PSB M4U 8 MKII review

The PSB M4U 8 MKII are, you won’t be shocked to read, the follow up to the Canadian firm’s first foray into premium noise-cancelling wireless headphones, the M4U 8. The principles of the overall package remain the same, unsurprisingly, but there have been a number of improvements and specification changes that, PSB hopes, will put it among the class leaders in what is an extremely strong field.
The M4U 8 MKII are not cheap, at (according to the PSB website) an official retail price of £349 / $399 / AUS$599. This market sector includes strong alternatives from heavy-hitting brands such as AKG, Bowers & Wilkins, Beats, Bose, Sennheiser, and – most intimidating of all in the premium wireless noise-cancelling headphone market – perennial Award-winners Sony.
But that ‘official’ price is a slight red herring here. As always with such products, it is well worth searching around for the best price you can get; in the UK we have seen the PSB M4U 8 MKII available for more than £100 less than the official price, and generally on sale for £299.
Sponsored Links
The Most Talented Rock Bands in History, RankedCrowdy Fan
Features and build
Noise-cancelling headphones: PSB M4U 8 MKII
(Image credit: Future)
Like the original, the PSB M4U 8 MKII are solidly put together using mostly premium plastics, with a bit of chrome for highlights. They lean more towards the functional side of design, rather than putting any great emphasis on form and finish, but they feel perfectly well made for the price.
As with the original headphones, PSB has eschewed the current trend for swipes and gestures on a touch-sensitive earpad, and keeps things traditional with rocker switches and buttons on the right earcup to control pretty much all the functions of the unit.
There are three sliders, one for volume up and down, one for powering on and activating the noise cancelling, and one for track skipping and fast-forwarding/rewinding. The first of these also pushes in to allow in extraneous noise (hearing a train announcement, say), and the bottom one pushes in for play/pause and answering a call. All perfectly standard (a few years ago at least) and often preferable to the more modern swiping system that many rivals have graduated to.
The buttons do feel fairly similar, so on initial use there is a bit of confusion over which button we are pressing, but spend a bit of time playing around with the controls and you should have no problem accessing the correct command.
There is also a little push button that activates and deactivates the Bluetooth capabilities.
PSB M4U 8 MKII tech specs
Noise-cancelling headphones: PSB M4U 8 MKII
(Image credit: Future)
Design style Over-ear
Bluetooth version 5.0
Noise cancellation Yes
Battery life 25 hours (18 ANC)
Touch controls Yes
Weight 342g
Finishes x 1
In the box, along with the M4U 8 MKII, you get a hard, leather-look carrying case, a USB-A to USB-C charging cable, a 6.3mm (quarter-inch in old money) adapter, a twin-pronged adapter for airplanes, and a 3mm headphone cable for listening directly to a source. Using this, the headphones need no power, so it’s a useful back-up option if the improved 18-hour charge isn’t enough, or you forget to charge them up for some reason.
All of which is fairly standard, and all of which – with the exception of that more powerful battery providing longer playing time – came with the original M4U 8.
PSB claims to have made improvements to the sound from the original, as one would expect; but the main change is the inclusion of custom audio calibration that gives the user a bespoke sound setting provided by an app (iOS and Android). This sends beeps of varying frequency to your ears, the app requiring you to acknowledge perception of these (and, of course, taking into account those sounds you do not hear).
Comfort and noise-cancelling
Noise-cancelling headphones: PSB M4U 8 MKII
(Image credit: Future)
As with the originals, the M4U 8 MKIIs are an on-ear rather than fully over-ear design. The clamping force is fairly strong, but we find that, if you experiment with the headband-expanding mechanism carefully, they can be worn in comfort for lengthy sessions. If you get this wrong, though, they can become a touch uncomfortable – so take your time getting it right.
Once we get used to the button positioning, we get over the problem with the controls feeling very similar, so mistakes become less frequent in time.
There are, however, a couple of occasions when we struggle to get the headphones to connect with our phone after we have been using them on our laptop – so we have an irritating few minutes turning it all off and on again on the train on the way home. That has happened only a couple of times, however, and doesn’t take too long to resolve.
The noise-cancelling is functional and competent without being class leading. It does well on the daily commute, blocking out most unwanted noise on the train – and the facility to allow in extraneous noise with the push of the top button saved us from getting stranded on our train on a couple of occasions.