this is a perfectly enjoyable presentation with fine balance that works especially well during longer listening. Resolution isn’t the headphone’s strong suit though the MH40 does retrieve plenty of detail, it just doesn’t bring it to the fore.



    Highs –

    Treble assumes a similar presentation to the midrange with some subtle deviations similarly enhancing energy in certain areas. While extension is good, overall, the MH40 definitely falls into the more laid-back category through a somewhat smoothed-off transition between upper mids and lower treble. As aforementioned, details aren’t brought to the fore and the headphones can lack some edge to treble notes; noticeable through slightly softer cymbal impact and guitar strums. That said, they have a little extra middle treble zing that grants some air and shimmer to their high-end thereby retaining enough energy for genres like rock. Moreover, their rich low-end and spacious stage is thoroughly engaging and treble has sufficient attack when needed. So though the headphones sound immediately smooth and laid-back, they are never dull or boring in any way.

    The MH40 can thus be categorised as a well-detailed and naturally presenting headphone but not a resolving one. Again, this isn’t to be taken as a negative, the MH40 is tailored for louder listening volumes prone to causing fatigue, which it never does, though certain competitors such as the Oppo PM3 and Denon MM-400 do carry a similarly smooth high-end but carry greater nuance due to a more linear tone. And that said, the MH40’s middle treble lift grants them with more air and space than either of these headphones and complex tracks do sound more composed on the M&D headphone as a result. This is a clean, lush treble presentation if one that doesn’t excel with lower-treble energy or absolute upper-treble extension.



    Soundstage, Imaging and Separation –

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    The MH40 creates a large stage through its slightly enhanced treble air and upper midrange clarity in culmination with its open design. It doesn’t quite extend and resolve like the P7 and H6, but its sound is similarly expansive in many circumstances due to a combination of these aforementioned factors. Imaging is good but not outstanding, its sculpted tone creating inconsistent instrument placement. Separation overall is commendable, their low-end is congested but their upper half is layered and spacious with clearly delineated notes. This is a very immersive presentation that eclipses the majority of portable headphones that tend to sound quite intimate even if it doesn’t touch the enthralling experience offered by full-sized open backs. Arguably, the MH40 finds a nice compromise between practicality and spaciousness while keeping things coherent and in focus.



    Drivability –

    The MH40 isn’t particularly difficult to drive on paper with a modest 32ohm impedance, but it is a headphone that benefits from some tonal synergy and clean amplification. And like the P7 and PM3, the MH40 scales notably well with higher quality sources, however, unlike those headphones, its mellower tuning can compromise enjoyment from inferior ones. Any decent smartphones like Apple’s iPhone or those from LG and HTC will serve the MH40 just fine, but more compressed or darker sources can make the headphone sound overly laid-back, even muddy. An affordable dedicated source like the Dragonfly Black can provide a noticeable step up and a nice transparent amplifier can similarly enhance the listening experience.

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    My most preferred pairing was the iFi Black Label, an incredibly powerful, dynamic source that really opened up the MH40; low-end definition greatly improved and mids and highs were granted with extra clarity and resolution. The Fiio X7 II and Oppo HA-2 both provided a similar experience while the darker X3 and fuller X5 III subjectively sounded too warm. So they are susceptible to sounding a little muddy and closed in on certain sources and while a DAC like the $850 Black Label isn’t necessary to extract the potential from those 45mm drivers, I would definitely recommend some form of amplification or a neutral to clear source for an optimal experience.



    Comparisons –

    Meze 99 Neo: The Meze isn’t quite as solid as the MH40 nor as streamlined, but it is more comfortable during home listening due to a well-implemented suspension headband and larger, ultra-plush earpads. In listening, the MH40 is a little more balanced while the 99 Neo is bassier and slightly darker but also more linear and even in its tuning. As a result, the Meze is slightly more detailed and textured but sounds very full. The Meze is notably warmer with more bloat and a looser low-end though it is well-defined throughout, due to its linearity. The MH40 is tighter with greater sub-bass focus and a cleaner bass tone in general.

    The M&D is also noticeably more balanced with regards to midrange tuning where the 99 Neo is a little more recessed. As such, the MH40 sounds clearer and more present to both male and female vocals, it is slightly less coloured but still warm and smooth int he grand scheme of things. In terms of treble, the MH40 has a little more air while the 99 Neo has more energy to its lower treble and can sound crisper and more detailed as a result. Both stage very well, the MH40 sounds deeper and more coherent while the 99 neo is a little wider but some elements sound overly distant. The 99 neo images better but separation suffers due to its thicker sound.

    Bowers and Wilkins P7: The P7 is perhaps most comparable, as it is similarly sculpted and has a matching leather/metal construction. The P7 feels softer in the hand, using purely lambskin leather, though it is also more prone to dents and scuffs than the hardier MH40. Both are heavy and wear on the top of the head over time with similarly poor headband design. Sonically, the MH40 is more balanced and subtle in its approach while the P7 is more V-shaped, utilising greater high-frequency presence to offset its powerful bass. The P7 focusses on great sub-bass slam with cleaner mid and upper-bass creating a slightly thin but very clear midrange.

    The MH40 has a similarly clean mid-bass presentation but its upper bass is more pronounced, spilling more into the lower mids. Upper mids are similarly forward but even clearer on the P7 at the cost of sounding slightly more unnatural. Treble has a lot more energy and air on the P7, it extends further and retains quite a lot of detail and texture. It can fatigue but as a result, the P7 has perhaps the grandest stage I’ve heard from a portable despite its closed nature. Imaging is similar on both, perhaps slightly better on the more revealing P7 and separation also goes to the B&W due to its incredibly vivid sound.

    Oppo PM3: The Oppo has the cleanest, most understated design and an excellent build that matches its western competitors. It is also one of the most comfortable of the bunch despite being one of the heaviest due to a well-padded headband, perfect clamp force and plush albeit shallow earpads. What makes the PM3 rather unique is its use of planar magnetic drivers that theoretically deliver superior transience to dynamic drivers; it was the first portable headphone to do so but a few competitors have since popped up. That said, the Oppo remains one of my favourites on account of its incredibly balanced, realistic sound that demonstrates refinement beyond its asking price.

    Immediately, the PM3 is leaner and more defined than the MH40, it is more detailed throughout and almost neutral in tone besides a small sub and mid-bass lift that grants its midrange with sligthly greater body. The MH40 is warmer and fuller yet, mids sound less natural but smoother while the PM3 is more transparent with considerably greater resolution. The PM3 has a similarly relaxed high-end though it has a more linear mid/treble transition that retrieves more detail. Neither extend particularly well and neither excel with air and shimmer. The MH40 has a noticeably larger stage than the more intimate, slightly drier PM3 at the cost of imaging precision that the quicker, more linear Oppo excels with.



    Verdict –

    From perusal of their marketing material, Master & Dynamic’s prime selling point is undoubtedly design. The MH40 is a stunning headphone regardless of gender or age, with an industrial feel and intricate look offered in copious colour schemes all with their own unique charm. The headphones have also worn incredibly well during my months of testing which reflects well upon their ultimate longevity, a grossly understated factor integral to an expensive luxury product. They are also an ergonomically pleasing if not flawless headphone, with a thin headband suiting portable over lengthier stationary use. That said, during such usage, their breathable yet well-sealing pads create a far more agreeable experience than the majority of competitors.

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    However, the MH40 is more than just a fashion statement and its sonic expression is far more profound than its superficial luxury may lead buyers to believe. This is a headphone that thrives on the duality of its voicing; a headphone that is concurrently smooth and lush, clear and layered. Its higher-frequencies carry plenty of nuance, a surprising amount at times despite its mellow tone, set to defined rumble and physical bass impact. This only improves with an energetic source that invigorates their laid-back tuning to provide more balance and immediacy. Of course, headphones like the purpose-built PM3 offers more detail and intricacy through their more balanced and linear tuning though few headphones engage quite like MH40 while retaining such balance and long-term listenability.

    Verdict – 8/10, Where some manufacturers design the headphones around the sound, M&D tune their sound around the headphone, producing a charming and rather unique listening experience. They do lack that last iota of refinement and linearity but make up for it through class-leading design and construction. Despite some headband comfort niggles, the MH40 is an impressively well-rounded portable headphone.

    Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed my review, please see my website for more just like it:

    https://everydaylistening.net/2017/11/26/master-dynamic-mh-40-review-pure-decadence/
  5. BloodyPenguin
    The Master & Dynamic MH40 is a Classy Beast
    Written by BloodyPenguin
    Published Sep 18, 2015
    4.0/5,
    Pros - Made From the Finest Materials, Over the Top Design, Comfortable, Multiple Detachable Cables, Warm Fun Sound Signature
    Cons - Headphones can be a little Noisy when moving them around, Not the Cleanliest Audiophile Sound, Pricy
    The first time I laid eyes on the Master & Dynamic MH40, I could not believe what I was seeing. The design is the classiest, premium looking headphone I had ever seen. I had to know more about them.  Below you will find my full review.
     
     
    (All photos taken by me).
     
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    Let's start with the basics first:

    *Packaging*

    From the minute you start unboxing, the MH40 oozes high class. Layer after layer of well thought out, precisely made packaging. Master & Dynamic spared no cost protecting these VERY high end headphones. They sit so wonderfully still and comfortable in the laser cut padding.
     
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    *Accessories*

    Includes the following:
    - 3.5/6.3mm Gold-Plated Adapter
    - 1.25m Cable with Remote & Mic (iPod, iPad, & iPhone)
    - 2.00m Standard Cable
    - Canvas Headphone Case
    - Leather Cable Box

    As with the packaging, all accessories are designed professionally and are very well built. Both cables are tough, yet flexible. One standard cable for home use and a portable cable with a Remote and Mic are great for on the go. The Canvas Headphone bag is surprisingly sturdy and has cool little magnetic clasps to keep things together. The little Leather Cable Box is quite fancy and fun. All accessories are premium products to mirror the beautiful MH40 Headphones.

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    *Fit*

    The MH40 is an over the ear headphone. The ear cups ever so gently caress your ears as you put them on. For me, the fit was perfect, leading to a high level of comfort. The pads themselves are made out of plush, soft lambskin that is like a pillow surrounding your ear. I found wearing these for extended periods can lead to a slight warming around the ears, but never became hot or uncomfortable.  
     
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    *Build*

    Master & Dynamic went all out with the MH40. Materials used are of the highest quality and are put together flawlessly. You know these are top of the range headphones from just the feel. There is a weight to them that just screams high quality. The forged aluminum body is machined to perfection, with no imperfections in sight. I also thought these were opened back headphones when I first saw pictures. The aluminum mess on the outside of the earcup is sealed underneath. These headphones are fully closed.  The only slight issue is that the Aluminum can make some metallic noises when you adjust the headphones, a side effect of using the highest of materials.
     
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    *Sound*

    “45mm Neodymium High-Performance Drivers”, or a fancy way of saying, these sound fantastic. Master & Dynamic did a wonderful job tuning these headphones and below you will find more details.

    Let’s break down the sound:

    Bass – Big, Deep and controlled. Bassheads would be pleased with the MH40, though these would not be categorized as such. While the bass is substantial, it never bleeds into the mids. It stays down low where it belongs, kind of like a subwoofer in your basement. If you want a bass kick right to the ears, then these are right pair for you.

    Mids – The middle frequencies are warm and rich. Vocals are smooth for both female/male voices, while still saying clear and precise. Being closed back, I do wish they were a little more airy, but they are far from congested.

    Highs – The upper range is rolled off a little early. Giving the MH40 that continued warm sound as mentioned before. These smooth highs help to keep the music easy on the ears, thus one would be able to use these for extended periods without fatigue.

    Soundstage – This is usually a troubled area for headphones that are closed back. Though Master & Dynamic did manage to add more depth than would be expected. I also found this to help out the instrument separation which stays quick and apart.

    Isolation – Lambskin is not only super comfortable, but help to create quite a nice seal, thus keeping the music in and outside noise out.
     
    P1040575.jpg
     


    *Overall Thoughts*

    Master & Dynamic hit a homerun with the MH40. From top to bottom this thing looks spectacular. Though, it is not just a pretty face, it also has quite the musical bite. Tuning throughout the range is spot on, leaving a warm, fun sound signature.

    The MH40 is a premium headphone with premium sound.
     
     
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    ..
      shoe73, trellus, ryanjsoo and 4 others like this.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. BloodyPenguin
      @lehoang15tuoi, Please send me the ATH M50X, Momentum and M100 and I will let you know!  

      To be honest, the collection of Closed Back Headphones I have tried is very limited.  Though, come tomorrow, I am receiving a pair of closed back that has the exact same MSRP as the MH40 and has not been reviewed yet here on Head-Fi.  Look for that review by hopefully by the weekend.
       
      BloodyPenguin, Sep 21, 2015
    3. kutizoltan83
      I have had these HM40s and can tell that you are actually paying for the build and look... :frowning2:
      If you are seriously into good sound quality skip these and any V-Moda cans. The Audio Technica M50x is the best sounding headphone in its class. and it's quite comfortable and well built as well.
      (The new or old Sennheiser Momentums are OK if you prefer a bit smoother or relaxed sound.)
      kutizoltan83, Sep 21, 2015
    4. Seamaster7
      can i replace these cables with my own? or am i limited to the cables that come out of the box? thank you.
      Seamaster7, Sep 24, 2015
  6. acain
    Looks that will turn heads made from premium materials, with a sound signature that can be listened to for hours!
    Written by acain
    Published Mar 8, 2015
    4.0/5,
    Pros - Build quality, Warm smooth detailed sound
    Cons - Outer cable material, no right angle plug
    Master & Dynamic a company based in New York City, still fairly new to the headphone scene. This review is for Master & Dynamic MH40 over the ear headphones, there is a couple of reviews already. Sound is subjective every one has there own opinion on these so the more reviews the better. I am 38 years old and have been into audio since middle school, audiophile I am not but I do enjoy listening to quality music. I am mainly into headphones and in ears, so I guess you can call me a headphone enthusiasts. First I would like to say thank you to Scott and Micah at Master & Dynamic for sending me a loaner demo unit to review. I am not an employee or am I being compensated for this review. All pictures were taken by me and this review is based on my honest opinion.
     
    I first noticed Master & Dynamic in a mens fashion magazine, I prevouisly reviewed there MH03 ear buds. What really caught my interest was there build quality and over all look. Master & Dynamic is based in New York City but manufactures there products China. Many would believe that products made over seas have below standard quality, Master & Dynamic's products are far from below standard and set a new standard that others should follow. Headphones have evolved in to more then a tool to just listen to music, they have become a fashion accessory as much as a woman's hand bag or scarf. Master & Dynamic MH40 can be purchased for $399 right from there webpage. If you happen to live in NYC they will deliver them with in 1 hour, I am lucky if I can get food delivery with in 1 hour.
    http://www.masterdynamic.com/products/mh40
     
    The MH40 over the ear headphones come in 3 colors, Brown Leather-Silver Metal, Black Leather-Gunmetal, and Black Leather-Black Metal.
     
     
    IMG_0001.jpg IMG_0003.jpg
     
     
    SPECIFICATIONS
     
    Dimensions: 200mm x 185mm x 50mm
    Drivers: 45mm Neodymium High Performance Drivers
    Impedance: 32ohms
    Weight: 360g
     
     
    ACCESSORIES
     
    Gold-Plated Adapter 3.5/6.3mm
    Standard Cable 2.00mm
    Cable with remote & mic (iPod, iPad, & iPhone
    Canvas Headphone Case
    Leather Box
    Manuel
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    PACKAGING & ACCESSORIES
     
    Master & Dynamic comes in a really nice heavy duty box with a nice hi-res photo on the front. When you first open the box the headphones are packed snugly into a precut high density foam, with a cut out for the cable case. It's a very nice unboxing experience with a even better presentation, first impressions can go along way The cable case is made from real leather with a soft inside, also included is the 3.5mm adapter. For carrying these on the go they also include a black canvas bag that has plastic tabs on top to grab to open the mouth. It's a very nice bag I would have liked to seen a hard shell case fro throwing them into a back pack. Two cable are included your standard cable and another one with controls and a built in mic for phone calls. Overall I was very pleased with the accessories and packaging, the packaging is really premium and can be used for storage.
     
     
    BUILD & FIT
     
    The Mh40's are over the ear design and sit perfectly around my big head with good clamping pressure that's not to tight or light. If you new me you could say I have a big head and funny ears. The ear cups sealed around my entire ear with no problems, someone with bigger ears might find there ear hitting the driver housing due to it being not that deep. Master & Dynamic pride themselves with using premium material and it shows. Most headphones even at higher prices use 70% or more of plastic materials. The MH40's are all made of forged aluminum, stainless steel, and heavy grain leather. I actually couldn't find any plastic on the exterior of the headphones, they are not overly heavy either.
     
    IMG_0018.jpg IMG_0020.jpg IMG_0021.jpg
     
     
     
    The plug is straight and is gold coated with a nice black metal housing that has a knurled finish, with a piece of rubber for strain relief. It is sleeved with some kind of heavy duty paracord, myself have never used a fabric cord and would have rather have seen it rubber coated so it doesn't fray over time. There is also another cord that is compatibly with Apple products , there is a remote that has 3 buttons for controlling your music and phone calls. There is a separate housing that has 1 whole for the mic for phone calls.
     
     
     
    IMG_0014.jpg IMG_0018.jpg IMG_0021.jpg
     
     
    The headband is wrapped in premium leather cowhide with soft leather lambskin, with steel rods. The ear cups are also wrapped in lambskin with memory foam underneath. Ear cups are magnetically attached to the housing for replacement, I love this feature they are very easy to take off and on for cleaning. The ear cups are adjustable with a friction fitted rod that is laser engraved with numbers, the rod is shined to mirror finish and is machined with a knurled finish. They also pivot side to side with a spring tensioner to sit on your head correctly, they also rotate 90% for storage. Master & Dynamic must have spent a lot of time designing these, there is so much attention to details every time I look at these I find something new.  Even the top of the rods are stamped with there logo and the button heads have there logo etched on them also
     
     
    IMG_0034.jpg IMG_0042.jpg IMG_0040.jpg
     
    IMG_0051.jpg IMG_0052.jpg IMG_0027.jpg
     
     
    The ear cups themselves are a work of art, at first look you might think they are open back but the metal grill is only for looks. The outer part of the housing also has a leather inset with 4 decorative rivets. You can also plug the cable into either side of the headphones, I assume you could daisy chain these with another set but I didn't get a chance to try it out. On both ends of the head band are metal connecting pieces stamped with a L and R. One of my favorite features is the one ear cup has a little button with red paint on it and can be pushed to mute your music. This comes in really handy so you don't have to take out your phone or MP3 player out if someone is trying to talk to you.
     
    In conclusion off the build and fit I don't know any other company that builds a headphone to this kind of quality. They aren't just made to look nice they are built solid and just the machining and kind of materials they use is top shelf. It's like comparing a Ford Focus to a Mercedes and Master & Dynamic being a Mercedes. I can see why high profile athletes have been seen in wearing these, they just have class written all over them.
     
    I don't know how they can be priced at there price point when most companies that charge $399 for there products and are made completely out of plastic. These are the type of cans that you would want to get a nice stand and place on your mantel for decoration.
     
    IMG_0023.jpg IMG_0028.jpg IMG_0074.jpg
     
    IMG_0075.jpg IMG_0032.jpg
     
     
    SOUND
     
    These gorgeous headphones don't mean anything if they can't perform right, well if they were cheap enough with no drivers I would buy them for decoration (I really like how they look). My main source used to listen to these was Astell & Kern AK100II with WAV files, I also used the Fiio X1, Samsung Alpha, Lenovo Ultrabook with Audioengine D1 DAC. These are very easy to drive and don't need a separate amp to drive these. So do they sound as good as they look hell yes they do, are you going to do critical listening with not a chance. These were not made intended for critical listening, but for enjoying your music for long periods of time. The MH40 have a very rich and warm sound signature, the bass is very punchy and accurate that follows through into the mids. The midrange is smooth and buttery but not at all laid back. I wouldn't say these are for bass heads but the bass is very present. Soundstage is intimate with good width and less depth and height. Now for the high frequency, the treble has good snap but is relaxed and not to harsh. Treble is not as detailed as I would have like, but it fit's right in to the overall sound signature and is very enjoyable but they are very accurate. In my opinion these perform best with Hip-Hop and electronica with there warm sound signature. Listening to rock and roll instrument separation sounded  average but has good dynamics. Kick drums have an amazing thump and hit hard with no distortion. I was honestly amazed of the low end with rock, when the music asked for bass these cans moved some serious air. Overall I really liked the overall sound, if I had to pick a weak point it would have to be the upper frequencies, I am not saying there bad they mix right into there overall sound signature there just not as detailed.
     
     
    IMG_0059.jpg IMG_0060.jpg IMG_0065.jpg
     
     
     
    MY OVERALL 2 CENTS
     
    Master & Dynamic has only been around for a few years and they have won me over so far. For the price you won't find anything built to this quality, they aren't built only on looks they perform in function with premium grade materials. The overall sound is warm with a smooth and engaging midrange. If your looking for a headphone that's built to last and want to turn heads these are for you , and I would highly recommend them. There price point might turn you off if your not a headphone enthusiasts, but if you know a thing or to about headphones you would agree they are priced just right. Priced right for the materials they use and the different types of manufacturing processes to make these is pretty amazing. I don't know of any other company that uses all leather and includes a cable case that is all leather. Since reviewing there ear bud the MH03 I have become an instant fan of the company, if you go too there website they are very active in the local community.  I am looking forward to see what they will offer in the future, I hope to be reviewing the MH30's one day so keep an eye out for another review thanks for reading. I hope I helped anyone looking to purchase these.
  7. YoYo JoKeR
    Master & Dynamic MH40: When Passion Meets Perfection
    Written by YoYo JoKeR
    Published Feb 16, 2015
    4.0/5,
    Pros - Supreme Build Quality, Pleasant Sonic Presentation
    Cons - Uncomfortable for Larger Heads, Competition from Mainstream Headphones

    Me: I am a 21 year old Engineering student living in a small town in India. I would like to call myself a music enthusiast, rather than an audiophile. I was inspired by music since childhood, and as the time passed, the passion of music grew in me, and that subsequently led me to join Head-Fi. Eventually, I found the pleasure of listening to music mainly by the HD600 and recently, by the seductive LCD2 headphones, and realized the true components of recorded music. I usually like to listen to Indian Classical Music along with Bollywood songs. My main listening genres include classical, vocal, instrumental, jazz and sometimes pop.
     

     
    Intro:  Master & Dynamic is a new US brand specializing in the area of headphones and IEM’s. They are based in New York. M&D rolled out their first product in July, last year. Their products are all designed & developed in New York, but made in China by high standards. Mr. Jonathan Levine is the founder and Chief Executive Officer of M&D.
     
    MH40 is the top-of-the-line offering from M&D, and currently has flagship status.
     
    DSC01815.jpg
     
    Specifications of MH40:
     
    Drivers: 45mm Neodymium
     
    Rated Impedance: 32 Ω
     
    Weight: 360 grams
     
    Plug: 3.5mm Gold Plated 4 pole
     
    Cable: Woven with Oxygen Free Copper
     

     
    Let us see what the MH40 has got for us,
     
    Packaging and Accessories: The MH40 arrives packed inside a strong black cardboard box with a removable outer sheet, on which features and other information have been mentioned upon. Once the box is flipped open, The MH40 is seen resting. Cables are placed inside the hard leather case in the centre of the box. This layer of foam can be lifted off to reveal another storage compartment, in which pouch and user manual are present.
     
    M &D has done some real premium packaging out here. Each and every part has a premium quality and feel to it. Really a nice and satisfying experience. The attention and perfection implemented here is one of the best I have ever seen, and is really more of a lavish style. Even the small paper clip or a velcro is made up of excellent quality material.
     
    DSC01816.jpg
     
    DSC01790.jpg
     
    DSC01791.jpg
     
    DSC01792.jpg
     
    DSC01799.jpg
     
    DSC01797.jpg
     

     
    List of accessories in the box, which include the following: 
     
    DSC01800.jpg
     
    Cables:  One short 1.25M cable with mic and volume controls, and another regular 2.0M cable.
     
    ¼” Converter: To plug in the MH40 in the 6.5mm headphone jacks.
     
    Leather cable case: This is a genuine leather case, and supplied to protect and store the cables.
     
    Headphone Pouch: This pouch has a high grade jeans-finish to it, and functions as a storage pouch for the MH40.
     
    User Manual: Contains instructions to operate the MH40 and other warranty information.
     

     
    Design and Build: The MH40 has an excellent overall build quality. It has a top notch build which is as good as any Summit-Fi headphones.
     
    The entire housing shell is made up of high quality forged aluminium. It isn’t painted, but is anodized, which is again a step forward in engineering. These cans are pretty small, and appear to be large in pictures. These are fairly heavy, but manageable by our neck muscles. M&D logo is printed on the rear side of the housing shell. Left and Right markings are particularly hard to see, since the L/R markings are very small. Headband is made up of lambskin leather. Earpads are covered with cowhide, but actually have pleather material inside.
     
    DSC01801.jpg
     
    DSC01811.jpg
     
    MH40 has cable socket at both the drivers, but only one need to be used, according to user’s choice. The cable is of very common type, a 3.5mm 4 pole jack. This ensures, even if the current cable breaks, a replacement is easy to obtain.
     
    DSC01807.jpg
     
    Wiring for opposite driver is embedded on upper end of headband, like the DT880’s overhead cabling. Personally, I don’t think this is the best mechanism here, and since MH40 have two sockets of jacks, so instead of overhead wire, which will be unreliable over time, M&D could have used both of these sockets to obtain HD600 cabling style.
     
    DSC01804.jpg
     
    DSC01806.jpg
     
    Cable has a good build. It is light, flexible and does not get tangled. But I feel the cables have slight microphonics. Plug is straight and gold plated. Both ends of cable have same connectors, thus the cable can be used either way: topside down or vice versa. A mute button is also present on right cup, which once pressed cuts off the signals and hence stops the sound generation from drivers.
     
    DSC01808.jpg
     

     
    Comfort:  This is the area where I am not particularly satisfied. I feel MH40 is not very comfortable to wear for larger heads, owing to its nimble and compact design.
     
    Though MH40 is ergonomically designed, it is primarily designed for people with smaller head size and ears. Enthusiasts with larger heads and ears may not prefer the comfort of MH40. Length of the yoke and size of the earpads in particular will be far less for a good comfort.
     
    DSC01810.jpg
     
    Since the earpads are madeup of leather, ventilation is less for ears, along with lesser accommodating space. Thereby causing sweating, especially in tropical climate. Larger ears may not fit inside the earpads at all, and even if they do fit in, ears will touch inner sides of the ear pads and will cause discomfort.
     
    DSC01813.jpg
     
    DSC01803.jpg
     
    Since MH40’s are closed back headphones, these isolate the listener from outside noise. This level of isolation is sufficient for a subway traveller. Going by weight factor, these feel fairly heavy, but very much manageable when tried on our heads.
     

     
    Sound: As for the most important part, the MH40 has a warm, smooth and intimate sonic character. A very appealing sound.
     
    Lows: are accurate, tight and refined; have a good impact. Depth is also good enough (but not very good)
     
    Mids: sound very natural, and appealing, and have a prominent warmth and lush (like the HD600’s) I guess that is in a good way, comes very pleasing to our ears. Strong point for vocals.
     
    Highs: Very smooth without grains, Highs convey an image of smoothened darkness, just like a caramel chocolate.
     
    Soundstage: Closed-in, Intimate, natural and circular soundstage. Instrument separation is very good, but definitely not airy or spacious. I feel MH40’s presentation is like sitting in second row of an opera theater.
     
    MH40 portrays music in such a way that, one feels as if the music is all around him. The sonic character here is so natural and eased that the tonality sounds very life-like. According to my observation, these cans sounded good in all genres I tried, and hence I conclude MH40's are also very forgiving to poor recordings, therefore not resolving, but very musical. 
     
    Comfort and fit plays a vital role in sound being perceived to our ears. Especially in case of MH40 where the earpads are very compact, if they fit in a wrong way, they will leak sound leading to missing details. I will not be directly comparing the MH40’s to other headphones since these are quite unique in their own regard. But for the sake of it, MH40's will sound somewhat similar to HD650's.
     

     
    Amplification: The MH40’s are rated at 32 ohms, and designed to be power efficient, and hence are fairly easy to drive, and can be driven by almost any sources, smartphones and DAP’s. Although amp like an Objective2 does increases the sound output audibly, the difference in quality is clearly noticeable. Amplification factor is not very important here, but a decent amp indeed does help;
     

     
    Conclusion:  I feel the MH40’s are a very special and unique set of cans. Build quality is phenomenal, sonic presentation is warm and pleasing, with intimate soundstage. This type of presentation will be useful for casual listen to music, but definitely not for mastering or critical listening. Due to MH40’s compact design, enthusiasts with moderate to large heads will not prefer the comfort in these.
     
    But at this price point of 399$ there are many well acclaimed mainstream headphones like HD600, DT880, Q701, HE400 and many portable/power efficient ones like T51 etc, which sonically perform better and offer good comfort in a handsome price.
     
    So, I will recommend MH40 for those, who would prefer a unique, easy-to-drive headphones which are compact, portable and have a great build with a euphonic warm/smooth/intimate sound signature. Plus, whose head size is relatively smaller inorder to enjoy a decent comfort.
     
     
    The Pros: 
     
    1) Build Quality: The MH40 has a superb all-metal/leather build. No compromise to be seen anywhere.
     
    2) Sound quality: Sound presentation here is natural, and is very much like-able for casual music listening.
     
     
    The Cons:
     
    1) Comfort: This is definitely a downside for enthusiasts with moderate to larger heads. MH40 cannot accommodate larger heads even with maximum yoke length, and same goes earpads.
     
    2) Value:  As per current scenario in Mid-Fi headphones category, there are many better performing and more practical headphones available in the same price range.
     

    DSC01802.jpg
     


    1. DeadEars
      I found this a very useful review.  I am very familiar with both the Senn HD600 and the Audeze LCD-2, which are my main headphones.  Can you give me some comparatives between these headphones and the other two?  I'm thinking mostly of amplified use and occasionally portable amplified use.
       
      thanks!
      DeadEars, May 10, 2015
    2. YoYo JoKeR
      Hey mate,
       
      MH40's bass will be increased in body than both of HD600 & LCD-2 , but at the cost of accuracy. Mids are thick, euphonic( than both HD600, LCD-2) &  pleasing (less accurate/detailed). Highs are very smooth and refined. Sounstage is intimate, with a sense of closeness.
       
      So overall, these are good headphones with coloration in their sonic presentation for casual music listening. But definitely technically inferior in performance compared to both HD600 & LCD-2.
       
      Let me know if you have any more queries,
      YoYo JoKeR, May 10, 2015
    3. DeadEars
      That's consistent with what I've been hearing.  Considering these for mobile use, sounds like a good match for non-critical, just-fun listening.
       
      Thx!
      DeadEars, May 10, 2015
  8. mikemercer
    Master & Dynamic Couldn't Be More Aptly Named! MH40s: Well-Built, Stylish & Sound Terrific. At $399 - C'Mon, If Needed, Just Do It
    Written by mikemercer
    Published Nov 16, 2014
    4.0/5,
    Pros - Refreshingly Sharp Design. Modern & Tough. Functionality pluses (mute button/ear-cup) & Excitable, Dynamic, & Detailed Music! +Wearable All Day for Me
    Cons - Ear-pads Need Re-Work (angle/padding/etc) for Deeper Low-End & I'd Like to See em get a lil smaller, around the Head - maybe more room on the slider?
    3.12.15
    I wrote the review of the Master & Dynamic MH40s below while I was in the Impressions phase - as indicated in my first introductory sentence below.
    Since writing this piece I've had many listening sessions with my MH40s - and I still LOVE & prefer the gun-metal finish to the wildly popular brown-leather  - but that also looks great IMHO. I'm going to include some updates - and hopefully some of the original readers of the review will catch em'.
     
    **I'm not sure if users receive updates because they commented or interacted with the review at some point.
    I'll check w/ the good peeps at Head-Fi bout that.**
     
    My updates will be labeled and appear at the END of this initial essay.
     
    I'm admittedly still in the Impressions phase w/ my Master & Dynamic MH40s (gun-metal & black finish) but I felt obligated to, at the very least, get something down here and update it when I've got the MH40s totally broken-in...
     
    Is that Kosher?
     
    I'm just so taken w/ these cans, and haven't been so since my LCD-X & XCs arrived last year! So I thought that might warrant an on-going review (NOT forever obviously, not intending to break ANY Rules or Regulations - I'm gettin' that out in the open NOW [​IMG]) because at $399, I feel obligated to share about these smart, stylish, musically powerful headphones NOW!
    I first heard em' this year in our hotel room during Rocky Mountain Audio Fest /CanJam w/ the then very new-to-all-of-us Cavalli Audio Liquid Crimson hybrid amp! And that sound was glorious - 
     
    my MacBook Pro SSD/Amarra Symphony was source
    CEntrance DACPort LX (same as DACPort - but just the DAC) for D-to-A
    and the Master & Dynamic MH40s - in this kinda seventies brown-style that alot of peeps have. Those are cool - but when I saw the gun-metal & black that was I for me! 
     
    They've shattered my expectations - which weren't low, but I didn't consider these high-end reference-quality cans. Didn't have enough time - and they sounded wonderful on the Cavalli Liquid Crimson (a funny, but the right mismatch - if you wanna test your headphones  sonic capabilities) But when I heard em on a couple other things (honestly can't remember what others people had w/ them) they just sounded like good, solid headphones, and certainly worth more in musical performance than their MSRP! So I'm psyched my boy Chris Sommovigo had that pair with him in my room at RMAF/Canjam this year!!
    IMG_3832.jpg
    So I reached out to the guys there.
    They seem really down to Earth and committed BTW. I was psyched when they asked me about something on the cans and I brought up the pads, the lack of a seal sometimes - but you can also use that as a sort-of Free Earth EQ ( [​IMG]), if you like...  Seriously: Scott was really cool over there, and it seems like they have a solid team.
    What's the result of these down-to-Earth fellas work? 
     
    That's the main reason I'm pushing the limit tonight, as I should be watching a documentary w/ my darlin' wifey - but I needed to start sharing my experience with these, and not merely through social media - and I got tons of gear ahead of em in editorial too - I love Head-Fi for alot of reasons - and this is certainly one of them! Bottom-Line:
     
    If my cousin Kenny or my father wanted a headphone that looks and sounds good for $399 - I'd buy both of em' a pair! That will probably mean more than ALL of my meandering prose in this review! So now, I've heard a wide variety of music at low & loud-levels, and I've heard em' on desktop gear and some of my very best portable stuff. My top references are coming NEXT in the follow-up here!! The MH40s are just the straight-dope musically, with a dash of aesthetics for the Wired-set. Their bass and lower-midrange was surprisingly controlled and extended when I got the pads all sorted (sorry, gotta admit to OCD here - not the biggest deal). Recondites new album Iffy is a thumping, hovering synths-spaced-out electronic masterpiece, and the MH40s reproduced it with clarity and attitude. The sound was sharp, but not in a fatiguing way at all. There was no overhang or sluggishness with regard to the transient attack of the 40s too - with varying genres of music; from underground tech-house, courtesy of my friend Damian Lazarus to acoustic singer-songwriters like Martin Sexton, Ani DiFranco, or Badly Drawn Boy. I especially enjoyed their sound when playing full-bodied, textural, experimental electronic music from artists like Art Department, Hecq, Recondite, and classic boundary burning artist like Aphex Twin and Bill Laswell. The 40s are also happy with tubes or solid state - which is nice. They're not picky. Of course - as the ol' skool engineering wisdom tells us:
     
    Crap IN
    Crap OUT
     
    So you're source, as with any loudspeaker or headphone, has to be whatever best-quality is available at the time! You can't build a million dollar/Impressive stereo reference system based on crap sources! Well, the MH40s are critical enough to tell you about the sonic characteristics of the music, but they also manage to achieve a nice synergy with more systems than at least 50% of the headphones I own. It's a very jolting (positively) experience: Not having to pick certain products to go with other certain products in order to achieve audio Nirvana. Just give me straight-up, well-built, comfortable headphones that do their job - but do it WELL enough to grant me some serenity while imbibing my favorite tunes - and I'm GOOD.
     
    This portable rig built around em' was ill on this mornings hike!
    They're light-enough, but also feel rugged. Their mic is decent for cell calls.
    So this was almost perfect this morning:
     
    Master & Dynamic MH40s
    AstellnKern AK240
    ALL DHC cables: Comp4 mini-to-mini, Molecule Elite headphone cable
    Lehmann Audio Traveler battery-powered headphone amp (CLEAN, powerful, and ran Chris Sommovigos LCD-3s for 30+ hours)
     
    IMG_4329.jpg
     
    This has been my go-to system for the MH40s - aside of the Liquid Crimson in for review - but since
    I don't know that amp real well yet (hence: Reviewing it) and I'm new to the MH40s - I just put em' on the Cavalli for Ear-Candy Sessions...
     
    This desktop rig, below, has given me some amazing sundown-to-sunrise listening experiences:
     
    Master & Dynamics MH40s
    Double Helix Cables Molecule Elite
    Woo Audio WA7 Fireflies w/ Upgraded Electro Harmonix Gold-tip tubes
    Black Cat Silverstar USB cable
    MacBook Pro SSD/Amarra Symphony as source
    IMG_4298.jpg
    The MH40s are easily driven, but I prefer plenty of headroom: Straight-up power and dynamic clarity, without too much excess electro-crap affecting the signal path. I've been glued to the WA7 Fireflies and MH40s for about 10 days now...
     
    Rockin' Art Department & Seth Troxlers' new EP Cruel Intentions RIGHT NOW (on WA7 Fireflies), as I type this, and the title track is BANGIN'. It's surprising, seriously, the lower-mid and bass the MH40s throw - but it takes some messin' with the earpads to get the seal right - and that's my only gripe thus far. I should say, and this doesn't count in the "Cons"  - the low-end could use more heft and velocity - as I know the Art Department EP - and there were deeper ripples to capture and reproduce, no doubt about that.  However, given their colorful (NOT-colored) midrange, open/airy highs, and fascinatingly controlled and extended lower-midrange and bass (just not a lot of sub-bass being blown into my ear-drums) the MH40s could be a new headphone Gem (that's been around for awhile I hear actually) if they play their cards right! Thus far they deliver the sonic goods, less any earth-shattering low-end, and are a pleasure to wear and walk-around with.
     
    I think @grizzlybeast was right expressing their leakage concerns  (meaning, as they said, if you're on a subway - or ending up sitting close to somebody and crankin' the 40s - the people near you might hear the highs of your music). But, hey, we've all had that done to us right?!?!
     
    Forbes DROOLED over em', and I'm beginning to hear why. I'll be updating this review ASAP!
    I want to experience the MH40s on a few more amp/DAC combos AND, IMPORTANT  - listen to some vinyl with em'!!
     
    However, as I just got up to take a break and change (I know, who cares...but) I found my original CEntrance DACport in my sock drawer,
    so I decided, as I know the SQ of the DACPort very well - why not do another quick system change and see what happens:
    IMG_4345.jpg
    This simple rig:
     
    Master & Dynamic MH40s
    Double Helix Cables Molecule Elite + adapter (2.5mm TRRS to 1/4")
    CEntrance DACport Amp/DAC
    Moon Audio Silver Dragon V3 USB cable for DACport
    MacBook Pro SSD/Amarra Symphony as source
     
    The synergy of this lil' system worked so well it sounded effortless - From top to bottom - so I threw my latest musical acid test track at the DACport + MH40s: Beacons' "Fault Lines" off their up-coming album. This track is like underground, dirty tech-house - Croydon London-style (the Brooklyn of London), broken-beat, Chicago and acid house all mixed up in this fantastic sonic onslaught of pingin' pads and transient stabs, strange sounds weaving in and out of each other, and a kick that'll have you grabbin' your n____s if you sit too close to a loudspeaker when things kick-off! The gradual build-up of the track - right outta the gate, gets my blood pumpin': A pounding kick-drum is surrounded by percussive and synth-like triggered sounds, then there's an echoey grand sense of space; the thumping continues - but it's becomes part of an electronic chorus via this minimal ping that wraps itself around the massive kick; eventually ascending into the crescendo. I couldn't help but move my damn feet to these seemingly simplistic rhythms the whole time. It's got tasteful dance sensibilities, but it's also a chugger of a track. It's the one you drop at 5:30AM, when the sun is cresting over the horizon: and everybody on the dance-floor is starting to sync up. Beacon manages to capture all these vibes in one track! I can't wait to hear the whole record. Sorry, veered off-track there for a second.
     
    The MH40s sonics were liquid and engrossing during the Beacon track, just so damn addictive and mesmerizing. The same went for Thom Yorke's Tomorrows Modern Boxes (which I reviewed for Positive Feedback HERE). I listened to that album many times in a row I loved the rendering so much with the Master & Dynamic MH40s and Woo WA7 Fireflies combo. That rig sealed the deal for me on the MH40s I think.
     
    And MORE TO COME!
     
     
    I've been working in the front of the house for a couple weeks (my wifey's sick - so I end up near her in case she needs something - my SS Lab is in the back of the house)
    I have some systems set-up on this corner desk - but it's nothin' like the Sonic Satori Personal Audio Lab for putting cans like these through their paces!!
    DSC01217.jpg
    and I look forward to that ASAP!!
     
    Felt I needed to give these an enthusiastic thumbs up thus far, because I can't imagine my opinion is going to change much over the next couple weeks testing period.
    If it does, I know these aren't going to end up boring me, that's for sure. I'm enjoying all aspects of the Master & Dynamic MH40s right now!!
     
    IMG_4288.jpg
    Another sunrise MH40s session
     
    To Be Continued...
     
    SO: 1/23/15:
     
    I have a few more things to share with regard to the MH40s performance as they've broken-in. I've also used them on some other gear in addition to the associated gear list above, to see just how well they play with various Amp/DAC combos and sources!!
     
    I will be tackling this UPDATE ASAP - hopefully this weekend!
     
    I must say this:
    I think Master & Dynamic have designed fantastic cans in the MH40s from an industrial-design stand-point, sonically, of course, and comfort, forward-thinking (like the mute button),
    it's a great package.
     
    What holds it back the most, or, what held it back the most, musically, for me before I tried other things??
    MANY doubters will dismiss this - but I heard/experienced the significant sonic changes - their stock headphone cables!
     
    W/ the stock cable the MH40s aren't bad. They're actually pretty good. But they are capable of SO much MORE!
     
    When I installed various Double Helix Cables, and tried (for giggles - since the MH40 has a 3.5mm input) my Nordost iKable on the cans-
    the timbre came ALIVE - space just GREW, and the sense of spaciousness is what I expected from the 40s, but always feel JUST short of!!
     
    SO - more on my experiments SOON!
     
    I know, it sounds CRAZY - but other cables have, in many systems, yielded an immediate impact that's tough NOT to hear! IMO...
    IMG_5032.jpg    IMG_4753.jpg
     
    Conclusions comin...
     
    3.12.15
    LATEST UPDATES:
     
    IMG_4351.jpg
     
    Well, to be honest I'm not sure I've drawn any permanent conclusions about the MH40s! Though during the time I've spent with them since I wrote the piece above my love for the cool cans has only grown. I say I probably don't have any permanent conclusions about the Master & Dynamic MH40s because I know, in my gut, that a couple of small adjustments to these headphones could make a World of difference sonically - therefore offering greater and deeper reproductions of my beloved music! I'm NOT tryin' to knock Master & Dynamic AT ALL. Not my honest intent here. I felt obligated to share my thoughts on these small changes because I think they will allow the headphones to perform at a level they were meant to play. It's gotta be tough, for product engineers, to keep from looking back I'm sure. They wanna make leaps forward however, - usually with newer products, right? Well, hopefully somebody from M&D will hear about this 
     
    - eh, what am I saying, I'll send these thoughts to Jonathan at Master&Dynamic - he's such a cool guy and his team are equally nice and helpful - and besides, I could be a complete jack __s, therefore no harm no foul! -
     
    And those small adjustments are:
     
    1) Better/different ear-pads. I hate the word better, and I especially hate it when somebody calls a piece of audio kit the "best" blah blah blah. There is NO best - as we all interpret things differently, as we bring our own life experiences to bear when we listen to music, look at paintings, etc. With art, no matter what the medium, we're reacting to something beyond classification - and SO sorry for that deviation/brain-dump. I should've just said "different ear-pads", but I meant to say better as in; I think other ear-pads would aid in delivering the music to our ears in a cleaner, more open and transparent way. What to do to the ear-pads to achieve this? Well, firstly I dig the magnetic attachment of the ear-pads to the MH40s headphone chassis! A nice touch. So why not offer 2, or maybe even 3 different types of ear-pads? I know if these were thicker (listening to my MH40s and new Burson Conductor Virtuoso at this moment) I would, I believe, get better bass response. Thicker and a touch deeper too. Plus - given the current ear-pads are totally flat/level, it doesn't always give me a terrific seal - because of the strange shape of my skull and jaw. However, if they do thick pads like MrSpeakers did on his Alpha Prime, or what Audeze has always provided on their reference LCD-Series headphones  - which means in addition to increasing the thickness and depth of the pads, Master & Dynamic made the pads angular, the music would arrive at our inner-ears in a more natural way. Audeze and MrSpeakers figured this out. If they are angled in a way that merely extends our outer-ears angle, I believe this definitely helps the audio signal arrive and appear more natural to our analog ears. I could be wrong... But that's tweak #1.
     
    2) This is gonna attract some venim from the cables are a rip-off crowd but I don't care. I've heard what different headphone cables do to the performance of these cans on revealing systems. After discovering that I could detect changes sonically utilizing other cables, I spent a couple weeks deciding which one I enjoyed the most as part of the system. Because, this much I've always agreed to when it comes to audio cables impacting the sound of a system: All a different cable can really do is: Act like less of a filter, with lower capacitance and inductance - therefore helping the system to reproduce the audio signal in a more accurate way. The cable can also aid in lowering the noise-floor or not. If you play around with different component and cable configurations you'll find that some cables are not as good as others in a system - and that's where system synergy comes in. Now, I'm also not a guy that will ever say something like "the ___ cable sound like ____". Because, IMHO: The cable doesn't have a sound of its own - it's the interface between components - so we're always experiencing the system as a whole. Therefore - we can prefer certain cables in a system, or with a headphone - but not because of ITS sound. It's how does it help reproduce the systems sound? After sayin' all that: It was Double Helix Cables Molecule Elite cable that I thought was the best combo. When I compared that duo to the factory cable, and also included my wifey in that test (she's got great ears, worked in the music biz for many years too) we did some single-blind tests - and, NO BS: Both of us picked the DHC Molecule cable every-time! That's sayin' something - which is why I'm reporting about it here. I haven't picked the same cable every-time even with far more expensive cans and cables! Observations do not discriminate - well, if you set it u properly that is... So I think Master & Dynamic should reach out to Peter at Double Helix and speak about an upgrade path that will blow people away. The cool thing is: That's not one of Peters expensive cables. HIGHLY recommended if you already own a pair of MH40s.
     
    IMG_4273.jpg
     
    Suggested tweaks/upgrades aside: I enjoy the MH40s every-time I rock em'. Whether that's because I'm headin' out and I wanna use em' with whatever portable rig I'm rockin' at that moment, or, even if I'm using one of my top reference desktop amps - they're just fun to listen to my music on. A big part of that is that they don't discriminate when it comes to all the different genres of music I play. I mean, it all depends on my mood - but I could be bumpin' Afro-Beat one minute, underground tech-house the next, and finish up the listening sesh with a bit of Roberta Flack. There have been many cans that passed through the Sonic Satori Personal Audio Lab and were terrific with classical, jazz, and soft pop music, but fell apart when it came to techno or hip-hop. I don't wanna have to choose certain cans for different styles of music! I want headphones, like terrific loudspeakers, to be able to handle anything I throw their way. The MH40s do that for me, and they play back all the music I like in an excitable, engaging, soulful way. And at their price - that's an amazing accomplishment. I was also psyched to see my peer and fellow Head-Fier @goldendarko felt the same way in his review at DAR this week. NICE one John!!
     
    The MH40s aren't difficult to drive, but they do like headroom. I noticed this when I was using them with my AK240 often. I ended up adding the Lehmann Audio Traveler to the AK240 - as it's such a clean amplifier with an insane amount of power and battery-life! It ran my fellow Audio360.org teammate Chris Sommovigo's Audeze LCD-3s for over 30 hours! Besides, I think the dual-DACs in the AK240 are fine, all it needs is some more power now and then - for my needs. So I was using the AK240/Traveler combo for my LCD-2s, 3s, XCs, and HD800s  - also using all DHC cables for that portable rig - and I decided, just for the hell of it - to try my MH40s on that rig. I knew it was overkill, power-wise, but f___ it! The resulting sound was totally beyond my expectations. The midrange was so luscious, but pristine and wide-open as well. The bottom end was extended, givin' me bass that I didn't know the MH40s were capable of! And, the highs were gloriously transparent with no trace of listener fatigue. As a matter of fact, that became one of my all-time favorite portable combos:
     
    IMG_4341.jpg
     
    So I guess I could safely say that one conclusion is that I kept them for a reason - NOT merely to be able to say:
    "I like it so much I bought it". But because I genuinely love everything about the MH40s. I dig their industrial design. Hell - I even love the mute button! I think that's a terrific little feature. It also has a good click to it - the mute button. That's sounds crazy maybe - but I mean it doesn't feel cheap. That's important to me. Most importantly I love how they translate my music, and how easy they are to deal with. S__t, even the headphone bag M&D provides is better than the average can sack.  I hope these guys continue to grow.
    I can't wait to hear what's up next!
     
     
      iano, Noir13 and gelocks like this.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. gelocks
      Nice review Mike!
       
      Although I wouldn't rank these near as "high-end reference-quality cans", they are excellent! Although, I haven't tried much of the high-end out there so, maybe they are!!! :wink:
       
      Very smooth to my ears in the mids-high transition, no sibilance, and fun bass!!!! Though, sometimes it might be a bit too much bass and uncontrolled but personally I love them. I have been getting rid of headphones that leak, and although these DO leak, I just can't part with them! They look awesome and sound very good to my ears! Seems everyone who tries them end up liking them. Heck, I think even Tyll liked them! :)
       
      Thanks for also posting impressions on different configurations! Not everyone has Cavalli's lol but liked that you went from a high-end set-up to a most simple down-to-earth one. Heck, you should get a "lowly" FiiO X1 or something to also post direct impressions out of a 'cheap' player (no amp, no hassles for easy to drive headphones like these! :wink:).
       
      Good stuff!
      Keep on enjoy them!
      gelocks, Nov 17, 2014
    3. grizzlybeast
      they are not perfect but have an addicting quality about them. They are instant gratification when swapping from something sterile, dry, or boring.
      grizzlybeast, Nov 17, 2014
    4. mikemercer
      Thanks @gelocks! yeah, though they leak, they are certainly addictive! I also like em better on tubes or hybrids. The bass seems more silky, more vibrant, and while not totally controlled, it sounds more defined w/ tubes. I can't get enough of em!
       
      @grizzlybeast: GREAT point!! 
      mikemercer, Nov 18, 2014
  9. dalesky
    Amazing clear sound, first rate materials and the highest quality build.
    Written by dalesky
    Published Jun 22, 2016
    4.5/5,
    Pros - I find these very comfortable, and with the longer cord they are right at home when I am in my recliner of a very similar brown hued leather.
    Cons - none noted
    I am not an obsessed audiophile, but have enjoyed headphones and music in general, for a very long time. Only recently, in the last 3 or 4 years, have I had been buying high quality headphones. I prefer closed over the ear, but since I enjoy them mostly at home, by myself, open are fine also.
    I listen to a lot of jazz, both old and new school, and also blues of all types.
    I do not travel with headphones very often, and never use them for commuting, since I am retired.
    I have been using these for a couple of months now, and have used them amped with a couple of different pieces of gear, as well as straight from a music player, and straight from a CD player, without an amplifier.
    What ever I have listened to I have been very pleased with these, perhaps as much or more as with my planar heaphones, which are my standard for great sound.
    It is obvious that a LOT of time went into the design and aesthetics of these. Also a significant amount of time was spent getting the sound just right. I agree with others who have talked about the amazing design, which is unequaled in my experience. I find nothing to criticize about these.
  10. lin0003
    Excellent Portable Headphone
    Written by lin0003
    Published Mar 29, 2015
    4.5/5,
    Pros - Sound, Build, Design, Accessories
    Cons - Quite Expensive
    I must admit, until recently, I was not aware of the Master and Dynamic brand. I had heard about them on the forums, but never really read anything about them. Their recent model MH40 is their current flagship and retails for $400 in the US. Master & Dynamic themselves are a New York based audio company which offers a range of premium headphones targeted towards both the masses and audiophile world.
     
    MH40_Banner1.jpg
     
    From what I gather, the MH40 is a model that was put out very recently, a little over half a year ago. With technology moving forward rapidly, it was certainly very interesting to see just what a company that is relatively new to the audio scene can bring to the table. Every now and then, a new, innovative company pops up and puts out a terrific and exciting product; to my mind, the MH40 is certainly a premium example of this. Maybe this remarkably original headphone will spark a trend of similar portable headphones.
     
    The philosophy of the company is one that is very hard to criticise. They want to bring us, consumers, premium products that will last and sound great. As I mentioned briefly, the MH40 seems to be not only geared towards the Head-Fi community, but also meets the general public’s appeal. Could this headphone possibly be the one that changes the portable headphone market? We will have to wait and see, but there is simply no denying its unprecedented style and design.
     
    **Disclaimer** These headphones were given to me free of charge by Master & Dynamic in exchange for an unbiased, honest review.
     
     
    Unboxing & Accessories
     
    MH40_brown_gallery_5.png
     
    The first way that many judge a product is via their box and outward appearance. Luckily, Master & Dynamic’s MH40 has one of the most impressive presentations that I have come across on a piece of audio gear regardless of price. The headphone is certainly not cheap and the company makes you aware of that. The only way to describe the MH40 is that it is gorgeous, and it comes with the packaging to match. Upon sliding the slick black box out of the outer sleave, we are greeted with the headphones under a flap. The foam is perfectly cut out, providing ample protection during shipping and there is the round, leather cable case just under the headband. Under the foam section, there is a folded velvet soft case that feels very well made as well as a manual in multiple languages. It is easy to see the painstaking planning that went into the presentation of these headphones and it really shows.
     
    The quality of everything that accompanies the MH40 is impressive to say the least. The cable case is made very well, but just a little big. It comes with 2 cables, a standard 1.2m cable with the remote/mic and another plain cable that is 2m long, which is much more convenient to use at home. The case has a small pouch inside it and it soft and seamless, locked with magnets. If I was going to carry the headphones around in my bag full of other stuff, I would probably not use this case – it doesn’t really protect the MH40s much, if at all, but is great if you just wanted to store them at home to avoid them getting scratched or dusty. There is also a pretty standard ¼ adapter that is recessed to fit the plugs of the cables. Fantastic from M&D here, no complaints from me whatsoever.
     
    MH40_brown_gallery_4_3dd408e2-d582-451e-b007-c27226d8ce13.png
     
    Design, Cable & Isolation
    Boy, is the MH40 unique… I don’t think I have ever seen another headphone that looks remotely similar and it looks fantastic. The gunmetal grey option is one of the most beautiful headphones I have ever seen. It is made mainly of metal and leather, making is very sturdy, but surprisingly light and comfortable. I had no issues with the comfort or fit of these at all. The M&D symbol is all over the headphone, on the cup screws, the inside of the headband, and on the grills. There is also a mute button on the right side of the headphone, which I found to be somewhat odd, but is a welcome addition. Build is impeccable, although I can’t comment on the durability of these yet, I have no doubt that if you treat them well they will last a long time. The leather feels really nice on your head, feels much better than pleather. The adjusters are very well thought out as well, smooth and marked. It has inputs/outputs on both sides of the headphone, allowing for the more conventional left sided input or the sight sided input if you prefer that. Another cool feature is its ability to “daisy chain” to another headphone via the port that is not being used. Would be very helpful if you were stuck somewhere with only 1 music source lol. To me, the MH40 is one of the most well thought out headphone designs and it has no flaws for me, as close to perfection as anything else I have used.

     
    MH40_black_gallery_3.png
     
    The cables are have a cloth lining that makes them very quiet and there were no microphonics issues at all. Apparently they are made out of pure copper for a “pure” sound, take what you want for that. If you are a cable believer, than great news for you; if you are not, then let’s move on. The remote works perfectly with the iPhone 6, but only the pause/play works with my android devices, which was predictable. The strain relief is very good on both cables and even the plugs have small M&D symbols on them. Some of the nicest cables I have used.
     
    Being semi-open, I was expecting these to have atrocious isolation, but I actually found these to be quite good. A way I test isolation is to listen to my normal music at normal (75-80dB) volumes and play music in the background at around the same volume and if it doesn’t get in the way, then it is good enough for me. The MH40 was quite good, obviously not as good as the average IEM, but over the ears portable headphones rarely are. They should be acceptable for normal use, but just don’t expect them to work wonders on a plane or something. Definitely better than some IEMs I have experienced. Oh, and these do leak a little bit of sound, so perhaps don’t blast these in the library…
     
    MH40_black_gallery_2_999ec892-70be-4c58-b672-fb4042b90f8b.png
     
    Testing Gear
    This is the area that was a bit weird for me. Usually I don’t experience large change between pieces of gear, but the MH40 changed drastically when I switched between an amped sources and my phone. When I first received them, I put some music on through my Xperia Z2 and they sounded very nice, clear and slightly warm with nice, punchy bass. Changing to my iBasso DX90 bore unexpected results. The headphone became significantly bassier, which goes to show that they need some juice to bring the bass out. Does this make it better though? Not really, it just makes it different. I know that many people would like these unamped more, whereas others will prefer the extra bass from an amp. The thing I found was that the DX90 seemed to be a more controlled than the Z2 and had better soundstage/imaging as well as details. TBH, I think I preferred the so9und signature of them from my phone more, but there is no doubt that the overall performance of the MH40 improves with a better source. I would recommend that you invest in a small, cheap budget amp for the MH40 if you don’t already have a DAP.

     
    master-and-dynamic-mh40-product-photos07.jpg
     
    Sound
    On the whole, I have not been impressed with portable headphones, but there have been a few exceptions, one of which is definitely the MH40. If you have read a few of my previous reviews, you may know that my sound preference lean towards a neutral headphone, but of course, I still enjoy my warmth and bass once in a while. The issue I have found is that many warm headphones tend to sound a little veiled and lifeless, lacking the excitement that I crave. Well, the MH40 is certainly a warm headphone and it gains a big recommendation from me.

     
    MH40_gunmetal_gallery_1_4321521f-ae61-41d6-8e59-17ee856a16d8.png
     
    Bass
    The bass is sublime, weighty, but not overpowering to say that least. At no point was I left asking for more quantity or feeling like the midrange was being overshadowed. The MH40 has this particular way of presenting bass notes that makes it so appealing to me. The bass is never intruding when it is not needed, and actually seems like a neutral headphone at times, but it slams hard when it is called upon. This is not something that many headphones achieve, not even flagships like the Audeze headphones can do this like the MH40 does. The mid bass is not overly prominent, but always there and is very detailed. What was impressive was the linearity of the bass, I sensed no roll of towards the sub-bass – if anything, it was a bit boosted. There is a very satisfying rumble to it, but it has a fast decay and I must stress again that despite the bass being heavy, it does not interfere with other frequencies. It is because of the various bass qualities that I can confidently say the bass of the MH40 is simply the best I have heard on any portable headphone regardless of price.

     
     
    Midrange
    From my experience, a warm midrange is often associated with veiled vocals, which is something that I simply cannot deal with. Very few headphones and IEMs do I recommend that are warm and this is the reason for it. I was really hoping that the MH40 would be different and it is. The midrange is liquid, rich and very smooth, but that is not to say that it is not detailed because it most definitely is. I feel like the midrange is centred and not recessed whatsoever, but not forward either. It strikes a nice balance between cold/warmth and also the positioning. There seems to be a lower midrange boost that makes male vocals seem a little accentuated and mellow, but that is not a bad thing. In fact, I quite enjoy the different presentation to the HD800, my main headphone, which the MH40 produces. They actually sound very natural despite the lack of neutrality in the midrange, providing authentic scope into the music. To put it simply, if you want to use these to analyse music or as studio monitors, than these may not be great, but they bring a remarkable level of music enjoyment.

     
     
    Treble
    I’ll state before I go into this section by saying that I like my treble, I’m a little bit of a treblehead at times, but I appreciate warmer headphones which perhaps don’t have as much of a sparkle as well. The MH40, as you might have guessed by this stage is not a bright headphone and has a slightly rolled of treble. I must stress the slightly, but it is not very rolled off by any means. The treble is actually quite flat and there is a seamless transition from the midrange. I did not experience any spikes at all and it was a smooth and trouble-free experience. To boost the treble would mean that the entire tonality of the headphone changes, and I and I am content with the quantity. Cymbals have a bit of a shorter decay than neutral headphones, but they were actually really detailed. I found that these were not in the least dull, they are reminiscent of the Momentum’s treble, but better in every way. It is not the most detailed treble I have heard, but it is definitely not bad at all. I wouldn’t go to say that it is one of its strengths, but it is not a con.

     
    533205_mrp_in_l.jpg
     
    Soundstage & Imaging
    Being a semi open headphone gives it a little bit of an advantage over fully closed headphones in the soundstage department and the MH40 is actually pretty good. Portable headphones have never really had a large soundstage, I have always found similarly priced IEMs to be better, but the MH40 does quite well. It presents a sense of depth and height very well, but the height is not spectacular. I don’t have the Momentum side by side to compare, but from memory, these are significantly better with the soundstage and it beats the Beats Studios 2.0 by quite a margin as well. Not bad at all from M&D. A very solid soundstage from a portable headphone.

     
    The imaging was actually much better than I expected. It was generally quite accurate and handles most tracks with ease. Compared to the Beats Studio 2.0 (which are much better than the original version), these were much clearer and partly due to the larger soundstage, it was significantly easier to tell the instruments apart and where they were accurately. There is a nice sense of air between the instruments that is quite rare to see on a portable headphone, but maybe this is due, once again, to the semi-open nature of the MH40. It does very well in these categories.
     
    10_headphones.jpg
     
    Separation, Detail & Clarity
    The potential of these drivers continues to impress me. Although it may not be evident at the start, the MH40 has actually got very good separation. This is especially the case with vocals, I found them to excel in that areas. A way I test for vocal separation is by running several of Fun.’s songs from the album Some Nights. These passed with flying colours – they sound excellent with male vocals, no complaints here whatsoever. With instruments, the MH40 is also very strong, being particularly good with midrange instruments. Rarely did I feel like some instruments were lost in the background, but it did happen on a few tracks. However, this is really the tuning rather than the drivers, and changing the tuning or EQing them would result in the MH40s losing their magic.

     
    The MH40 is not the most detailed headphone I have heard for $400, but that is not to say that it is weak. It is not bad at all, actually quite strong compared to other portable headphones, but I feel like portable headphones simply do not have the detail that full sized headphones and IEMs do. If you are desperate to get those microdetails that are missed by the MH40, then I suppose you could EQ them to be a bit brighter, but personally, I love the MH40 the way it is and would rather not touch the tuning.
    Despite the warm tone, the clarity does not really take much of a hit. Sure, brighter headphones will sound sharper and may have that artificial clarity, but they do not possess the organic tone that these do. If I were to really nit-pick though, I suppose the detail and clarity are negatives, but nothing is perfect and the MH40’s “weakness” lies here.
     
    MH30-MH40.jpg
     
    Summary
    To me, it is very clear that I have enjoyed the M&D MH40 immensely and it is the best portable headphone I have ever heard regardless of price. It simply ticks all the boxes – fun to listen to, beautifully built, some isolation, comfortable. Obvious, YMMV, but I do feel like most people will be blown away with the overall product that Master & Dynamic have put out. The MH40 will undoubtedly become my daily portable driver for a long time, perhaps until M&D introduce something new in the horizon.
     
    I’d like to give a huge thanks again to Scott & Micah for sending me the MH40 to review and experience this wonderful headphone that I simply cannot put down. BTW none of the photos are mine, so if you own one and want me to take it down, just tell me. 
      RockStar2005 likes this.
    1. dnun8086
      Bloody good review, I am keeping an eye on these and the company. Thanks for taking the time to write up your impressions. :)
      dnun8086, Mar 29, 2015
    2. RockStar2005
      lin, 
       
      Excellent review!! You really covered all the points I cared about most..........bass not spilling over or muddying up mids & treble, bass not being too boomy, soundstage being really good, design, comfort, etc! 
       
      I currently own the AKG K553 Pro, and just ordered the MH40 actually too. It will arrive tomorrow. 
       
      So is there ANY chance that the MH40 has as much soundstage as the K553 does? I'm not sure if the K553 are considered "full-size" headphones or not, but their soundstage is INCREDIBLE! I compared them ($170) to my former $399 Oppo PM-3, and I thought they were BETTER! I just wish the K553 had a detachable and shorter cable (10'), which is part of my reason for looking at other headphones, despite having tried many and happily ending it with the K553. I wouldn't mind something slightly smaller too, which the MH40 appears to be. 
       
      So we'll see what happens once they arrive and I burn them in a little. I certainly love their look, as I do my K553. The mute button on the side of the MH40 is cool too. Simple, but unique. 
       
      Let me know. 
       
      Thanks!!
      RockStar2005, Feb 9, 2016
    3. RockStar2005
      (*Or even close to as much soundstage as the K553 has?)
      RockStar2005, Feb 9, 2016