Master & Dynamic has made a name for itself as a luxury audio company. Its signature style adorns the Master & Dynamic MW65, a pair of noise cancelling cans. Listeners who buy them will certainly turn heads, but at the expense of some serious cash. So the question is: are these headphones actually as good as they look?
Editor’s note: This post was updated on November 23rd, 2020 to reflect changes in pricing and to include a new microphone poll for readers to vote on.
Who is it for?
- Frequent flyers and daily commuters will appreciate the noise cancelling abilities of these headphones. If you don’t want to sacrifice style for functionality and find yourself globe-trotting regularly, these may be a worthwhile investment.
- Stylish listeners are probably drooling over the MW65 and for good reason: these headphones are stunning. The leather materials and anodized aluminum accents dress up any outfit. Even the accessories are well designed. The headphones are available in two colorways: silver metal/brown leather and gunmetal/black leather.
What’s it like to use the Master & Dynamic MW65?
The Master & Dynamic MW65 feel great to use. The ear pads and headband feature a comfortable lambskin leather wrap accented by anodized aluminum pieces. Grill plates make the MW65 look like open-back headphones, but it’s purely decorative. From the handful of accessories to the headphones, everything about the Master & Dynamic MW65 oozes class. Then again, I suppose it should if you’re spending this kind of cash.
The MW65 is one of the most handsome headsets on the market.
These aren’t just handsome, though: there are some neat features packed into these cans such as Google Assistant integration. If you press and hold the volume up button, Google Assistant reads unopened notifications aloud. You can control which notifications are read back and which are ignored via the Google app. I like this feature, as I don’t want to be bothered for every incoming spam email. Even though the playback buttons are small, they’re spaced out and easy to find. The left ear cup houses the noise cancelling button for cycling through the high, low, and off settings. It also has a power slider which initiates Bluetooth pairing mode, too.
Master & Dynamic includes plenty of goodies with the MW65, one of which is a mixed-material pouch that features a zippered pocket and magnetized clasp. It’s not the most protective case but gets the job done. Although the ear cushions are replaceable, Master & Dynamic doesn’t provide a spare pair like Creative does with its SXFI Air headphones.
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How is the noise cancelling on the Master & Dynamic MW65?
The Master & Dynamic MW65 cancel noise really well—but not well enough to outperform Sony or AKG. Our attenuation chart depicts noise cancelling on the high power setting. These do a great job filtering out excessive noise and work wonders in a setting like coffee shops. The whir of bean-grinding and nervous first date chatter are all effectively stifled. If you need the absolute best ANC tech, though, get the AKG N700NC.
How long does the battery last?
With noise cancelling set to high, the battery lasted an impressive 20 hours, 41 minutes. This is excellent especially given the quick charging capabilities. By connecting via the included USB-C cable for 15 minutes, the headphones are afforded 12 hours of playback. This is invaluable if you’re at the airport and forgot to charge your headphones pre-flight. A full charge takes around two hours, which is to be expected.
How do you connect them to your phone?
Most listeners will opt for wireless listening, which requires just the standard Bluetooth pairing process. If you do this, you’re granted a 20-meter connectivity range and aptX support. This high-quality codec improves audio quality and reduces lag on Android devices. The headphones use Bluetooth firmware 4.2, not 5.0 which is a bit of a drag. While this is odd for such a premium device, functionality is all the same. Plus, you can connect to two devices simultaneously for simple source switching—so, it’s not all bad news.
If the battery dies and you’re unable to take advantage of the quick charging ability, just use the aux cable for wired audio. Of course, this means your phone needs a headphone jack because a dongle adapter isn’t included. The MW65 does, however, come with a flight adapter, adding a nice touch of antiquated charm.
What do they sound like?
The MW65 headphones are great for nearly all genres of music because there’s minimal deviation from the ideal frequency response (0-mark). Not only does this minimize auditory masking, allowing for optimal clarity, but it also means these bode well for all genres of music.
Many consumer headphones increase the bass too much, which is fun for pop hits and the like but makes classical and bluegrass music sound inaccurate. If you have an Android phone, aptX support improves audio quality, but iPhone users won’t reap the same benefit as AAC isn’t supported.
Lows, mids, and highs
Angie McMahon’s song Slow Mover is a pleasure to listen to with these headphones because of how they reproduce lower vocals. McMahon’s vocal power oscillates from speaking to belting volumes throughout the song and is unencumbered by the electric guitar mirroring her melody. What’s more, the de-emphasized low end lends itself nicely to this genre of music where vocals and strings take precedence. Drum kicks are audible in the verses following the opening but don’t steal the show.
Additionally, the dip from 3-4.5kHz is a feature of the headset. The human ear is especially sensitive to resonances within this range. By targeting these frequencies, music sounds more clear. Coincidentally, this is frequently found in Sennheiser headphones.
Is the mic on the Master & Dynamic MW65 any good?
The dual-microphone array is the weakest link of the Master & Dynamic MW65. It does a good job at filtering out background noise, but that’s where the positives trail off. Voices of all registers sound distant and muffled. What’s more, as you can hear in the demo, sporadic crackling is a persistent issue. Whenever I test-called friends, I ultimately switched back to my Samsung Galaxy S10e.
Master & Dynamic MW65 microphone demo:
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Should you buy the Master & Dynamic MW65?
Expensive headphones can be justifiable especially if they include a great warranty, high-quality materials, and useful features. The Master & Dynamic MW65 bundles all of this into a gorgeous package, however, it is incredibly expensive. This niche product targets those who can afford the extravagance. If you happen to fall into that camp or can find them on sale, then these are definitely worth it. However, if you want a more affordable headset with better ANC and mic quality, get the Sony WH-1000xM3 or the newer Sony WH-1000XM4.