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Over the last year and a half, I’ve really come to appreciate – and rely on – active noise cancelling headphones. They’re great for blocking out noise for calls (or just to focus) during the work day, as well as listen to music and watch shows in the evenings at lower volumes. One of the latest that I’ve run across are the PSB M4U 8 MKII headphones.

Now, about that name – yeah, that string of letters and numbers doesn’t quite roll off the tongue, does it? For as awkward as the model name is, I have to say that the design of these headphones is just lovely. It’s a balance of rounded and squared-off edges in balance, and the overall look is definitely that of high-end audio. No garish logos or colors, just clean, dark design.

Of course, looking good is just part of the battle – for headphones, they need to sound good too. Of course, we’ve not had the PSB M4U 8 MKII in, so we can’t speak to it with authority, but it seems like they’ve got a good foundation in place. You’ve got a broad range of frequencies being delivered by their 40mm drivers, but they also enlist technology to help.

How so? Well, much like we saw with the Soundcore Q35, there’s an associated app that helps you tune the output of the headphones to what your ears can actually hear, whether they’ve dropped some fidelity to age, too many concerts, or just plain not being able to hear certain frequencies. This is invaluable, and really does help the sound output in my experience.

I, for one, am all about the bluetooth connectivity that the PSB M4U 8 MKII offers. However, if you want a wired connection for fidelity – or the battery has run out – you’ve got that here. You’ve got the standard 3.5mm connection, but interestingly, they’ve put the connector on both earcups. This means you can plug in for whatever feels more natural to you (I’m a left-side preferrer) or to get the cord closer to what you’re plugging into. It’s a welcome bit of flexibility, and hey – should one connection become inoperable for some reason, you’ve got backup.

I may not be as wild about the 18-hour battery life with ANC turned on, but hey, that still gets you through a few work days at a time, right? And again, I think the design of these headphones really puts it to the head of the class for options out there, and the physical (not touch) controls for volume, playback, and mode will be welcome to many. Good design (and tech) doesn’t come cheap, however. The pre-order for the PSB M4U 8 MKII headphones just started about a week ago, and you can reserve yours for $399, with delivery anticipated to begin in November 2021. psbspeakers.com

Details from PSB

  • Bluetooth HD wireless connection with aptX HD and Qualcomm® cVc technology 
  • Separate Active Noise Cancelling (ANC), Active, and Passive Modes  
  • All-digital ANC with digital MEMS microphones decreases audio conversion error 
  • PSB’s latest RoomFeel technology with greater detail and better imaging 
  • Personal Sound by Audiodo through the PSB Headphones app 
  • Access additional features, settings, and over-the-air updates using the
    PSB Headphones app 
  • NFC pairing for supported devices 
  • Over-ear, amplified, closed back design 
  • Physical controls for volume, playback, and mode selection 
  • Unique dual 3.5mm input connections (left or right side) 
  • Tangle-free cords for analogue wired and USB-C connection 
  • 1/4” stereo and dual-input flight adapters 
  • Runs on included rechargeable battery power 
  • Up to 25 hrs battery playtime in Active Mode 
  • Gyro-suspended ear pads 
  • Carry case and easy folding for travel and storage 

Tech Specs

Frequency Response

LF Cutoff -10dB10-20,000Hz
LF Cutoff -3dB15-20,000Hz
Within ±1 1/2dB20-20,000Hz

THD, total harmonic distortion

ANC: ON (1kHz/1mW)0.5%
ANC: OFF (1kHz/1mW)0.25%

Power Handling

Maximum30mW

Impedance

Passive32 Ohms

Transducer

TypeDynamic
Operating PrincipleClosed
Size40mm

Ear Coupling

Ear CouplingCircumaural

Connection

Connection1/8” * (3.5mm) Stereo Jack (Left or Right)
Bluetooth aptX® HD
USB C
CablesStandard Cable – 2m (78 3/4″) Detachable Tangle-free
USB Cable – 2m (78 3/4″) Detachable Tangle-free

Battery Life

Wireless Active Mode25 hrs
Wireless ANC Mode18 hrs

Construction

HeadbandSpring Steel
Driver EnclosureABS + Polycarbonate
Earpads/Headpad CoverLeatherette
Travel CaseEVA

Dimensions / Weights / Finish

Overall7 7/8 x 7 7/8 x 2 7/8 (200 x 200 x 70mm) (Travel Case)
Ear Cushion Outside2 3/4 x 3 7/8 x 3/4” * (68 x 98 x 17mm)
Weight12oz (342g) with cable
FinishJet Black
Notes* Non-metric measurements are approximate.

All specifications are subject to change without notice.

All products recommended by Knapsack are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

By Patrick Kansa

A big data developer and leader with a penchant for gadgets, books, watches and beverages. You can find my work on WristWatchReview, Knapsack.News, and Slushpile. If you're on Twitter and/or Instagram, you'll find me there as @PatrickWatches.

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