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A hand holding the Master & Dynamic MH40.
Chase Bernath / SoundGuys

Master & Dynamic MH40 review

Listen in style.
By

Published onFebruary 23, 2024

7.7
Master & Dynamic MH40
The bottom line
The Master & Dynamic MH40 should be viewed as a luxury item. They are built from premium materials, but are expensive considering the limited feature set.

Master & Dynamic MH40

The Master & Dynamic MH40 should be viewed as a luxury item. They are built from premium materials, but are expensive considering the limited feature set.
Product release date

2023

Price

$399.00 USD

Dimensions

Headphones: 205mm x 202mm x 71mm

Ear cup: 60 x 40mm

Weight

338g

Model Number

MH40S1-W2

Noise isolation
What we like
Premium materials
Great sound quality
Bluetooth multipoint and aptX
Listen wired or wirelessly
Many accessories included
What we don't like
Price
No ANC
No custom EQ
No integrated spatial audio
No wear detection sensor
7.7
SoundGuys Rating
8.1
User Rating
Rating Metric
Our Rating
User Rating
Isolation / Attenuation
6.7
9.0
9.0
Durability / Build Quality
7.9
8.0
8.0
Value
4.0
8.0
8.0
Design
9.0
5.0
5.0
Connectivity
9.5
8.0
8.0
Portability
7.0
8.0
8.0
Battery Life
9.5
7.0
7.0
Feature
8.0
10.0
10.0
Comfort
7.0
10.0
10.0
MDAQS rating
Learn more
Timbre
4.8
Distortion
3.4
Immersiveness
3.9
Overall
4.5

Since releasing the original MH40 in 2014, Master & Dynamic has quietly updated the model, adding wireless connectivity and improving sound quality, battery, and more. We put the second generation of the wireless Master & Dynamic MH40 through our rigorous testing to see how they hold up. Read on to find out if these headphones are still worth their high price tag or if you’re better off looking elsewhere.

Editor’s note: this is the first version of the article. Updates will follow as the market changes.

About this Master & Dynamic MH40 review: We tested the Master & Dynamic MH40 over one week. The headphones' firmware version was 2.0.2.9, and the M&D Connect app ran version 2.0.7. Master & Dynamic provided the unit for this review.

The Master & Dynamic MH40 are for those seeking a luxury wireless headphone built from premium materials.

What’s it like to use the Master & Dynamic MH40?

Master & Dynamic MH40 on a mans head.
Chase Bernath / SoundGuys
The stiff ear pads may cause comfort issues for people wearing glasses.

The MH40 was the first set of headphones launched by Master & Dynamic. The company took design inspiration from WWII aviator headphones, with a striking combination of aluminum and lambskin leather. It’s a polarizing look, with everyone I’ve asked absolutely loving or hating it. No matter what you think of the design, you must admit it stands out from the boring plastic designs of nearly every other headphone.

While the original MH40 were wired-only headphones, you can use this model in wired or wireless listening mode. There’s still no active noise canceling, but the firm leather-covered ear pads create a tight seal for passive isolation. That said, because of how firm the ear cushions are, I did experience some comfort issues when listening for hours. This design also could be more accommodating of people who wear glasses, although breaking in the headphones softens up the ear pads around the shape of your head over time.

Master & Dynamic MH40 headphones on a table next to the cables, adapters, and case.
Chase Bernath / SoundGuys
A carrying case, charging cable, listening cable, USB adapter, and airplane adapter are included.

Master & Dynamic delivers when it comes to in-box accessories. A soft-cover carrying pouch doesn’t protect the headphones as well as hard-cover cases, but it has a zipper enclosure to put all the cables and dongles in, and the top of the pouch closes with a unique magnetic clasp. Including a cable for wired listening and USB and airplane adapters make this a great travel headphone.

Without an IP water and dust resistance rating, these headphones aren’t designed for use at the gym, beach, or out in the rain. That said, as long as you treat them well, they are built to last. The ear pads are removable and snap into place with a simple magnetic clasp, so you can swap in new ear pads if they get too worn.

How do you control the Master & Dynamic MH40?

The buttons and the charging port are on the right ear cup.

The Master & Dynamic MH40 has small buttons to control music playback. Having all four buttons close together makes it difficult to find the right one without removing the headphones.

Multifunction buttonPower button+/-
Single press
Multifunction button
Play/pause, answer/end call
Power button
On/off
+/-
Volume control
Double press
Multifunction button
Skip forward
Power button

+/-

Triple press
Multifunction button
Skip back
Power button

+/-

Press and hold
Multifunction button
Voice assistant
Power button
Bluetooth pairing
+/-

Should you use the M&D Connect app for the Master & Dynamic MH40?

The only reason to download the M&D Connect app is to adjust the headphones’ sound. If you’re fine with how the headphones sound out of the box, you don’t need to worry about it. The app has four equalizer presets to select from on top of the default sound of the headphones, but there’s no custom equalizer to design your own frequency response. You also get customization of minor things like sidetone, microphone muting, and auto-off timer.

How do the Master & Dynamic MH40 connect?

A man wearing the Master & Dynamic MH40 headphones with the left side of his head visible.
Chase Bernath / SoundGuys
Wired or wireless, you can use these headphones with any device.

Wirelessly, the Master & Dynamic MH40 connect using Bluetooth 5.2. This isn’t the most recent version of Bluetooth, but it still supports the upcoming Auracast technology and Bluetooth multipoint. In terms of Bluetooth codecs, you get support for SBC, AAC, and aptX Adaptive. AAC delivers a stable connection to Apple devices, while aptX Adaptive can provide variable bit-rate streaming with low latency to Android devices. I didn’t experience any connection issues while testing the MH40 using the AAC codec with my Apple devices. For wired listening, Master & Dynamic includes a USB-C to 3.5mm audio cable.

The first time you power on the headphones, they automatically enter pairing mode. To manually enter pairing mode or pair to a second device, simply press and hold the power button for 3 seconds.

How long does the Master & Dynamic MH40 battery last?

A closeup of the Master & Dynamic headband showing the Master & Dynamic logo.
Chase Bernath / SoundGuys
The thin leather headband may cause comfort issues for some.

In our battery test, the Master & Dynamic MH40 lasted 26 hours and 43 minutes on a single charge, less than the 30 hours quoted by the manufacturer. This is below average for wireless headphones that don’t have ANC. It’s still enough juice to get through a whole week of everyday use.

Master & Dynamic states that you can get 6 hours of listening time from only 15 minutes of charge time.

How well do the Master & Dynamic MH40 isolate noise?

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The Master & Dynamic MH40 don’t have ANC but still block out a lot of noise via passive isolation from the firm leather ear pads. If you have large ears, they may only partially fit inside the small oval ear cups of the MH40, which will compromise the seal and isolation. If you get a good fit, you’ll notice the headphones block out a lot of mid- and high-frequency noise, such as the sound of cooking in a kitchen.

Since these headphones don’t have ANC, which is better at blocking out low-frequency noise, you’ll notice they don’t block out the rumble of airplane engines. In these situations, you will also struggle to hear the bass and sub-bass of your music clearly due to noise masking.

How do the Master & Dynamic MH40 sound?

Regarding sound quality, the Master & Dynamic MH40 live up to the expectations of their high price tag.

Multi-Dimensional Audio Quality Scores (MDAQS)

The chart below shows how the sound of the Master & Dynamic MH40 was assessed by the Multi-Dimensional Audio Quality Score (MDAQS) algorithm from HEAD acoustics.

This chart shows the MDAQS results for the Master & Dynamic MH40 in AptX DEFAULT mode. The Timbre score is 4.8, The Distortion score is 3.4, the Immersiveness score is 3.9, and the Overall Score is 4.5.
This is a good score for wireless headphones.

Since the default frequency response of the headphones falls in line with what most people prefer, the Master & Dynamic MH40 score very highly for Timbre. The custom 40mm titanium drivers and aptX Adaptive present a lower Distortion figure than most wireless headphones. Without integrated spatial audio features, the headphones don’t score as high in Immersiveness as other headphones in this price range.

Timbre (MOS-T) represents how faithfully the earbuds reproduce the frequency spectrum and temporal resolution (timing information).

Distortion (MOS-D) represents non-linearities and added noise: higher scores mean cleaner reproduction.

Immersiveness (MOS-I) represents perceived source width and positioning: how well virtual sound sources are defined in three-dimensional space.

See here for an explanation of MDAQS, how it works, and how it was developed.

Reviewer’s notes

Editor’s note: this review uses a hover-enabled glossary to describe sound quality based on a consensus vocabulary. You can read about it here.

Objective Measurements

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The frequency response of the Master & Dynamic MH40 almost precisely follows our headphone preference curve. In the chart above, you’ll see only minor deviations around 100Hz and 4kHz. Clocks by Coldplay features prominent piano and bass parts that sounded a bit unclear on the Master & Dynamic MH40, so make of that what you will. That said, most people will greatly enjoy the way these headphones sound.

Bass Cut EQ Preset

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A Bass Cut preset takes a chunk out of the sub-bass frequencies.

Bass Boost EQ Preset

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Bass Boost adds some more oomph to the low frequencies below 150Hz. This amplifies the sound of bass guitars and kick drums.

Audiophile EQ Preset

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The Audiophile preset flattens off the bass region.

Podcast EQ Preset

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As expected, the Podcast setting cuts the lows and highs to amplify the sound of the voice in the mid-range.

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The dotted yellow line shows the frequency response of the Master & Dynamic MH40 when listening wired with a 3.5mm audio output. With a wired connection, there is more emphasis on bass frequencies around 150Hz and high frequencies around 7kHz. This could be described as a less neutral sound and more exciting sound, which some people will enjoy for high-energy genres of music.

Can you use the Master & Dynamic MH40 for phone calls?

With a dual microphone array, you can take calls on the go with the Master & Dynamic MH40. These microphones are good enough for people on the other end of the line to understand what you are saying in most environments.

Master & Dynamic MH40 microphone demo (Ideal conditions):

How does the microphone sound to you?

4 votes

 

Master & Dynamic MH40 microphone demo (Office conditions):

Master & Dynamic MH40 microphone demo (Street conditions):

Master & Dynamic MH40 microphone demo (Windy conditions):

Master & Dynamic MH40 microphone demo (Reverberant space):

As you can hear, the Master & Dynamic MH40 microphones struggle to block out background noise. You can still understand what the voices are saying in our simulated office and street conditions, but it is through a lot of background noise.

Should you buy the Master & Dynamic MH40?

Master & Dynamic MH40 headphones next to a figurine Darth Vader.
Chase Bernath / SoundGuys
The Empire would approve of the industrial design of these headphones.

At $400, Master & Dynamic is asking a lot for the MH40. With that in mind, most people are better off looking elsewhere. You should expect more features in your wireless headphones for this price, such as ANC, a custom EQ, and integrated spatial audio.

That said, if you love the design of the Master & Dynamic MH40, and the price doesn’t scare you away, then you probably won’t regret your purchase. The headphones work as advertised, and I enjoyed listening to my favorite tunes.

Master & Dynamic MH40Master & Dynamic MH40
Master & Dynamic MH40
Premium materials • Magnetic ear pads • M&D Connect app
MSRP: $399.00
Listen in style with these premium headphones.
Built from aluminum and lambskin leather, the Master & Dynamic MH40 are luxury wireless headphones.

What should you get instead of the Master & Dynamic MH40?

Sony WH-1000XM5 headphones laying flat on wooden table.
The Sony WH-1000XM deliver everything most people need from their headphones.

In this budget, you have a plethora of great options to choose from. Our top choice is the Sony WH-1000XM5, ($387 at Amazon). Most people will find these headphones very comfortable and packed with features such as excellent ANC, custom EQ, and head-tracked spatial audio.

You can get great performance while saving a few bucks with the Sennheiser MOMENTUM 4 Wireless, ($289.23 at Amazon). These headphones have touch controls, aptX Adaptive support, over 50 hours of battery life, ANC, and excellent sound quality.

To check out more recommendations, take a look at our best headphones list and best wireless headphones.

Frequently asked questions

You can use the Master & Dynamic MH40 with an amplifier if you’d like, but it’s not needed. You may need a 1/8-inch to 1/4-inch adapter to use the headphones with an amplifier.

No, the Master & Dynamic MH40 lack active noise canceling. They passively block out some noise if you get a good fit, but you’ll need to look elsewhere for greater noise reduction.

Master & Dynamic headphones are designed in New York, and manufactured in China.

No, Master & Dynamic MH40 headphones are not waterproof.