A Canadian company known primarily for its loudspeakers, PSB is a fresh face in the headphone game. Going all-in with the M4U 2 over-ears (MSRP $399), the company offers plenty in terms of both comfort and audio quality. They’re worth a look, but the price is awfully high for a newcomer.
The M4U 2 doesn’t plod along with the herd. Most casual listeners these days prefer a sound profile that really boosts the bass, and most consumer headphones do just that. The M4U 2, on the other hand, embraces a more refined approach. If you’re a big-bass apostle, you’re barking up the wrong tree.
On the whole, this soundscape is quite natural. Each note receives similar emphasis because the sound quality is quite flat, so that no particular segment of the scale is dramatically showcased over another. Instead of “bassy” or “pitchy” sound, music is just more balanced across the board.
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Hobbyists tend to prefer this sort of balance because such treatment safeguards delicate musical details. For instance, since bass isn’t boosted, listeners are sure to hear even delicate notes on softer instruments like the harp. Additionally, when all notes are emphasized more evenly, it makes it easier to equalize and mix one’s own music.
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The best part of all is that even when the batteries bite the dust, users are still treated to great sound quality— a feature that’s tough to come by in headphones with active noise cancellation. You’ll notice a slight drop in sub-bass and midrange emphasis when the batteries are off-duty, but the overall sound quality remains quite detailed and balanced.
Though the M4U 2’s active noise cancellation (ANC) is good, it’s certainly not the best we’ve tested recently. Two AAA batteries provide hours of shelter from high-pitched ambient noises—a flip of the ANC switch easily drowned out most of the surrounding chatter in my office—but I could easily hear trucks charging by on the street below. That’s because the M4U 2 does a much better job blocking high-pitched noises than low, sonorous ones. In other words, don’t expect outstanding protection against racket from trains or booming construction.
After we’ve gone through all the positives these headphones have to offer, we come to the two big downsides: build quality and price. Though they’re quite nice-looking, the M4U 2 scratch up at the drop of a hat. Even if you’re careful, you’ll end up with ugly marks and blemishes on every inch of that glossy headband. In combination with the $400 price tag, that weighs my enthusiasm down quite a bit.
Ultimately, the M4U 2 really does have great, balanced sound quality, and it doesn’t die out when the batteries do. The fit is comfortable, and the active noise cancellation blocks a good measure of ambient noise. Still, the chintzy headband, the limited remote, and the bloated price tag mean that camping out for sale prices is in order, at the very least.
Source: USA Today