Master & Dynamic MW50+ review: luxury sound
Audio specialists Master & Dynamic launched the stylish MW50+ wireless headphones with a sound that is defined as "technically sophisticated". The headphones look impressive, but how do they sound and how do they perform in everyday use? Find out the answer in this detailed review.
- Impeccable sound
- Elegant design
- Top quality materials
- Good battery
- Two-year warranty
- Long-term discomfort
- Unreliable magnets on the pads
- No charging base
Master & Dynamic Wireless MW50+ release date and price
MW50+ can be purchased directly from the official website of Master & Dynamic for a price of $399. The headphones are available in three color combinations: silver metal/brown leather, silver metal/black leather and black metal/black leather. We tested the silver-steel/brown leather version.
The MW50+ come in a box that includes the headphones, two pairs of interchangeable ear pads, one supra-aural (on-ear) and one circumaural (over-ear), a cloth carry bag, a case for the pads, a 3.5 mm headphone jack cable with a length of 1.25m, and a USB cable for charging. I noticed the absence of a charging base, so in order to charge the headphones, I had to connect them to another device. I think this color variant is the most elegant version because of the combination of colors the texture of the leather.
The headphones are made of top-quality materials: 40 mm beryllium drivers, cow leather on the headband and lamb leather on the pads, which in turn cover the viscoelastic foam pads. The connection between the headband and the headphones is made of stainless steel, and has a very solid appearance, both to the eye and to the touch. In short, a delicacy... Not suitable for vegans, but a delicacy all the same. This level of quality can be expected from a brand like Master & Dynamic, a New York-based company whose motto is to manufacture luxury devices with an impeccable finish, carefully constructed and with highly sophisticated sound.
The included 3.5 mm audio cable is rather short. It's okay to walk down the street with your mobile in your pocket and headphones connected by cable, but for someone like me, who also wears headphones during studio production sessions, the length can be an obstacle.
The MW50+ have a medium weight. Obviously, you'll notice them more than the classic in-ear wireless headphones, but for their size, design and materials, the weight is acceptable. To be more precise, the headphones weigh 205g in the supra aural 'mode', and 239g with the circumaural pads on.
Firstly, I will describe the feeling after short-term use: in the supra aural version, i.e. with the smallest earpads, are very comfortable and fit very well on top of the ears, but without squeezing too tightly. On the other hand, the circumaural version doesn't seem so comfortable to me; it's a little tighter and you can tell when you have your headphones on a lot more. In addition, the shape is less ergonomic, which somehow hasn't adapted so well to the shape of my ears (and it's not like I have elephant ears or anything like that).
As far as longer use is concerned: although the materials are very comfortable, the ergonomics of the device began to become more uncomfortable with the passage of hours, and that was with both pads. During my tests with the on-ear version, which at first seemed the most comfortable, after a few hours of work in the studio, my ears hurt a little due to the pressure exerted by the pads. I think that, in this case, viscoelastic foam or memory foam has not proved very useful.
For these reasons, I do not consider them suitable for long haul flights or extended use sessions. Let's say they're more suited to limited daily use, such as commuting, train travel, walking from one point to another, watching a movie, or making music for an hour or two.
The interchangeable pads of the MW50+ are fixed to the driver by magnets. With the on-ear version, the fastening works quite well and I haven't had any major detected problems. However, the pads for the over-ear version are too heavy for the strength of the magnets and as a result, they sometimes come loose and the headphones fall off. This is a detail that Master & Dynamic should solve with future models, because nobody wants accidents with headphones at this price point.
Good overall performance
The MW50+ perform quite well in all the areas in which I have tested them. In aspects such as the Bluetooth connection, more precisely Bluetooth 4.1 aptX with integrated aluminum antenna, the headphones have always synchronized quickly and the stability of the connection has been kept even at a certain distance from the sound source. Master & Dynamic promises a range of 30 meters, which I have not been able to check 100%, but I can say that I have moved away from my mobile inside the house, going to other rooms, for example, and the playback of music has not stopped at any time. The same goes for phone calls.
As for the handling of the device, the volume controls on the right side, and the Bluetooth synchronization controls on the left side, have always worked well, and their location on the bottom of the pads has been quite comfortable for me.
This is a $400 headset, and in this respect, Master & Dynamic meets expectations: the MW50+ offers excellent sound, with a clarity that respects the musicality of each genre, maintaining the dynamic range and allowing you to perceive the most refined details without exaggerating at certain frequencies, something that does not always happen with other devices, which can inflate the bass to become a portable party, or add gain in the treble to obtain a greater output volume.
As a test track, I propose the remixed version of "The Wretched" by Nine Inch Nails, part of the 1999 album "Things Falling Apart". This industrially cut theme has several distorted instruments, so it presents an additional challenge when listening with headphones. The MW50+ fully respects the philosophy of the music, maintaining a good dynamic range (a feature that NIN music exploits quite a lot) and allowing each frequency to be distinguished without obstacles. With these cans, we can perceive the harshness and delicacy of the music simultaneously, something that in my opinion denotes great respect for the artist and also for the audience.
Perception of three-dimensional space
There is another feature of the MW50+ that has pleasantly surprised me, and that is the very clear sharpness they offer in the perception of three-dimensional space. In other words, I am referring to the panning: these headphones make it possible to perfectly notice the spatial location of each sound within a genre. I mention this aspect because it is precisely a field in which other headphones tend to fail, and in which I can observe a clear superiority of Master & Dynamic.
In the test track that I present below, "Haut (Blut Remix)" by Utopyk & El Fulminador, drums, synthesizers and voices are spread over different areas of stereo space, with some sounds moving panoramically from one side of the spectrum to the other. The MW50+ allows you to notice the precise location of each sound and follow its movement closely. To tell you the truth, this is my track, I wrote and produced it, so this fidelity of reproduction makes me feel that the time invested in the panning has not been in vain.
In short: a round of applause for Master & Dynamic for their sound in general, and for their work in the area of panoramic reproduction in particular.
The MW50+ includes an omnidirectional dual microphone for calls. During my use, the microphone has always worked well, and I haven't had any kind of problem. According to my friends, the sound during the calls has always been clear and clear.
Good battery life
Master & Dynamic promises a battery life of 16 hours, which I have been able to confirm in my experience. The headphones last and last (keep in mind that 16 uninterrupted hours of music and/or audio is a considerable time).
As far as charging is concerned, I only regret that there is no dedicated charging base, as the process of having to connect them to another device is somewhat cumbersome for me, especially if that other device does not have a lot of remaining battery either.
The Master & Dynamic MW50+ are great headphones, with superior sound quality. But whether or not you should buy them depends on your profile.
The finish is a true delight, and the clarity of the sound, along with the clear perception of the three-dimensional space, make wearing these headphones a pleasure. The only negative points are that such pleasure is limited to the short term, since in my experience, prolonged use of headphones begins to produce some discomfort. If we add to this the detail of the magnets for the over-ear pads, which can cause the risk of falls, certain doubts arise before splashing out $400.
Personally, I think the sound of these headphones is worth that kind of money, but I need headphones to be more comfortable in the long run, and ingenious fastening systems, like magnets, to really work.
So, if you're going to use your headphones to listen to music on your commute, to play games and enjoy multimedia content for relatively short periods of time, then these have everything you need and will give you a clearly superior sound. If, like me, you're one of those people who spend hours in the studio working with sound and music production, the discomfort of the MW50+ can be a problem for which you probably won't want to pay such a high price.