Master & Dynamic
MW50 Wireless Headphone Review
An extremely comfortable, personalized fit with warm, rich sound.
Company & Product Overview
Master & Dynamic, headquartered in Manhattan, is obsessed with the sound and creativity that help their headphones to be modern thinking caps. In a very short time, their new approach to audio has won them numerous awards for not only great sound, but a new artistic interpretation that combines beautiful design with high performance. Like many audio companies, their beginnings came after the son of one of the initial investors was frustrated with his search for a pair of headphones that met his needs. He wanted something that offered a warm, musical sound, with a build designed to take on the rigors of the typical on-the-go New Yorker. Since their inception, Master & Dynamic products have received much critical acclaim for their unique approach to the headphone space.
In today’s review, we are taking a look at their first on-ear wireless headphone: the MW50. These headphones are available in the two most popular Master & Dynamic finishes: silver and black, or silver and brown.
Packaging, Design & Build Quality
The MW50 comes in a sturdy, soft-sided box that opens up to reveal the headphones and their handy, round leather cable box. Inside the box, you’ll find a charging cable and a standard headphone cable. When you pull up the holder for the headphones and cable box, you’ll find a well-made canvas carrying pouch for your new headphones.
The canvas pouch alone will tell you all about the attention to detail found in Master & Dynamic products. The bottom half is more heavily padded to protect the earcups of the MW50. On the inside, there is a small pouch to keep the two cords safely stored away. As a finishing touch, closing the canvas pouch is easy with the magnetic closure system. Just a beautiful design!
The two cords are silver with a cloth outer jacket, giving them a retro look and making them virtually tangle free. Behind the user replaceable earcups, you’ll see a beautifully machined housing for the beryllium driver used in the MW50.
The earcup housing also holds some goodies for the wireless aspect of the MW50. There is an aluminum antenna built into one earcup that, according to Master & Dynamic, gives the headphones 3 times the range of most Bluetooth headphones. In addition, there are two microphones on the side for use with your smartphone.
Pairing the MW50 could not be easier. Simply hold the little on/off switch in the Bluetooth position until you see the headphones on your phone, and then a green light will indicate pairing.
On the other side, you’ll find three small tactile transport controls. These controls serve a pretty cool dual purpose. The two outer up/down buttons raise and lower the volume, and holding either down for about 3 seconds will skip tracks up or down. The center button will pause/play on a quick click, and if held down will engage Siri on your iPhone. If you have an incoming call, clicking the center button will answer the call.
When you first touch the lambskin earpads, you will notice they are extremely soft and cushy. Behind the very soft lambskin, Master & Dynamic used a special kind of memory foam. When you place these over your ears, they completely seal out the rest of the world with a luxurious feel of soft comfort. Like all Master & Dynamic headphones, the earpads are easy to replace since they easily snap on with magnets.
It’s also very easy to get the headphones to perfectly fit your head with the adjustable headband. We really like the way it moves, because it is pretty stiff, so it stays in the position you set.
The ultra pliable and soft memory foam Master & Dynamic used makes these comfortable enough to wear for hours on end, which you will probably want to do given their great sound!
We first tested the Bluetooth range of the MW50. It was pretty astonishing! We were able to walk about 40-50ft away with no walls in between before we had signal loss. They even continued to work with 3-4 walls in between us and our iPhone.
We’ve compiled a pretty good library of test tracks for headphone performance. Some of the cuts used in this test were Massive Attack’s “Unfinished Sympathy,” Jimi Hendrix’s “All Along the Watchtower,” Gioachino Rossini’s “The William Tell Overture,” and Steely Dan’s “Hey Nineteen.” As we listened through these while testing, it became very clear the MW50 could be played for hours at a time. One of the primary design goals of the team at Master & Dynamic was to give you a sound that did not grate on your ears so you are able to listen for hours at a time. The MW50 are no exception and take their classic warm sound even further into the warm side of the spectrum, which we just loved. Unlike some headphones, the higher frequencies are not exaggerated to grab your attention when you are comparing models in a store. The highs are very smooth and might sound a little rolled off compared to some other headphones, but we think this makes them perfect for long term listening. Many headphones also boost the bass, which might sound fun for a few minutes, but give you a headache after an hour. Not so with the MW50. The bass is full, rich, and warm without being boomy. Very pleasing.
We were also very surprised by the phone performance. Calls were very easy to hear and reported great clarity from the two built-in microphones.
Being the audio geeks that we are, we decided to compare the wired Bluetooth. As you might expect, wired did give us better performance. We felt a better sense of dynamics with improved rhythm and pacing. However, it was less of the difference than we have heard on some other Bluetooth headphones, which is pretty impressive.
If you love classic design coupled with extreme comfort, please put the MW50 toward the top of your list. With those features, paired with a company that wants their products to last for decades, it’s hard to go wrong with the MW50. They work great at work to help you focus on your favorite music, and fold flat for easy travel.
HIGH NOTES UNPACKED
Wireless Thinking Cap
Everything about the design of the MW50 is centered around being able to shut out the outside world and use music to stir your creative senses. You’ll experience both musical happiness and luxurious comfort, which will help you think better!
When you are going to wear a pair of headphones for hours, you want a sound that does not fatigue your brain. We’ve found that headphones that lean towards the rich, warmer tones are much easier to listen to for a long day.