Master & Dynamic MW50 Wireless Review
Master & Dynamic are a pretty new brand in the high end headphones world, bursting onto the scene in 2013 and aiming to tackle the premium end of the market with a no compromise approach to the best materials, technology, and sound – fairly ambitious goals for a new starter. The MW50 is their newest shot at the quality end of the wireless market – let’s take a look…
Opening up the pretty standard apple-esque packaging, you are immediately greeted by the MW50’s – it’s an ‘Oh My Very Days!’ moment for sure – they look amazing. I’ve said it before, but when you pay down a large chunk of cash for something… ahem…. ‘non-essential’ like a set of headphones, then they better be something pretty flipping special. And the Master & Dynamic MW50 is all that & more!
Vintage retro styling is the first to impact, then you notice the real lushness of the leather & metal construction. There is virtually no plastic on display here, it’s a solid build with superb little design touches. It reminds us of the B&W P7 at first glance…. but just ‘more’.
The headband is thick cow hide on the upper side, saddle stitched & super padded with silky smooth lambskin underneath – the same lambskin is used on the memory foam padded ear cups.
The adjusting mechanism is friction sliders rather than clicky notches, making for infinite adjustability. That is great, but even better is the precision & feel of the mechanism itself – it glides like a hydraulic piston in & out – super nice.
The adjustment mechanism itself is machined from stainless steel, with the remaining metal parts of the earcups being cut from high grade aluminium (even the buttons are aluminium not plastic). It’s top quality construction all right.
There are no new fangled touch sensitive controls on the MW50’s, nor is there any sign of active noise cancellation which is a surprise at this price point. But you do get Beryllium drivers at the action end to produce the sound – and that is a big deal.
Not only are beryllium drivers 2 or 3 times more expensive than the neodymium or titanium drivers you normally see in wireless headphones, they are super responsive & stay clean to frequencies well above what the human ear can detect. We will get more into how that effects the sound quality later in this review.
I’ve heard from Master & Dynamic online that they set out to just make the best set of wireless headphones on the market, selecting the materials & build components with no compromise to cost. You can tell. They just feel awesome in the hand, so much better than pictures alone can convey.
Completing the basics of the package contents, you also receive a pair of nice quality braided cables (one USB C for charging, and one standard 3.5mm audio cable for wired use), a small leather tub to hold the cables, and a good quality woven pouch for storing the headphones when not in use (or traveling).
The pouch is pretty nice – made from a sturdy canvas, it has a magnetic snap closure which is cool, plus a smaller section for keeping the cables stored separate from the headphones themselves. It’s one of the best pouches we have seen included with headphones for a long time. We really prefer a solid case to be honest, but as far as pouches go, this is #1.
Battery life on the Master & Dynamic MW50 is rated as 16 hours – we think that is a little conservative & you will probably get a bit more juice out of the battery than they suggest. We ran for a solid week of commuting with no issues at all.
The bluetooth range is great, stated officially as 100ft (line of sight) we got a rock solid connection when using with our test iPhone 7 and Samsung Galaxy S7. Wandering into the next room saw the connection remain perfect, but further away you will get dropouts & spluttering. It’s a well above average performance from the connection.
Master & Dynamic MW50 Review – Sound quality & Performance
Thankfully Master & Dynamics continued the ‘no compromise’ approach with the MW50 into the sound performance – the short of it is that they sound flipping fantastic!
Those beryllium drivers deliver a crisp & clean performance that is well above the norm, with a slightly boosted feel to the midrange that bucks the ‘V shaped’ trend of electronically enhanced Low & high frequency somewhat.
They do not punch the lower bass in the same way as you can get from headphones like the Sony MDR-1000X or the Sennheiser PXC550 (never mind anything from the Beats range), but you get a delicacy & transparency that transforms vocals & any tune with real life instruments into a delicious concoction that others cannot manage.
The high frequency response in particular is exceptional, with super crystal sharp cymbals & never a hint of harshness or sibilance to the shrillest of female vocals. The MW50 remains effortlessly detailed, supremely smooth at all times. We’ve gushed a little about the built quality, but to be fair the sound delivery is as much of a revelation again.
We tried a wide range of music, with tunes revealing extended detail & a refinement that is not typical in a set of wireless headphones. We were shocked to be honest, as the Master & Dynamic MW50 is a supra-aural design (or on-ear to you & me) which would normally put in a weaker performance than the larger circum-aural designs (around ear).
On ear headphones have no right to sound this great – we can only put this down to the quality of the driver, and the old-school approach to tuning the MW50 employed by Master & Dynamic.
Most manufacturers tune the response of a set of headphones by using complex equalization algorithms employed electronically to tweak the sound – but Master & Dynamic go right back to the traditional approach instead.
Inside the back of each earpiece is a complex web of different materials & baffles which tune the sound physically rather than electronically. It may be ‘old school’, but it has been a massive success & the approach works wonders in the MW50’s.
They sound as special as they look, which is nothing short of sensational.
- Feature Set 88%
- Build Quality 98%
- Sound Quality 95%
- Value for Money 80%
- Overall Rating 90%
Master & Dynamic MW50 Review – Final Thoughts
Staggering build quality & a delicious sound that are unashamedly expensive – if you can cope with that asking price, the Master & Dynamic MW50 wireless are an amazing set of wireless headphones that will delight for many years to come.
On ear headphones have never sounded or looked so great – if you subscribe to the same school of ‘no compromise’ thought that the Master & Dynamics team clearly do, then the MW50 are very easy to recommend.
Price at time of review: UK £399 / US $449