Just over 3 years ago, I checked out the original M4U 8 headphones from PSB. They’ve now released a new and improved, I think, mark 2 version, I’ve been using them and here are my thoughts.
If you’ve got the original and are wondering what’s different? Let’s run through that first. Well, they say they’ve improved the battery life, which is now circa 18 hours with ANC on, 25 hours with it off. They’ve tweaked & improved the noise-canceling technology inside, it’s an all-new digital adaptive arrangement that sounds good but probably the biggest change, personal sound. There is now an app you can download, pair with your headphones and change bits to better suit your hearing and listening experience.
Out of the box, the headphones look identical to the originals. Matte black with hints of glossy black and chrome. Some nice stitching to the top of the headband, with thick leatherette ear cups and headband. The headband is adjustable, there is a good amount of flex as well but only a little bit of giving on the ear cups themselves. All the buttons are located on the right earcup, a slider for power on, off and ANC on, plus two rocker switches, one for volume, which also acts as the button for turning on ambient or monitor mode, plus a slider for track control . There is also a Bluetooth button, USB C port for charging and also 3.5mm jack ports to both earcups for a wired connection. The headphones fold into one themselves, making it easy for them to be stored and moved around in the provided hard case. You also need all the accessories you might need, aux cable, USB cable, adapter ‘adapter AND an aeroplane adapter too, which I have not seen in a very long time.
Probably the best new feature is the addition of the app. There is a PSB Headphone app, available to purchase for free on both iOS and Android. PSB has teamed up with Audiodo to bring a custom audio experience to the user and I like it. Connect the headphones and your smart device together, open the app, it will confirm it found the headphones and then you need to run the calibration. It takes about 60 seconds, you’ll hear a number of different beeps in your left ear, then your right. If you hear the beep, you press yes, if you do not hear it, you press no. Once that’s done, the app will create a personal sound profile for you, tweaking the EQ to suit your level of hearing and I have to say, it made a noticeable difference. Within the app, you can quickly enable or disable personal sound with an instantaneous response and switching between the two, it’s a big difference and it’s elevated the sound dramatically. Now this will differ for each person, I get the impression my hearing is better in my left than my right but with this profile, it’s upped the highs a little, the mids a lot and lowered the bass. It’s really improved the experience and I’m quite surprised how much of a difference this had made.
Other than that, there is not much else to do with the app. You can recalibrate and create other profiles if you share the headphones with other people. You can also push out firmware updates which are great for futureproofing. You can not however manually edit the sound profile or create an EQ, so your one profile is all you can have.
Audio performance has been fantastic, it’s been a real joy to use these headphones while working while walking the dog. The app is a must, the custom profile has made such a difference and I would only ever use these with the profile on. For me, the profile EQ was spot on, it offered a lovely mix with whatever I was listening to, be it pop-punk or country, it sounded great.
ANC is included, and there is also a nice level of passive cancellation as well thanks to the foam ear cups. It’s a noticeable difference when turning the ANC on, it’s the type where you notice that slight buzz when you turn it, but only if you’ve got no content playing of course. Without music playing, ANC will remove any sounds in the office, background PCs, people chatting but also does a good job of louder sounds like a lorry driving past when you’re out for a walk. There is no ambient mode with these, so be careful if you are wearing these out, stay aware.
As for comfort, I found them fairly comfortable, I would wear them for maybe a couple of hours each stint without issue. If anything, I would have liked a bit more padding to the headband, if anything that’s the least comfortable part. They also sit well on my head, with a tight enough fit that these would probably be ok for joggers.
Lastly, the microphone sounds good, more than enough for taking calls or even if you wanted to use them for a zoom call, a bit of an overkill sounds wise but if you’ve got them, why not. Battery life was good, I charged them at least twice and I’d say 15 odd hours with ANC on is more than achievable. The controls work fine, easy to use with your right hand but if you’re not careful, you could go from ANC on to headphones off, missing the middle option of ANC off but headphones still on if you push too hard, which I did a couple of times.
So there we have it, they were the PSB M4U 8 MKll headphones and I really enjoyed them. It was some three years ago now that I tried the originals and I have not got them anymore to compare but these have got to be better, that personal sound profile is great. The retail price is £ 299 here in the UK at the time of writing this, so they’re not cheap but I think they more than perform and keep up with similarly priced headphones on the market right now.
For more info and to purchase, head over to the official PSB website.