Contents of delivery
- USB Type C to 3.5mm wire
- Charging wire USB Type C – USB Type A
- Airplane adapter
- Soft case
- Speaker 40 mm
- Body color – black, gray, brown
- Materials – leather, silicone, metal
- Weight – 280 grams
- Proximity sensor – automatic pause when shooting
- Bluetooth 5.0, multipoint
- Codecs – SBC, AptX, AAC
- Physical control keys
- Voice assistant support, dedicated key
- Frequency 10 – 20 kHz, impedance <000 Ohm, sensitivity 32-90 dBm
- Price in Russia – 42 800 rubles (in Europe 590 euros)
Every headphone manufacturer today strives to introduce wireless headphones for travelers, with noise canceling as a prerequisite. Historically, Bose headphones have proven themselves well in this market, but then Sony revolutionized their on-ear headphones as the benchmark for such a product. Several generations of Sony headphones have already been released, each one improving over its predecessor, and today, in terms of technology, this is the best on the market. Therefore, in any review I compare the applicants with such headphones, they are damn good.
But Montblanc definitely stands out from other headphone manufacturers, those who are strongly associated with such accessories. After all, Montblanc is a manufacturer of fashionable and expensive accessories for business people, it is a fashion house, and not an ordinary manufacturer of something. It would be correct to say that the image component for Montblanc accessories is always high and, as a result, the cost of the goods produced by the company is high. You may have a leather case for your smartphone, but if it has a company badge on it, people around you will know for sure that you paid a lot for it. The company’s designers definitely have a taste, things turn out, on the one hand, laconic, on the other hand, stylish. Therefore, I was interested in the first headphones from Montblanc, this is the variety that the mass market lacked. I’ll make a reservation that Montblanc headphones are not for everyone, they are not a mass market. But the appearance of premium headphones, one way or another, affects everyone, including Sony, Bose and others, companies are starting to change the materials, the look of their products, trying to improve them. And this plays into the hands of all of us, since ultimately the products evolve, become completely different.
How successful can a fashion brand be in creating a new product for itself in the field of mass electronics? There is Tag Heuer’s approach, when they take a Chinese blank and ennoble the design, and the brand gives shine to exactly the same filling as in inexpensive devices. The approach has the right to exist, but it is strange to pay that kind of money for China in a different package. For Montblanc, headphones were not only about design, but also about sound (unexpectedly!).
Alex Rosson was invited to work on their first headphones in the company, he is a sound expert. Here someone from this industry can nod profoundly and, depending on their ideas about beauty, say that Alex is a lump or, on the contrary, an exaggerated value. Since I do not have such knowledge, I can only evaluate the results of Alex’s work, namely, how these headphones sound. I’ll make a reservation, however, that I like his work on Audeze, this sound is very close to me – soft, but at the same time powerful, the sound envelops you. The Audeze brand almost always pleases with its models.
But first you need to understand what Montblanc wanted from him. The task was not just to make headphones that sound decent, but to create a sound that would be associated with Montblanc. Make the sound of your headphones easily recognizable (Montblanc Signature Sound). Can you imagine how hard it is? There are hundreds of different models on the market, different sound options have been invented, and then you are offered to invent something unusual, something memorable. The task is interesting and extremely difficult, not everyone can cope with this.
Miracles do happen sometimes, with the Montblanc MB 01 bringing together form and content. The company is based on the Qualcomm audio platform, hence the default aptX HD support. 40 mm speakers were selected as the basis for the sound, this is today the most popular size for headphones of this class, a kind of standard. And then they added a little magic to make the sound look like this.
But first, a few words about design. The headphones must be comfortable and the materials used must be high quality, to match the Montblanc brand. Therefore, metal, silicone and ordinary leather are used here without any prefix “eco”. Fans of leatherette can buy it in a hundred other products, real leather is present here.
The company offers three colors of headphones – gray, black and brown, I had headphones of just that color.
Each color is good in its own way, they all look very good. These colors look expensive, and the familiar Montblanc badge on the headband dispels any doubts.
Each ear cup is covered with silicone, the material is very pleasant to the touch, looks unusual. The matte surface contrasts perfectly with the gloss of the headband, in my case it is the golden edging in which the rays play. Dust collects on the cups, but it is noticeable only on closer inspection, gold distracts attention and creates the image of headphones.
The detachable ear pads are not bad in size and provide excellent passive isolation.
The earbuds can be folded, which is convenient. The only pity is that the set does not include a hard case, you will have to carry them in a soft one. My backpack is tight, it seems latently that the headphones can be damaged. A hard case protects against such fears.
On the head, these headphones hold perfectly, even with sudden movements they will not fly off. Snug yet comfortable fit. The downside, like many similar models, is that with prolonged listening you start to sweat, the insulation is too good, there are no holes for ventilation. In spring time, it will take you about an hour indoors to start sweating. But other than that, comfort doesn’t suffer.
For those who like to watch the TV series before sleep or listen to music, these headphones will not be completely comfortable. They were created so that you listen to them half-sitting or standing. Lying on the pillow, you will experience discomfort with any sideways rotation, they will slide a little. And then the sound will begin to leak out, and if you are not sleeping in splendid isolation, this will become a problem. Surprisingly, there is simply no such flaw in Sony, it is present here. How critical is this? I think not very much.
The lack of touch controls is not a big drawback, all the control keys are on the right side.
The power button has a four-section charging indicator (25% each), also in English, the charge level is spoken to you when you turn it on, this is more accurate information (the charge progress is 5%).
Voice prompts work well, but they don’t get in the way. The ANC key is separate, it works in a cycle – noise reduction, disabling the mode, as well as the Live Mode (sound transparency). When switching modes, the sound is muted, a hint is spoken. I don’t like this, as it is better to mute the sound and not stop the playback. When watching a video, this leads to a pause in playback.
The headphones have a proximity sensor, removing them around your neck, you automatically turn off the playback. In most situations, this function works as it should, but sometimes it fails – playback continues.
The play button is on the right earpiece, it is large, with its help you can pause the playback. Everything is simple and straightforward.
A few words about noise reduction. The function works well, but this is only one mode, there is no automatic turn on, as in Sony, there is no level control, only turn on. And here we can say that this is not the most aggressive noise reduction, it is good, but not maximum. In the absence of aircraft and in isolation within the home, I used these headphones with a lawn mower.
Not the loudest thing in the world, but in ordinary headphones the sound of the mower is felt, it is impossible to listen to music comfortably. Sony has no sounds, Montblanc also. That is, everything is good for such an application, but the noise reduction is not very aggressive, the proprietary sound is preserved. And this is good, since it is pleasant to listen to headphones.
In a quiet room where the TV is working, you can completely abstract from it, unless the picture flickers in your eyes. I can not hear anything. If you are addressed loudly enough, the sound will not be heard either. In a car with open windows at speed, something breaks through due to gusts of wind, but listening to music is also comfortable.
And then the question arises – that these headphones for constantly traveling will certainly not become ideal, in the plane some of the engine sounds will break through, they cannot be compared with Sony. But this is an excellent level, comparable to a host of other models. But the advantage is the sound of the headphones, both with and without ANC enabled.
For me, music is an opportunity to relieve my head, listen to familiar melodies, and distract myself from something. And then it turns out that Montblanc has created a very pleasant, expressive sound. It is soft, enveloping, there are no sharp transitions in tonality. The bass is also soft, it does not press on the ears, but enters smoothly and imperceptibly. The bass is there, they are well felt, and the treble is also present. The middle is a little hidden, but this is understandable, the noise reduction works. It is very good to listen to jazz or blues in these headphones, they are filled with additional energy, rock here sounds not quite familiar, although it is interesting. Popular music is also good, nothing to complain about. You should always listen to headphones, and speaking of this model, I advise you to go to a boutique and try it, I think that most will like the sound. It reminded me of the older Audeze models, as I said above, I really like them.
Unfortunately, no companion application is provided, just as there are no additional settings, all control comes from the headphones. Against the background of Sony, this asceticism is frankly embarrassing, there the headphones are stuffed with technologies, they even know how to measure pressure (not yours, but air). Everything is simpler here, but it is precisely as a fashion accessory that Montblanc clearly wins over Sony.
In the conditions of self-isolation, I did not have many opportunities to walk with headphones, these are walks in the woods, to the nearest store. I caught interested glances, the headphones look great, the looks are guaranteed to attract.
At a cost of 590 euros (42 rubles in a Russian boutique), these are not the cheapest headphones, but they were not planned to be like that. For almost half the price, you can buy the Sony WH-800XM1000, these are excellent balanced headphones. But I like the sound more in Montblanc, as well as the look. Montblanc’s noise cancellation is worse, so I’ll go with Sony for travel. But as a fashion accessory, I will definitely give my voice for a model from Montblanc, if you want to stand out, then there is simply no other choice. An excellent fashion model with good sounding, definitely worth its money. You have to pay for the opportunity to stand out, and the example of the same AirPods shows that people are ready to do this. So why not?
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