It’s been kind of a long wait for the downright sexy Klipsch Mode M40 to show up at our review desk. Klipsch got them out the door to us in relatively short order, but nearly four months of anticipating giving these full-size, active noise-cancelling headphones a proper listen bordered on torturous. Our hands-on experience with the M40 at CEDIA 2011 was not unlike giving a freshman foodie their first taste of a well-executed risotto, then telling them they couldn’t taste any more for several months. Can you imagine? The craving!
Finally, we’ve gotten our chance to spend some extensive one-on-one time with the Klipsch Mode M40, the company’s first effort at an active noise-canceller which stands to challenge similar models from the likes of Bose, Audio-Technica and Sennheiser-all companies which are well-experienced in the field of noise-cancelling headphones. In our Klipsch Mode M40 review, we describe our experience with the cans, discuss their pros and cons and rank them against similarly priced and featured headphones.
Out of the box
Klipsch totally nails the out-of-box experience with the Mode M40. At a certain price point, we think you deserve to get a little something extra from your purchase, be it in the form of useful accessories, a nice case or perhaps just a premium presentation. Klipsch delivers all of that in a package that lends a real pride-of-ownership feeling to the de-boxing process.
Upon opening the M40’s heavy gauge box we found what, at first glance, looks like a compact, brown leather shaving kit but is actually the case for the headphones, adorned with Klipsch’s logo. Alongside the case is a hinged flap which, when pulled back, exposes black foam with custom compartments cut into it. The compartments held an airline adapter, a ¼” stereo adapter, a spare AAA-size battery, a cloth-covered standard headphone cable and a cloth-covered Apple 3-button controller cable.
Inside the brown leather case we found the M40 headphones folded up and sitting inside a thin silk sack with a drawstring for security and handling.
Features and design
The Mode M40 headphones are certainly head-turners. Our review sample fetched plenty of looks as we tested them away from the office and even beckoned a few people our way to learn more. The headphones’ deep copper color with satin sheen plays nicely against the predominantly flat black ear-cup assembly. The headband covering, which looked a little translucent for our liking on the CEDIA show floor, seems to have been darkened up since then and the effect is pleasing. While we can still see the actual headband through the cover at a close distance, it isn’t unattractive and, from further away, is virtually undetectable.
The ear-cups are well padded with a memory foam material which is covered with soft and supple black leather. That approach is not carried over to the headband, however. Instead a slightly slick black vinyl-like material is used. While fairly soft, it isn’t spongy as you might expect; especially for a .78 lb. headphone
The battery that powers the M40’s noise-cancelling circuitry lives in the left ear-cup. Pulling down on a small latch releases a spring clip door, exposing a single AAA battery. Klipsch says the lone battery will power the noise-cancelling circuit for up to 45 hours. That number may be true for active listening but we noticed that the battery is capable of lasting much longer than that, provided the headphones aren’t actively reproducing an audio signal. For..ahem… testing purposes (totally not by accident!), we left the M40’s noise-cancelling turned on overnight for two nights in a row and we still got several hours of listening in before killing the battery.
Of course, killing the battery doesn’t mean the end of music listening. Klipsch has wisely designed the M40 so that they function just fine without the noise cancelling turned on. You just have to remember to flip the switch (located on the right ear-cup) off, which was apparently difficult for us to get used to since we kept leaving it on all the time. We think this may have had something to do with the fact that the red LED sort of blends in with its dark copper background.
Inside each of the M40’s ear-cups are two drivers, one 40mm driver (which is all you get in many full-size headphones) and a smaller 15mm driver to handle the upper mids and high frequencies. Klipsch uses a passive crossover network for the drivers, which are rated to cover a frequency response ranging from 20Hz – 20kHz. Impedance on these cans is 32 ohms (measured at 1kHz) and sensitivity is reported to be 97.5db @ 1mW for the 15mm driver.