There are plenty of headphones out there that are cheap, and plenty of them that will cost you serious money. Firmly on the serious money side of that scale are the Master & Dynamic MW50 wireless-on-ear earphones. These little guys sound incredible for such a small and compact set of earphones. The price isn’t so incredible at $449(USD), but you definitely get what you pay for.
That money goes to pay for seriously high-end materials with actual aluminum, stainless steel, leather, and the highlight of the show – beryllium drivers. What’s beryllium you ask? It’s the material of choice for audiophiles who want the best sound possible, it’s also very expensive. Everything about the MW50 headphones is high-end, from the design to the materials, and the audio quality. There is no vinyl or faux material on these headphones. They have premium heavy grain leather for the headband, the rotating fold flat hinges are stainless steel, and the antenna is aluminum.
The headphones boast best-in-class wireless range using Bluetooth 4.1 with aptX. In my testing I can attest that I was able to travel all around my house while cleaning and still listen to my phone sitting on my desk. Venture into the far reaches of my basement and things got dicey, but most wireless headphones I’ve used could barely transmit sound through a single wall, much less multiple walls. The MW50s also provide the ability to accept phone calls and speak using built-in dual mics.
The headphones’ internal battery charges via a USB cable just like your smartphone. That means you can travel with one cord to charge both devices. Master & Dynamic promises 16-hours of power with the internal rechargeable battery, and while I didn’t ever use them sixteen hours straight, I certainly used them for several days straight of my typical listening, and they were still going strong. If you do run out of juice, an included 3.5mm audio cable will keep you going with a wired connection.
Those beryllium drivers are 40mm units that deliver nice bass and nuanced music just as you are meant to hear it. The sound is very well balanced with highs, mids, and low sounds all working together very well, with no one range overshadowing the others. You can hear fingers traveling along strings, each quiver of your favorite artists voice, and the boom of bass drums.
Their earpads look like leather, but are actually lambskin for breathability, wrapped over cushy memory foam. I normally shy away from on-ear headphones because I find the pressure they put on my ears to be uncomfortable. The MW50 earpads are comfortable even after hours of use.
In all, it’s very hard to find any fault with the MW50 headphones. If a gun were held to my head and i were forced to choose a negative point, the only downside I can see is the price. That said you can’t shop for a Ferrari, then complain about the price. You most certainly get your money’s worth in style, materials, and sound quality with excellent call clarity to boot. If you can afford the price of entry, you will be hard-pressed to find a sexier, better performing, and more portable set of premium wireless headphones. The Master & Dynamic MW50 are highly recommended.
Master & Dynamic has been admired by many others in the tech community for their high quality headphones. I’ve not spent much time with them other than a brief listen, so when I was able to get my hands on a pair of their latest headphones, I definitely was looking forward to giving them a more in-depth evaluation.
The New York based premium headphone maker recently teamed up with the folks at German camera brand Leica to create a series of headphones inspired by their legendary Noctilux lens, a renowned f/0.95 50mm prime lens that sells for upwards of $10,000. Fortunately, the headphones don’t share the astronomical price tag, but Master & Dynamic’s aim was to build audio gear with the same level of precision and attention to detail as Leica’s almighty optics.
On looks and feel, the MW60 headphones have a great sense of substance and quality. They’re built from stainless steel, aluminum, premium grain leather, and lambskin leather. “0.95” graphics, a red dot, lens-style knurling, and red acoustic mesh inside the earcups reflect Leica’s iconic design aesthetic, but otherwise they’re minimal and timeless in styling. Unlike some headphone makers who sell on looks more than sound, that’s not the case here.
I have a big head and pretty good sized ears, and I found their oval-shaped earcups to be a little more snug than the big over-the-ear headphones I wear on a regular basis. They exert a small amount of pressure on the ears and head to ensure a tight seal and optimal sound, but it’s something I got used to pretty quickly, and I was able to wear them for many hours. Plus, the snug fit helps shut out background sounds.
A pair of 45mm neodymium backed drivers provides great sound across the board, with good clarity, and a nice deep bass punch. In fact, I was able to identify distortion-free bass down around 14Hz, which about as low as most humans can hear. Given their brand name, they’re certainly dynamic too. Sound quality is top-notch, though I did find their tuning best suited to punchier music like dance, electronic, funk, hip-hop, and rock. Imaging is very good overall, though I prefer something with a more open soundstage for listening to classical music. This is a common limitation of closed-back headphones, and not unique to the MW60s.
Battery life is excellent – providing up to 16 hours of continuous runtime without charging, and if you do happen to run out of juice, they include a 3.5mm audio cable, so you can plug in if you want. There’s also a built-in omnidirectional microphone for making phone calls.
Bluetooth operating range is very good. I was able to walk about 25 feet away from my iPhone 7 Plus audio source before the signal started to drop out. And thanks to AptX audio, the sound quality over a wireless connection is just as clean and crisp sounding as over wires. That said, I did find that I was able to crank out a bit more volume, and a bone-rattling amount of bass over a wired connection from my iMac compared to Bluetooth connection from my iPhone. That said, they offer plenty of volume over wireless too. But they “go to 11” when wired.
Priced at $549(USD), the Master & Dynamic 0.95 MW60 aren’t inexpensive, but you get what you pay for, with premium materials and build quality, and stellar sound. If you’re looking for an excellent pair of high-end headphones, these should definitely be on your list for consideration.