By Gabby Bloch
PSB boasts that they have the world’s best-sounding noise-cancelling headphones around. Today, I’ll put that claim to the test. At a hundred dollars cheaper than the popular Sennheiser HD 1 Wireless, I was very interested to compare it with the newly released PSB M4U 8 wireless. So here’s the rundown.
IN THE BOX
Micro USB tangle free cable
Headphone 3.5mm tangle free analogue cable
Soft cleaning cloth
Semi-hard shell case
Belt/bag clip for case
¼” stereo adapter
Interchangeable ear pads
BLUETOOTH FEATURES and CAPABILITIES
The wireless controls on the PSB M4U 8 headphone lack the simplicity of Sennheiser’s HD 1’s. There are three separate controls. The first toggles between forward, play and back skip. It also accepts and ends calls. The middle control turns the power on and off and can switch between active noise cancelling and ambient. Sennheisers don’t have this option, as they are always on noise cancelling mode. The quality of the noise cancelling is also much more impressive than other headphones I’ve tried, and really make the music pop. The next switch controls volume. And finally, the top button pairs with Bluetooth. These controls don’t seem as sturdy as the Sennheisers, but they’re easy to navigate. There are two built-in, hands-free mics, and they sound nice and clear. The distance range is impressive. I walked about forty feet away from my phone, and there was no disruption. But their battery life lasts up to 15 hours which isn’t amazing compared to other new headphones of that caliber.
DESIGN and FEATURES
The look of this closed-back headphone is a matter of taste. Some may like the sleek, modern and slightly boxy look of the PSB M4U 8. I personally prefer the vintage design of the Sennheisers. But if you’re an audiofile, it’s probably not your biggest priority. They fold pretty easily but are a little bulky. Considering how great they sound, I would definitely take that compromise.
The M4U 8 uses Tri-Mode operation, which means that the headphone can either be used in active noise cancelling mode, ambient mode or passive mode. Passive mode simply means that the headphones can be switched off and still work if using a cable. The M4U 8 headphones have dual analog inputs, allowing you to connect the analog cable to either side of the earcups.
The leather ear pads are ergonomic “gyro-action”, meaning that they allow for slight tilting movement. As a result, they are more flexible in fit. M4U 8 also comes with interchangeable ear pads. One pair is thinner than the other for personalized comfort. I found them very comfortable to wear, but also firm enough to maintain a sealed fit. The expandable headband is also made of leather. The cans weigh 12 ounces (342g), which feel a little heavy to hold, but fine while wearing.
The M4U 8 features something called RoomFeel technology. It apparently adds a feeling of realism to your music, but I didn’t really notice the difference except that the sound felt really present and juicy. There’s almost no compromise when comparing the wireless listening experience to the wired, which is surprising, since the Sennheiser HD 1 headphones pop a lot more when hooked up to a cable. The best part about the M4U 8 is that they’re very loud if you want them to be. This is a big deal in the wireless world. I own a pair of Sennheiser HD 1’s, and the problem is always that the volume is never high enough for me when listening to them in wireless mode.
The sound has body. It’s full and rich. The higher frequencies are a little too crisp for my taste, and the headphones have slightly less clarity than the Sennheisers. However, the bass on these is really superior. Warm without being muddy, the bass is very powerful. The drums are punchy and really pop. These headphones have a nice ambience to them. I played Rebirth Brass Band on these and the brass instruments sound spacious with good imaging. You can really hear the placement of the instruments. There’s great vocal presence in these, and powerful voices, like Pink and Arianna, sound fantastic. They’re great for pop, rock, funk and hip-hop but are a little lacking in nuance when it comes to the more delicate, textured vocals and acoustic instruments you find in folk or country. Acoustic guitars don’t have spectacular timber, but considering these aren’t made for critical listening, they still sound really great. The mids are really decent, but perhaps not as articulate as the Sennheisers. However, when all has been said, would I chose the PSB M4U 8 over the Sennheiser HD 1? You bet.
Frequency: 20Hz – 20,000Hz
Total Harmonic Distortion: 0.5%
Maximum Power Handling: 20mW
Impedence: 32 ohm
Connection: 3.5mm (1/8”) stereo jack (left or right), Bluetooth aptX® HD USB
Weight: 12 oz (342g)
Standard Cable: 1.5m (59”) Detachable Tangle-free
USB cable: 1.5m (59”) Detachable Tangle-free