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Master & Dynamic MH40

  1. twister6
    A beautifully crafted headphones with a nice smooth sound
    Written by twister6
    Published Feb 9, 2015
    Pros - beautiful design, top quality material, tough build, nicely balanced smooth sound
    Cons - some microphonics, can benefit from a better detail retrieval, a bit pricey
    Before I start my review, I would like to Thank Master & Dynamic for providing me with a review sample in exchange for my honest opinion.
    Typically when I receive a new pair of headphones, regardless of full size or in-ear, the first thing I do is to run a quick sound check out of the box before I start my usual 2-day burn in.  When I opened Master & Dynamic packaging box to reveal a pair of MH40 I was sent for review, suddenly I forgot all about my usual routine because I was preoccupied with looking at a piece of art.  I have to admit, it's one impressive move for a newcomer (M&D) to make a grand entrance into already saturated market with a design that definitely stands out from a crowd.  There is a number of great sounding headphones, but when it comes to a build quality and material selection, I see more and more manufacturers cutting corners.  Other manufacturers build their fortune on looks and celebrity endorsements while putting sound quality as a secondary priority.  Master & Dynamic was able to keep their focus on both and to deliver a solid release with their MH40 model.  Here is what I found.
    Starting with unboxing, the high res image of MH40 captured my attention right away, especially a curiosity about a mesh-vent since I knew it supposed to be a closed back design.  On the back of the sleeve, you have a plethora of useful info about accessories, details about the cable with inline mic, and a brief yet very detailed overview of the company's philosophy followed by explanation of material selection and sound design which shows how much pride M&D takes in their product.  With an outer packaging sleeve removed, you are presented with an elegant black box where under a cover you see MH40 in a display setting of foam cutout.  In the middle of this cutout I found something I never seen before, a custom leather box designed specifically for a cable storage.  We are talking about a round high quality leather box you would expect to see as a storage case for $1000 IEMs, while here its purpose was just to store removable cables.  Other details like a foam cutout around that leather box with extra room for easier access or ribbons on each side of top foam tray for easier removal of it so you can get access to the bottom of the box - all adds up to a very rewarding unboxing experience!
    Unboxing pictures.
    But the attention to details doesn't stop at packaging.  As I mentioned before, the intention of round leather box was for a cable storage.  MH40 utilizes a design with removable cables, and M&D included 2 sets of high quality OFC cables, both with woven shielding (velcro friendly, btw) and slim metal 3.5mm connectors, one for audio only purpose (2m long) and the other one with inline remote and mic for smartphone control (shorter, 1.25m).  Interestingly enough, both cables has TRRS connectors, even so audio only cable doesn't require an extra "ring".  The connector housing has an excellent grip and is slimmed down toward the gold plated plug so you can use it with any smartphone case, even something as bulky as Defender.  The cable with smartphone controls has been partitioned where inline remote is separated from mic positioned closer to your mouth for a better voice pickup.  Inline remote, in a metal cylindrical housing similar to mic capsule, is intended for a full integration with iDevices but with an exception of Volume up/down the multifunction button works perfectly with my Galaxy Note 4 where a single click used for Play/Pause/Call and double click used to skip to the next track. 
    Also included with cables is 1/4" gold plated headphone adapter with a matching metal body and etched "M&D" - very impressive they didn't go for a generic adapter and instead used a customized one.  To complete this accessories package you will also find a canvas headphone pouch, and honestly I would prefer to call it a case since "pouch" is an insult to its design details.  This canvas material is rather high quality cotton on outside, and soft layer on inside with a small inside pocket for cable storage and magnetic top closure with two handy rubber tabs for opening convenience.  The one thing I wish they would include is a hard storage case, and not because it's necessary to protect MH40 (those headphones are build like a tank), but because I could only imagine it being another piece of art.  Perhaps M&D will offer it in a future as part of a separate accessory just like they have it with a headphone stand.
    Accessory pictures.
    With all my gushing about details of packaging and accessories, you can only imagine what awaits you when you actually get to headphones.  I always held B&W and V-Moda on a high pedestal as two of the companies that know how to design nice looking headphones, especially B&W with a selection of their fine material.  In my opinion M&D just raised a bar to a level above both of those manufacturers.  Master & Dynamic used a heavy grain premium cowhide leather on outer part of the headband as well as earcup outer inserts.   The soft lambskin leather was used on inner part of the headband surrounding a shallow layer of foam and also earpads surrounding a plushy memory foam layer.  The headband has 2 partially exposed metal rods and a hidden tubing in the middle for wires between earcups.  The only material used in these headphones construction is aluminum, stainless steel and leather, which does contributes to about 350g of weight (not including the cable), but surprisingly MH40 felt very lightweight on top of my head due to a balanced distribution of the weight.  Clamping force was perfect, which contributed to a decent sound isolation.
    At the edges of headband arc, you have a very clever mechanism of y-fork attachment that works both for height adjustment and  earcup rotation (for flat storage).  The actual y-fork attachment to earcups is spring loaded for a more natural control of earpads seal around your ear - something that plays a significant role in sound shaping because pushing on earcups from outside by hand did affect a sound.  Also, outside of the earcup is what appears to be a mesh wire port, but it's only for cosmetic purposes - these are closed back headphones.  Both earcups have 3.5mm port for removable cable and you can use either of them for a source connection and daisy-chaining another pair of headphones from the other earcup.  At the same time, there is a noticeable microphonics affect, perhaps due to all metal construction.  Another very rare feature is a mute button on the right earcup, a metal push-button with a nice spring action which mutes/un-mutes the playback of the sound.  It's a great option to mute the music without taking headphones off or reaching out for your source or inline remote.
    As I mentioned before, earpads have a plush memory foam surrounded by premium quality lambskin leather.  The shape of earcups and earpads is oval with an inner opening of about 65mm x 35mm.  I had no issues with my fitment and consider my ears to be of a medium size, no pressure around or my ears touching the grill of the driver, but I can't speak freely for those with larger ears.  Earpads itself are easily removable and attached to earcups magnetically, very B&W like except you don't have to deal with hidden cable connection (something I disliked in P5 and P7).  Once earpads are removed, you are looking at alloy metal (forged aluminum body) earcup housing with a fine grill protecting their 45mm Neodymium drives.  Everything about build and design of these headphones speaks a high quality and durability, and even so MH40 comes with 2 year warranty - they build like a tank and should last many years.
    Design detail pictures.
    Now the results of my sound test.  With such a high quality build I really hoped M&D carried their design passion into sound tuning as well, and to my satisfaction they did!  Just like with any pair of headphones, you should expect a different sound signature.  If you are looking for a basshead set of cans or analytical bright sound, these are not for you.  But if a balanced smooth sound with an upfront characteristics is your cup of tea - you will be very pleased MH40.  I don't often use "upfront characteristics" since typically a sound is either neutral or enhanced at low end or upfront mids or v-shaped, but here it felt like a slight boost across low/mid/high frequency bands with everything being accentuated.
    Starting with a low end, it has a polite sub-bass extension with a noticeable in quality rumble, though not as much of quantity to balance out mid-bass which is fast and punchy and slightly boosted.  Bass is well controlled with a good separation from lower mids.  When it comes to midrange,  lower mids have a nice body with a touch of warmth, and upper mids are clear and very smooth.  I enjoyed a delivery of both male and female vocals which surprised me with rather organic tonality.  With treble, I didn't find it to be extend too far, thus keeping up with a very smooth and non-fatigue characteristics without a single hint of sibilance - just perfect for extended listening period.
    When it comes to soundstage, I found it to have an average width and depth, though it was more wider than deeper.  At the same time, instruments and vocals separation felt a little congested, and imaging wasn't as accurate.  This is not necessary a negative comment, but rather an artifact of sound tuning which focuses around a more intimate staging.
    While comparing MH40 to some of my other headphones, I found the following.  Next to MH40, ATH M50x sounds a little thinner and maybe slightly less detailed, it has more sub-bass rumble and mid-bass being less punchy, also upper mids pushed more back and not as organic, while treble having a bit more extension.  Next to MH40, SoundMagic HP150 sounds more neutral, wider and airy, with sub-bass and mid-bass being flatter and more articulate and definitely lower in quantity, also lower mids are thinner and upper mids pushed a little bit back while being more detailed and analytical, and also treble extending further and with more sparkle.  In comparison to MH40, B&W P7 has a lot more bass that spills into lower mids, upper mids are more colored and not as organic though more detailed, and treble has more sparkle and better extension.  Next to MH40, V-Moda M100 sound signature is a lot more v-shaped with a stronger bass, more recessed mids, and better treble extension.
    Overall, to say that I was impressed with M&D MH40 headphones would be an understatement.  I wouldn't say exactly they are shining with a stellar audio performance because they stayed on a safe side with a rather balanced, warm/smooth tuning to make it great for listening to any music genre for extended period of time without a fatigue.  But where they completely blew me away was a design details and quality of material that probably surpassed most of the headphones I reviewed in the past.  It looks like Master & Dynamics really done their homework studying a lot of headphones, picking up the best details, and blending it into their own original design which I found to be top notch!  Everything from a premium leather material with use of heavy grain premium cowhide and soft lambskin (the kind you appreciate to the touch and the smell in premium leather jackets), to a forged aluminum body with stainless steel components in all high strain areas, to anodized/PVD coated metals (gunmetal finish looks stunning!!!), and high quality unique custom accessories - all that adds up to a one great looking pair of headphones which you will be looking for any excuse to wear outside.  And sound quality is great too because I would never recommend you a pair of headphones to wear as an accessory without an audio content to back it up.  Definitely gets my recommendation!
    *** Update 2/20/15 ***
    Master & Dynamic Stand
    You probably think I'm crazy writing a mini-review about a stand?  But this is not any stand, but Master & Dynamic headphone Stand!  I still take an extra glance at MH40 headphones before putting them on and even take an extra sniff of that fine headband leather lol!!!  There is no doubt this company pays a very close attention to the design and the quality of materials.  You can say that everything they touch turns gold, just like this very elegant and minimalistic headphone stand I got a chance to review.  Even so their website offers it only in black and silver finish, the one I received was a limited numbered edition with a golden finish.
    The packaging it arrived in had a precise cutout and easy access inside of a layered foam insert to accommodate all the pieces of disassembled stand.  It included a weighted solid steel base with a rubber pad at the bottom to protect surface from scratches and to add extra friction so it doesn't slide.  The solid rod of the stand has L-shaped design, and I secured it to the base with included screw and hex key.  Once assembled, the whole fixture is about 280mm in height and approximately 745g in weight.  The top part of the stand where headband rests has a fine diamond cut finish to prevent headphones from sliding off.  I also found the same fine diamond cut around the edge of the base disk and at the bottom of the stand where it connects to the base.
    Overall, doesn't matter what finish you choose, this is a great Stand to showcase your headphones with a focus on headphones itself without being distracted by the stand.  It has a very solid build with all steel (electroplated, very durable), a perfect height, and a nicely weighted base for stability.  If you want to show off your headphones, Master & Dynamic Stand does it in style!
      vlenbo and thatBeatsguy like this.
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    2. Jeff Y
      I guess so too. I'm considering to get the AK edition of the T5P for the AK240 atm. I love the Beyer's looks too.
      Jeff Y, Feb 10, 2015
    3. reddog
      A great review, I have been tempted by these handsome set of cans. These puppies are on my wish list.
      reddog, Feb 11, 2015
    4. Coldheart29
      Wow, just wow. As always, a really pleasing read, @twister6.
      I'm looking for a nice headphone to buy around christmas (or as soon as i save enough to buy it), and am looking for a well built, nice looking, closed back over ear heaphone, with a warmish, relaxed and smooth sound signature. As i'm no audiophile, but just a "music lover", i'm not lookinf for ultimate detail retrieval.
      Well, i was looking at the Momentum M2, and noticed these M&D sometime ago. But after reading your review, it looks like these might be the right choice. The design is incredible, they have that old looking stile, but with modern accents and materials, that make them a joy for the eye. And as they're said to be good sounding with the signature i look for, it looks like a solid score for me.
      You might have costed me 400€, be ashamed :p
      Coldheart29, Aug 27, 2015
  2. 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
    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?
    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!!
    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)
    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
    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:
    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.
    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!!
    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!!
    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...
    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.
    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:
    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
  3. grizzlybeast
    Written by grizzlybeast
    Published Oct 5, 2014
    Pros - full mids, punchy sound, sturdy build, replaceable pads,good bass,decent soundstage,tangle free cables, smooth rich sound,scalable
    Cons - upper mids could use some presence, needs some air in its balance, a little too much leakage,fit can be awkward.
    While I believe that this price range is crowded, I don't believe that there are many headphones that cover enough bases all at once out there. Questionable build qualities, over coloration, small ear cups, gaudy designs, weird cables, and tons of predictable company house signatures. 
    Enter the Master & Dynamic MH40 that takes a crack it with the loaded bases for a home run and knocks it into the bleachers. While I do have some minor gripes, this headphone is an easy one to recommend for a number of reasons.


    I have to admit where confession is due that these do not appear to have any weak spots in the build of the headphone.  To quote the back of the box... "Forged aluminum body with stainless steel components in all high strain areas. Heavy-duty woven cables and replaceable lambskin ear pads. All metals are anodized or PVD coated, not painted." Well I'll be impressed because there is an exceptional amount of thought put into the construction of these headphones. Everything feels heavy duty. 
    Oooh Ooooh and the pads come of via magnets!!! So you simply pop them off and pop them back on with no issues at all. Why didn't anyone else think of that!!!! Id imagine if Master & Dynamic decided to provide different color pads, it would become somewhat of a personalized headphone. 
    The headphones swivel about 120 degrees and can lay flat on a table. They have dual entry for the cables.  The fit is adjustable with numbers on the sliders for those wishing to match slider heights. There is also a mute button on the right cup that works fairly easily.
    Ooooh the cables again. They are tangle FREE and very pleasant on the eyes in a simple way. It comes with two cables. One longer one for home use and the perfect length of cable for mobile use with volume control, mute, and microphone that works fairly well for phone conversations where peers affirm me sounding clear to them. 
    2013-09-0213_Foto.jpg 2013-09-0213_Fotor.jpg
    2013-09-0213_Fotr.jpg 2013-09-0213_Fotor.jpg
    The headphones are packed decently. It comes in a box that has the has an outer cover that the headphone packaging slides out of.  I like the presentation when you open them though. The headphones lay flat in a foam insert that has a cylinder leather case in it for the cables and 1/4 inch adapter. Underneath is an canvass carrying pouch for the headphones and a manual incase someone doesn't know how to use them, or wants to understand the warranty.


    Hmm. Well They are not uncomfortable and do better than a lot of other compact models. My ears tuck inside without fuss even though the opening isn't that big. They are fully circumaural and my ears aren't crammed up against the driver housing. The padding is actually pretty good as well. The headband is pretty thin but contrary to what I assumed its not bothersome. It has a very practical and simple design that fairs well in comfort.


    *member gelocks loaned pair
    Of course this is purely opinion but I think they look stunning. I had a *pair of the brown and silver on loan and they looked great in my hands but undesirable on my head. The black ones look less impressive in my hands but stunning on my head. They have the letters M&D etched in unexpected places to remind you how much they care about detail. They look and feel their price. 




    While these headphones isolate fairly well, I will make a gripe about leakage. As easily as these seal around my ears I would expect them to leak a little less. They leak a little more than average without striking them out from being portable. If I was on a loud bus I would be able to enjoy my music easily but the person next to me would be hearing much of my music if it was loud. I wouldn't say you would be obnoxious though. This is not deal breaking leakage but also not ideal.

    *update 10/25/14: FIT

    The ear cups require a good seal for optimal performance which fortunately isn't hard to get. However when laying down if you are not careful the cups will swing open and you will have to readjust them. The clamp isn't too tight or too loose but I did notice a little less of a seal at the bottom. Dropping the cups down a little more than normal will give better seal at the bottom. While adjusting the fit you will notice the sound change drastically in volume, almost sounding like you turned them off and on due to pressure changing which is pretty unique. Once you have a good fit you are ready to rock.




    The bass on this headphone is somewhat addicting. I wouldn't go so far as calling it bass-head level in quantity but I would say that it has some of the qualities that most bass-heads covet. It is a pretty fast bass that keeps a decent amount of texture in it. It is not planar magnetic driver-tight, but among the dynamic drivers I have heard this headphone keeps an ideal composure. It is a very dynamic bass that for its quantity will hit extremely hard. You would be hard pressed to find a more impactful bass than this that isn't extremely boosted. The Vmoda m100 for example will hit harder but is also a lot more in quantity.  If eq'd to have the same quantity the MH40 will hit harder. The MH40 bass has a very focused and enjoyable punch that is very hard to find. Honestly its hard to find punchy cans like the MH40 that aren't super bloated. While Vibro with all plugs open can hit as hard as this can and a shade harder with better resolution, the MH40 will take better to bass boosting and has more of a focused punch. I have guiltlessly  eq'd the bass on occasion to be senselessly consumed by it and found it to take very well to eq'ing and boosting.  I think the words smooth yet punchy would apply here. The bass is not the tightest I have heard but I find it to be closer to the tight side of the spectrum than loose. 
    The extension is not wanting by any means and though I can see some wanting more sub bass, this headphone goes low and clear.
    My 808's sound weighty and strong. My drum and bass kicks knock with authority. I can feel the pressure of the pulsating baselines. Hey, I am satisfied!!!  
    *updates 10/25/14: bass impact is seal dependent like most headphones but even more so with this one. 


    If anyone says the midrange is recessed I will be very surprised. It is actually the opposite and I sometimes wish for a slightly less heavy presentation in the midrange which is unusual for me. Master & Dynamic describes this headphone as having a rich, warm sound profile. That statement is 100% accurate. The tones sound really sweet and sultry with what sounds to be a nice amount of fidelity to them. I personally desire to eq them to be a little airier. The Focal Spirit Professional for example sounds airier and less rich than these but are more dry and less musical. What is funny is that when A/Bing them side by side I preferred the MH40 instantly even though I recognize this headphone as skipping out on the Focal approach in neutrality. This doesn't become tiresome because the headphone is not shouty by any means. No way.... its far too smooth sounding to be called anything close to shouty, harsh, or abrasive in the midrange. I believe that this level of richness I am not used to. This is due to there being what I perceive as a dip in the lower treble or somewhere close by, namely the upper midrange, that takes the lightness out of it.  Male vocals sound full and weighty but miss just a tiny bit of presence and projection that fully convince you they delivered from their diaphragms.  This may be perceived differently by others but it is not that bad of an issue for me. 
    The music doesn't sound too dry or too wet. My pianos sound pretty convincing and it has a little bit of reverb to the notes while staying clear.  How ever each individual tone is very realistic and non metallic. It has good texture to it as well. 


    I like these highs a lot. Sorry to start this section that way but I really do apart from the lower treble that would help the mids some, the highs here are not sibilant yet are fairly detailed and make a case for its price tag. I read elsewhere that these were considered sibilant but I have to respectfully disagree. The area of sibilants ("s") is emphasized compared to the rest of the upper mids to upper treble section but its not painful.  The Yamaha hph mt220 for example was more sibilant than these, as well as the k545, k550 and Denon D2k, to name just a few. The headphone can come off as dark and rich sounding but the treble is snappy and smooth as is the rest of the headphone. There is a very steep roll off in the upper highs though that may be the reason I feel it is missing some air in the vocals. When I eq +4 db in the upper treble, this up along with the lower treble dip at 4khz it awakens the sound a bit.  It has a good amount of response in the mid treble by itself as to not miss too many details. This headphone can be called relatively detailed. The reason why I like them a lot though is because they are not splashy or mushy, but rounded and straightforward with a smoothness about them.



    When I leave the bass right where its at, take down the middle mids just a decibel or so, bring the area of sibilance down a bit, and raise the upper mids and high highs up a few decibels then I am met with a lifelike sound that is very convincing. My eq setting can be a little fatiguing for long listening so I often just set it back to flat . This headphone takes to eq'ing extremely well. ALL BY ITSELF, its a colored listen, but a very likable one with a slight bass bump, full mid range, and dark treble. I could def leave it alone and listen for a long time. This headphone reminds me of the Sennheiser hd8dj in the fact that it has a steep treble roll off after 10 kHz and needs some upper mids. BUT its far less extreme in its coloration and the more enjoyable.  Its close to being a genre master but those that listen to Jazz and classical music may wish for a slightly less colored sound. I however enjoy these very much so with jazz and acoustic music. 
    Quick eq in Audirvana plus (clarity eq)


    I like this soundstage. I have come to not expect to much in terms of soundstage from a headphone of this kind(portable). To say this headphone has a small soundstage would be inaccurate. To say it has a good sized one is more like it. It has some height to it if not much depth and a decent amount of width. The panorama of this headphone is a breathable one that isn't cluttered, nor compact, or extremely wide. It has respectable imaging capabilities that are really good but don't boast too far beyond its price category into Alpha dog territory. Possibly less wide than the akg k550 but far more natural sounding. Also these have a far bigger soundstage than the momentum, and maybe bigger than the Focal Spirit Professional.  I do prefer its scene to the Pandora hope VI however because the instruments have good layering and are bold/soft against each other, whereas the Pandora Hope is bigger and sounds more open but less clearly layered(this MH40 headphone doesn't sound as good overall though, the Pandora is in another class above it by a good margin).  
    *updates 10/25/14:
    The more I listen I find it to have very good instrument separation and placement. This would be one of its stand out qualities. It never sounds like mush but has great focus to the notes. 


    This is a very admirable quality of these headphones. A lot of its musicality resides here. simply put, though the music is a bit rounded, it pops and snaps with intention. It has some decay to keep it from sounding dry and harsh while its doing all of this action. I find it quite enjoyable. 


    None required though I find it very scalable. I would say its more source dependent than amp dependent. My iPhone gets them fairly loud and sounds fine but they deserve more than just an iPhone out. Once I plugged them into my Bushmaster MKII they sound excellent and the clarity is night and day.


    Just like my other favorite closed back this has the moniker "Musical" written allll over it. I would say it is the most musical closed back I have heard under 500 dollars. It only lacks a tiny bit of neutrality to make it a genre master. Some may want a little more bass or air but it has a very good punch and snap too it that keeps it from sounding dull. With a couple of tweaks can be a swiss army knife to a playlist. As it is I recommend it for ambient electronic, hip hop, jazz, reggae, soul, country, blues, acoustic and anything modern(honestly it will work well with most genres). This would go into the sennheiser hd650 category of warm, smooth, but potentially potent. The fact that they got the cables the right length, the fit to be fully over the ears, the build to be practical and easy to carry around, and the sound quality worth its penny, makes this headphone a worthy recommendation. I feel like I am listening to a high quality headphone that will scale up with what you plug it into. It has a good amount of fidelity to it and the gripes aren't deal breakers. 
      iano, warubozu, NYGator and 3 others like this.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. grizzlybeast
      Thanks a lot! I do like them a lot. Pretty good cans!
      grizzlybeast, Nov 17, 2014
    3. istirsin
      Are these a noticeable upgrade over the momentums?
      istirsin, Aug 12, 2015
    4. grizzlybeast
      in my opinion yes
      grizzlybeast, Sep 18, 2015