Review: Master and Dynamic MW65 Noise-Cancelling Headphones (Hardware)

Reviewed by Krista Noren, posted Jun 21, 2019
Jun 21, 2019
The perfect pair of noise-canceling headphones have arrived, but they come at a cost. Hear me out on this one.
Krista Noren

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When it comes to headphones, there are familiar names that everyone knows and loves; Bose, Sony, Beats, and Audio-Technica all come to mind when I think of quality makers of headphones. Those that dig a little deeper, and have a true love of high-quality audio will appreciate higher-end companies like Sennheiser, Beyerdynamic, and the very recent newcomer, Master & Dynamic. Jumping into the headphone scene in 2014, the New York-based Master & Dynamic have been striving to create headphones that offer an experience that transcends all others. Visually inspired by WWII pilot headphones, constructed by ex-Bose engineers, and made with the intent of having exceptional audio quality, Master & Dynamic have risen to popularity among many for their unique style. Their latest set of headphones, the MW65, promise those aforementioned features, along with wireless Bluetooth and active noise canceling. Such luxury comes at a heavy cost, however, so let's find out how they hold up.

Prior to unboxing the MW65s from their fancy case, I'd been using the Bose QC35 II headphones for my noise-canceling needs. They were my go-to for wireless headphones, at least, until I put the MW65s on my head. The term “premium feel” has never been so relevant, when referring to these. As far as materials go, the MW65s are made from anodized aluminum, with lambskin leather and memory foam being used for the earcups and headband. When wearing them, they feel lightweight, yet super durable; no offering from Bose or Sony could stand up to this kind of build quality. Coming in three options of silver/grey, silver/brown, or gunmetal/black, these headphones are guaranteed to get peoples’ attention, by looking so unique and classy.

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Featuring Bluetooth 4.2, a USB-C charge port, and custom Beryllium 40mm drivers, the MW65s not only feel nice, but they have all the amenities that a pair of nice headphones require. You can get about 24 full hours of battery life, max, and the USB-C helps get them back up to full charge very quickly. If you do happen to get caught without a charger handy, you can always use the 3.5mm AUX input, as well. On that subject, Master and Dynamic also provide a handful of accessories, including a 3.5mm cable, a leather bag that magnetically seals shut at the top and has a zipper pouch on the front, a USB-C male to male cable, a USB-C to USB 2.0 adapter, and a plug that lets the MW65s work on airplane seat outlets. Both of the cords are well-made, too; they’re thickly braided, and feel like they’ll hold up to extensive use, just like the headphones.

On the right earcup rest a few buttons: volume up/down, and play/pause. A long press on the play button will trigger Google Assistant, or whichever voice-related feature you have set to the function. On the left, there’s a switch that lets you pair, turn off, or turn on the headphones, and the active noise-cancellation button. They’re all easy to reach while wearing the device, and aluminum buttons are responsive and feel satisfying to press.

One of the biggest uses for noise-canceling headphones is to drown out the cacophony of sound that comes with flying on an airplane. Luckily, I had the chance to put these headphones through that exact test, when I flew to Los Angeles for E3. While the MW65s don't fold up as nicely as other competitors, they still pivot to lay flat, and fit perfectly inside the travel bag. They took up a bit more room in my shoulder bag than the Bose would have, but they more than made up for that fact once the plane was airborne. Turning on the settings to "high", I was able to fly in peace, without hearing the disruptive crying of small babies, or the constant whirr of the plane engine. The “low” option worked better for instances where I wanted to tune out the audio from a distant TV in the other room, or when walking around in a windy environment outside. While the MW65s are pleasant to use in nearly every situation, I would not recommend these for people that want to use a pair of headphones to jog or work out with. Not that many would look towards audiophile-grade hardware for their outdoor activities, but the headphones rest so lightly on my head, that I would be dubious of using them while doing anything more strenuous than walking. Since the MW65s don’t clamp down very tightly, I could see them falling off easily--not to mention that the ANC doesn’t work very well if you’re making a lot of movement, jostling the earcups from their secure place over your ears, which makes an odd sound in the process.

 

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Tech Specs
  • Battery Life: 24 hours
  • Charging time: 15 minutes to get to 50% battery
  • Bluetooth 4.2 that has a range over 20m/65ft
  • Active Noise Cancellation
  • Made from aluminum and leather materials
  • Audio range of 20Hz to 20kHz
  • Has 3.5mm port
  • Weight: 245g

Of course, if you’re looking for headphones, all these factors are side-dressing for the main focus: sound quality. This is where the MW65s make the jump from good headphones to great headphones. You can hear so much more definition in music tracks, as compared to the Bose QC35 II, and everything sounds crisp and punchy. Master & Dynamic have tuned their hardware to offer a perfect balance between the bass, mids, and highs. The audio put out by the MW65s is fantastic, and it’s some of the best I’ve ever heard from a pair of headphones, outshining both the Bose and my Sennheiser.

Master & Dynamic's newest flagship model of headphones completely surpass all other similar products, blowing the competition out of the water. With high-quality audio, stylish design, and solid noise-cancelling, you’re looking at a pair of headphones that will serve you well for years to come. The only major issue with the MW65s is the hefty 500-dollar price tag, and even then, when you’re looking for wireless headphones with best-in-class sound, premium materials, and ANC, in this case, you get what you pay for.

Verdict
Pros
+ Charges incredibly fast and has good battery life.
+ Outstanding sound quality.
+ Stellar noise cancellation.
+ One of the most stylish and well-built headphones on the market.
Cons
- Restrictive price.
- Some extra padding on the headband could help a lot for comfort.
9
out of 10
Overall
At a retail cost of $499.99, the Master & Dynamic MW65s are a huge investment. There's a price to pay for headphones that both look and sound this good, but if you can afford it, you'll be rocking the sleekest, best sounding pair of noise-canceling headphones on the market.


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