Master & Dynamic MW09 review: unbeatable battery life

Sophisticated design and stellar battery life combine, but the sound signature won't suit all listeners

Master Dynamic MW09 with case
(Image credit: Future)
T3 Verdict

The Master & Dynamic MW09 combine an expectedly gorgeous and premium design with a warm, possibly even dark, sound signature that will make this a slam dunk for some. Of course, that sound signature doesn’t work as well for some types of music, and the price on these earbuds is quite high. However, the ambient mode and battery life are both out of this world.

Reasons to buy
  • +

    Great sound, especially for fans of hip-hop and dance

  • +

    Gorgeous, premium design

  • +

    Fantastic battery life

Reasons to avoid
  • -

    Active noise-cancellation (ANC) is average

  • -

    Sound signature better for some genres than others

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Sometimes reviews are easy, but I found wrapping my head around the Master & Dynamic MW09 covered here elusive. Having tested a few other products from the company before, I can say that there’s a consistency in the quality of product. But, there’s always something that holds it back just a little bit, exacerbated by the high price tag. It’s no different here.

I’ll get into what I struggled with when we get to performance and, to a lesser extent, features, but suffice it to say, the Master & Dynamic MW09 should be divisive. There are some who might consider these the best wireless earbuds of the year, while others will look at the competition, such as the Denon PerL Pro, and think 'why spend so much?'. And both would be equally valid.

Whether you’ll be a fan or not will depend on your priorities. If you prefer J. Cole to Jimmy Eat World, the MW09 will be for you. But, if you like more mid-range heavy music like rock, you might find these earbuds frustrating.

Master & Dynamic MW09: Price & Options

With six colourways available, the Master & Dynamic MW09 come in at two prices. The difference? Whether you want an aluminium or scratch-resistant Kevlar charging case. 

If you choose the white and silver, black and black, or gold on gold, you’ll need to drop $349 / £319 for the pleasure of a matching aluminium charging case. If you choose either blue, gunmetal or green (reviewed here), you’ll have to spend a bit more at $399 / £369 for that Kevlar-wrapped case.

I’ve never felt concerned about scratching a charging case, but I’m usually relatively careful with my earbuds. I could see those who find themselves dealing roughly with their gear, thankful for the inclusion of the tougher stuff.

Master & Dynamic MW09 review: Design & Features

Master Dynamic MW09 review

(Image credit: Future)

The Master & Dynamic MW09 are gorgeous earbuds no matter the colourway. Coming in a unique D shape with a raised circle and composed of anodised aluminium and sapphire glass, these earbuds continue the company’s tradition of not sparing any expense when it comes to the design, materials, and construction. Of course, that’s probably a big part of what makes Master & Dynamic’s offerings so pricey.

The materials are just as robust internally too: as the MW09 sport 11mm beryllium drivers and three microphones per side for calls, active noise-cancelling (ANC), and Ambient mode. That does produce a somewhat weightier earbud at 8.1 grams apiece, though the weight didn’t bother me. 

As far as on-unit controls, Master & Dynamic has opted for individual buttons on top of each earbud – a volume up and down on the left and a multifunction on the right – instead of capacitive controls. I generally find capacitive controls finicky so I appreciate the physical buttons, but some might prefer not actually having to press a button to skip to the next song or answer a call.

Master Dynamic MW09 review

(Image credit: Future)

With or without the Kevlar-covered cases, the durability on these earbuds are a step above most non-sport earbuds. While I would be careful taking any earbuds over $300 to the gym, the earbuds have an IP54 rating, while the charging case is rated at IPX4 (most charging cases don’t have any water resistance) so they can easily handle a sweaty workout. In fact, I have used these as my daily drivers while jogging.

Though Jabra still takes the cake for me in terms of comfort, the Master & Dynamic MW09 are no slouch in this category. While I wouldn't necessarily make it a selling point, I felt no discomfort or awkwardness from having these in my ears for long periods of time. I also had no issue with them falling out. You might think otherwise to look at them, but that's not been my experience. 

However, if you’re worried about stability, Master & Dynamic has included quite a number of eartips, specifically five sizes of silicone tips and two sizes of foam tips. You also get a decently lengthy USB-C charging cable in the package.

Master & Dynamic MW09 review: Performance

Master Dynamic MW09 review

(Image credit: Future)

It took me a while to come around to the sound signature of the Master & Dynamic MW09. That’s not to say that they don’t have quality sound, because they very much do. But, this is not a neutral jack-of-all-trades type of sound.

What Master & Dynamic advertises as warm, I would categorise as more dark, meaning that the mid-range and high-end is somewhat subdued. However, they’re subdued in a way that doesn’t lose detail or resolution – they actually support aptX Lossless and aptX Adaptive. The low-end is simply massive, so, along with the subdued higher frequencies, these earbuds seem to work much better with certain types of music than others.

Hip-hop, EDM, and really anything where there’s lots of low-end shine on these earbuds. Even metal works well here (rah). But, more mid-range-focused rock, especially with busier arrangements, come across as a bit congested. To somewhat clear that up, I had to equalise (EQ) out some of the low-mids and boost the higher registers to offset the default sound signature. Folk music likewise doesn’t seem to pop quite as much either. But, for pop, these earbuds are certainly the right stuff.

On a more overall positive note, the soundstage is wide with precise sound imaging, offering a perfect headphone experience with more soundscape-oriented music or anything with a lot of elements hidden below the surface. Also, since these earbuds use Bluetooth 5.4, I found no latency or lag when watching video.

Master Dynamic MW09 review

(Image credit: Future)

As far as call quality goes, it’s pretty good here. The voice doesn’t sound far away, hollow, or overly compressed – all issues I’ve regularly encountered when using earbuds for calls, which still haven’t gotten as good as just holding the phone up to your ears, at least for the most part. It doesn’t do much to reject background noise so, while the voice comes through loud and clear, the listener will clearly hear any distracting noise happening next to you.

Active noise-cancellation (ANC) and Ambient (or transparency) mode are two features that often set apart the wheat from the chaff when it comes to earbuds. And, with the Master & Dynamic MW09, it’s a slightly mixed bag.

The ANC is good with three levels on tap (Max, All Day, Adaptive), but it’s not going to give Sony or Bose – largely deemed as the best noise-cancelling headphones – a run for their money any time soon. It’s better with offsetting lower frequency sounds, but not as good with higher-pitched sounds. If you have ANC on, but are listening to something with a lot of empty space or at low volume, you can still somewhat hear regular ambient noise.

The Ambient Mode, which also has three modes (Voice, Natural, and Awareness) is among the best I’ve heard, mainly because it sounds natural and has minimal microphone hiss or noise. While most people will prioritise ANC, especially if you plan on using these on a flight, having quality Ambient modes is key if you’re listening for announcements at the airport or for passing cars while jogging down a busy street.

Master & Dynamic MW09 review: App

Master Dynamic MW09 review

(Image credit: Future)

The M&D Connect App has a fairly streamlined and semi-intuitive interface. There is a small learning curve just because everything is in a menu, so you can’t just open the app up and start manipulating settings.

In the app, you can turn on EQ presets, create a custom EQ consisting of five frequency bands with a boost or cut of +/-6dBs, select from three different modes of ANC, and three different Ambient modes.

You can also toggle settings like in-ear detection, sidetone, auto-off timer, and you can even do an acoustic seal test to make sure the sound quality isn’t affected from improper wear. Since multipoint connectivity is available, there’s a menu for Bluetooth Management where you can control the up to two devices the MW09 can pair with.

There’s no way to remap the controls in the app (or in general), but at least there are links through the app to either look up troubleshooting or contact the company if there are any issues.

Master & Dynamic MW09 review: Battery

Master Dynamic MW09 review

(Image credit: Future)

I remember the days when a pair of earbuds reaching five hours on a single charge was very good (you probably do too – we’re only talking a couple years). While there are plenty that still just barely surpass that, such as the Airpods Pro which hit five hours with ANC off, the Master & Dynamic MW09 can get to 16 hours on a single charge. 

The charging case adds another 32 hours, for a total of 48 hours of battery life. That’s bordering on obscene, considering most earbuds and charging cases give you a total of 24-to-30ish hours of battery life.

Plus, it will charge pretty quickly, getting from 0 to 50% in about 20 minutes (using a cable) and to 100% in an hour. If you use wireless charging, which is included, it will take a bit longer, at 160 minutes. 

Master & Dynamic MW09 review: Verdict

Master Dynamic MW09 review

(Image credit: Future)

Whether you should get the Master & Dynamic MW09 depends on a few things. First off, they’re very expensive, even more so than most people’s best-in-class Sony WF-1000XM5, while not offering quite the level of active noise-cancelling (ANC). Plus, the sound signature, while excellent, doesn’t work as well for most rock music.

However, the battery life and ambient modes are fantastic. The sound quality is top-notch, especially if you listen to less mid-range heavy music, i.e. music without big, distorted guitars. And the built quality and design are about as premium as it gets. 

If you want a pair of earbuds that make a statement, the Master & Dynamic MW09 are it. 

Also consider

The true wireless earbuds market has really raised its game in recent years. The almost-as-pricey Denon PerL Pro don’t have quite the same level of premium materials, but they’re still of fantastic quality inside and out. They’re stylish, sound great, and come with a useful personalisation feature.

As mentioned before, the Sony WF-1000XM5 are the ideal earbuds to beat for a lot of people. However, unlike the previous generation, many earbuds have caught up in a lot of ways. Still, the ANC is very good, the earbuds are light and comfortable, and the sound is balanced and detailed. The battery life is nothing special, though, and neither is the call quality.

James Holland

James is an avid follower of the latest trends happening around tech, particularly when it comes to headphones or anything music-related, gaming, and exercise gadgets. He’s also active in the music industry and has been for the last 10 years. When not writing for T3, he likes to travel, try new foods, and find quirky attractions nearby.