- Brand – Musical Fidelity
- Model – MF 100
- Price – £119 (at time of review)
We here at Play3r have taken a delve into the consumer audio market of late, with reviews of several different products, covering the portable speaker market as well as a variety of headphones and gaming headsets. Today we are taking a look at consumer grade headphones from one of Britons most well-known electronic audio equipment manufacturers. Musical Fidelity are most well-known for the design and manufacture of electronic audio equipment, with over 30 year’s experience within that field and today we take a look at something new from them. The Musical Fidelity MF 100 on ear headphones. Designed to sit comfortably within a specific price point without cutting corners or never being true to Musical Fidelity’s heritage within the audio market. Here is a little bit about Musical Fidelity for those of you who do not know who they are; Musical Fidelity has been designing and manufacturing Hi-Fi electronics for over thirty years and we are proud to have become one of the best-known brands in the Hi-Fi industry. We are driven by a passion for wonderful music and the challenge of world-class engineering. We approached each new design by looking for the absolute best solution to a given challenge and embrace new technologies in our designs as well as developing more traditional methods for even greater performance. While we aim to give you as much information as possible through this website there is simply no substitute to hearing a Musical Fidelity product for yourself. MF-100 – Specifications General
- 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
There are various designs used on the outer packaging of products designed to draw us in and go wow look at that and then purchase that item. At least my marketing friends have told me that is how it works. Taking a look at the packaging of the MF 100 I was surprised by the clean, crisp and overall fantastic design chosen. The crisp white offset by the foil inlaid branding, not to mention the simple image of what is actually inside the box. As seen in the image below.
The right side of the packaging continues the white background theme as well as the silver foil-inlaid text. This time it has a simple tagline. ‘When music matters most’ it is clear that Musical Fidelity believe in the product that they have produced.
Keeping things simple the left hand side of the packaging is also sparse, the silver foil-inlaid text continues to be used. The left hand side is simply a direct copy of the text used on the front of the packaging.
Now lets take a look at the back of the box, I expected more information regarding the drivers used within the headphones. A more detailed specification on the MF 100’s but instead I was greeted with a sales pitch in three different languages. Not that I am complaining about this at all, for the most part the information would be wasted on a person who does not know what the information actually means.
Now we have covered the outer packaging let us take a look inside the box itself and a closer look of the MF 100 on-ear headphones.
The lid of the box slides off with a small amount of wiggling; the fit was quite snug immediately we are presented with the MF 100 headphones as well as the small amount of accessories supplied with the product.
Firstly let’s take a look at the supplied accessories, Musical Fidelity supply the MF 100’s with a spare set of ear pads. As you will see from the images below there are two different ear pads provided. They also include a 3.5mm to 6.5mm adapter for anyone using a DAC or AMP that has the ability to use the larger audio jack.
The spare set has a fabric finish to them I have tested the MF 100’s with both sets attached and whilst they do not affect the audio performance the velvet ear pads I found where more comfortable. This is of course personal choice. Below you can see the difference in the supplied ear-pads as you can see the pad on the right has the velvet finish, the pad the left has a more foe leather finish to it.
Also supplied is a small velvet drawstring bag to help protect the MF 100 on-ear headphones when you put them away, whether this is in your bag or in a draw.
As we saw from opening the box the ear cups can be completely folded flat, great for storage in the supplied bag or if you plan to leave them sitting on your desk. Another great feature is the ability to fold up the headphones into the headband. Making their foot print that much smaller for storage etc
Looking at each ear-cup we see that Musical Fidelity have differentiated each ear-cup with a different coloured ring, the left has blue ring and the right has a red ring. I quite like this small amount of colour in a predominately black and silver colour scheme.
Removing the ear-pads we see that underneath the drivers are protected by plastic discs which can be removed if needed, the small notch on ear disc allows you to fit the ear-pads back onto each ear-cup. This isn’t possible to demonstrate within this review. Each ear-pad can be removed by gently pulling and twisting them away from the cups. Fitting them again on the other hand requires you to twist the fabric that holds them in place into the grove and then turn the pad threading the fabric between the disc and the rest of the ear-cup.
The headphone cable can be removed from the headphones, which isn’t uncommon and whilst most headphone cables are either braided or simply flexible plastic finish. The cable on the MF 100’s has a more textured rubber finish to it. Musical Fidelity has also chosen to affix a rubber cable tie to the headphone cable itself. This can be slid up and down the cable if needs be but cannot be removed.
As you saw breifly in the above image the headphone cable also includes an in line microphone. This also has the added function of being able to play and pause your music when used in conjunction with a smart phone.
This is quite a nice touch and allows for much easier cable management there is nothing worse than taking out your headphones from your bag or pocket and having to unravel the cable from itself before usage.
Lastly let us take a look at the headphones themselves, the MF 100’s have a solid plastic headband with a smooth finish and enough give within the design to allow them to fit on almost any persons head. The ear-cups have a plastic outer section and metal inner section with Musical Fidelity branding cut directly into the metal itself. The ear-cups are attached to the headband via stainless steel arms which allows the ear-cups to pivot and twist. The arms are also attached to the headband via elbows which allows the ear-cups to fold into the headband.
The MF 100’s have an excellent history of quality products and the MF 100’s have been well presented and have an excellent build quality. The materials used feel well placed and the design is very much appealing. The headband felt solid in my hands as did the cans themselves. The usage of plastic isn’t uncommon when it comes to headphones. At times that plastic can feel cheap and overall of low quality. Not with the MF 100’s, with a textured finish to the plastic, the headband felt solid and well put together.
I have worn and used various different headphones from various price ranges over the years and some of felt excellent and well-designed others cheap and nasty. The MF 100’s are certainly far from cheap looking, and most definitely have an excellent build quality. Moving on let us look at the comfort of the headphones, having worn the headphones for several hours I found that they became quite ‘sweaty’ after a time.
This was due to the pre fitted foe leather ear-pads. Swapping them out for the fabric covered ear-pads alleviated this problem, removing the ear-pads carefully by simply pulling them away from the rest of the can I was then left with the task of fitting the fabric pads. The one stumbling block in this design and presentation is that I had no idea how to refit the pads. There were no instructions on how to do so as Musical Fidelity had not supplied any data sheet or guide inside the box. It was whilst I fiddled with the ear-pads that I noticed a small cut out on the plastic disc that the ear-pad fits on.
Once the fabric of the ear-pad was partially slid in place, by simply turning the ear-pad clockwise I was able to fit it to the disc. Once it was fitted the headphones where far more comfortable to use for extended periods of time. The headband adjusts on both the left and right with a sliding mechanism which allows the user to adjust the headphones for an even optimal fit.
I found that the headphones had a slightly tighter fit than I was used too but having flexed the headband a little I was able to find the most comfortable fit I needed. The tightness of the headphones meant that they were unlikely to come lose anytime soon as I used not only whilst I sat at my desk but also when I went out of the office. Though I am quite lax in my exercise regimen if I was that way inclined I would not hesitate to wear them whilst out jogging or at the gym. Personally I would have liked them to have been smidgen less tight but this of course something that you can get used too. Storing the headphones away I could lay them completely flat as each can pivots on the stainless steel arm allowing them to flatten out completely. Due to the hinge attachment to the rest of the headband you can also fold them up completely for a smaller footprint within your bag.
Testing the audio performance of the MF 100’s I used various different audio tracks, I am far from an audiophile so this was tested by plugging them directly into my computers sound card as well as via my smart phone. I say this as I do not own any form of Pre amp or DAC. Something I wish to rectify rather soon. I found that the isolation was ok, the MF 100’s are actually closed back but are designed to sound like they are open. That being said the Musical Fidelity MF 100’s appeared to be very sensitive indeed even when being used without an amp. I am very much aware that using any audio device at high volume can damage your hearing, something which has become apparent of recent years.
Even at a moderate volume the MF 100’s performed extremely well. Testing the MF 100’s I sat down initially to simply listen to some of my favourite artists and then realised I wasn’t giving the headphones a good chance at demonstrating a variety of musical tastes. I am a predominantly a rock music fan so I needed to mix things up a little. I already knew from the few hours I spent listening to a variety of guitar driven tracks that the MF 100’s performed really well with the variety of guitar riffs at my listening pleasure. Not to mention the excellent mix of sound when it came to vocal aspects of music. Songs like InMe’s ‘Overgrown Eden – Trenches’ which has such a variety in the mix, fantastic mix of instruments and vocals.
Voice was well projected and sounded natural, the guitar and bass sounded really good throughout the frequencies. Whilst there isn’t that out of head experience you get from a good pair of open backed headphones the stereo image was well presented and there is a good degree of width and depth. Flicking through my audio collection I eventually found a particularly favourite, electronica/dub track, PIXL’s ‘Crazy in love’ had an excellent mix to the sound which sounded fantastic throughout the ranges, with wonderful sounding vocals coming through clean and crisps. I pretty much live at my desk, and a majority of my media consumption is done from there too. So naturally I sat down to watch an episode of a TV show I have recently gotten into. (Thank god for Netflix).
I can say that the MF 100’s performed equally as well when watching video files on my computer. Most video is down mixed to stereo, which is unfortunate as you lose any dimensional aspects to the audio, but then again this isn’t a Hollywood blockbuster we are watching so that isn’t really a problem. As per my testing I also jumped into a couple of video games as there is only so much listening to music I can do in one day. I enjoy music as much as the next person but had a slightly itchy trigger finger. First up, a few rounds of Battlefield 4, now stability issues aside the MF 100’s performed quite well.
The thump of my tank shells coming through loud and clear, the MF 100’s have an excellent audio balance and was able to play several rounds quite happily wearing them hearing the shots being fired from snipers at long range and the footsteps of friendly and enemies around me as I played as an infantry soldier rather than in armour. Battlefield 4 has one of the best audio engines heard in any video game, not only from the action that is happening from individual players but the background audio heard in different areas of each map and this came through quite clearly as I played.
All in all, Musical Fidelity is asking a quite modest asking price, which nets you a good sounding set of on-ear headphones. They won’t be the only pair of headphones you ever purchase; I wouldn’t expect them to be either. That being said you could do so much worse for the same price or less, if you are looking to spend some money on a well-designed set of headphones for a family member you will not go wrong with the MF 100’s. With their release being so close to Christmas they should be gracing the space under the tree. If you are after a budget conscious pair of headphones for yourself or a relative then the Musical Fidelity MF 100’s are for you, with excellent sound throughout His, Lows and Mids. With a particular kick to the bass and a explosive top end and fantastic for a variety of musical tastes. This is not MF’s first foray into the headphone market, not to mention their long history with audio equipment the MF 100’s are certainly an excellent entry level headphones. I suspect this won’t be the last headphone release we see from Musical Fidelity. It is with that I would like to give Musical Fidelity’s MF 100 the Play3r Value Award. The MF 100’s are an excellent set of headphones, not only are they well designed but priced moderately for the excellent performance you get from them.
Not only do you get fantastic performance and design, but the Musical Fidelity MF 100 most definitely represent good value for money. Anyone wishing to introduce someone into the higher end audio market cannot go wrong with the moderately priced MF 100’s as they are released just in time for Christmas.