The MW50 Wireless On-Ear Headphones by Master & Dynamic: Have They Mastered The Headphone?

It’s no surprise that Jonathan Levine and the guys over there at Master & Dynamic put out products that are not only original in every facet, but their knack for build quality is getting them notified more and more with every model of audio product they put out.

And to no one’s surprise, a lot is the same with their MW50 Wireless Bluetooth headphones. The company sent us over a model to check out, and the one question we had was: Have They Mastered the headphone?

At $449, the MW50 Wireless on-ear headphones by Master & Dynamic are skillfully crafted with the user’s comfort and portability in mind, but first, let’s get into the specs of the MW50’s themselves so you can get an idea of what’s you can look forward to:

Dimensions: 190mm x 175mm x 60mm
Drivers: 40mm Beryllium Diaphragm
Impedance: 32 ohms
Weight: 240g
Materials: Premium grain cowhide leather, lambskin leather, stainless steel, aluminum
Cable: Detachable 1.25m standard cable, USB-C charging/ updating cord
Headphone Connection: 3.5mm Passive Audio input/ USB-C? charging/firmware update input
Ear Coupling: Supra-aural on-ear
Microphone Type: Dual omnidirectional microphone array
Machined Aluminum Antenna
Ear Pads: Detachable lambskin memory foam
Bluetooth Profile: Bluetooth 4.1 with aptX™ high-quality audio

Inside of the box, you obviously get the MW50’s, which at first sight look absolutely phenomenal. Available in black or Brown, I had the luxury of looking at both models. While I’ll admit I’m more of a fan of the Brown, I opted to go more with the Black on this review just to show off how elegant it can truly look.

Also included in the box you’ll get Master & Dynamic’s signature canvas pouch that once you fold the MW50’s up fit snugly inside of it. Most types I’d prefer a hard case, especially for headphones made of aluminum, however, there’s something about the pouch and the way it snaps at the leather tip that just calls to me.

If you are fan of corded connectivity, the company gives you a 1.25 meter standard 3.5mm headphone cable you can use when you opt out of using the Bluetooth functionality. You’ll find the 3.5mm cable, as well as the USB-C, yes, you heard me… USB-C charging cable including in the leather cable box that comes with it. While a lot of people may think USB-C is a ways away, and not indicative of what is necessary right now, as someone with a MacBook Pro 2016 edition, I’m seeing more and more products going the ways of USB-C, and the fact that Master & dynamic is a bit forward thinking, especially coming from their other headphones using normal USB to charge, it seems as if the company is readying themselves for a prosperous future, especially for the products they may have in store for the remainder of 2017 going forward.

When you put the MW50 Wireless on, the first thing you’ll notice is the cold aluminum, but more importantly, the cowhide leather as it sits wrapped around your head and on your ears.

Compared to the over ear MW60’s, the MW50 on-ears feel a bit more at home on my head compared to the more oval-shaped MW60’s. I’ve been a fan of compact listening for the past year or so, and while my love for over-ear will never change, being able to listen on the train, plane, or even at my desk with the MW50 is great as I can hear my audio as I normally would, all while still being fully aware of my surroundings.

If there was anything I would change about the ear cups is if they were a bit open like the MW60’s while being on-ear instead of the fully covered while on your ear. Not saying that the quality has gone down at all because honestly, I re-watched an entire second season of the Leftovers using my iPad Pro and the MW50’s while binging on a slow work week and the sound quality was on par, if not better than the MW60’s. That could be because of the Bluetooth 4.1 with AptX audio, of course, but even when wired, I got even better quality from my listening, and even viewing experience. It’s worth mentioning that the ear cups are memory foam as well which maximizes on comfort.

Master & Dynamic’s headphones all have similarities in terms of build quality. They keep it pretty simple with their stainless steel and aluminum look, with one ear cup hosting the power on and off switch, while the other handles the volume controls. They MW50’s feature dual microphones as well, so phone calls are a breeze with these as well. On any other headphones I’ve used, I’ve always had some sort of distortion when responding to callers, except obviously when corded. The MW50’s are the first where I didn’t have to adjust one ear in order to hear the person on the other end.

The MW50’s by Master & Dynamic also feature rotating Hinges that fold completely flat when not in use, which is perfect for packing up and tossing in a bag, or even if they are on a headphone stand they won’t tend to slide around.

The headphones themselves feature 40mm Beryllium high-performance drivers that allow for the best audio as well. Earlier I spoke about watching films, but when it comes to listening to podcasts, or music, regardless if it’s Apple Music or Spotify, I felt as if I was in a room all by myself listening. For example, listening to “Keep You In Mind” by Guordan Banks, not only were the artist’s vocals crystal clear over the bassy track. For such a melodic track, you could hear every chord crystal clear even at a mid-range volume.

I have to say, the MW50’s have become a mainstay at my home desk, especially when typing up articles (I’m even using them now, I promise). I’m impressed by the build quality, and even though they are a high asking price of $449, there’s not many other headphones in this price range I can say are as stylish, give you an experience like the MW50’s. Master & Dynamic knows me as a huge fan of their brand, and a lot is the same with their latest wireless headphones. The addition of USB-C was quite shocking, in a good way though, and forward thinking so as someone who’s attempting to adopt USB-C more with each new product he receives, this is a big deal. I would like to see more colors, like the blue colorway that the MW60’s had, or even a special edition all black. They would easily be my daily headphones.

So going back to my original statement: Have Master & Dynamic mastered the headphone? In some cases, yes. Audiophiles may see the price and instantly attempt to present pricier options as a means of saying they are significantly better. I’ve listened to many headphones, from Bose, to Beats, Master & Dynamic, Audeeze and more, and while price point can be a determining factor for some, some people just want to keep it simple: Headphones that isolate outside noise when they want, and give you a great listening experience while at it. Master & Dynamic does this quite well, although I would like a bit more noise isolation from a roughly $450 pair of headphones. The memory foam is fantastic for extended periods of listening, and although the signature grills on the ear cups are just for aesthetics, I would love to see the company make an open-back pair of the MW50’s, but maybe that’s looking a bit too forward into the future.

If you would like more information on the MW50’s by Master & Dynamic, head over to their site by clicking here.

Source: Manufacturer supplied review unit

What I Like: Audio quality is excellent; aluminum build is sturdy and will hold up well; Leather is a huge bonus but not necessary for everyone; USB-C

What Needs Improvement: More colors; True noise isolation


About the Author

Greg Alston
Diehard Apple fanboy, and lover of all things tech. Born and raised in Washington, DC, Greg enjoys spending time with his girlfriend, family and friends, live sporting events, good bourbon, Tetris, and pizza. In that order.