Apr 16th, 2021

When it comes to headphones, specifically truly-wireless earbuds, there are simply too many good choices out there. Almost every company tries to bring something different to the table. Whether it’s quick and easy integration with Android, a sleek and or unique design, and of course, Active Noise Cancellation.

Many of those headphones fall under a few of those categories, missing the mark in just one or two areas. And normally, there would be some frustrations or irritations with that, but Master & Dynamic has completely changed my mind with the newly-released MW08 earbuds.

Master & Dynamic MW08 Specs

  • Weight: 9 grams per earbud
  • Drivers: 11mm Beryllium
  • Bluetooth: 5.2 w/ aptX, AAC, and SBC
  • Active Noise Cancellation: Yes
  • Ports: USB-C (charging port)
  • Battery Life: Up to 12 hours without ANC / 10 hours with ANC
    • 50% charge in 15 minutes, 100% charge in 45 minutes
    • Total of 42 hours with included charging case
  • Controls: Buttons
  • Digital Assistant: Google Assistant, Alexa, Siri integration
  • Wear Detection Sensor: Yes
  • Dual Device Connection: No
  • Water Resistance: IPX5
  • Colors: White Ceramic, Black Ceramic, Brown Ceramic, Blue Ceramic
  • Price: $299 (see the latest prices on Amazon)

Master & Dynamic MW08 Review: Build and design

Take one look in the top drawer of my desk organizer, and you’ll see that I have a bit of an addiction for headphones. It doesn’t matter if they are over-the-ear or in-ear, headphones are amazing, and truly-wireless earbuds have been a fascination for me ever since the original AirPods were released.

The reason why I bring up the AirPods is because these are well-renowned for featuring great build quality that can stand up against pretty much anything. But I would venture to suggest that Master & Dynamic is the first company to outdo Apple in this regard.

Taking the MW08 headphones case out of the box, and the first thing you’ll realize is that this thing is a brick. It’s not exactly comfortable to put in a pocket, but it definitely could be used to do some damage if the situation were to arise. On the front of the case, there are three LED indicators, one for each earbud and the middle for the case itself. Finally, there’s a USB-C charging port on the right side.

Inside the Stainless Steel charging case, you’ll find the two earbuds with the M&D logo staring at you on the outside of each one. There are a series of buttons on either earbud, each that perform a bit different of a function. For example, on the right earbud, you’ll find a multi-function power button. Meanwhile, the left earbud provides the volume rocker to adjust your sound levels throughout the day. And this brings us to our of first of few complaints. There are no touch controls.

Moving past that, the ceramic material is glossy to the touch, and just like the case, is a fingerprint magnet. Master & Dynamic includes several different ear-tips in the box, along with a carrying case and even a USB-C to USB-A adapter if you don’t have a USB-C charger handy. It’s things like this that show you how much attention to detail Master & Dynamic paid to these headphones.

Master & Dynamic MW08 Review: Why are these earbuds so great?

As soon as you take these headphones out of the box, and are greeted with the included accessories, that make you start to realize that you’re in for a good time. The design is just stunning, and there’s even an app to help you pair these to your phone, while offering some (limited) functionality. The M&D Connect app is the company’s first application, and is available on both iOS and Android. Aside from helping with the pairing process, there’s really not much else you can do from here. Opening the app shows you the remaining battery percentage of the earbuds along with the name of your earbuds. Tapping the gear icon in the top right corner provides a bit more information:

  • Customize Device Name
  • World Volume
    • ANC / Ambient
      • Max ANC / All-day ANC
      • Voice / Awareness
  • Auto-off Timer
  • In-ear detection

But this isn’t the reason why we’ve fallen in love with the MW08 earbuds. Instead of trying to re-invent the wheel with its design, the MW08 are extremely comfortable to wear for long periods, something that cannot be said about other earbuds. Putting them in your ears is similar to that of the Pixel Buds as you’ll need to put them in at an angle and then rotate to make sure you get the right seal. From there, the MW08 just stay in your ears, regardless of what you’re doing. As someone who tends to rely on third-party ear-tips from the likes of Comply because the silicone tips fall out of my ears, I have run into no such issue with the MW08.

The sound quality is also on-par with the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2 earbuds, if not even a little bit better. The Active Noise Cancellation is pretty good, although it wasn’t enough to drown out the sound of the microwave going off in the kitchen, and can’t drown out the repeated click-clack of my Logitech gaming keyboard. Everything else, though, and the MW08 was able to drown out ensuring that I wouldn’t be distracted by anything.

ANC is great, passive audio is also great, and the design is a dream. But the best part of the Master & Dynamic MW08 earbuds has nothing to do with any of that. Nope. It’s all about the BATTERY LIFE. Over the course of our testing (about three weeks), we’ve only had to recharge the case maybe three times. Master & Dynamic rates these earbuds for 10 hours of battery with ANC enabled and up to 12 without ANC. The case provides an additional THIRTY hours of battery life, making for up to 40 hours of total battery life before you need to even think about recharging them. It’s been an absolute dream to have ANC earbuds that actually last all day long, and not just part of the day.

Throw in the fast-charging capabilities, and you’ll never have to worry about being without your headphones. Just plug in the headphones case for 15 minutes, and it will be charged up to 50%, charge the case for around an hour and you’ll be looking at 100% of battery life. The same 50% in 15 minutes charging rate applies for the earbuds when placed in the case, while you’ll get back up to 100% in around 45 minutes instead of the full hour.

I don’t know what wizardry Master & Dynamic managed to pull off here, but the MW08 have just set the bar for battery life in ANC-enabled truly wireless earbuds.

Master & Dynamic MW08 Review: Pitfalls

While it likely appears that I can’t stop gushing about the Master & Dynamic MW08, these aren’t the absolute “perfect” earbuds for everyone. The biggest omission is an obvious one, as there’s no wireless charging onboard. This is rather difficult to do with the stainless steel case that feels like a rock. And while we would have liked to see wireless charging available, Master & Dynamic makes up for it by putting the USB-C charging port on the side instead of on the bottom like almost every other earbud case we’ve come across.

The app offers a little bit of customization, along with being able to adjust things like the Ambient Noise and Active Noise Cancellation, but that’s about it. We really would have liked to see some customizable EQ options, even if these only consisted of some presets directly from Master & Dynamic. Perhaps we’ll see this in a future software update for the accompanying app, but for now it’s just a bit of a disappointment.

The final “gripe” we have with the MW08 comes down to the decision to use the buttons for controls instead of touch pads for gestures. This is definitely subjective due to the fact that my fat fingers have a hard time pushing the right button on the slim top rail of either earbuds. In fact, I’ve just relegated my controls to using my Z Fold 2 instead of trying to hit the right buttons. Touch controls are finicky at best for even the best earbuds, so it makes sense for Master & Dynamic to go with physical buttons, but it’s just a potential pain point if you have big fingers.

Master & Dynamic MW08 Review: Conclusion

If you’ve made it this far, it should come as no surprise that we are absolutely infatuated with the Master & Dynamic MW08 earbuds. To put my excitement in perspective, I currently have the AirPods Pro, Galaxy Buds Pro, and Jabra Elite 85t on my desk, and all three have been relegated to the top drawer next to my desk to make way for the MW08. In addition offering fantastic sound quality, you’ll be getting battery life that seems to never run out, no matter what you’re doing or how long you’re using the earbuds.

Master & Dynamic MW08 Rating: star_fullstar_fullstar_fullstar_fullstar_75 (4.75 / 5)

The Good

  • All-week battery life
  • Extremely comfortable to use
  • Fantastic audio quality
  • Adjustable ANC / Ambient Noise
  • Sleek design

The Bad

  • No wireless charging case
  • Limited app functionality
  • No touch gestures

The Bottom Line

Master & Dynamic has hit it out of the park with the MW08 earbuds, and if you’re looking for some truly wireless earbuds with all day battery life and ANC, the MW08 are the way to go.

 

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