Master & Dynamic MH40 Review
The MH40 is quite difficult to pin down. Presented above all as a hi-fi headset by the New Yorkers of Master & Dynamic, it has more arguments for audiophiles and nomadic music lovers. In addition to a quality sound experience, it promises foolproof solidity thanks to materials chosen with the greatest care. Let’s see it all …
- Its precise and defined.
- Wide and detailed stereo.
- Large reserve of power with very little distortion.
- Excellent quality workmanship.
- Use in hi-fi or on the go / Accessories.
- A soft and warm sound, which will not please everyone.
- Membranes that would benefit from being even more reactive.
- Controls only 100% compatible with iOS.
The Master & Dynamic MH40 is the epitome of a happy marriage between leather and metal with both vintage and modern looks. This design is not necessarily to everyone’s taste, but we must admit that the MH40 is a solid helmet that benefits from a finish almost worthy of a goldsmith’s work. Nothing is left to chance, and every detail is worked on. Therefore, we will refrain from detailing the appearance. The photos speak for themselves. Note that the MH40 only dresses in real leather (lamb for the pads, bovine for the rest) and metal (aluminum, stainless steel).
The ear cups, circumaural type, are equipped with thick memory foam. Helmet on the head, we notice that the pressure points are well distributed around the ear, whatever the wearer’s morphology. Spectacle wearers will not be particularly disturbed for a good hour and a half of listening. No discomfort to report for long hair and piercings.
Despite its vintage appearance, the MH40 is no less clever. The ear cups can be very easily removed and replaced thanks to a system of magnets. In addition, they rotate flat for a very pleasant wearing around the neck. The Master & Dynamic MH40 is not a featherweight (353 g), especially for nomadic use. Still, this impression is attenuated once the helmet is on the head, particularly thanks to a good distribution of the masses. The feeling of ventilation is quite correct given the design and the materials used.
The hoop is made up of large hinges and a system for fixing the ear cups, near which the graduations for adjusting the size of the hoop appear … whose room for maneuver is not very large. The maximum size is barely enough to ensure comfort for the biggest heads of our editorial staff.
The arch is placed naturally on the top of the head; we wish we had a bit of memory foam to provide some comfort during extended listening. And if you feel like using the MH40 on the go, know that it holds particularly well on the head. Expect, however, to be warm in winter and even hotter in summer.
Let’s move on to the connections and the available controls. Unusual, a mute button located under the right ear cup can be very practical in hi-fi use. Unfortunately, the cable provided for this purpose does not have any controls. On the other hand, we can cut the music more quickly when broadcasting sound or voice alerts. Another welcome tip: two 3.5mm mini-jack connectors on each headset allow you to choose the preferred side or connect another headset in series to share the sound broadcast.
As we mentioned, the Master & Dynamic MH40 offers two cables: one 2 m long for hi-fi listening and one 1.2 m long with a control/microphone for on-the-go listening. A mini-jack to 6.35mm jack adapter is also available. Everything can be stored in a leather case. Since we love to quibble, we would have preferred an angled connector for the nomadic cable… but the strength and thickness of the metal connector make us forget this regret. Like the headphones, the cables provided are solid, especially thanks to their thickness and braided finish. The real disappointment is with the control, which is only 100% compatible with iOS devices. It has two buttons for volume management (not functional on other OS) and a multifunction button (play, pause, navigation between tracks, call management).
With its 45 mm dynamic transducers, the Master & Dynamic MH40 is a very example of colorful but controlled sound reproduction. It will delight the ears in search of a sound that is at the same time soft, warm and precise.
This feeling of softness is played in 3 acts and begins with the low frequencies. Well dynamic and defined, these bass are reproduced fairly, with a slight reinforcement between 100 and 200 Hz, which gives a little boost to the punchy and warm side. Bass is where you expect it to be, no more and no less, even at the lowest frequencies. The membranes being quite reactive and precise, no masking effect is perceived in the higher frequency registers.
The other factor responsible for this smoothness is the dip located around 5 kHz, which is less important when listening than the measurement would suggest. The sound is, therefore, very far from being aggressive. For example, even the albums One of Us is The Killer and Ire Works by The Dillinger Escape Plan, known for their intelligent mixes, pass like a gentle summer breeze. And that is not why the sources which are particularly expressed in this zone (we think in particular of guitars, violins, trumpets, saxophones, or flutes) are not defined, on the contrary. Whether male or female, the voices are not to be outdone, with clear rendering and a well-respected timbre.
The last actress of this softness, the treble range, provides the necessary brilliance but without exaggeration. The MH40 is, moreover, quite ventilated for closed headphones. As a result, it makes it possible to distinguish fine details on sound elements normally very behind, like reverberation and room effects on snares played with brushes. To complete the whole thing, the stereophony is wide with a very good separation of sources. As a result, each element that constitutes the soundstage is easy to identify and replace, whether in width or in-depth.
The MH40 has excellent power and can be used without any problem with any portable or hi-fi device. With 93 mV to reach 94 dB, this headset is placed in front of many nomadic headsets ( JBL Everest Elite 700 with 108 mV or even B&O Play H7 with 116 mV). Even at very high listening levels, the distortion is extremely low.
In mobile use, passive isolation is good for over-ear headphones. Unfortunately, the design of the MH40 does not drastically reduce surrounding noise in very noisy places (metro type). However, it still allows you to enjoy your music without having to push the decibels excessively.
The nomadic cable microphone did its job well and allowed us to be heard clearly during our conversations on the go. However, as often in very noisy environments, a passage directly through the telephone microphone will be more effective in replacing the voice above the hubbub. If you plan to use your MH40 at work, Master & Dynamic offers the Boom Mic, a boom microphone that plugs into the headphones.
For the hybrid use, it advocates, the MH40 does wonder. Aided by very high-quality construction and consistent accessories, it offers very good listening quality in comfort. Its sound signature remains marked, but the choice is assumed and very well made.