Master & Dynamics MW08 Review: Premium on all fronts

Master & Dynamics MW08 Review: Premium on all fronts

The Master & Dynamics MW08s are the most expensive truly wireless earbuds I’ve ever used, and unsurprisingly, they’re probably the best.

These buds feature satisfying sound quality, brilliant battery life and a premium retro-futuristic design that’s grown on me over the last two weeks. While they likely won’t take the crown for my number one recommended earbuds since they cost roughly $375 in Canada, they’re still the best earbuds I’ve used and are better than the Beats Studio Buds, Senhessier CX 400s and more.

The active noise-cancellation is surprisingly robust for a set of wireless earbuds, and if you care about blocking out a lot of outside sounds and don’t like over-ear headphones, these might be your best bet.

Premium, please

From the packaging down to the actual earbuds themselves, the MW08s scream premium at every turn. Each bud is capped in a ceramic end piece that comes in four colours and six combinations with different metal-clad charging cases.

I opted for the flashy ‘Blue Ceramic’ with ‘Polished Graphite Case,’ but other options, notably the ‘Brown Ceramic/Stainless Steel Case,’ also look incredibly sharp.

The stainless steel charging case weighs a lot more than competing plastic cases, but that heft helps it feel more substantial and high-quality. Even though it opens from the top, the case feels like a metal Zippo lighter when you hold it sideways. Its premium stainless steel build makes up for the weight and size of the case, too. With that in mind, it’s not huge, though if the MW08s case were a little slimmer, that would have been welcome.

On the right side of the case, there’s a single USB-C port for charging, and on the front, there are three lights that represent the battery life of the earbuds and the case. Green lights mean the Buds are mostly charged, yellow indicates medium and red is low. Master & Dynamics says that the MW08s and the case can both charge to 50 percent in 15 minutes. The earbuds can charge to 100 percent in 45 minutes, and the case takes an hour.

Each earbud runs for about 12 hours, an incredible amount of time for a small set of earbuds, and the case offers another 30 hours for a total of 42 hours of listening time. This is a staggering amount of battery in a world where most wireless earbuds last for 5-8 hours with two extra charges in the case. If you really want wireless earbuds and intermittent charging is an issue for you, the MW08s are a solid option.

The M&D MW08s could stand to improve their bass reproduction.”

The design of the earbud itself is nice as well, with the bud sitting comfortably in my ears for hours. As a nice touch, the company includes five different silicone ear tips. While they are slightly heavier than the 5g Beats Studio Buds, the 9g MW08s are equally as comfortable and feel solid enough in my ear that I could run or do light activities without being worried that they’ll fall out. I should also mention that the Buds are IPX5 water-resistant, so they should be fine to use in the rain and while working out.

A solid sound profile

What surprised me the most about the Master & Dynamics MW08s is that they sound fantastic, especially for a pair of wireless earbuds. There’s decent depth in the sound space, and while the bass can be a bit overpowering at times, the overall profile is full-bodied, crisp and clear.

They also feature 11mm drivers, the same size that OnePlus is targeting for the high-end earbuds it plans to release later this fall. As I alluded to before, the M&D MW08s could stand to improve their bass reproduction. It’s not overpowering, but it does overcrowd the mids slightly. For day-to-day listening, they still sound fantastic, but at this price, I’d like more dialed-in sound, or at least an option to adjust the EQ in the companion app.

For the most part, the wide sound space and decent noise-cancelling implementation help the experience feel pleasing to the ear. There’s an intense sound profile that really makes the earbuds feel as if they’re filling up a space with sound, instead of just pumping it into your ears.

Compared to the cheaper wireless earbuds I often review, the MW08s have slightly better sound quality. That said, the difference is subtle, and I’m not sure the upgrade is worth paying the premium for unless you’re a picky audiophile that is still fine with listening to music over Bluetooth.

The noise-cancelling comes in two flavours, including ‘All Day ANC’ and ‘ Max ANC.’ I used the all-day option primarily since I found it blocked out most major sounds while still offering a hint at background noise. If I was working in an office space, maybe I would have used the maximum option more, but in my quiet home office, All Day ANC was fine. Both worked surprisingly well for ANC earbuds and even blocked out more sound than I was comfortable with in some cases.

In terms of codecs, the earbuds support aptX, ACC and SBC. This is a small number of audio codecs, but these are the major codecs supported by iOS and Android.

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