Active Noise-Cancelling Over-Ear Bluetooth Headphones
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 new flagship headphone, the MW65 — the best Master & Dynamic has to offer. Does it live up to the family name? Well, let’s find out.
You can find the MW65 direct from the company for $499.
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 MW65 was tested in the following configurations:
- LG V40-> earphones
- Hidizs AP100 3.5mm out -> FiiO A5 3.5mm out -> earphones
- HiFiMAN SuperMini -> earphones
All music was served as MP3 @320Kbps or as FLAC.
- Bluetooth: 4.2 w/ APTx / SBC
- Drivers: 40mm Beryllium
- Impedence: 32 Ohms
- Mass: 245g
The MW65 evokes a balanced V-shaped sound signature that has an extended upper register and weighty lower register. Its midrange is well-toned and is not recessed too far back behind the bass and treble.
As is M&D’s usual methodology, the MW65 has a clear and extended treble that doesn’t overwhelm or dominate the sound signature as a whole. It exists in front of the midrange, closely tied to the upper midrange’s peaks near 1–2KHz. I can hear zero distortion in the treble of this device, which is a surprisingly common flaw found in Bluetooth headphones.
As far as a holistic evaluation of the treble goes, its pretty much all good news. I was able to clearly make out the breathing of the vocalist of In One Ear. I was further able to make out individual high-hats with above-average clarity and separation. The electronic synths of Midnight City were nicely staged, as were the background effects of Little One, the latter of which showcased the MW65’s impressive capacity to induce an airy, spacious sound.
Treble tone is fairly neutral as M&D took care to not over-blow the upper register into a bright mess. Further, the MW65 shows no signs of succumbing to sibilance, as songs such as Satisfy (that can sound uncomfortably sharp) were played back with ease.
The MW65’s midrange expression is thorough and precise. The drivers that M&D went with on this device are quick and responsive. As such there is a good deal of instrumental separation within the midrange — not to mention an impressive display of texture, so far as Bluetooth goes.
Master & Dynamic’s flagship headphone shows itself to be a jack of all trades, staging both the dry mastering of Flagpole Sitta and the wet mastering of Jacked Up equally well. From the electric crunch of Harvey Danger’s guitars to the layering of Weezer’s pianos, the MW65 managed to capture both texture and tone with a commendable level of precision.
I found that the MW65 slightly favors male vocals, by virtue of its V-shaped sound signature. That said, the favoritism is mild, with female signers not suffering nearly as much as they would in much warmer sound signatures.
The lower register of the MW65 is full and boisterous. There is both a satisfying quantity of bass and an impressive quality of it. Impact and rumble are both present. The drops of Gold Dust were downright filthy and called for me to turn my volume up from ‘irresponsible’ to ‘permanent damage’ levels. In For The Kill’s sonorous bassline was rendered with an precision, barely flattening out at the lowest frequencies. War Pigs’ quick and impactful bursts of bass were treated well too — never once did I find them to blur, smudge, or otherwise bleed into the rest of the sound.
Packaging / Unboxing
The bottom side of the device reveals a USB-C port as well as a 3.5mm port. The microphones are also visible. There are three buttons, a pause, volume up, and volume down button. The controls are compatible with both Android and iOS, with most functionality available on Windows. There is also an ANC button that allows the user to toggle between high-power ANC, low-power ANC, and no ANC. Both versions are perfectly usable, and the ability to choose the strength of the ANC being applied is very useful when trying to preserve the battery life of the device.
The front face of the headphones has a permeated metal grid. Some enthusiasts may be wondering if this design cue implies that the MW65 is open-backed: fear not, isn’t.
While the MW60 did have the capacity to fold down and save space, the MW65 curiously does not have this ability. This is doubly strange when you consider that the MW65 costs more. I think that this is in order to bring the total weight of the MW65 down (the MW60 is very heavy). Still though, I’d be happy to bring the weight up to get the folding mechanisms back.
The underside of the headband has an imprinted M&D logo. Its very well defined and won’t “fade away” over time. The stitching is clean as usual.
The earpads are plush and solidly assembled. They’re solidly affixed to the frame, which is something that was a concern on very well-used pairs of the MW60.
The MW65 is very comfortable. It has an above-average clamping strength (on my above-averagely-sized head) and its light weight allows it to sit comfortably for a very long time.
Inside the box you’ll find:
- 1x Carrying bag
- 1x USB-A to USB-C adapter
- 1x Airline adapter
- 1x 3.5mm cable
- 1x USB-C to USB-C weapon
As is the usual shtick with M&D, the MW65’s accessories are very high quality. The carrying case has a nice zippered pouch to store the accessories, and the cables are nicely built. The USB-A to USB-C adapter works very well with my devices, but notably does not pass through fast-charging, so be sure not to use it for any high-amperage devices.
The MW65 is another impressive addition to the Master & Dynamic lineup. It does a great job bridging the divide between audiophile and mainstream devices, something few Bluetooth devices manage to achieve. Its ergonomics have improved greatly over its predecessor. Its build is as premium as can be. But most importantly, the MW65 is a plain fun headphone to use. It’s ANC “just works”. Its bass drags you into your songs while its midrange and treble keep you back coming for more. While I am still skeptical about most Bluetooth devices, the MW65 has made me warm up a little more to the technology. If you get a chance to listen to this headphone, I strongly recommend that you do. You won’t be disappointed.
As always, happy listening!