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  • Cheryl Tan

Master & Dynamic MW08 Review: Really Premium Earbuds!

Updated: Aug 21, 2021

We're finally testing out the Master & Dynamic MW08, and the company has done a pretty good job at improving on the impressive MW07 and MW07 Plus.

Let’s talk design. There’s been quite a bit of change to the design of both the earbuds and the case, which is nice since it keeps things fresh, after retaining the same design across the MW07 and MW07 Plus.

The case is now taller and you get some angled lines running across lengthwise, which is a nice change from the mostly rounded MW07 case. There are a bunch of colour options to choose from, including their iconic shiny stainless steel case which I’m not a big fan of, because it’s a fingerprint magnet and scuffs really easily, as well as a new polished graphite case and the matte black case that I have here. Now, I am a huge fan of this new case. I think it looks really sleek and the case feels incredibly solid and premium in my hand. Even the shiny case felt premium when I was testing it out previously, so big thumbs up to Master & Dynamic here, because their products never feel cheap.

Moving on to the earbuds, there are also a few colour options here, but they’re tied to a specific case. You get Blue Ceramic, Black Ceramic, White Ceramic and Brown Ceramic. I can’t speak for the others, but the Black Ceramic is a fingerprint magnet. Not great, but Master & Dynamic has tried to alleviate this by sticking to physical buttons on the top of the earbud, so you technically have no need to tap the glossy faceplate.

There’s a single multi-function button on the right earbud that controls play/pause, track skipping as well as voice assistant and call acceptance. You get volume buttons on the left earbud with long presses toggling ANC on the volume down button and Ambient Listening on or off on the volume up button.

You’ll want to download the Master & Dynamic Connect app so you get access to firmware updates and more. There’s also the option to rename your earbuds, adjust the level of ANC and ambient listening as well as toggle in-ear detection on or off. There’s also an auto timer so your earbuds will turn off automatically if there’s nothing playing on them.

These have Bluetooth 5.2, which is excellent. It seems like more true wireless earbuds are starting to come with Bluetooth 5.2 instead of Bluetooth 5.0, which means we should be getting better sound quality and better battery life in upcoming earbuds. The MW08 also supports SBC, AAC as well as aptX, but there’s no multipoint support here. These connect individually, so they can be used separately with either side while the opposing side is in the case with the lid closed.

Battery life is pretty good, with Master & Dynamic claiming 12 hours of playback in the earbuds or 10 hours with ANC turned on. I generally kept ANC at the max level with music at around 40% volume and found myself averaging around seven to eight hours of battery life, which is a bit below the supposed battery life, so let’s take the 42 hours total playtime with the charging case with a pinch of salt. There's no wireless charging here, but that’s to be expected since the case is made with stainless steel.

There’s IPX5 water resistance, which is slightly higher than most other earbuds out there. Of course, that’s only for the earbuds, not the case.

Moving on to ANC, you get a few options here: Off, Everyday ANC or Max ANC. Now, the ANC performance in these was actually quite underwhelming, for some reason. Perhaps I’ve been too spoiled by earbuds like the Sony WF-1000XM4 that have great ANC, but I noticed car rumbling, occasional snippets of music from the radio and such even when I had Max ANC turned on and music playing at a reasonable 40% volume. That being said, it does help to reduce some background noise, just not to the level I was expecting.

Speaking of that, there are three microphones in each earbud, which Master & Dynamic claims have wind noise reduction built-in. Call quality is okay; it’s not too bad but it doesn’t completely get rid of background noise either.

The sound quality, though, is pretty darn good. You get a slightly heavier emphasis on bass here as compared to the MW07 Plus, but for the mids and highs, it’s pretty neutral. Separation is good, and I get quite a bit of detail as well, noticeably in complicated songs. Vocal layering is also very nicely done, and the soundstage is wide enough that you won’t feel songs get overly cramped.

For songs with a big emphasis on bass though, you might feel it gets a bit overwhelming. Unfortunately, there’s no EQ feature in the companion app, so there’s no easy way of tweaking the sound to your liking. Generally, though, I’d say it’s pretty consumer-friendly.

All in all, it’s a pretty good pair of earbuds. My only quibble would be the pretty average ANC, but the sound quality does make up for it. At US$299 or S$449, these are pretty much the same price as the Devialet Gemini, and they perform quite similarly as well, although of course, the tuning is slightly different. Also, if you want something that looks premium, well, I’d say the stainless steel case is definitely more impressive to me than Devialet’s plastic case, so there’s that.


Content by Cheryl Tan

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