Let’s cut to the chase of this Master & Dynamic MW08 review - these are some of the best true wireless earbuds you can buy right now, they combine style with great sound and active noise cancelling. You couldn’t ask for much more, and their price is a definite reflection of that.
Improving on their predecessor, the Master & Dynamic MW07, this pair of earbuds has a more user-friendly app, much better battery life, more refined noise cancellation, a design refresh and better connectivity. All welcome improvements, even if it does mean a hike in price as well.
So how does these fare against the other best wireless earbuds you can buy? Find out in this Master & Dynamic MW08 review.
Master & Dynamic MW08 review: price and availability
You can pick up a pair from the Master and Dynamic (opens in new tab) official site for $299 in the US and £279 in the UK (that’s about AU$540 in Australia). The widgets on this page will give you more recent pricing information.
Master & Dynamic MW08 review: features and battery life
Stuffed full of useful features, the Master & Dynamic MW08 earbuds use the M&D Connect app for firmware updates, custom settings, and product support.
A big selling point is the Active Noise Cancelling, it does more than just block out exterior noise. You can choose to set it to Max ANC for when you are somewhere very noisy, All Day ANC for more peaceful surroundings, Voice Ambient mode to let through conversation and Awareness mode for times when you want some surrounding noise, like from the road. See the Performance section of this Master & Dynamic MW08 review for a rundown on how well they worked.
On the left earbud, there are two volume controls that can also be used to switch between your default Ambient or ANC mode when you hold each end down (you set this in the app). To control the music there’s a multifunction button on the top of the right earbud. You can use it to pause or play the music, skip forward, backwards or hold it down to access your smartphone’s voice assistant. It was pretty refreshing to have physical buttons to press, it meant you never accidentally stopped the music because of overly sensitive touch controls. Having them placed on the top of the earbud also meant they stayed securely in your ear, and you didn’t need to push the bud further into your ear canal to press the button either.
Each earbud will last 12 hours of music playback and the case gives you an additional three charges, holding 42 hours all-in-all. That’s more than enough, a single charge will last you the full day or a very long journey. With the extra charges, you won’t need to remember to plug it in very often at all. To conserve battery life, there’s an auto-off timer, you can set them to turn off when no audio is playing after 30min, 1hr or 3hrs. When you do come to charge them, it’ll take just 15 minutes to get to 50%, or 40 minutes to reach 100% - impressive!
Included in the box with the earbuds and case are silicone ear tips, a USB-C to USB-C cable, a USB-C adaptor and a protective pouch. The USB-C adaptor and corduroy pouch shows that M&D have thought of everything, those little finishing touches tell me that they’ve really taken the time to think ‘how can we make this the very best possible experience from opening the box, to using them throughout the day, to putting them on charge in the evening?’
Master & Dynamic MW08 review: design and fit
With five sizes of silicone ear tips in the box, you’re bound to find the right fit. Master & Dynamic has covered all bases here, providing far more options than most. They felt secure wandering around and even doing on-the-spot workouts, although personally, I wouldn’t use them for running as without a wing or hook, I would be worried they could fall out. If they did, there’s optional ear detection which pauses the music when removed from your ear. Out of the box, this is turned off by default, you can toggle the switch from the M&D Connect app.
The Master & Dynamic MW08 earbuds are a sleek shape, square on one end and rounded on the other. A ceramic finish makes them lightweight (weighing 9g each) and scratch-resistant. You can choose between four colour combinations: white or brown with a stainless steel case, blue with a polished graphite case, or I have been testing out the black pair that come with a matte black case. As well as the volume controls and multifunction button, the earbuds have a total of six microphones, three on each bud.
While the semi-square design looks smart, it could be confusing to know which direction they face when fitting them into your ears, it took me a few uses to get my head around it and remember that the straight edge goes at the front.
The angular square case is a good size for your pocket. It has three small LED lights across the front, telling you the battery level of the case and of each earbud using a traffic light-style system. The USB-C port is on the right side. One critique of the case is that it was prone to scratches, I put it in an empty pocket in my bag and it somehow still managed to get a few scrapes. Despite that, both the case and the earbuds feel premium, solid and classy.
Master & Dynamic MW08 review: performance
Using custom 11mm Beryllium drivers, the Master & Dynamic MW08 are very clearly focused on delivering high-end audio performance. And I can tell you now, that is exactly what they do.
You can hear every note with outstanding clarity and detail. Definitely more focused on the low-end, they sounded powerful with a wide soundstage. Whether you’re listening to ballads, pop, rock or bass-heavy tunes the Master & Dynamic MW08 earbuds cope incredibly well, delivering songs as they were meant to be heard. It was a shame that you couldn’t adjust the equaliser settings from the app, but considering how on point they sounded, I wouldn’t say it actually matters.
After having used the ANC a fair amount out and about, as well as at home, I would say that for a pair of in-ear headphones, they’re some of the best you can get. Granted, Max ANC doesn’t block out all noise like the best pairs of over-ears do. I could still hear loud keyboard taps, the road or aeroplane noise, yet having said that, it definitely drowns it out enough to not distract too much from the music. Naturally, I couldn’t test this on an actual plane, a YouTube clip replicating it had to do.
Too often with true wireless earbuds, there isn’t much difference between the Ambient mode and standard listening but you can really hear the difference between each of the settings with these earbuds. In particular, the Voice Ambient mode is seriously clever, allowing speech to filter through yet blocking out a lot of surrounding noise. When we are all back on the move again, this will be great for hearing train announcements on your commute, for example.
Calls are really the main area the MW08 earbuds fall down in. Despite being clear, the microphones made me sound quiet and muffled to the person on the other end. It wasn’t so bad that you couldn’t hear, however it’d have been nice for it to feel more effortless.
Pairing the buds to your smartphone was incredibly easy using Bluetooth 5.2, they also improve on the MW07s with aptX and AAC codecs. Every time I took them out of the case, they were both connected within a few seconds. I’m prone to wandering away from my phone with headphones in, which wasn’t a problem for these either, as they have a 30m connectivity distance. Although not a massive issue, they don’t have multipoint pairing so to connect to a different device, you’ll have to disconnect and reconnect. I found this a pain as I often switch between my computer and phone throughout the day.
Master & Dynamic MW08 review: verdict
To wrap up this Master & Dynamic MW08 review in a sentence: this is a pair of ultra-clear true wireless earbuds with the class and style to make the likes of Apple shake in their boots. I’m not saying they are completely faultless, but they’re close to it.
Although the sleek square shape doesn’t really suit me, that style wouldn’t look out of place in the ears of someone who prides themselves on looking smart and sharp from head to toe. Not only do they ooze style, but they also deliver high-quality sound no matter the genre. On top of that, the extra features like ANC, corduroy protective pouch and ear-detection give these an extra little something, making them a pair of true wireless earbuds truly worth spending your cash on.
Master & Dynamic MW08 review: also consider
For earphones with a similar focus on style and great sound, take a look at the Bowers & Wilkins PI7. Another high-performing pair of true wireless earbuds, they’re slightly pricier and have a few features that the Master & Dynamic MW08 don’t - like the ability to use the case as a wireless adapter to connect them to laptops or in-air entertainment systems.
Another pair worth considering is the Sony WF-1000XM3 They are some of the best sounding earbuds we’ve heard and will cost a fraction of the price. Granted, you don’t get that extra pizazz you get here but you do get impressive noise-cancelling.
- Immerse yourself in music with a pair of the best noise cancelling headphones