PSB is a highly regarded brand of speakers distributed by Lenbrook, who also handle Bluedound and NAD. For a few years now, PSB has also been making some premium headphones that have been well received, the latest of which is the $399 PSB M4U8 MKII (buy at Amazon). Much like a $2,000 pair of floorstanding speakers, $399 wireless over-the-ear headphones land in the most competitive space in the market, with mainstream players like Beats, Bose, Apple, and Sony taking their share of the pie. You will also find other, more audiophile-oriented brands with very capable performers, such as Technics, Sennheiser, and Bowers & Wilkins all at the same price. So can the PSB M4U8 MKIIs hang in there with the tough competition? We will find out, as I’ve reviewed them all at this point.
What Makes the PSB M4U8 MKII Bluetooth Headphones Special?
- PSB has integrated Audiodo’s Personal Sound algorithms into the app, which allows you to custom-tailor the sound of the PSB M4U8 MKIIs headphones to your unique hearing levels. Other headphones offer a little EQ here and there, but PSB goes next level in their app with hearing calibration and pretty advanced audiometry.
- PSB has improved the battery life for its active noise cancelation. Today’s wireless Bluetooth headphones tend to have long battery life no matter what, but improvements are always welcomed.
- The fit on the PSB M4U8 MKIIs is pretty comfortable when compared to other players at this competitive price point. Most specifically, the PSB M4U8 MKIIs aren’t too tight on your head. A tight fit is important for low frequency performance, but can sometimes compromise comfort, and PSB has struck a nice balance here.
- The PSB M4U8 MKIIs have a multi-mic noise cancelation system that works very well.There’s a simply toggle on one of the ear cups that you can engage ANC when you want or need it.
- The headphones aren’t too heavy at a little over two pounds. My recently reviewed Beats Studio 3 headphones were much lighter, but that’s the only place that the Beats best these PSBs.
- The headphones come with a USB-C input for charging and connection. Amazingly, some top companies are still messing around with USB-Mini and other adaptors that force you to carry more cables in your travel rig.
Why Should You Care About the PSB M4U8 MKII Bluetooth Headphones?
The main reason to care about the PSB M4U8 MKIIs is that the company actually cares about sound. They do a lot of research. They get a lot of love from the NRC (National Research Council Canada), and they’ve got really good engineers working on products like this. Looks aren’t the driving factor on why these headphones sell; it’s the sound. For our readers who want great sounding headphones, that is very, very important.
Some Things That You Might Not Like About the PSB M4U8 MKIIs
- They aren’t really pretty or amazingly well polished when compared to, say, the Bowers & Wilkins Px7s or maybe the Bose Noise Canceling 700 headphones. They aren’t ugly, but even in the espresso finish, they aren’t fashion-forward. You buy the PSB M4U8 MKIIs for performance more than looks.
- Connecting to Bluetooth isn’t hard, but it isn’t as mindlessly easy as other headphoneslike Beats by Dre Studio 3s, Apple AirPods Max, or even Bowers & Wilkins Px7 S2s.
- The buttons on the PSB M4U8 MKIIs are a little chintzy as compared to the one Apple-watch-like button on the Apple AirPods Max. The fit and finish (as well as design options) are far better on headphones like the two Bowers & Wilkins Bluetooth headphones currently on the market today.
Listening To the PSB M4U8 MKIIs…
Let me be clear that I am a Van Halen fan more than a Van Hagar fan, but I did have to make a note and circle back to “Why Can’t This Be Love” from The Best of Both Worlds – one of the band’s compilation albums (buy at Amazon). The bass performance was of immediate note, in that it was rich, deep, and musically engaging. The space around Sammy Hagar’s overdubbed vocal stylings towards the end of the song are energetic but not bright or shrill at all. There is space around Eddie Van Halen’s guitar. There is a nice shine. but not too much sizzle on Alex Van Halen’s cymbals. I think Van Hagar did too many Sammy love songs, but this one sounded notably good.
When I was in music school in the ghetto in the early 1990s, the likes of Snoop and Dr. Dre were cruising the respective mean streets of Compton and South Central, and albums like Doggystyle from Snoop were on everyone USC kid’s playlist (buy at Amazon). The openness and space around Snoop’s voice on “Gz and Hustlers” drew me in with some of the best performance in the category. While not Brothers In Arms, Aja, or Hotel California, the idea that a historically important but decidedly non-audiophile record can sound this good is a really big compliment to these $400 headphones. I don’t normally go hip-hop or rap with my demo material, but I must say that this album sounded really good on the PSBs.
In the spirit of music that I do actually listen to all of the time, “Under My Sensi” (Thievery Corporation Remix) (buy at Amzon) is about as in-my-wheelhouse as it gets musically these days. These Washington D.C.-based DJs are the true definition of song stylists, assuming that you’ve never heard them. They take groovy jazz, hip-hop, reggae, and world music and bring a very specific and always groovy vibe to the songs that they work on and/or influence. It is more than engaging background music, but sets a very modern and hip musical vibe that, like Sinatra or Bob Marley (in very different genre), appeals to a very wide audience. On this cut, you can hear some sitars and vibes towards the end of the track that have a smooth yet amazingly resolute sound to them. The bass performance of the PSB M4U8 MKII is consistently strong, not just on this track but everything that I listened to.
Do the PSB M4U8 MKII Headphones Have Any Resale Value?
I am going to say that if you care for your PSB M4U8 MKII headphones and keep the box, they might have some resale value. In my case, I beat the snot out of my headphones. I rarely use the protective case. I get some serious wear and tear by dragging them all over the world with me. Perhaps you will be more careful than me and get better resale if you ever decide to sell them. I think that at this low price, you would easily be able to say that you got your four hundred bucks back in value after a few years, even if the PSB M4U8 MKIIs fall apart from abuse.
Who is the Competition for the PSB M4U8 MKII Headphones?
Oh boy. Here we go again with the $400 headphone category, which is just brutally competitive.
Most mainstream headphones in this price segment best the M4U8 MKII in terms of fit and finish, the PSBs sound better in almost every case. Earlier versions of Bose Noise Canceling 700 (buy at Amazon) or the Sony WH-1000XM5 (buy at Amazon) were the only players in the space with multi-mic noise cancelation. Now PSB (and everybody else) uses the same technology. The Bose and Sony flagship headphones look great, as they have big industrial design budgets and know how to use them. Add Apple to that list with the AirPods Max, which has great design and superior build quality to the PSBs. They just don’t sound as good in comparison.
The Bowers & Wilkins Px7 S2 (buy at Amazon) headphones are really pretty but have muddy bass, which isn’t a problem with the PSB M4U8 MKIIs. The closest competition for sonic performance at the this price is the Sennheiser Momentum 4 headphones (buy at Amazon), which are very good. The have slightly better industrial design, but nothing compared to say the Focal Bathys (buy at Amazon) at $699 or, say, the Bowers & Wilkins Px8s (buy at Amazon) at $799 – granted, much more expensive headphones.
Final Thoughts on the PSB M4U8 MKII Headphones
Can you blame me if I am a little skeptical when opening another pair of $399 wireless over- ear headphones? There are so many in the space and many focus on looks over sound, which does, in fact, sell headphones. When it comes to the PSB M4U8 MKIIs, they are an all-sound play. And they do sound good. Very good. They have deep bass, accurate mids, and open higher-frequency sounds. They are comfortable in ways others at their $400 price point are not. The PSB M4U8 MKIIs present space and air around the performers like you’d expect more from a pair of good audiophile bookshelf speakers than moderately priced wireless Bluetooth headphones.
If you’ve got the itch and a few hundred bucks is in your budget, it is worth looking into the PSB M4U8 MKIIs. They are comfortable wireless headphones that sound notably good.