Lifestyle

The Best Headphones That You’ve Never Heard of

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It doesn’t sound quite as far-fetched as you would think, given it’s mainly due to the relative obscurity of the headphones in question.

Although somewhat new to the game, Master & Design (M&D) has been hitting all the right notes thus far. The first thing you’ll notice is their products’ striking looks. Fortunately, it’s more than just that.

Here, we look at two of their best: the MH40 and the MW60, which are wired and wireless versions of fundamentally the same headphone.

MH40deconstructed

If you have to sum them up, it would be: it feels as good as it looks, and it’s clear that they’ve not spared any expense in manufacturing it with anything less than high-grade materials. While expensive products are not uncommon, but how often have you seen high-end headphones made with not-so-premium materials?

You’d be surprised that even in the premium range, some may use synthetics. While synthetics are proven to last longer under lab conditions, leather tends to fare better in our climate. Plus, you’re more likely to feel like you’re getting your money’s worth.

Aluminium is the primary metal of choice for housings, except for high strain areas in which case steel is used. They are well-finished, and the mechanisms inspire confidence that they will last.

MH40

MH40

The MH40 has a retro look that’s similar to the classic headphones of the past but with a modern twist to it. It features cowhide for the headband exterior, earcup insets, and soft lambskin for headband interior and ear pads. Nothing beats the feel of real leather, and the MH40 delivers on comfort. The pressure exerted by the headband is relatively comfortable, and it feels snug and secure.

The MH40 wasn’t designed for audiophiles. But for all intents and purposes, it is high quality and appropriate for its price range. Pleasing to the ear and fun-sounding, the MH40 displays a fair amount of bass and a punchiness that suits most genres of music. However, while its semi-open design means that there’ll be a small amount of sound leakage, but it’s nothing too alarming. Open-back headphones tend to display a more natural sense of space than their closed-back counterparts, and here, the MH40 tries to find a middle ground. There’s also a useful mute button that cuts off the music when you need to have a conversation, so you don’t have to keep taking your headphones off.

To round off, it comes with a decent package of accessories — leather cable box with two woven cables (one with mic and remote), a canvas case for the headphones, and a 6.3mm adapter plug.

S$580 is a lot to pay for a pair of wired headphones, and if you’re chasing technical audio performance, the MH40 will be overshadowed by many competitors. But few come close to offering an enjoyable audio performance coupled with tasteful design and luxurious comfort.

MW60

MW60

The MW60 shares many similarities with the MH40, but it is very different at the same time. First off, it’s wireless, and secondly, a closed back headphone, so there’s no sound leakage. There’s little compromise on the soundstage, but in the process of doing this, the MW60 winds up being an entirely different beast. So it’s not a simple matter of choosing between wired or wireless. Between the two, the MH40 is more natural-sounding, while the MW60 is more authoritative in its delivery.

The MW60’s design is also noticeably different from the MH40. Their silhouettes are similar, but the MW60 drops its pseudo-retro leanings for a cleaner, more contemporary look. It even takes a leaf out of the smartphone handbook of antenna design, with its iPhone-inspired antenna located on the outside. An astute decision, because the Bluetooth connection seems robust as a result, and it’s hard to force the music to skip.

Battery life is rated for 16 hours, and we got about 13-odd hours on average, which is rather good. As with all wireless connections, much depends on your environment, the type of music files, and the Bluetooth profile of the phone, but the long and the short of it is, you don’t need to worry about running out of battery prematurely.

Haliburton

MW60 Zero Haliburton Kit Edition

The MW60 is in no way inferior to the Bang & Olufsen Play H8 or the Bowers & Wilkins P7 Wireless, and its closest competitors (in terms of positioning) and two brands that are well-established in the field of audio (the Sennheiser Momentum Wireless is also a viable alternative). The MW60 easily holds its own and is a worthy option, thanks to a killer combination of good looks, solid build quality and materials, and impressive performance. The price tag — S$780 — is massive, but not undeserved.

 

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