Master & Dynamic MH40 Wireless (2nd generation) review: a new mix of sound and design

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When it comes to headphone design, Master & Dynamic have carved out a niche for themselves. The company’s signature metal and leather look immediately set it apart from the competition when the wired MH40 debuted in 2014. M&D followed in 2019, giving its non-ANC (active noise cancellation) over-ear headphones ) a modern update. Now the company is back with , touting improvements to audio, battery and more. The third iteration of is undoubtedly an improvement over the last one, but are the company’s design chops enough to overcome the lack of features compared to similarly priced alternatives?


One element that has always set Master & Dynamic apart from the competition is its design. Since those first MH40 headphones, the company has relied on aluminum construction instead of plastic for several products. Plus, it mixes metal with other high-end materials like canvas and leather. For the second-generation MH40 Wireless, the company stuck to its roots, right down to the vintage aviator-inspired look.

Master & Dynamic

Master & Dynamic MH40 (2nd generation)


  • unique design
  • Improved sound quality
  • Comfortable for hours of use

The inconvenients

  • More expensive than its predecessor
  • No ANC
  • Limited customization
  • Battery life should be better for non-ANC headphones

Alongside the aluminum body, a coated-canvas wrapped headband is color-matched to the removable lambskin ear pads. With all those premium materials, the MH40 weighs 280 grams, which is 30 grams heavier than . Still, the extra weight isn’t a burden, they’re lightweight, comfortable, and the padded ear cushions keep you from feeling the outer edge of the ear cups.

Like the previous version, the onboard controls reside on the right earcup. A three-button matrix is ​​positioned near the headband hinge, giving you control over calls, music, voice assistant and volume (including a mute button). The dual-function power/pairing button sits on the outer edge next to the USB-C port and a multi-color battery/pairing indicator. I will always advocate physical controls on a touchscreen, mainly because they are more reliable. That’s certainly the case here, as I was able to easily execute multiple presses of the center button to skip tracks.

Software and Features

There's no denying that Master & Dynamic offers a unique headset design, and the MH40 is the prime example of what the company can do.  This third iteration of the model improves sound quality, extends battery life, and does a better job with calls.  Despite the MH40 covering the basics well, some will want more in a $399 set of headphones.

Billy Steele/Engadget

The M&D Connect app is the companion software to the MH40. Here, the battery level is the most prominently displayed item, along with a note if your headphones are up to date in terms of firmware. A tap on the gear icon reveals options for sound, controls, and “about device.” In the sound menu, Master & Dynamic gives you four EQ presets: bass boost, bass cut, podcast (mids and vocals) and audiophile (mids and treble). By default, no EQ setting is selected and the app will remember which one you chose so you don’t have to select it each time you activate the so-called E-Preset EQ. You can also enable Sidetone in the sound menu, which lets you hear part of your own voice during calls. This is handy because it saves you from feeling the need to speak loudly to hear yourself through the passive noise isolation.

While Sidetone is a nice feature, you can only enable it in the app, which means before a call (or more likely, for the first few seconds of one) you’ll have to swipe to the sound menu to activate it. I realize the MH40 doesn’t have ANC, so there’s no dedicated button that selects a noise canceling mode. But perhaps there could be an option to repurpose the long press of the center button from calling a voice assistant to triggering Sidetone.

In the controls menu, the app gives you the option to rename the device from M&D MH40W and change the auto-off timer from the default 30 minutes (one hour, three hours, and never the other options). From this screen, you can also trigger a factory reset.

Sound quality

There's no denying that Master & Dynamic offers a unique headset design, and the MH40 is the prime example of what the company can do.  This third iteration of the model improves sound quality, extends battery life, and does a better job with calls.  Despite the MH40 covering the basics well, some will want more in a $399 set of headphones.

Billy Steele/Engadget

After testing several Master & Dynamics products over the years, it’s clear the company has a knack for a warm, natural sound devoid of any heavy tuning. Across all genres, there’s no overreliance on booming bass or painfully bright highs. That continues on the second-gen MH40 Wireless where there’s plenty of low-end sounds when a track calls for it, like Mike Shinoda’s remix of Deftones’ “Passenger.” But the bass complements everything else, and the default EQ works well across the sound spectrum.

Master & Dynamic has replaced the previous version’s drivers with 40mm titanium units which it says produce “clearer highs and richer lows”. That’s because the highs are punchy across a range of musical styles, and the lows can be as thick and punchy as a song demands. Other headphones may offer a low boom, but they blend better with the MH40’s mids and highs, making for the deepest bass on RTJ4 more enjoyable to listen to.

There’s a great attention to detail in the sound profile of the MH40 too, and again, this shows across different types of music. However, this is most evident with genres like bluegrass and jazz – multi-instrumental arrangements with interwoven sections emphasizing different players at different times. It’s not quite on the level of what Bowers & Wilkins manages with its latest headphones, which are some of the best I’ve reviewed. But Master & Dynamic does a solid job with the subtle nuances of sound, from the picking noise of a mandolin to the punchy hits of a double bass.

When it comes to calls, the new MH40 offers a better overall experience than its predecessor, but there’s still room for improvement. The new microphone setup does a solid job with consistent background noise. It doesn’t pick up things like white noise machines and clothes dryers. The headphones aren’t great with louder distractions and it picks them up in more detail if you have Sidetone enabled.

Battery life

There's no denying that Master & Dynamic offers a unique headset design, and the MH40 is the prime example of what the company can do.  This third iteration of the model improves sound quality, extends battery life, and does a better job with calls.  Despite the MH40 covering the basics well, some will want more in a $399 set of headphones.

Billy Steele/Engadget

Master & Dynamic promises up to 30 hours of battery life on the new MH40. That’s 18 hours on the first wireless version of the headphones, but that’s no longer than most ANC models. Audio-Technica’s best non-ANC model lasts up to 50 hours, for example. There’s also a quick charge feature that will give you up to six hours of use in 15 minutes. In my testing, I managed to hit the stated time before I had to plug them in, but didn’t go beyond that. This does a mix of music, podcasts and calls (with Sidetone) at around 75% volume and leaving the headphones off overnight a few times.

The competition

In terms of non-ANC headphones, one of my favorite options is . Like the MH40, this is a second generation model with notable improvements over the M50xBT. Multipoint Bluetooth pairing, built-in Alexa and a low latency mode have been added to the company’s warm audio tone mix with a set of really comfortable cans. Plus, they’re currently on sale for $179 — $20 less than the original price and less than half of what you’ll pay for the new MH40.

If you’re looking for noise-canceling headphones, Master & Dynamic sells with a more modern design than the company’s other on-ear and on-ear products. Adaptive ANC is powered by an array of four microphones, and there are three noise-canceling modes to choose from. The MW75 is also equipped with wear detection to help you extend that 28 hour listening time (with ANC on). However, these headphones cost $599, surpassed only by the most expensive headphones I’ve tested recently.

For the currently available, you’ll want to consider . Simply put, no other company comes close to what Sony offers on its flagship set in terms of mixing features, sound quality and ANC performance. Although they are expensive at $398, you get more for this investment. Additionally, we’ve seen the M5 on sale for .


What features are you willing to give up for a headset that looks great and sounds great? This is really what you need to consider with the . There is no denying that this second generation model is an upgrade from the first wireless version. All the things the company says it has improved are true, from sound quality to battery life and microphone performance. If the company had done that without raising the price, I could make a strong case for the new MH40. But at $399, there are flagship noise-cancelling headphones from other companies that simply offer too much compared to M&D’s latest. Unless, of course, the main thing that matters to you is a deft hand in product design.

Gallery: Master & Dynamic MH40 Wireless (2nd Gen) review | 15 pictures

MH40 Wireless (2nd Generation)

Master & Dynamic

MH40 Wireless (2nd Generation)

Master & Dynamic is back with a second-generation MH40 wireless model, touting improvements to audio, battery and more.

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