Master & Dynamic makes some of the most amazing high-end headphones money can buy at under $400. We were very impressed with the amount of quality and attention to detail when we tested the company's flagship MH40 over-ear headphones, which are fairly large but immensely comfortable to wear. And for those looking for something a little more portable to use while out and about, we have finally gotten our hands on Master & Dynamic's MH30.
These are the company's smaller and lighter on-ear model that boasts just as much refinement and quality as the larger and slightly more expensive MH40 - like a solidly built forged aluminum frame with beautifully designed details, detachable woven audio cables with built-in audio controls, a durable cowhide leather covered headband and detachable memory foam ear pads covered in supple lambskin leather. Unlike the MH40, the MH30's portable design allows them to be folded for more convenient carry. And while the MH30 are made using the same premium materials and general design aesthetics as Master & Dynamic's MH40, on the inside, the MH30 in fact have smaller 40mm Neodymium drivers versus the 45mm drivers found in the MH40. So you're thinking about a pair of Master & Dynamics and still need help deciding which one to get? We've made it easy for you.
To discerning audio and quality-philes, it seems as though the MH30 have a lot to offer. But they're not alone. The MH30 are faced against some highly prestigious competition from the likes of Bang & Olufsen's BeoPlay H2 and Bowers & Wilkins P3 - both considerably more affordable than the MH30. And with only a $50 price difference standing between the MH40, are the MH30 even worth considering?
The short and to the point answer is no. If you're willing to invest as much as $350 on one of Master & Dynamic's rightfully unique and beautifully made headphones, then you might as well go all in and spend that extra $50 to get the MH40. They're just better headphones if only because they are far more comfortable to wear and sound nicer too. The only caveat is of course lack of portability. And if that's what you're actually looking for, consider the $200 V-Moda XS or Bose's wireless SoundLink headphones instead. The XS are probably closer to what the MH30 have got to offer in terms of audio quality, build quality, features and styling.
The MH40 and MH30 are two beautifully constructed headphones that share a high quality metal build quality with luxurious leather padding. The MH40 are of course much larger and heavier than the MH30. That said, their larger over-ear cups isolate you with what you’re listening to, creating a more immersive audio experiencing – while their larger 45mm drivers deliver richer, clearer and more detailed audio performance with a slightly wider soundstage compared to the MH30 with their 40mm drivers and smaller on-ear supra-aural cups. Then again they both sound really good, just not $350 good to be honest. And to someone that is just listening to the M30 without ever having used their bigger brother will without a doubt thoroughly enjoy their sound quality.
Talking purely comfort, the difference is night and day. Having those oval-shaped accommodating ear cups to surround your ears with love and care is what makes the MH40 unbelievably comfortable to wear for long periods of time. Sadly the MH30 aren’t. They’ve got very small circular ear pads that sit right on top of your ears, and they end up hurting very quickly as a result. Although the leather and memory foam padding is identical to that of the MH40, there’s simply too much pressure being put against the ears that make the MH30 very uncomfortable to wear for longer than 30 minutes. But that’s not all that’s wrong with the MH30.
WHAT ARE THESE?! HEADPHONES FOR ANTS?
That's exactly what went through my mind when I first put on these headphones. The MH30 feel like they're supposed to fit children and not adults. They barely fit my head and that has never been an issue with all of the numerous headphones that I have tested and worn throughout my years of using headphones. But then again the MH40 were also dangerously close their full height adjustment setting when I've tested them a while ago, and that also has never been an experience of mine with other headphones. The MH30 at their tallest and fully extended height adjustment did not fit over the center of my ears, to the point were they felt very uncomfortable to wear as a result of the improper headband fit as well as the strong clamping force applied over my ears. Now of course fit does vary from person to person and there's still a chance that these may fit you better than they do me. That said, those chances are most likely few and far between - as I don't have a large head myself.
I suggest you steer clear of these until Master & Dynamic does something about this. Hopefully sooner rather than later, because after all I actually really like the company’s headphones quite a lot. To find that the MH30 don’t even fit me as they should is very disappointing to say the least. I’ve never worn a pair of on-ear headphones that fit this poorly and didn’t have plenty of headband adjustment settings to fit a huge variety of users.
It's unfortunate that we have to give the MH30 such a low rating because these really are an exquisitely made pair of headphones that sound great and look amazing. But there’s no excuse for having such a poor height adjustment and uncomfortable on-ear clamping. We couldn't use these for very long and some may even find them to be too short to even fit properly, and for that reason we suggest you scratch these off your shopping list. That being said, we’d highly recommend considering Master & Dynamic’s MH40 over-ear headphones or V-Moda's XS if you're looking for portable on-ear headphones with a comparable set of features.
If you're willing to spend $350 on premium headphones then you may as well spend the extra $50 for the MH40 or even the BeoPlay H6. It'll be worth the investment. Otherwise we don't suggest going for the MH30 unless you've got a small noggin' and are willing to take a bet on comfort for the sake of a bit more portability.