Although it costs up to $ 300 or $ 400, headphones like Bose's Noise Canceling Headphones 700, Beats Solo Pro or Sony WH-1000XM3 don't feel that they should cost that much. Their sound quality, comfort and ability to completely dispense ambient noise with noise cancellation is not discussed. But their plastic constructions just don't give the best first impression.
The reverse can be said about Master & Dynamics new MH40 Wireless, a wireless version of its original earphone cans. They are among the few $ 300 headphones that actually look and feel worth the investment. The plush leather ear cups and the smooth canvas back strap help achieve that effect, but aluminum details found throughout the MH40 Wireless drive it home. As a sucker for build quality, these headphones ooze style, but more importantly, the feeling that I got my money's worth.
That feeling does not extend at least as fully to the sound quality of these headphones or their function set, which is limited. Compared to M & D's original MH40, and even its new MW07 Plus truly wireless earphones, the MH40 wireless audio performance is weaker, with too much emphasis on high frequencies. I can usually count on this brand going hard on mids and highs, without exaggerating it at either end. It results in a warm, exciting sound. And although these new wireless headphones are nice to listen to in the office (especially since they can maintain a connection to my phone and laptop at the same time), they sound noticeably compromised compared to M & D's other products.
This may be due to the wireless MH40 headphones using 40mm drivers instead of the same 45mm drivers from the wired version. However, there is no big difference in size, so I am not convinced that this is the only reason behind the change in sound. M&D told me that it strives to make these headphones easier, so they can be comfortable enough for the whole day.
It achieved that goal by replacing the original heavier steel frame with aluminum details. And so this fixes one of my biggest problems with the original MH40s. Their heavy weight meant that more tension was needed to keep them tight in your noggin. These new headphones weigh less, and as a result they are much more comfortable to wear, so the change of ergonomics is one that I can get behind. Of course, this change is also a cost-saving measure, and probably could have made other adjustments to, for example, drivers, ear cups or other internal hardware in such a way that it affects sound quality.
It's not that the MH40 Wireless sounds bad, they don't. That's just it, based on my experience of Sony's Wireless Wireless Headphones 2018, and my colleague Chris Welch's collective knowledge of newer competing models, they don't sound nearly as good as what $ 300 can get you anywhere else.
So far as performing the most important tasks for modern wireless headphones – such as playing music, managing phone calls and using your preferred voice assistant to tell the weather or the next event on your schedule – the MH40s can handle all of this. But they don't go much further than this minimal functionality that I expected from headphones, even the ones that are cheaper than this model. These have no noise cancellation or open hear mode, and the navigation buttons are hard to mess up – and I haven't gotten better at controlling them yet.
These buttons are scattered behind the cylindrical drum where the headband locks on the right ear cup. Buttons should be easy to find, but they blend in with M & D's wireless headphones a bit too well and compete with other design types that can easily be mistaken for buttons. For example, the volume up button is too close to the ear cup's hinges, which feels like a button. It helps that the volume and multifunction buttons are next to each other, so when you find one, you've found them all. But despite this, their uncertain placement makes them prone to incorrect pressures, and it just feels crowded, especially considering that the entire left ear cup goes unused. The right ear cup contains every button, including the switch (which acts as the pairing button), a USB-C charging port and two beam-forming microphones.
M&D requires 16 hours of battery life for MH40 Wireless. It's smaller than most other competing wireless headphones at this price. It's forgiving if they meet the claim, but they failed with it during my week with them. Despite having an energy-saving feature that automatically shuts them off after 10 minutes of inactivity, they failed to reach the 16-hour mark after each charge. I estimated that I got about 12 hours of combined use each time. On the upside, these headphones charge quickly via USB-C. They can fully charge in about an hour, according to my testing.
If you are someone who is looking for the best sound and the most complete feature set (why wouldn't you be?) Available in a pair of $ 300 + headphones, there are other options you should look at instead – namely the ones I listed Above: Sony's WH-1000XM3, Bose Noise Canceling 700 or Beats Solo Pro. The way Master & Dynamics wireless MH40 look is their biggest asset, and it's only worth so much if there's not much else going on inside.
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