The M4U 8 headphones from PSB Speakers are a pair of over-ear headphones that offer Bluetooth connectivity and active noise cancellation. At £299, PSB Speakers are putting themselves against the likes of Bose and Sony for a slice of the premium headphone market.
The design of the headphones is understated and more traditional looking than other headphones on the market, the design is more functional than trendy – which I don’t mind. They’re made from a smooth and high-quality feeling plastic, which keeps them lightweight, with shiny metal on the hinge and slide bar.
The controls for the headphones can all be found on the back of the right-hand side ear-cup. The headphones also have 3.5mm inputs on both ear-cups so, if you want to go wired, you can choose what side you’d like to plug the cable into.
There are rockers for track skipping and adjusting the volume. The volume rocker can be pressed down to enable transparency mode, which will let you quickly turn down the volume, and the track rocker can be pressed to answer a phone call or held to enable Siri or Google Assistant when connected to your phone.
In-between these is a 3-position switch for turning on the headphones. Pushing it up once will turn on the headphones and putting it to its top position will turn on active noise cancellation.
The controls are intuitive to use, and I like that the two rockers are separated by the middle switch, making it less likely to accidentally skip a track when you instead wanted to adjust the volume.
The headphones are comfortable to wear thanks to the generous amount of padding found on the earcups and headband, which are covered in a synthetic “Leatherette” faux-leather material. The earcups have an oval shape which keeps them close to my ears and prevents them from sliding around. The earcups tilt and pivot slightly to ensure that they get the best fit to the head, but I do wish that they could pivot slightly more so I could wear them on one ear and keep another available.
When the headphones aren’t being worn, they can be folded up so they can be more portable and easier to carry around when stored in their included carrying case.
These M4U 8 headphones sound fantastic, they might just be the best sounding pair of headphones I’ve used. The headphones offer a great listening experience with punchy, yet controlled, bass and clear treble frequencies.
When the headphones are powered, there is some sound processing going on. PSB calls this RoomFeel. RoomFeel aims to add some of the warmth to sound that you may experience when listening through speakers in a room.
When the headphones aren’t powered, the dynamics and clarity of the sound can become muddy, so I’d highly recommend ensuring that the headphones are turned on – even if you’re listening with the 3.5mm cable. It is a shame that the difference is quite noticeable, but it’s well worth having them turned on.
The headphones have a surprising amount of punchy bass, it’s not overwhelming and adds a tasteful amount of “oomph” to a track, but if you’re looking for a pair of headphones with a flatter frequency response – these are not that.
I’ve found the treble and mid frequencies are nice and clear, they work well alongside the low-end bass and provide a well-balanced listening experience – allowing me to hear all the parts of a song without too much thought. Stereo separation is also fantastic.
The earpads work well for helping with sound isolation and acting as a first layer for cutting out ambient noise. This is mainly thanks to how well the headphones sit on my head and how they can provide a good seal around my ears.
The microphone on the headphones was able to pick up my voice clearly, although it is not as sensitive as the microphone found on the Boltune ANC Headphones or Apple AirPods, so my voice did sound a little quiet.
If you found yourself needing to take a phone call with the headphones, these would get the job done – albeit a little quietly.
Features and Accessories
The main feature of these headphones is their active noise cancelling, which manages to work well at cutting out low-pitched background noise such as hums and rumbles. Unlike some other headphones, turning on the ANC will also power up the headphones and connect them to nearby paired Bluetooth devices. I do wish there was an option just to use the active noise cancelling without being connected to a device.
The headphones also support Bluetooth aptX HD, which allows for 24-bit high-bitrate audio to be listened to via Bluetooth on the headphones. This allows for a higher quality audio stream than you may be used to with other headphones that don’t carry the technology.
It’s not all about software features, though. The headphones come with a few hardware accessories too.
The headphones come with a hard-shell carrying case which means you can safely store the headphones in a bag when travelling, without worry. The carrying case also has a dedicated space to carry accessories.
You’ll also find an aeroplane audio adapter as well as a ¼ jack adapter included in the box, microfibre cloth and carabiner clip as well as a spare pair of earpads and, of course, micro-USB charging cable and 3.5mm cable. The micro-USB cable can also be used to use the headphones as USB headphones when connected to a computer.
The M4U 8 headphones offer up to 15 hours of powered or Bluetooth listening time, which I would’ve liked to see longer – but will still get you through a day. When you’re out of power, you can either switch to passive mode, if you’re using a cable, or you can even swap out the batteries in the headphones.
The headphones have AAA alkaline batteries located in the left-hand side ear-shell. These are still charged by the micro-USB cable which plugs into the headphones, but it does mean that you can swap out the batteries if they stop working or are flat without needing to send your headphones in for a service.
So, to conclude. The M4U 8 from PSB Speakers are comfortable, offer a great listening experience and handy features such as active noise cancellation and transparency mode. If you’re looking for a great sounding pair of headphones that you can use at home and on the go, these headphones offer just that.