Review: Master & Dynamic’s MW60 makes wireless headphones look cool again
Master & Dynamic is known in the audiophile space as the “newbies” — but they continue to make a name for themselves.
The headphones seen here are the company’s latest offering, but also their first Bluetooth pair. The fanfare has been resolute: it’s been continuously sold out since its launch earlier this year. But are they just a fad, or quality product? Spoiler: it’s the latter.
Price as Reviewed: $549 at Master & Dynamic
Before I continue with the review: yes, it’s not worth and arm and a leg — probably a hand.
Therefore, a certain audio quality is to be expected, along with the fact that one needs to be aware about the quality of the music files listened to, and that they also have a significant impact on what the whole sound experience is like.
With all that out of the way, let me talk about what M&D had a bike messenger drop off for review.
- 45mm Neodymium drivers
- Impedance at 32 ohms
- Bluetooth 4.1 with aptX high quality audio codec
- Circum-aural lambskin-covered memory foam ear cups (!)
- Machined aluminum antennas
- Omnidirectional microphone
- 16 hour battery life (manufacturer suggested)
- Weight of 345 grams
- Included accessories: carrying case, micro-USB cable, 3.5mm audio cable
Stating the obvious: these headphones look particularly luxurious.
Having a penchant for the aesthetically superior and the intelligently designed, it takes quite a bit to rattle my resolve. Master & Dynamic has done that with its design for the MW60, but in ways that compliment the general purpose of the device: listening to sounds, of course.
The whole show is covered in black or tan leather, with memory foam earcups covered in lambskin (look away, PETA), making them incredibly comfortable and supple, making them ideal for long hours of usage without feelings of discomfort on the temples or ears. Thus, international flights become listening sessions.
Another nice touch: the foldable cups. While this may sound commonplace in most headphones, the MW60 takes this to another level by making itself incredibly compact, yet still a bit flexible with its hinges. The result is easily being able to open and close the whole unit, or even have it hang from a carabiner on your backpack — which I have done, but do not advise.
Aluminum. That’s the other material seen most frequently here, after leather. Besides being an excellent accent and a durable material for the exterior of the audio drivers, M&D has done something never seen before on Bluetooth headphones: machined aluminum antenna bands.
Even adjusting the MW60 to fit your head shape is a thoughtful experience: M&D has a small ruler etched into the aluminum arms, so one can precisely measure just how much (in centimeters) does it take to get the right fit.
Other than that, the rest of the experience is stellar — honestly, it’s hard to expect anything else once you’ve held them for even a few moments. But, to be convinced through writing, I need to describe what the experience was like, and this takes more paragraphs to do.
Firstly, the MW60’s audio qualities are best suited towards — wait for it — all types of music.
Excellent representation throughout the mid-range, while tastefully touching upon the highs as well. Overall bass representation is felt throughout, but as a means of adding substance to the music. Basically, you’ll have to crank up the volume to get the “club house effect”, using the volume buttons on the right earcup. Otherwise, it’s smooth and easy listening, while not losing any aspects or details in the track.
Don’t get me wrong, there’s plenty of bass to go around on the MW60, but it’s not eardrum shattering (that’s not actually a good thing, I might add). Anything from Adventure Club dubstep remixes to Hotel Garuda house tracks feel sublime, as well as anything John Williams or Frank Sinatra (or anything classical for that matter).
Listen to Skrillex or Oliver Heldens? There’s also enough bass for listeners there. Therefore, I’d say it’s more the hip-hop crowd that suffers from not having bass-oriented sound, however that’s just reality.
In everyday usage, the MW60 offer more than enough to satisfy multiple tastes in sound. If not, you’re welcome to use an equalizer, but then a baby bird dies every time that happens, so it’s a bit of a loss.
The MW60 also has a microphone that I find to be very receptive and useful when answering phone calls — that I inevitable rush in order to get back to the music.
Battery life is somewhat subjective with the MW60, since that depends on how long you’ve been using it but also at what volume. Generally, I can get a few minutes if not half an hour more than the 16 hours M&D advertises. The best part about this is if you run out of juice during the day, a 3.5mm audio jack is all you need to get back to business — or a micro-USB cable with power source.
One last note: connectivity. Bluetooth has always been the laughing stock of audiophiles. To combat this aptX technology — which better encodes audio over the standard — has seen a slow emergence over the past few years in the better headphone offerings.
M&D take this a step further and have improved headphone antenna design, by mimicking what we see on smartphones (yes, those grey bands). The result is not only a more stable and solid connection in the city streets or in your home, but over increased distances; room-to-room, or in some cases, separation by doors.
What M&D get right here is almost everything.
Would I buy a pair? Surely. How about getting both colors? Well, that’s a tall order for me at the moment.
It takes very little to realize that you get everything you pay for — which is a lot, after all. The next step would be to bring this sort of sound experience to on-ear headphones for increased portability, but then the laws of physics and acoustics begin to get in the way.
Regardless of what’s done next, Master & Dynamic have done a solid with the MW60’s design and performance. After all, they kind of are the new masters of Bluetooth headphones, but are rather dynamic in the audio hardware space, too.