Master & Dynamic MW50 review: Beautiful on-ear headphones with M&D signature sound

Audio / Audio Hardware Reviews / Reviews

It should come as no surprise at this point that Master & Dynamic has completely nailed the sound on their headphones.

TA-ratings-94Nearly everybody loves listening to music. We all have our own tastes, of course, but we can almost all appreciate the way we’re able to pump out favorite tunes directly into our ears. Master & Dynamic has been around for a relatively short time, but they’ve done some really wonderful things in the realm of audio during that time. We’ve been very impressed with all of their previous offerings. Will that streak continue with the Master & Dynamic MW50 on-ear headphones? Keep reading to find out.

Specifications

  • Dimensions: 190mm x 175mm x 60mm
  • Drivers: 40mm Beryllium Diaphragm
  • Impedance: 32 ohms
  • Weight: 240g
  • Materials: Premium grain cowhide leather, lambskin leather, stainless steel, aluminum
  • Cable:
    • Detachable 1.25m standard cable
    • USB-C charging/ updating cord
  • Headphone Connection: 3.5mm Passive Audio input/ USB-C
 charging/firmware update input
  • Ear Coupling: Supra-aural on-ear
  • Microphone Type: Dual omni-directional microphone array
  • Machined Aluminum Antenna
  • Ear Pads: Detachable lambskin memory foam
  • Bluetooth Profile: Bluetooth 4.1 with aptX™ high quality audio

What’s in the Box

  • MW50 headphones
  • Canvas headphone pouch
  • Leather cable box
  • 1.25m standard 3.5mm cable
  • USB-C Charging cable
  • Quick start guide and user manual

Everything you’ll need to get started.

Design

Master & Dynamic has a pretty well established design aesthetic on their headphones, and the MW50s don’t stray too far from that design, which is absolutely not a bad thing. These on-ear headphones start with the soft and supple leather headband. Master & Dynamic doubles up with the material, using a cowhide on the exterior of the headband, and a softer lambskin on the underside of the headband as well as on the earcups. The leather of the headband terminates at an aluminum end cap, which includes the R/L indicator on the inside.

The earcups extend via aluminum extensions that add a few inches to the overall size, though they are still maybe just slightly small for someone with a gigantic head like me. The earcups fold out flat for storage, or for a more comfortable experience when you have the headphones down around your neck. They also pivot slightly to help find the best fit on your head. The outside of each earcup includes the Master & Dynamic logo in the middle of a nice mesh metal backing. The earcup covers are nicely padded, and attach to the headphones via magnets, which allow you to see the 40 mm Beryllium high-performance drivers when removed.

Earpad detail

The left earcup includes the power/sync switch and LED indicator lights as well as the dual omni-directional microphones and 3.5mm jack for wired use. The right earcup has the standard multi-function button flanked by a volume/track up and volume/track down button. The right earcup is also home to the USB-C charging input.

As we’ve come to expect from Master & Dynamic, the MW50s are very high quality both in material and construction. They feel quite sturdy, and you can absolutely tell that their weight comes from premium materials, and not filler like some other headphones. The design is incredibly classy, and these are a pair of headphones that will look fantastic wherever you put them. The MW50s are available in either black or brown. The included soft pouch as well as the leather container to hold the included 3.5mm and USB-A to USB-C cables are definitely a nice touch here as well.

Ease of Use

At this point, I’m pretty sure any of us could pair a Bluetooth device in our sleep. The initial process on the MW50s is about as easy as it can get. You can pair the headphones to a second device if you want to as well. Once paired, you’ll simply flip the power switch to the “on” position, and the headphones will pair to your device. One of the two LEDs will blink to show the approximate battery level remaining, with green indicating full, orange indicating medium, red for low. The other LED is used for pairing and will show whether or not the headphones are in pairing mode.

Power/pairing switch, 3.5mm input, dual mics, and LED indicator lights.

The onboard controls work as you’d likely expect. The Multifunction button (MFB) will play/pause your music or answer/end a phone call with a press. A long press will ignore an incoming phone call or invoke your digital assistant and start voice controls on your phone. The Up/Down buttons adjust volume with a press, and skip tracks with a long press.

Plugging in the 3.5mm cable puts the headphones into passive mode. The headphones will turn off (though in passive mode they will still work even if the battery is completely dead) and the microphones will be disabled when the cable is plugged in. The headphones will also turn off when the USB-C charging cable is plugged in, though M&D recommends that you not use the headphones while they are charging.

Sound

I put any headphones that I review through a set playlist of songs. I have a pretty diverse set of music in that setlist, with everything from pop to heavy metal, jazz, dubstep, EDM, punk, and more, each with specific things that I want to listen for. This allows me to have a consistent point of comparison with which to listen.

USB-C charging input, Up/Down and multi-function control buttons.

The MW50s continue in the long tradition of aural excellence that we’ve come to expect from Master & Dynamic. Even in the slightly smaller on-ear form factor, these headphones do still include large 40mm drivers, which put out a very big, powerful sound. Master & Dynamic has a very specific tuning that serves them well and works spectacularly on their headphones. Everything is exceptionally clear, with mids and highs loud and clear out front. Bass isn’t the crazy over-powered bass that some headphones go for these days, but the low end is strong and holds up everything else nicely. That’s not to say that you can’t get some solid bass out of the MW50s, you absolutely can. EDM and dubstep will give you all of the bass you’re looking for, but in a very controlled and clear manner.

It should come as no surprise at this point that Master & Dynamic has completely nailed the sound on their headphones. Across their entire portfolio of products I don’t think we’ve had even a single negative thing to say about their sound.

Reception/Call Quality

Master & Dynamic has engineered their very own machined aluminum antenna that they claim provides best-in-class signal range. I did get a couple of weird audio hiccups even when just a few feet away from my audio source, though that could have been from the source itself, and it really only happened a couple of times during my testing. Otherwise, range is really quite good. You’re not going to be able to leave your phone on one floor while you go to another floor, and walls/doors/etc. will of course decrease the total range, but you really shouldn’t have any problems staying connected under normal circumstances.

Headband detail

Calls came through clear, and sounded pretty fantastic as you’d probably expect, even if you don’t necessarily plan on taking calls on these headphones. My voice came through clearly for callers, though a common complaint was that my voice was quiet. This makes some sense considering the microphones are on the earcup itself, and are several inches away from your mouth. Your voice will sound good, you just might be kind of quiet. Chances are good most people aren’t going to take too many phone calls on their headphones anyway.

Battery Life

Master & Dynamic claims 16 hours of battery life here, and they’re pretty spot on. In my testing I would come close or even exceed 16 hours depending on the volume of my music. Your results may vary, but you should come pretty close to hitting that mark pretty consistently. The USB-C charging is a nice touch, allowing for a faster throughput for charging.

Price/Value

Master & Dynamic put out premium products, and they do come at a premium price. The MW50s will set you back $449 USD, which is definitely not cheap. You are, however, getting a very high quality pair of headphones with amazing design and construction, premium materials, and an incredible sound. There is definite value in a quality pair of headphones like this that will last you for years, the upfront cost just may be a bit more than some will want to pay.

These are, as you’d expect from M&D, a sharp looking pair of headphones.

Wrap Up

If you want a truly fantastic pair of on-ear headphones and you don’t mind spending a premium price for an absolutely premium product, you owe it to yourself to give the Master & Dynamic MW50 headphones a try.

*We were sent a review sample of the Master & Dynamic MW50 headphones for the purposes of this review.

Master & Dynamic MW50

$449 USD
Master & Dynamic MW50
9.4

Design

10/10

    Ease of Use

    10/10

      Sound

      10/10

        Reception/Call Quality

        9/10

          Battery Life

          10/10

            Price/Value

            9/10

              Nailed it

              • Amazing sound
              • Beautiful design
              • Very good battery life
              • USB-C charging
              • Earcups are very comfortable

              Needs work

              • Just slightly too small for giant heads like mine
              • Mic is just a bit quiet on calls
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