The Musical Fidelity MF100 headphones are an over ear headphone and are open in design. They arrived for review well packed and complete with a choice of leather or fabric earpads, a velvet carrying pouch and a mini to quarter inch jack adapter. The headphones are clearly designed for use by the iPod generation as they have an inline control and microphone apparently…all wasted on an old codger like me who just wants his headphones to play music, but I’m sure the youngens will love this feature. They cost £119.
They’re well presented, sturdy enough looking and have a single shortish cable which attaches to the left hand can – there’s also a little rubber doodad on the cable to keep it all nicely wound up when not in use.
Wearing the MF100s for a couple of hours with the fitted leather earpads I found them a bit “sweaty” and so fitted the fabric pads… for which procedure there is clearly a knack I evidently don’t have… actually it’s not too bad to fit them and I am a bit ham-fisted and impatient if truth be known. The fabric pads are much more comfortable for my ears and were snug enough over longer periods.
The padded plastic headband adjusts at both left and right sides so you can get the fit just so for your given head size. The headphones are pretty tight on the ears and were I of that persuasion I’d not hesitate to go out for a brisk jog wearing them – you can shake your head about a good deal without them budging an inch. Actually I’d have liked them to have been a smidgen less tight.
The cans themselves are pivoted and fold flat so you can hang them round your neck (I’ve seen the youth on the street do this) when not in use.
Isolation is ok but being open they’re not as effective as the closed design NAD headphones we tested recently, but then they were never going to be. That said this is a pretty moot point as the Musical Fidelity phones appear to be very sensitive indeed and using the Schiit Magni headphone amp (fed by their Modi DAC) reasonably loud levels were achievable at the 7/8 o’clock point…at 10/11 o’clock they were as loud as you’d ever need them. This sensitivity is a good thing for folks using digital media players (MP3 players I’ve heard the young people call them) as they go plenty loud enough without putting undue strain on the player.
When I tested the Musical Fidelity EB50s sometime ago I really enjoyed them and they have become my headphone of choice when I’m away on business or, heaven forbid, forced to use public transport and so I was eager to give the MF100s a bash.
As mentioned most of the listening was done using the Schiit desktop kit with Foobar 2000 – all files were ripped to FLAC.
Johnny Cash’s “American IV – The Man Comes Around” was presented with an overall nicely balanced tone. Voice was well projected and natural sounding, perhaps a little to the fore in the mix, guitar sounded pretty good throughout the frequencies. You do get a good insight into the recording and vocals in particular sound very credible.
There isn’t that out of the head experience you get with very good open backed headphones, but the stereo image is pretty well portrayed and there is a good degree of feeling of width and depth for a pair of headphones at this price point.
On Jazz (Marcin Wasilewski Trio “Faithful”) there is a believable presentation of piano and hats and snare hits are snappy and sparkly. You get a good depiction of the louder and quieter passages with most of the detail being kept intact – there’s a touch of break up at loud volume at the upper frequencies. Actually listening at lower levels on these is very enjoyable for this kind of music and I can see myself donning them for the late night sessions when I’m shouted at for turning on the main rig or when working at my desk.
The Musical Fidelity ‘phones go deep as demonstrated with the synthesised bass on Wolfgang Voigt’s “Zukunft Ohne Menschen” and this is perhaps where their real strengths lay – with electronica. Kevin Saunderson’s classic “The Groove That Won’t Stop” is bouncy, snappy and with a 303 line that is pretty much as it should be. On “One Night In Comeme Vol III” bass is driving, deep and hard-hitting whilst the electronic percussion is faithful to the sound of the machines playing. In fact the more I listen to bass heavy techno and electronica the more I’d say that these are very good for this genre – there’s a real kick in the bass and explosiveness to the top end – Miss Kitten’s “Batbox” album sounds fab!!
All in all and for the relatively modest asking price you get a good sounding headphone with the MF100s. They’re not the last word in detail or refinement but then you wouldn’t expect them to be for the money you are being asked to shell out.
They are quite tight on the ears, something that has been addressed with final production ‘phones I’m told, and I found that the most comfortable way to wear them was quite far back on the ears so the front of the cans are raised slightly away from the ear. I also found this positioning gave the MF100s a much more open and dynamic sound – punchier with better separation of the instruments in the mix…much more “out of the head”.
Given the release date of these headphones I can see them being popular with audiophile parents wanting to give their progeny a Christmas gift that will give them a glimpse into the audiophile world and with the Musical Fidelity name attached they’re sure to do well – dare I say the name may even outshine that of the ubiquitous Beats by Dre in some circles.
That said, I’d also see a good number of people for whom headphones are not their main listening media and who don’t want to spend a fortune on a headfi set up opting to give these a whirl.
For those that listen to a good deal of electronic music then I reckon the Musical Fidelity MF100s would be a good, reasonably priced choice of headphone – had I heard them twenty five years ago I’d have had them as my monitor ‘phones for DJing. They’re also a good choice for those who want a more “out of the head” sound they’re used to with in ear monitors and their portable music player.
- Impedance: 64ohm +/-15%
- Sensitivity: 98dB +/-3dB
- Max. Input Power: 25mW
- Rated Power: 10mW
- Frequency Range: 20Hz ~ 20KHz
- Cable Length: 1.3m +/-5%
- Driver Dimension: 41mm Dynamic Type
- Plug Type: 3.5mm 4P
- Mic.Size: 4mm Dynamic Type
- Impedance: 2.2k ohm
- Sensitivity: -40+/-3dB
- Frequency Range: 50Hz ~ 2KHz
Author – Stuart