Where Luxury Meets Sound
Master & Dynamic is a company that pursues the potent combination of luxury and sound. Based in New York, the fledgling audio maker has been in operation since 2014. Their unyielding commitment to using all but the finest materials in their designs have earned many of their products accolades and acclaim. Today I am reviewing their former flagship headphone, the MW60 — nearly the best Master & Dynamic has to offer. Does it live up to the family name? Well, let’s find out.
About My Preferences: Heads up, I’m a person! As such, these words are my opinion, and they are tinged by my personal preferences. While I try to mitigate this as much as possible during my review process, I’d be lying if I said my biases are completely erased. So for you, my readers, keep this in mind:
- My ideal sound signature would be one with competent sub-bass, a textured mid-bass, a slightly warm midrange, and an extended treble.
- I have mild treble sensitivity.
Source: The MW60 was tested in the following configurations:
- LG V40-> earphones
- Hidizs AP100 3.5mm out -> FiiO A5 3.5mm out -> earphones
- HiFiMAN SuperMini -> earphones
- LG V40 -> Bluetooth -> Headphones
All music was served as MP3 @320Kbps or as FLAC.
- Bluetooth: 4.1
- Codex: aptX
- Impedance: 32 ohms
- Driver Type: Neodinium
- Driver Size: 45mm
- Weight: 345g
Packaging / Unboxing
The MW60 can connect to your devices over both a 3.5mm cable and Bluetooth. It has the standard range of 10m and I have verified that in an open space the MW60’s range is as advertised. Bluetooth performance is decent, with the MW60 occasionally jittering a bit over my extended listening sessions while connected to my LG V40. That said, I have no concerns with the MW60’s sonic fidelity when in Bluetooth mode. While using it in wired mode will net you an increase in sound quality, the change is subtle and not discernible to those without keen ears.
The MW60 features a lush V-shaped sound signature with a well-toned midrange and responsible level of bass. The MW60’s treble extends quite far and resolves nicely.
I was taken by surprise by the quality of the MW60’s treble. It’s an often-under-represented and mistreated part of the sound signature in devices aimed at mainstream sonic tastes. Master & Dynamic took great care to ensure that they did not compromise the resolving power of the MW60. Even in Bluetooth Mode, the MW60 resolves a genuinely impressive suite of details, ranging from the breath of In One Ear’s vocalist to the cheering of the crowd in Show Me How To Live. The ethereal background effects of Little One were hauntingly well-placed and airy.
The MW60’s treble is well controlled. Songs such as Satisfy, that are highly sibilant, produce no audible sharpness when played through the MW60. Further, the large-scale synths that are prominently featured within Midnight City are cleanly placed within the song’s soundstage. These elements are very easy to blur and over-bloom, so I consider the MW60’s self-restraint in this respect to be commendable.
The MW60’s midrange is warm and inviting with a spike near the 2KHz region to enable an additional sense of clarity. Its toning is suited to cushioning the hard edges of sharply mastered music and providing the listener with a sweet and welcoming experience. It’s been a while since I’ve actually enjoyed listening to an audio product that has this type of tonality for its midrange, and I have to say I’ve missed it. You don’t find a well-executed warm midrange very often, but if anyone could do it well, its the engineers at Master & Dynamic.
Electric guitars are well-bodied and distinct in Jacked Up and Flagpole Sitta. While the two songs are going for very different tones, the MW60 handles both of them well. Flagpole Sitta’s dry mastering is particularly well-complemented well by the MW60’s warmer presentation. Jacked Up’s softer presentation style is emphasized by the midrange’s weighty and friendly disposition and makes the two pianos in the background an absolute pleasure to listen to (in addition to the other harmonies and riffs).
The MW60’s midrange’s vocal performance is admirable given its warmth. The spike I mentioned earlier assuredly helps with that. Both male and female vocals are distinctly voiced within the vast majority of songs I’ve tested (with the exceptions being due to poor mastering). The MW60 does appear to favor male vocals, as do essentially all warm headphones and earphones, but female vocals remain pleasant to listen to, if not a little heavier than normal.
A theme of the MW60’s sound signature is restraint. I mentioned it in reference to the headphone’s treble, but it is again relevant with its bass. While many Bluetooth headphones are designed to push as much bass as possible, completely ignoring the sonic consequences of such a decision, Master & Dynamic tuned the MW60 to produce a good quantity of high-quality and resolving bass. Its bass extends fairly far, reaching down to the 50Hz range with ease. The MW60 was able to articulate all of In For The Kill’s sonorous and demanding bass line without flattening. It was also able to provide a punchy and dynamic experience when listening to War Pigs. Dubstep drops were sufficiently filthy with songs such as Gold Dust benefiting from the warm stance taken by the MW60’s midbass.
The MW60, according to Master & Dynamic, is built using only the finest materials available. When holding it in the hand, I have absolutely no reason to doubt that claim. The headphone is hefty and sturdy, offering literally zero flex along its metallic surfaces.
The MW60’s earcups are built out of several pieces. The topmost piece is an aluminum-forged cylinder on which the swivel mount is attached. The cylinder is then mounted onto the acoustic chamber which is coated with a hard leather-like material.
Around the circumference of each earcup runs a metallic silver band. It is cool to the touch and adds a lot of personality to the MW60’s appearance.
The earpads of the MW60 are removable. They are attached via a magnetic pin system. The magnets are appropriately strong and secure the earpads to the earcups very well. I have thus far had zero instances of the earpads falling off or detaching unexpectedly.
An often under-appreciated component of a good pair of headphones is its headband. The importance of the headband is quite hard to understate — it holds together the entire frame and is responsible for distributing the weight of the headphone comfortable across the user’s head. For a pair of headphones as weighty as the MW60, it is imperative that the headband to that well, and I have to say that it does so with style. The leather on the headband’s top side is stitched neatly and with competence. The cushioning on the bottom of the headband is cushy and comfortable.
The bottom of the MW60’s earcups reveals a micro-USB port and a 3.5mm jack. both ports are machined finely and have no wiggle. That said, I am disappointed that the MW60 is still using a micro-USB port. The MW50+, Master & Dynamics less expensive wireless headphone, features a USB-C port, so my guess is that the MW60 doesn’t have one simply due to it being released prior to USB-C’s relatively large adoption rate in 2019. That said, for a headphone at the MW60’s price range, I think that Master & Dynamic should release a refresh of the device, providing it with updated audio codecs and modern physical interfaces.
The MW60 is not exactly a light headphone, coming in at 345g. This means that after about an hour I have to reposition them to rest on a different part of my head, and that will give me another hour or two of comfortable listening. This may be less of an issue for listeners who have a larger head. The MW60’s earcups are very comfortable and my ears never suffered from discomfort, even after multiple hours of listening.
Inside the box you’ll find the following accessories:
- 1x Micro-USB to USB-A cable
- 1x 3.5mm to 3.5mm cable
- 1x Soft carrying case
- 1x Cable carrying case
- 1x Cable pouch
The MW60’s carrying case is pretty good. It is thick enough to protect the device from scraping against other object and should provide a non-negligible amount of relief in a dropping scenario. The zipper and cloth quality are high, leaving me with no concerns about the case’s longevity under normal usage scenarios.
Both of the cables that come with the MW60 are high-quality. They feature a silky braided sleeve over their coper internals, abundant stress relief, and metal end-caps. These are fine cables and, like the MW60’s carrying case, will last for a good long while under normal usage.
All in all, I am satisfied with the MW60’s offerings. While an extra set of earpads would have certainly put its accessory package over the top of its competitors, I don’t think its a totally necessary inclusion, especially when replacement pads are not particularly expensive.
I walked into this review expecting the MW60 to be all talk and no walk. But man, after a couple of weeks, actually, a couple of days, my perception of the brand and of the MW60 were forever altered. The MW60 is a very solid offering that provides top-notch build quality, luxurious looks, and dare I say, excellent Bluetooth-based audio performance. It’s clear to me that Master & Dynamic did not skimp out on any part of the MW60’s design (barring the exclusion of a USB-C port, but that’s likely due to the design’s age) and I whole-heartedly recommend the MW60 to anyone who wants to own a device that is equal parts art, equal parts audio, so long as you don’t mind using Micro-USB.
As always, happy listening!