Canada’s National Research Council (NRC) is famous for its work in the audio field, and many are aware of the influence that work has had on loudspeaker design. Less publicized, the NRC also innovated research in the area of headphones. The PSB M4U 8 was developed by utilizing that extensive database of research.
Paul Barton, the respected engineer behind PSB Speakers' newest headphones, checks a lot of boxes for modern music lovers. Best of all from the consumer perspective, the state-of-the-art PSB M4U 8 is priced competitively ($399), and it doesn’t skimp on features.
PSB M4U 8 Features & Configuration
Packaged in a nice box, the headphones easily pull out of the box encased in a semi-hard travel case, which also includes a USB cable, an analog cable, and an extra set of ear pads.
The M4U 8s incorporate a choice of analog, USB, and wireless Bluetooth with aptX connectivity, active noise canceling, a passive mode that doesn’t require the battery, and a closed-back design.
- Closed-back design.
- Active noise canceling option.
- Wireless Bluetooth with aptX and NFC connectivity.
- Passive mode eliminates the need for batteries.
- Ergonomic left or right cable connection options.
- Comes with travel case.
- MSRP is $399.
PSB, which is one of the Lenbrook Group of brands, also incorporates its proprietary RoomFeel technology into the M4U 8s. According to the Canadian audio company, RoomFeel was, “created to deliver the warm, natural sound of a live performance. RoomFeel technology adds realism back to all your favorite recordings without altering the original signal.”
Without consulting the manual, I immediately grabbed the headphones and noticed the Bluetooth button on the top of the right earpiece. After pressing the button, the headphones responded with a melodic sound effect and allowed my iPhone8 to easily connect.
I also made sure to charge the headphones before use.
Thankfully, charging via the USB connection, I was still able to listen to the headphones on my MacBook Pro.
The headphones also offer a choice of left and right analog inputs depending on a user’s environment and where the most convenient connection lies.
PSB M4U 8 Performance & Conclusions
I used the headphones in the same ways many consumers would, balancing sports talk radio and podcasts with lots of streaming audio from Apple Music, iTunes (ranging in quality levels from AAC to AIFF), and YouTube. Most of my listening was done with wireless Bluetooth
Sound wise, I found the headphones to be rich, dynamic and neutral. Unlike many of the products that are currently popular on the market, the M4U 8s play down low with plenty of low-frequency extension without overemphasizing lower frequencies.
As a result, kick drums, floor toms, and the fundamental root notes of bass lines have a nice presence without sounding out of control and bloated, and they maintain fast transient elements.
After listening to the headphones for a long time, the same word comes to my mind—warm—but I wouldn’t say the M4U 8s impart any kind of midrange color. It’s a very neutral sounding headphone.
The word comes to mind because of how rich and full the headphones sound, listening to everything from Tool to AC/DC to Fleetwood Mac, all without sacrificing top end or detail.
My only criticism of the headphone involves its fit and feel. The M4U 8s are somewhat heavier and tighter fitting than similarly priced Bluetooth headphones from Bowers & Wilkins and Sennheiser.
Sennheiser’s MB 660 UC wireless headset is approximately $50 more expensive, but it provides communication applications, two-way wireless capabilities for unified communications in business environments, and are comfortable and light enough to wear while running.
The Bowers & Wilkins are also lighter and provide a more conducive wireless headphone-wearing experience, but the fit and finish feels less durable.
If exercise isn’t part of the usage equation, the M4U 8s may make more sense for listeners. They offer better low-end extension and more weight in the midrange than the other products, and in my completely unscientific comparisons offer a greater wireless range.
CE Pro Verdict
Headphones deliver high levels of isolation
Headphones produce wide dynamics and rich sound
PSB’s commitment to engineering and quality is apparent
The headphones may be heavier than competitive models
The fit of the M4U 8 headphones is tight for what some may consider average size heads