Designed for isolation, MH40 headphones are the ‘modern day thinking cap’.
In recent years, I have really taken to using over-the-ear or on-ear headphones for my everyday audio companions. They seem to fit my personal situation better than earbuds do and they provide a sense of isolation that I sometimes need to concentrate. I used to think that there was one set of headphones to rule them all, but I’ve found that different styles do have different purposes. For example, I recently reviewed a set of wireless on-ear headphones that have a noise canceling function to them — the Libratone Q Adapt wireless headphones. I’ve found these to be great for occasions where I really need to dull out the sound around me. Busy crowded places like restaurants and coffee shops — the Libratone’s are wireless so they are made for life on the go. Even though wireless headphones are great, sometimes, you want the wired connection. Wireless headphones have come a really long way, but they are still wireless. And being wireless means that the connection can be lost. When you are trying to do something like edit video or audio, you want a constant connection — without interruption. This is exactly why I keep a set of wired headphones by my side. My new favorites are the MH40s from Master & Dynamic.
Master & Dynamic is a company that prides itself on building long-lasting, high-quality audio accessories. The MH40 headphones are the perfect example of this in my opinion. M&D strives to create products that are the perfect balance of aesthetics, strength, comfort and sound. From the first moment I put on the MH40s, that’s exactly what I felt.
The first thing I noticed about the headphones was their weight. The box itself is hefty. To illustrate my point, the shipping weight of the headphones is 2.6 pounds and the headphones only weigh 12.6 ounces of that. Aside from the foam insert to protect the headphones, there is a gorgeous protective canvas bag with a magnetic closure for storing the headphones, two 3.5mm corded aux cables, a 6.3mm gold-plated adapter, a quick reference card, and user manual included in the packaging. I really love that M&D included two different cables with the headphones. One is meant for a direct line-in. It’s 2 meters in length while the other is only 1.5 meters in length. The shorter of the two has in-line controls complete with volume up/down, multifunction button (for answering calls or play/pause media), and a microphone. This line is intended for use with mobile devices.
The headphones themselves are a work of art. They feature an aluminum body with stainless steel components in areas where there is heavy wear like the cables and ear pads. The headband is made from premium grain cowhide and lined with lambskin. The earpads are filled with memory foam and also wrapped with lambskin. The headphones include custom-made 45mm neodymium drivers. M&D selected this based on their desire to provide a warm, rich sound no matter what you were listening to. The earpads are magnetized so that you can replace the earpads when/if it is needed. Aside from the controls on the cable, there is also a mute button on the bottom of the right earpiece.
I tested out the MH40s in a variety of situations. The first was just listening to music through Pandora and through local music on my MacBook Pro. I found that the sound quality is clean and deep with most types of music. While this might be a good test for some, I still had two additional ones to move through — movie sound mix and video/audio editing. When I’m editing, I really like to isolate the sound I’m editing from the outside world. It’s the way I can be most accurate. As it happened, while I was testing out the MH40s, I had several videos to work through. I started out using the Libratone on-ear headphones but found that they were lacking in providing the detail in the sound that I wanted to hear. So, I switched to the MH40s and found they provided just the right level of quality that I needed for editing precisely.
The last test I ran the MH40s through was watching a movie. I pulled up Pirates of the Carribean: Curse of the Black Pearl on Netflix and let it play. I chose this movie because it has a fairly complicated sound mix with voice, music, and delicate sound effects. In fact, it was nominated for Best Sound Editing and Best Sound Mixing for the 76th Annual Academy Awards. I have been very impressed with how well the MH40s handles all the different sounds and how everything melds together so nicely. The voices are clear even when there is a deep soundtrack playing in the background.
Now, while the most important part of a pair of headphones is the sound quality, I feel that the second most important feature is comfort. While many people might wear headphones for a long period of time while listening to music, I can say that I have been known to use headphones for 8 hours a day when I’m editing. For this, I truly appreciate the comfort level of the MH40s. Master & Dynamic really did a nice job of designing these headphones for comfort. Even though they are heavier than some wireless competitors, I don’t notice the weight when I’m wearing them. The earcups fit nicely around my ears and I’ve not had any headaches from wearing these too long. They’ve been just wonderful and extremely comfortable.
There is a set of headphones for every occasion. I believe that you need to find the headphones that work best for you — that fit you well, sound good to you, and fit your use situation. For me, I plan on using the MH40 Over-Ear headphones for editing and when I’m stationary at my desk. I might switch to other headphones that are wireless when I’m out and about, but I feel confident that the MH40s are going to suit me well for my professional audio needs.
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