The renowned Hamburg manufacturer of pens, leather goods and watches Montblanc has introduced its first branded headphones, the MB 01, which are designed to provide high-quality sound for use when travelling. This portable wireless model supports audio codecs including aptX Adaptive as well as the AAC format, they have built-in device control and Google Assistant is integrated, they also offer functions for the suppression and improved perception of external noise.
Materials-wise, these Bluetooth headphones are made primarily of aluminium, silicone and leather, which conveys their value through both look and feel, and the quality of the workmanship appears to be second to none. The foldable design, making them compact and space-saving during transport, is also very comfortable to wear. The fit is neither too tight nor too loose, achieving a secure fit even when you are on the move. Thanks to the swivelling and tilting suspension, they adapt flexibly to the shape of your head. Since the oval-shaped ear cups are slightly slanted rather than straight, your ears are surrounded by the leather padding making for a perfect fit and providing good passive protection from the outside world. At the same time, the ear-enclosing system doesn’t generate too much heat, so that even during longer periods of use there is no need to take the headphones off. The positive overall impression that they make is only clouded by a slightly chemical odour, which initially masks the pleasant smell of the leather, so we would recommend airing them out overnight.
In our battery endurance test, this model achieved a runtime of pretty much exactly 18 hours at a higher level, which is sufficient for a pair of travel headphones, even though this result is located in the mid-range compared with their competitors. However, the right ear cup is usefully equipped with a LED status bar, which indicates the battery status when switching on and when power is being supplied. A complete charge via the USB-C port takes a good two hours in total, and a USB-C to USB-A charging cable is included for this process. Those who use the ANC mode for noise suppression continuously, on the other hand, will get a runtime of up to 15 hours. As an alternative to a wireless connection, wired use of these headphones is also possible. This can also be done via the USB-C connection, for which a USB-C to 3.5mm audio cable is included in the package.
Device control and voice service integration
The wireless system supports Bluetooth standard 5.0, multipoint connections with two devices and, according to the manufacturer, Smartwatch networking and, in combination with various Android and iOS systems, offers ranges of up to ten metres within an urban environment. The wireless connection proved to be extremely stable and free of dropouts. There were also no connection problems as you can couple the headphones by holding down the power button which switches the headphones on and puts them into pairing mode. If a Bluetooth connection exists, there are two buttons on the right-hand side of the ear cup for volume control. In addition, a multifunction button is integrated into the silicone surface, which controls playback and allows for track selection, jumping forward by pressing twice and back by pressing three times. Calls can also be answered by pressing the button and ended by holding it down, and the remote works perfectly overall with good speech intelligibility when making calls.
There is the option of using automatic control of the Play/Stop function via sensor, which can be activated by simultaneously pressing and holding down the minus and ANC buttons, which are also located on the right-hand side of the headphones. This pauses playback when the headphones are taken off and resumes it when the headphones are replaced, and this is fairly reliable except for a few minor misunderstanding. The integration of Google Assistant is also a helpful support in everyday life and when travelling. As soon as the voice control is set up, which requires adding the headphones as a Bluetooth device in the app settings of your service, you can communicate with the assistant via a separate button. The interaction includes both requesting information and reading messages, as well as answering via voice support.
These over-ears are definitely both geared towards a fun listening experience as well as being finely balanced. The basic sound has a well-balanced softness and warmth without any big effects. At the same time the stage is well graduated, which gives a high degree of precise reproduction. Productions with an emphasis on the bass benefit from powerful bass reproduction that is reproduced right down to the low frequency range and always appears to be well defined. Both the midrange and treble reproduction is clear and never becomes obtrusive as the frequency ranges appear balanced and harmoniously matched. The trebles especially sound very pleasing and are free of peaks or any kind of harshness, which should satisfy sensitive ears. A shortcoming of wireless headphones, however, is the existence of background noise, which can be perceived as annoying mainly during quieter passages, but also when watching films and listening to audiobooks. When used wired and thus free of noise, the MB 01 scores plus points as fully-fledged HiFi headphones, which also have a high output offering considerable reserves.
ANC and live mode
Use the ANC button to activate noise reduction and the so-called live mode. These do not affect the sound per se, but they do have a clearly perceptible background noise. Independently of this, however, Active Noise Cancelling reduces ambient noise quite effectively, since not only monotonous noise but also complex sources such as street noise or a kitchen radio are significantly attenuated. In live mode, on the other hand, external noise is amplified, allowing for an improved perception of your environment during playback. This could be optimised by simultaneously lowering the volume, but unfortunately, this is not feasible. For a more precise adjustment, the playback must be interrupted. Then, however, a conversation becomes possible since voices are clear and well understood.
On the sound front, there is nothing to complain about with the MB 01 from Montblanc. These comfortably fitting wireless headphones make a robust, high-quality impression, combining powerful listening pleasure with sophistication, not only offering voice control via Google Assistant but also decent noise suppression. All in all, a successful debut into the headphones market by the long-established company, which raises our hopes for future models!
- Material selection and workmanship
- Foldable design suitable for travel
- Comfortable fit
- Supports high-quality audio codecs such as aptX Adaptive and the AAC format
- Integration of Google Assistant
- Multipairing with two devices
- Wireless connection with great stability
- Background noise present, which is amplified in ANC and Live mode
- Ear couplingOver-ear
- Transducer principledynamic
- Weight with cable303 g
- Weight without cable286 g
What's in the box
- USB-C to USB-A charging cable
- USB-C to 3.5mm audio cable
- Airplane adapter
- Travel bag
- available in black/gold, black/silver and white/silver
- BT codecs: SBC, AAC, aptX Adaptive
- BT version: 5.0