Master & Dynamic is one of those companies which has products (and therefore an image) which totally belies its age. With headphones that hark back to a bygone age in terms of build quality and style, it’s a surprise to find that this company is actually younger than most things lurking at the back of our fridge.
The current headphone range is apparently aimed at creative types within the audio industry, but is perhaps more suited to the premium portables market, with its stylish and smart looks. The MH30 model is the lowest-cost and smallest member of the range, but does the beauty go more than skin deep?
- Magnificently built
- Good all-rounder
- Spare cable included
- Nice pouch for storage
- Headband could be bigger
- Possible comfort issues
Design and appearance
The design and general look of the Master & Dynamic MH30 brings an Art Deco quality to proceedings and this invigorates what would otherwise be a pretty everyday on-ear headphone design. It reminds us of those ‘futurist’ illustrations of the 1930s, with then-unrealised technologies brought to life using the styles and fashions of the age.
Durability & build quality
A strong no-nonsense headband attaches two aluminium earcups using a hinged gimbal arrangement, and it does look as if it will last for years! The cables are fabric covered, and give the same impression of staying power; there are no weak points here.
The MH30 is a little snug on the head. Maybe this reviewer’s head is too high, (or ears too low) but the MH30 headphones don’t quite go into the correct position with the headband going over the top of the head. This leads to a bit of firm pressure coming from the headband which, although adequately cushioned, can lead to a little discomfort. This should not apply to most people but is worth noting.
There’s also a bit of clamping force which is typical of portable headphones (so they stay on in a high wind) which may lead to a bit of discomfort after longer sessions.
Suitability for Intended Application
Presuming that the MH30 is aimed at commuters in in shiny shoes, then the MH30 just about hits the spot. The headphones will go well with any smart outfit, and the image of a capable (yet accessible) professional is retained. Having said that, the MH30 has enough street cred to pass in most scenarios without bringing dishonour to the wearer.
The Master & Dynamic MH30 also folds down flat into a snazzy pouch for storage between uses. The pouch is canvas and has a nice feel to it, and as mentioned, the solid build quality makes it quite pleasant to fold the headphones down, and back again.
Exterior noise certainly has a chunk taken out, and the wearer can be assured that hardly anything leaks out, even at higher volumes. There’s no need to worry about the sideways glances of your fellow train passengers, they are only admiring you!
The MH30 is tuned for general use; there is a slight lift to the bass and treble areas, but not enough to leave the midrange recessed. This makes the MH30 a good choice for those who like to listen to a broad range of musical styles, and stylish musicals alike.
Bass has good low extension and has a slight lift which gives a decent thud to kick drums and basslines. It’s controlled where bass meets the midrange frequencies, but there does seem to be a hint of resonance in the mid-bass area which muddies things up slightly. It’s not a problem though.
Although the bass and treble are lifted slightly, the midrange can still hold its own and might actually steal the show. There’s a lovely amount of clarity and musicality here, where harmonics make imaging and pinpointing the locations of instruments within a mix particularly satisfying; everything is rendered in three dimensions. Vocals are enjoyable and make themselves heard with no danger of outstaying their welcome and the sense of space is palpable.
On first listening through the headphones, they seemed to be a little warm sounding. There is some extra presence in the treble region but the MH30 is by no means a bright-sounding headphone, making a model which can be listened to for longer periods of time without causing hearing-related discomfort.
Soundstage & Separation
Soundstage is not bad for a closed back on-ear model, but some may feel a little closed in. The music does appear to come from outside the confines of the equipment, however the sound leans more towards power rather than finesse. Within this, separation is really good however, and a pretty convincing presentation can be achieved.
Music Genres Good For and Why
The MH30 is good for pop, dance music and anything with a beat. Added to that the clear midrange which would suit acoustic and live performances (as well as vocals) and we have a very useful and versatile headphone.