Bottom line: Easy on the ears, if not your wallet, the Montblanc Headphones are a significant first step into audio for the German luxury provider.
Comfortable to wear, hours at a time
Google Assistant built-in
No companion app or EQ controls
What's the signature sound?
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German luxury brand Montblanc has long been known for its timeless writing instruments and iconic watches. Recently, it jumped into the luxury audio market by introducing its first set of wireless headphones. The Montblanc MB 01 Smart Travel Over-Ear Headphones are available in three color combinations, including black, gray, and brown. More than double the price of the top-selling noise-canceling headphones on the market, these Montblanc Headphones aren't for everyone. And yet, they shouldn't be discounted either for the reasons you'll see below.
Comfortable and durable
What is the Montblanc MB 01 Headphones?
The Montblanc Headphones have been designed to turn heads and, yes, look luxurious. They're also surprisingly hardwearing and practical, which could popularize them to a much larger audience than other Montblanc products usually do.
Montblanc Headphones are comfortable enough to be worn for hours at a time but also strikingly durable to provide years of enjoyment with proper use. To achieve the impressive comfort, Montblanc wraps both the oval-shaped ear cups and metal headband in flexible leather that includes soft fill on the inside. For added convenience, you can adjust the headphones bars on either side to add or subtract up to one inch. As you do, you'll notice a clicking sound that's soothing to the ears.
For the latter, there's a selection of metals that differ by the headphone color. The more traditional Montblanc headphones in black come with chrome metal, while the light gray/white leather version features polished metal. In between, you'll find a brown leather with gold metal option. All feature a subtle Montblanc logo emblazoned on each side.
On the right-cup, you'll find the Montblanc Headphone controls. These include buttons for adaptive noise cancellation (ANC), Google Assistant, and power, plus a volume rocker. On the outside of the ear cup right in the middle, you'll find the play/pause button. When pushed, this button gives way like a gel piece.
The right ear cup also includes a USB-C port on the bottom for charging, which you can also use with the included 3.5mm auxiliary adapter for wired use.
More about the controls
The Montblanc Headphones, like similar products, pair using Bluetooth. The first time the headphones get turned on, the pairing mode starts automatically. To pair the headphones to another device, you'll need to hold the power button to re-initiate the pairing process.
When tapping the ANC button, you can cycle through three choices, including regular, live mode, and active noise cancellation. Most wireless headphones with ANC now include similar settings with various levels of success. Regular and live mode feel mostly the same with both audio styles letting the outside world noise mix with the music. Live mode puts in more effort, however.
ANC is nearly perfect here, keeping most of the surrounding noises at bay. It feels a tad bit claustrophobic when no music is playing, which is something to keep in mind.
Finally, with the Google Assistant button, you can check messages and also get questions answered using the digital concierge. Your messages get played with audio with one push of the button while asking questions requires a long push. Apple device owners will need to make sure the Google Assistant is running in the background. Otherwise, the integration won't work. A soothing voice will tell you when the app needs to be opened.
Both the volume rocker and play/pause button work as expected. You'll hear a beep each time a change gets made, which is a nice touch.
Long battery life
Montblanc MB 01 Headphones: What I like
Over the years, I've tested many types of headphones. Ultimately, the most effective headphones are the ones that provide the best sounds. Comfort also plays a significant role here, especially if you plan on wearing the headphones for long periods each day. The Montblanc Headphones are among the most comfortable cans on the market. And despite a closed-back design, they don't get overly warm during indoor use.
Battery life is another strong selling point. Montblanc promises 20 hours of ANC use between charges. After a first charge, I achieved a little bit more than 19 hours of use on ANC. On a second pass, I recorded 21 hours of use. These numbers inflate slightly during regular and live mode use, although my testing didn't significantly focus on these modes. USB-C provides fast and stress-free charging, regardless.
Another positive: There's a proximity sensor that automatically plays/pauses the audio when you're putting the headphones on and off.
What about the sound?
Though Montblanc designed the headphone's look and feel, it gave Audeze co-founder Alexa Rosson the task of creating the sound. For the most part, Rosson nailed it by offering crisp highs and noticeable lows. In the middle, however, things sounded a little bit more muddled. The overall result is a good sound, but not an extraordinary one. In the future, it might be wise for Montblanc to release an app for users to change the headphone's EQ to match certain situations.
Those pesky buttons
Montblanc MB 01 Headphones: What I don't like
It's always tricky when it comes to the placement and size of headphone buttons. With so little real estate, the buttons are often oddly placed or too small to be found with a naked eye. Montblanc deserves kudos for essentially making the entire front side of the right cup the play/pause button. The other buttons are too close together, by contrast, which means occasionally pushing the wrong button. Of course, if you control your music primarily through your mobile device, none of this matters. It's a shame, however, that Montblanc didn't spread the buttons out between both ear cups.
What about the price?
You're probably wondering whether the Montblanc Headphones are worth the price of admission. Will you get your money's worth? Indeed, these headphones should last for many years to come.
Are there better alternatives? Yes, as Sony, Bose, and others make impressive ANC wireless headphones for much less than what's offered here. Yes, the build quality might not reach the same levels, but these products will still last for many years through regular use.
What's in the box?
You will find the Headphones, pouch, jack cable, USB cable, and airline adapter in the box.
A for first effort
Montblanc MB 01 Headphones
For its first trip into audio, Montblanc did a most impressive job. With a durable design, the Montblanc Headphones are fun to wear for hours at a time. Though the sound profile won't score any awards, it's enjoyable nonetheless.
You must take a look
Great start, Montblanc.
If you're looking for something fresh and money isn't the deciding factor, the Montblanc Headphones might be for you.
Have any questions?
Let us know in the comments below.
Bryan M. Wolfe has written about technology for over a decade on various websites, including TechRadar, AppAdvice, and many more. Before this, he worked in the technology field across different industries, including healthcare and education. He’s currently iMore’s lead on all things Mac and macOS, although he also loves covering iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch. Bryan enjoys watching his favorite sports teams, traveling, and driving around his teenage daughter to her latest stage show, audition, or school event in his spare time. He also keeps busy walking his black and white cocker spaniel, Izzy, and trying new coffees and liquid grapes.
So, who has had these long enough to know they last "for many years to come"? I wouldn't pay $600 on a hunch. Seems like you pay mostly for the name.
They just came out, hence the review! Thanks for reading.
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