Are Master & Dynamic’s Latest Earbuds Worth Their Hefty Price Tag?

Stefan Vazharov
·5 min read
Photo credit: Master & Dynamic
Photo credit: Master & Dynamic

We judge all headphones and earbuds on a scale of 10, analyzing the categories we think are most important: sound, comfort, design, battery performance, and, if applicable, special features. Here's how the Master & Dynamic MW08 wireless earbuds stack up.

The Master & Dynamic MW08 wireless earbuds are a more luxurious and feature-packed sequel to the New York City-based audio maker’s MW07 Plus earphones. The new iteration brings next-level craftsmanship, upgraded sound and noise cancellation, and better performance during calls, as well as a companion mobile app. This is the first time a mobile app has been available for a Master & Dynamic product.

For $299, the MW08 earbuds are pricier than the AirPods Pro and the Bose QuietComfort wireless earbuds, to name a couple of top-shelf rivals. However, at a quick glance, their design and build quality alone justify the hefty price tag.

SCORES

Sound: 9/10
Comfort: 8/10
Design: 9/10
Battery Performance: 9/10
Overall Score: 9/10

THE MASTER & DYNAMIC MW08 AT A GLANCE

  • The earbuds are luxurious, yet incredibly durable

  • Their noise cancellation is customizable via a mobile app, but their sound isn’t

  • Their storage case, while really attractive, is not compatible with wireless chargers

SOUND: 9/10

Sound-wise, the Master & Dynamic MW08 earbuds are an upgrade over the already excellent MW07 Plus. They have slightly larger, 11-millimeter audio drivers (the MW07 Plus buds have 10-millimeter units), which allow them to deliver richer sound with finer acoustic details.

High-end headphones and earbuds typically offer a balanced sound and the MW08 buds are no exception. They deliver a sonic experience with a rich but nicely contained bass, an energetic midrange, and a vibrant treble, allowing listeners to experience any audio content to the fullest.

“Paradise Circus” — one of my favorite Massive Attack songs — sounded amazing on the MW08. The eclectic amalgam of instrumentals, beats, and the voice of Hope Sandoval was superbly showcased.

The noise cancellation of the MW08 is effective and, thanks to the M&D Connect app, customizable to the user’s liking. There are two levels to pick from: a high-performance one for noisy environments, and a less intensive one for use in quieter spaces.

While testing the earbuds, the highest level of noise cancellation worked well in tuning out the rush-hour traffic underneath my fourth-floor apartment window. The lesser option, on the other hand, was sufficient for late-night and weekend use.

The product's ambient listening mode — a mandatory feature for high-quality noise-canceling headphones and earbuds — is also customizable via the app. Users can choose between a maximum awareness mode that’s great for commuting and outdoor use, and a voice mode, which is more suitable for indoor and office use.

Photo credit: Master & Dynamic
Photo credit: Master & Dynamic

It’s worth noting that Master & Dynamic’s app doesn’t offer tools for customizing the sound. On this instance, the audio maker has taken a similar approach as Apple and Bose.

Because of three built-in microphones per earbud, the MW08’s performance during calls is noticeably better than that of the older MW07 Plus, which has a dual-microphone setup. The earbuds performed equally well during virtual meetings, as well as during outdoor telephone and FaceTime calls. They are a reliable tool for remote work.

Overall, the audio performance of the MW08 earbuds lived up to the expectations that their price tag carries — their sound, noise cancellation, and call quality are among the product category’s finest. That said, the Bose QuietComfort earbuds offer a more powerful noise-canceling tech with more customization options.

COMFORT: 8/10

The MW08 have a more ergonomic shape than their predecessor, making them comfortable enough to wear for an entire work day. The product’s retail package comes with five sets of ear tips, though it lacks the bundled ear wings that come with older models. However, the new design makes such accessories unnecessary.

A notable highlight in all completely wireless earbuds by Master & Dynamic since 2018’s first-ever MW07, the MW08’s controls are the best in class. The tactile buttons are infinitely more reliable that the touch-sensitive setups found in other high-priced rivals.

The buds also have wear proximity sensors, which automatically pause the playback when you remove one. You can control the functionality through the companion app.

DESIGN: 9/10

The MW08 earbuds sport the brand’s signature D-shaped housings. However, their build with ceramic enclosures and aluminum components is a noteworthy improvement over the acetate housings of the MW07 Plus earbuds.

Photo credit: Stefan Vazharov
Photo credit: Stefan Vazharov

Typically found in the bezels of many high-end timepieces, ceramic is a material with captivating looks and solid durability. Combined with the machined aluminum, it makes the buds look and feel considerably more luxurious than their competitors.

When it comes to craftsmanship, the Master & Dynamic MW08 are in a league of their own. The same goes for their stainless steel charging case.

The MW08 earbuds have an IPX5 rating for water resistance, meaning that they are good for light activity and rainy walks. However, even though it’s plenty secure, their fit sans additional ear wings is not ideal for intense exercises.

BATTERY PERFORMANCE: 9/10

According to Master & Dynamic, the MW08 earbuds can last up to 12 hours between battery charges. That’s an excellent achievement for a pair of true wireless earbuds, regardless of their price point.

Photo credit: Stefan Vazharov
Photo credit: Stefan Vazharov

Enabling the noise-canceling feature reduces the battery life to around 10 hours between trips to the battery case — way more than the battery life of the Bose QuietComfort earbuds and the AirPods Pro. The case holds a few additional full charges and it can fully charge the earbuds in only 45 minutes.

Despite their high price tag, the MW08's storage case doesn’t have wireless charging capabilities. This is an impossible-to-overlook omission for a pair of high-end earphones in 2021. These days, the feature is available even on sub-$100 products.

OVERALL: 9/10

The Master & Dynamic MW08 wireless earbuds are not perfect but still worth splurging for. The buds are a nice alternative to more ubiquitous high-priced products from Apple, Beats, Bose, and Sony, and their characterful design and peerless craftsmanship clearly set them apart. Thankfully, their audio performance is just as good.

You can order the earbuds in black, white, brown, and blue. The black variant has a matching case with a matte finish.

SHOP MASTER & DYNAMIC MW08

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