Master & Dynamic MH40 Headphone

What are the Master Dynamic MH40?

The MH40 are premium over-ear, open-back headphones with a striking retro design and sumptuous build quality.

If the overly hipster-ish looks of these brown leather ones aren’t to your taste, there are six other colour combos, including a stealth option with black leather and blackened metal.

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Master  Dynamic MH40 2

Master Dynamic MH40 – Design

These truly are beautifully crafted headphones. The combination of matte and polished metal, the neat stitching on the leather, the photo-etched logos – it’s all impeccable. Even the detachable cables – there’s a choice of with or without a three-button inline remote and mic – are silver-coloured braid with gorgeous etched and knurled plugs.

Master  Dynamic MH40 3

Unusually, the MH40 have a 3.5mm jack socket on each earcup, so you can choose which side you want the cable attached. It’s a very neat touch, and another is a small mute button on the right earcup which can be pressed to instantly silence the headphones.

Master  Dynamic MH40

The earpads are a little bigger than those on the Sennheiser Momentum, meaning they didn’t feel such a squish as the Sennies, and the ability to twist the earcups meant they positioned on my head better.

However, the MH40 are monstrously heavy at 360g, and still not as comfortable as many other over-ear models, especially on long listening sessions.

The MH40 are open-back headphones, meaning the part of the earcup behind the 45mm Neodymium drivers isn’t sealed – in this case, there’s just a piece of mesh. The advantage of this design is that it should result in a much wider, airy sound, less boxed in around your ears. The downside is that everyone around you can hear what you’re listening to.

In other words, these are for home listening, not for the train.

Master  Dynamic MH40 6

Master Dynamic MH40 – Performance

In many ways the MH40s give a glimpse at what truly high-end open-back headphones can really do. Soundstaging that makes the music feel like it’s coming from further away than just your outer ear, wonderful timing, bass that gets you right in the gut… But they just fall a little short of offering the complete sonic package.

Master  Dynamic MH40 4

The mid-range is a tad congested, with vocals feeling oddly closed in, and really fine acoustic detail getting a bit lost. The Sennheiser Momentum do a much better job in this respect, even if their closed-back design means they have nowhere near the breadth of soundstage. AKG’s open-backed Q701 offer a better overall sonic balance.

The bottom end, while undoubtedly tight and thunderous, can also be overpowering and offputting. The bass drums in Beirut’s “Postcards From Italy”, for instance, are so prominent as to become distracting.

Master  Dynamic MH40 1

Should I buy the Master Dynamic MH40?

If you want some headphones for home listening, and value a huge, warm sound over subtlety, the Master Dynamic MH40 are well worth a listen. They’re so eye-catching that you could even just leave them on the coffee table as a talking point.

However, if you were thinking about buying these funky cans for your commute or the office, don’t. They leak way too much sound for that. The Sennheiser Momentum and OPPO PM-3 are both much better choices for travel and privacy. Hopefully we’ll get to review Master Dynamic’s wireless, closed-back MW60 model soon, which should better suit that purpose.

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Fun headphones for home listening, with powerful bass and a wide soundstage, but they lack subtlety.

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