Master & Dynamic has established itself as a high-end audio company. The Master & Dynamic MW65, a set of noise-canceling headphones, is adorned with its characteristic aesthetic. Listeners who purchase them will undoubtedly turn heads, but at a significant financial cost. So, are these headphones really as fantastic as they appear to be?
With the MW65, it’s all about taking a tried-and-true design and stuffing it with the latest tech without losing the personality and character that makes M&D products so dang-near irresistible. We believe it was a success, and here’s why.
Master & Dynamic produces some of the most attractive and opulent headphones available. Unsurprisingly, it also creates some of the most costly, so the asking price for the company’s MW65 noise-canceling headphones may surprise the uninitiated. They are $100 more expensive than our Editors’ Choice, the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700, which have the greatest active noise cancellation (ANC) on the market and cost $499. However, for some listeners, the Bose sound profile is overly sculpted, bass-boosted, and unnatural, whereas Master & Dynamic delivers rich, full-sounding bass and excellent clarity across the mids and highs.
Master & Dynamic MW65 Active Noise-Cancelling Wireless Headphones – Bluetooth Over-Ear Headphones with Mic – Luxury Black Metal/Black Leather
If there’s one thing you can count on from Master & Dynamic, it’ll be style. The New York-based audio company isn’t one for boring, cookie-cutter designs. The MW07, the company’s first pair of wire-free in-ears, demonstrated this. So when the M&D informed us that it had developed a new pair of active noise-canceling (ANC) on-ear headphones, we had a feeling we’d like them even before we saw them. And we were not let down.
You’ll see anodized aluminum and leather on the MW65 in almost every direction. The material is everywhere, whether it’s on the outside of the huge pill-shaped can or on the headband. Plastic does not make up any part of what you see on the outside. The leather coasting isn’t even held in place by the trim at the ends of the headband.
There’s also a lot of attention to detail. Each of the earcups has an outside cover that we adore. The circular caps are made of an aluminium sheet with a number of individually drilled holes all over it, which is enclosed by a robust, chamfered metal ring. The primary can is made of the same chamfered metal and is padded with a nice, comfy cushion.
The cans are held in place by an aluminium arm that pivots up, down, and sideways to provide a cushioned, comfortable fit. The polished metal shaft inside the headband glides effortlessly to adjust. There are no distinct ridges or adjustment steps. There was only one smooth, single movement. This not only ensures a more exact fit, but also eliminates unpleasant clicks when adjusting the headband’s length.
The MW65 is incredibly comfortable once it’s on your head. This is due to a number of factors: the narrow padded headband coated in leather, as well as the foam padded cans, but the weight – or rather the lack thereof – plays a significant role. The Master & Dynamic MW65 is extremely light, making it easy to wear for extended periods of time.
The MW65 is extremely portable in addition to being lightweight, attractive, and comfy. To give the headphones a thin profile, the earcups rotate inwards, and they then fit inside a soft cotton pouch with a magnetic closure at the mouth and a leather pocket for your wires at the bottom.
However, because they’re on-ear rather than over-ear, they’re not a set you’ll want to wear for long periods of time. Despite being usually pleasant, the cushions press against the tops of the ears because that’s how they’re built, causing some discomfort after a few hours. On-ears, on the other hand, are usually a little smaller than over-ears.
The MW65 is one of our favorite pairs of headphones to date, both to wear and to look at. There’s a nice blend of comfort, mobility, and design here that you won’t find on many ANC-enabled headphones.
Tech under the hood
When you think of active noise-canceling headphones, the Bose QC35, Beats Studio 3 or Sony WH-1000XM3 are likely to come to mind. However, it was only a matter of time before Master & Dynamic jumped in with its own rendition.
The noise-canceling on the MW65 comes in two levels: high and low. It performs a good job of blocking off a low rumbling rail or airplane engine sounds on the high setting.
It will reduce the amount of noise you hear at a crowded coffee shop, but it won’t entirely immerse you in blissful silence. When you switch to low mode, the noise is reduced little. You’ll hear more of the deep frequencies in the droning around you if you turn it off totally.
The only issue we noticed was something we’ve noticed with a few other high-end ANC headphones, especially ones with moving parts like these: when walking, there’s a sort of thumping sound in the ears caused by feet impacting the speaker and sending reverberations through the body to the headphones. Switching off the ANC and adjusting the fit to be a touch tighter helps.
Master & Dynamic has equipped the MW65 with aptX, a Qualcomm-developed technology that is included in many Android phones, to ensure excellent connectivity with minimal latency. It basically implies that you’ll get a strong signal with no dropouts and no visible delay between your phone and the headphones. Even when using the MW65 with an iPhone, there is no latency, therefore there is no bothersome split-second delay when watching music videos or any other video.
There’s also Google Assistant incorporated in, just like the second-generation QC35 from Bose. As long as you have an Android phone with the Google Assistant, you can ask it questions, give instructions, or have it read out your phone notifications by pressing and holding the middle button.
In terms of battery life, it’s more than adequate. With up to 24 hours of play time promised, that’s more than two weeks’ worth of hour-long trips. You shouldn’t anticipate exactly as much with ANC turned on as M&D promises, but we had no trouble getting through a lengthy week listening to two or three hours every day.
When the battery dies, the headphones can be used passively thanks to the cord, which has a 3.5mm connector on both ends. Although there is less volume in this mode than when using the wireless technique.
Put a pair of Master & Dynamic headphones on your ears if you’ve ever wondered where the “Dynamic” component of the company’s name originates from. It perfectly encapsulates the sound. It’s so dynamic that M&D won’t let you “ruin” it by giving you the opportunity to modify the equalisation (EQ). Either this sound or a different pair of headphones are the only options.
That’s OK with us because we enjoy the dynamism. Although the high end notes are crisp, hard hitting, and acute, they are set against an incredible, powerful bass backdrop. This isn’t the pair to choose if you’re looking for sterile, flat studio headphones. This is a pair for cranking up your favourite bass-heavy music, closing your eyes, and completely immersing yourself in your preferred sounds.
We enjoy how adaptable these headphones are as a result. They’re just as thrilled with the mandolin plucking in the background of Jack Johnson’s Sunsets for Somebody as they are with the mid-range synth in Sigrid’s Raw or the bass synth in Beyonce’s Love on Top, thanks to the clarity in the high end.
Laura Marling’s song Soothing is one that really displays the headphone’s qualities. It begins with a deep upright double bass, floor toms, and a couple of electric bass guitars, as well as a faint rimshot on the snare and a single female lead voice over the top. The mid layers and a string section are added during the course of the track, and the headset maintains its shape and integrity throughout, allowing you to hear and feel everything without losing any of it.
In short, the MW65 allows you to enjoy all of the aspects of music, and it may even add a subtle emphasis to some of the background fillers that a less proficient pair could miss. Re-listen to all of your favorite songs to be sure you didn’t miss anything; it’ll be worth it.
The Master & Dynamic MW65 does a good job of canceling noise, but not quite well enough to beat Sony or AKG. Noise cancellation at high power is depicted in our attenuation table. These are excellent at filtering out background noise and work brilliantly in places like coffee shops. Bean-grinding whirls and uneasy first-date banter are efficiently silenced. However, the AKG N700NC is the best ANC technology available.
The battery lasted a remarkable 20 hours, 41 minutes while the noise cancelling was set at high. This is fantastic, especially considering the fast charging possibilities. The headphones may be used for 12 hours by connecting to the provided USB-C connection for 15 minutes. If you’re at the airport and forgot to charge your headphones before your flight, this is a lifesaver. It’s normal for a full charge to take roughly two hours.
The majority of listeners will choose cordless listening, which only requires a regular Bluetooth pairing procedure. You’ll have a 20-meter connectivity range as well as aptX support if you do this. On Android smartphones, this high-quality codec increases audio quality and lowers lag. The headphones run Bluetooth firmware 4.2 rather than 5.0, which is a pain. While this is unusual for such a high-end equipment, the functionality remains unaffected. Plus, you can connect to two devices at once for easy source switching, so it’s not all bad.
If the battery dies and you can’t utilise the quick charging feature, use the aux cord for wired music instead. Because a dongle adapter isn’t provided, your phone will need to have a headphone jack. The MW65, on the other hand, comes with a flight adaptor, which adds a lovely touch of vintage character.
The Master & Dynamic MW65 on-ear headphones are not cheap. However, the design and materials give it a superb look and feel – there’s no plastic or artificial leather, only aluminum, and real hide.
They sound amazing, too, and the ANC is effective. The major competitor, though, is significantly less expensive: Sony and Bose’s popular ANC headphones cost roughly £70 less, but their build quality isn’t a patch on the M&D if that’s the style you’re looking for.
You’d expect a pair of headphones that are almost flawless for this kind of money, and for the most part, you’d be right. Some flaws, such as less adaptive ANC and resonation from heavy-footed walking, can be found in other headphones as well.
However, you’ll be hard-pressed to find something that sounds as fantastic as the MW65 for pure music enjoyment. The main selling feature is the superior sound and design. You’ll rediscover your passion for music.