Master & Dynamic MH30 On Ear - Designed with Class

October 27, 2015

Master & Dynamic are the new kids on the block in the high end headphone segment. The NYC-based company, headed by Jonathan Levine, brand themselves as a 'premium audio company obsessed with sound and creativity'. With this declaration of intent in mind, we take a detailed look at the MH30 (SGD 549 / USD 329), Master & Dynamic's first offering in the on-ears category. 

As usual, before looking at the product, we look at the unboxing process.

The MH30 is packaged in one massive (and I mean massive) 227 x 250 x 95 mm box, the kind normally associated with huge-ass over-ears headphones. We likely received the US / Canadian SKU given the ample English and French text on the back of the box. 

A flap on the right allows the pulling out of a black box casing. Smack in the center is Master & Dynamic's (M&D) embossed logo.

Opening the lid reveals a card that explains M&D's philosophy behind its products - a nice precursor that builds some expectation to unveiling the on-ears.

And lo, under the card lie the headphones. They are laid out with a circular box, containing the relevant audio cables, right in the middle. 

Removing the foam layer reveals a slip of paper displaying some usage tips, a carrying pouch tucked on the left side and a cardboard box on the right.

Opening the box produces a neatly designed user manual. 

On spilling out the packaging contents, the full breakdown is revealed:
- MH30 On Ear headphones
- Audio cable with in-line remote and mic of 1.25m length (3.5mm to 3.5mm)
- Audio cable of 2.00m length (3.5mm to 3.5mm)
- 3.5mm / 6.3mm adapter
- Canvas carrying pouch
- Leather cable box

And now to the MH30 proper. There are 3 color variants to choose from - Silver Metal / Brown Leather, Black Metal / Black Leather and Gunmetal / Black Leather. I was provided the 3rd option.

These headphones weigh a hefty 260g, heavier than two of its peers in the on-ears category (and they are wireless too) - the Bang & Olufsen BeoPlay H8 (255g) and the Beats Solo 2 Wireless (215g). 

However, let's consider the build and the materials used to make this unit. The earcup frame is built from solid aluminum and for compact storage, the headphones have really solid stainless steel hinges that fold inwards. The headband is made from premium cowhide. Ear cups? We'll get to that in a bit. All in all, these give an air of luxury to the Master & Dynamic headphones.

Great attention to detail has been taken in many aspects. One is 'M&D' being deliberately inscribed onto different steel components that serve to reinforce its branding. 'Designed & Developed New York, New York' lies emblazoned as a badge of identity under the left ear cup.

On trying them on, one issue that I had was the extent to which the headphones can be fitted over the head. I stretched the aluminum rivets to the max and even then, the headband only just fitted around my head snug but bordering on tight. 

When adjusted on your ears, the ear cups sometimes make a creaking sound, but nothing to be overly concerned about once they are fitted nicely in place.

There is a 3.5mm socket under both the left and right ear cups. This allows for both a normal audio connection to your source device and an additional connection via a 2m audio cable (daisy-chain style) to another pair of headphones. This is convenient if two persons are listening to the same source.

The second audio cable comes with an in-line remote lining the cable. Interestingly, the microphone unit is aligned close to your mouth while the remote with the playback buttons is lower down the cord so you can visually see what you are pressing. For practical purposes, the separation of the two units is a welcome implementation.  

The ear cups are replaceable and are magnetically held in place, a very nice touch. The 40mm Neodymium drivers are fully revealed once the lambskin cups are taken out.

The carrying pouch is well designed for practical purposes - it comes with a magnetic clasp lining the outer rim that firmly seals its contents. 
There's a handy additional pouch within to hold any cables you may want to store.

Placing the MH 30 on your ears, you initially appreciate the comfort afforded by the cups, made of lambskin that envelops the underlying memory foam. However due to its on-ears nature, after an hour's usage, they can get a little warm so you may need to adjust the headphones.

When relaxing with Coralie Clement's bossa nova-inspired L'Ombre et la Lumière, the bass and instrumentation overlap with one another to produce a generally warm sound for listening. Daft Punk's instrumental Solar Sailer gives a hint of MH30's capability - generally a natural sound with what I felt was a (very minor) tinge of inclination to bass. 

The MH30 produces a rather wide soundstage, a pleasant surprise taking into consideration that these are a pair of on-ear headphones. I'd usually associate this trait with the over-ears category.

Noise isolation is decent enough. Placing them over your ears will shut off minor ambient sounds such as air con white noise. On a bus, the engine noise will still reach your ears with ease. 

Master & Dynamic's MH30 is a visual beauty to behold and is crafted with much attention to detail. The price and weight of the on-ears is undoubtedly on the high side but its classy design forged by luxury materials combined with a warm sound will most definitely make this a coveted item on quite a few Christmas lists.  

The MH30 is available in Singapore at Tangs, Orchard and Apple Store SG.

Audio Sources
Solar Sailer (TRON: Legacy OST) - Daft Punk (Spotify 160kbps MP3) on iPad Air 
L'Ombre et la Lumière - Coralie Clément (Tidal 1411kbps FLAC) on Samsung Galaxy S4

Credit to Master & Dynamic and StarWorks Group for a review unit.

You may be interested in:
B&O BeoPlay H8
Bowers & Wilkins P5 Wireless

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