Master & Dynamic MH30 – Goldilocks

It’s the musical equivalent of a string of great one-liners. At first, you’re like: serious? I’m all about the tortured, long jokes. I’m half-Swede, for God’s sake! But after a while, you get it, and you’re in stitches. I have a feeling Master & Dynamic had in mind to open your mind with the Mh30. With the MH40, they handed out a semi-aggressive, easy-listening headphone. It drew you into your favourite genres. Just don’t spill the cognac. The MH30 is a foot tapper, plain and simple; but then again you never used to tap your feet, did you?

Mid-highs are pretty zingy, so contrast sits between upper bass and electric guitar riffs, then percussion. Usually, space extends further on the Z axis than it does the X. And all roads lead to that vocalist, that cellist, that violinist. And probably, to that band you never really cared for.

The MH30 is a sampler.

When music slows down, front bass edges twang. Of course, twang can turn pretty hot when the wrong (or right) music, and bass pressure speed up. Which brings me to my first pause: for whom is the MH30 intended? It does the boom-duff bass thing when called for. None of my favourite headphones do that. But it keeps the leading edges of slow music sharp, and clean. It zeroes in on the heroes of your favourite band, and has pretty good attack in the upper midrange. But, it’s certainly not a reference headphone. It’s a bit too warm for that, and lacks perfect resolution in either extreme. And yet again, maybe it’s not that warm.

Bear with me.

Overall, I’d say the MH30 is probably intended for people that enjoy indie rock, that dig the odd romp with the folk clan of the moment, that probably want to listen to modern fusion jazz but don’t yet know it, and who guiltily allow in the odd hip-hop album. It’s a headphone for samplers of everything but dedication to no genre in particular. It’s a headphone for discovering new music, and for defining tastes. Are you a basshead? If so, MH30 will give you a taste, but won’t take you there quite like large-driver basshead phones will. Are you a reference flathead? MH30 will give you a glimpse into the patina of contrast between lows and highs, but it ultimately won’t give a reference listen. Are you a mid lover? MH30 gives great focus on certain vocal ranges, and Mark Knopfler’s best strims and strums. Female vocalists don’t get breathy, but their moisture does warm up the ears a bit. That said, this isn’t a mid-warm headphone.

It blurs bass lines a bit when things get heavy down there, and forces tunnel vision on singers. It is never harsh, nor hot up top, but it doesn’t make you think of extension or ease. It’s just one of those good-sounding headphones to which apt words cannot be put.

The MH30 is a sampler.

Amp it?

I see no real need. It’s not overly sensitive, nor is it voltage hungry. Your old iPod will drive it just fine. So will your Blackberry. Unlike the MH40, it scales best to your favourite portable device, though I reckon it prefers flatter-sounding DAPs. Check out the iBasso DX90. Alternatively, the Mezzo Hifi MSAK100 is spanking-brand good.

Speaking of portable, I expect you’re wondering how the MH30 works out and about. Pretty well. It’s a semi-open design, so in wind, you may hear the driver flap here and there. But only a little. Sound leakage is damped pretty well in and out, but if you frequent eerily quiet Tokyo trains, I’d keep to sealed earphones. Some sound will go out. It comes with two cables, one long, one short. The short one has a nice mic remote. It works great for calls. If you’re a cheap ass podcaster, you can even use it for recording your Skype calls.

But don’t be a cheap ass podcaster

Get a real mic. Even a simple stage mic like the Shure SE58 will do ya good. It’s what I use. On my head is the MH30. It makes my voice sound more manly. Ditto Thomas Tsai.

The Meh

I suppose I could mention that the headband can get uncomfortable after a while. But that said, I use it at 2-3 hour clips whilst recording OHM  AIR. I’ve got a narrow skull. From the side it looks like a sail. If you have a medium or large melon, I guarantee that you’ll want to bend the band.


Master & Dynamic have a good thing going. The MH40 is a worthwhile investment for genre-based music lovers. The MH30, meanwhile, is a sampler; it does things both great and no-so-great to genres that are in dire need of both. It’s smaller and lighter than the MH40; it even folds. Not that I would fold it. I’d hate to scratch its nice metal trim. It’s a nice headphone to have around. Its zero-in scope on mids is pretty exciting, it’s bipolar bass is way cooler than it should be for genres that appear cooler than they should. And its highs to extend pretty well, but not too much.

It’s the just right for everything in a market populated by phones perfect for this or that.

4.5/5 - (8 votes)

Back before he became the main photographer for bunches of audio magazines and stuff, Nathan was fiddling with pretty cool audio gear all day long at TouchMyApps. He loves Depeche Mode, trance, colonial hip-hop, and raisins. Sometimes, he gets to listening. Sometimes, he gets to shooting. Usually he's got a smile on his face. Always, he's got a whisky in his prehensile grip.


  • Reply November 21, 2014

    George Lai

    Apple iPod Socks? That’s a blast from the past!

    • Reply November 22, 2014

      ohm image

      Never left the house without them till recently.

  • Reply November 21, 2014


    $350 for an on-ear portable headphone puts it at the top of the on-ear price tier I would think. Which means the sound should be exceptional. The Sennheiser Momentum on-ear sells for little more than half of this M&D, and while the physical quality of the Moe Junior is really great, the sound isn’t so great.

    • Reply November 22, 2014

      ohm image

      It’s sound is exceptional, but not for bass-heavy music. It’s twangy and full of verve. Also, it is a little short-sighted to call a headphone’s or a speaker’s or any output device’s sound based on price. Certain companies market cheap stuff with crazy sound quality. Certain companies make upscale stuff that appeals to more than just audiophiles. Some make expensive phones that appeal only to collectors.

      I would imagine that a person in the market for M&D products isn’t the sort of person that buys based solely on price and sound performance. And if that is the product they made, I’d hesitate to review it.

      Those companies are a dime a dozen, and it is tiring to review another product that sounds great but…

      • Reply November 22, 2014


        There are different kinds of customers. Customers for example who want only one headphone, or one at-home and one portable, to whom a “really good” price saves them precious funds. Then the other type who aren’t limited by budget (not absolutely) to whom price isn’t the biggest factor. For me price is a big factor in determining value, and the other huge factor is “how long will it continue to provide the sound I hear when it’s new?” — I’m not aware of how to rate a headphone’s value besides price and performance, assuming it fits OK etc.

        • Reply November 24, 2014

          ohm image

          I think that is the primary area I least understand. A company that prides itself on making cheap stuff that competes on price is in dire straits when another company comes along and does what it has done good, only better.

          It is a far better thing to make a brand, a good brand, a trustworthy brand. If you can, make a lust-worthy brand. Leica, not Samsung. Porsche not Ford or Toyota.

          The car doesn’t go any faster, but it is iterative, and stands upon a name that people love and sing the praises of. You don’t have to compete based on price. You compete because people want you.

          M&H are not making an everyday cheap-but-best-performance product. And thank god they are not. I’m sure a 250$ headphone with the same sound could come along. I’m absolutely convinced that headphone would come from a company that cares not a whit about where their brand is in 5 years, or ten years, and will give the guarantees, the attention to polish, and detail (manufacture and ease of use), that a brand like M&H have put to it.

          If sound quality was the only thing that matters, we’d all be using one headphone from one brand, and it would be made of recycled rice paper and dead cigarettes.

          It’s the same thing in shoes, in clothes, in cars, in houses, in pens and pencils, in cameras, in lenses… some companies choose to sell massively to the mass market, or massively to the geek market. And some design and build their products for a certain type of person, a targeted market that they believe in.

          Brands that do that well and follow through last the ages and garner success by way of performance as a brand, as a model, and more. And they don’t have to look out for cheap-as-chips competitors.

          And personally, I very much dislike companies that do their best only to perform well based on dollar amounts. There’s nothing in there.

          • Reply November 24, 2014


            I have (and had) a pretty good selection of Beyer headphones, and anyone can see that while the T1, T90, DT770, Custom One Pro, and half a dozen others use that same ‘T’ yoke on the headband/earcups, only the $1400 T1 is really good physical quality. The rest of them are pretty sloppy, albeit somewhat functional, and it’s *very* obvious that Beyer is squeezing every last drop of economy into those headphones so they can continue to assemble them in Germany. So does that mean they won’t last in the business? Hardly. Real companies in the real world cut every corner possible. What companies don’t cut quality much (if at all)? Louis Vuitton, Rolex, Leica …..

            • Reply November 24, 2014

              ohm image

              I think Beyer have fallen for the lure of the mass market. They are very different because they make for consumers/high-end geeks, rather than connoisseurs. Most headphone companies fall into the same group.

              And that is fine.

              By the way, I’ve owned a number of DT series and never had the t-junction fail, nor met anyone but you that has had that happen. I never baby my stuff. Still, Beyer are a mass market hifi brand. I don’t get the vibe that MH are going for the same thing. They are targeting specific users with needs that extend beyond just sound quality and geek street cred.

              • Reply November 24, 2014


                Beyer are a highly professional company who distribute to pro users mainly. Their headphones are not found in any of the big-name stores like Best Buy, Apple, Walmart etc. Mass market brands include Sennheiser and Beats, which are typically found at all of those stores. MH, from what I gather of your explanation, are a ‘botique’ brand.

  • Reply November 22, 2014


    That was very “glass half-full” review. I dig how you kept it positive and objective. Personally i will still with my Sen. Amperiors with PlusSound Apollonian Cable.

    • Reply November 22, 2014

      ohm image

      I think MH’s design came through perfectly with the MH40. The MH30 is a nicer headphone for out and about, but the MH40 is a replacement for a lot of staple headphones.

      I can’t say that I prefer the MH40 absolutely. I love that the MH30 wakes with certain music, and puts certain music away. It is superbly made, and beautiful (more so than the MH40). It folds well and is easy to clean and use.

      But if you fold it too much you will nail the paint.

      I wish more companies attacked mid-high-end headphones with the same attention to usability that MH do. And, that they worked on image. I love Senn, but only certain products. I think MH have a good future ahead.

  • Reply May 29, 2018

    Wireless Headphones

    This is really good, thank for sharing it!!

  • Reply December 1, 2018

    Mark Chan

    Great review… tangential yet to the point
    I’m sitting here listening to some new flamenco artists and then some Ravel and then now Jennifer Warnes (!) on my MH40s and was wondering if I should spring for the MH30 for a change…
    Yeah, I’m a serious composer but I’m also a child of the times and I sample every blooming thing in this garden of weird flowers that our world has become…
    The MH30 is intriguingly attractive all of a sudden.
    Thanks for this review
    Mark Chan

    • Reply December 2, 2018

      Mark Chan

      OK, precisely because I do sample every blooming thing in this garden of weird flowers in the world’s music… I sprang for the MH 30 … a half price deal on Amazon… couldn’t resist.
      Let’s see how it goes when it arrives in 5 days.

  • Reply January 21, 2021


    This looks really cool

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