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Klipsch Mode M40 review

Splendid music isolation on the go Tested at £290

What Hi-Fi? Verdict

Klipsch's first noise-cancelling headphones are excellent performers


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    Excellent noise-cancelling

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    Tough build

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    Smart looks

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    Good battery life


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    Could be more comfortable

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    Faces tough competition

Flick through the Headphones section of our Buyer’s Guide, and you’ll see that Klipsch is a regular in the in-ear arena. The Klipsch Mode M40 (opens in new tab) is the American company’s first pair of noise-cancelling headphones, intended to block out other people’s din.

With a leather case and a well-dressed man on the box, Klipsch seems to hint at high-flying luxury. There’s certainly enough in the way of accessories: there’s also a satin-soft slipcase, a 3.5mm-to-6.3mm adaptor, an airplane adaptor, and a choice of plain and three-button cables.

Klipsch Mode M40 review: Build

The design is smart, although the black/copper colour scheme may not be to everyone’s tastes. One side of the headphones sports a discreet switch for the active noise-cancelling function.

The other side opens up to take a single AAA battery, which lasts around 45 hours – although even when you run out of juice the M40s still function as passive headphones.

The body is mostly plastic, with leather ear-cups. Build quality is high: we provoked hardly any creaking in our test, despite a sadistic amount of stretching and twisting.

There’s a reassuring weight to the M40s, which certainly feel tough enough to handle a fair number of plane and train journeys. The trade-off is that they get slightly uncomfortable after a few hours on your head. Some may find 356g a bit much for a long-haul flight.

The fit is also a little tight, with the ear-cups pressing down more than we’d like. Rivals like the PSB M4U2s have a lighter body and gentler fit. However, Klipsch has addressed this issue in newer batches by reducing the clamping force of the headband.

Klipsch Mode M40 review: Sound quality

Sonically, the M40s perform well, with a good grip on dynamics and enough rhythmic precision to get your foot tapping.

They’re fairly natural and well balanced, which makes for a relaxed listen. The PSBs do have an advantage when it comes to insight and musical engagement, but the difference isn’t huge.

Klipsch Mode M40 review: Noise cancelling

Onto the raison d’être of the M40s: noise cancellation. We tested this by a river and a busy street, and the Klipsches just laughed off the challenge. We took them onto the London Underground, and it was only after stepping into a crowded train that they had to work harder. Nevertheless, if you want to enjoy music on a commute, the M40s present an effective option.

Klipsch Mode M40 review: Verdict

All in all, the Klipsch Mode M40s are a success, just losing out on a fifth star because of the tough competition. There’s plenty to shout about here, even if you can’t hear it over all the noise-cancelling.

MORE: Best noise-cancelling headphones 2014

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What Hi-Fi?, founded in 1976, is the world's leading independent guide to buying and owning hi-fi and home entertainment products. Our comprehensive tests help you buy the very best for your money, with our advice sections giving you step-by-step information on how to get even more from your music and movies. Everything is tested by our dedicated team of in-house reviewers in our custom-built test rooms in London and Bath. Our coveted five-star rating and Awards are recognised all over the world as the ultimate seal of approval, so you can buy with absolute confidence.

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