Master & Dynamic MW08 ANC True Wireless Earbuds Review: A Gear Diary Editor’s Choice

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The Lowdown

The Master & Dynamic MW08 ANC true wireless earbuds are comfortable; they get great battery life, have an excellent, redesigned battery case, and they have ANC and Transparency modes that really work. Plus, the MW08 sounds fantastic. If you are in the market for true wireless earbuds and don’t mind paying $299 for them, these are the ones to get. Trust me; you want to check these out.

Overall
4.5

Pros

  • Great design
  • More comfortable than ever
  • Better battery life than their predecessors
  • ANC and Ambient Listening Mode work well
  • Smaller and lighter but maintain the same iconic design
  • Redesigned battery case is better in every way
  • Have an accompanying app

Cons

  • Battery case is still heavy
  • Only four colors available initially
  • No wireless charging
  • Not always intuitive when putting the earbuds back in the case
  • I wish customers could mix and match earbuds and charging cases

Greg recently posted news about the new Master & Dynamic MW08 ANC true wireless earbuds.  I’ve been using a pair for the last two weeks, and I’m more than a bit impressed. In fact, I am happy to report that I have a new favorite pair of wireless earbuds. They are comfortable, offer excellent hybrid noise cancellation, and sound fantastic.

Master & Dynamic MW07 True Wireless Earbuds

This is Master & Dynamic’s fourth iteration of their true wireless earbuds. And it’s an amazing advancement. Before jumping in, let’s briefly run down the history of the company’s true wireless earbuds since these new MW08 ANC true wireless earphones are clearly the result of all they have learned over the past few years. At $299, they are an excellent investment in great sound.

Master & Dynamic MW08 ANC True Wireless Earbuds Review: A Gear Diary Editor's Choice

MW07/MW07 Plus, MW07 GO, MW08

The company’s first pair of true wireless earbuds were the MW07. They were something new. Rather than being a piece of plastic that played music, they were designed with serious aesthetics in mind.

Master & Dynamic MW08 ANC True Wireless Earbuds Review: A Gear Diary Editor's Choice

MW07/MW07 Plus, MW07 GO, MW08

The shell was made from acetate, and they looked amazing.

MW07/MW07 Plus case

And while other companies ship their TWE with a cheap, plastic battery case, the MW07 shipped with a large, heavy charging case made of polished metal. It looked amazing and added significantly to the battery life, but it picked up fingerprints and scratches like nobody’s business. No wonder they also include a cloth pouch for the battery case. Think about that for a moment. The battery case, the accessory that protected the earbuds… needed its own protection. That’s bizarre. Great-looking but bizarre.

On the audio front, the MW07 also exceeded my expectations, period. They sounded amazing and delivered an experience that far exceeded any of my other TWE.

They were terrific, but they weren’t perfect. The battery life was good but didn’t break any new ground. And the various sized, soft, rubber “wings” that keep the earbuds securely in place cause some discomfort after long listening sessions. That noted, at the time, I considered the MW07 to be the best TWE available.

Master & Dynamic MW08 ANC True Wireless Earbuds Review: A Gear Diary Editor's Choice

The MW07 Plus was a significant upgrade to the original MW07. They looked the same, but they had improved connectivity, improved battery life, and added active noise cancellation (ANC) into the mix. The earbuds and case’s design was almost the same, so they presented the same issues as the original MW07. But the addition of ANC quickly made them my new, favorite TWE.

Master & Dynamic MW08 ANC True Wireless Earbuds Review: A Gear Diary Editor's Choice

Master & Dynamic’s next TWE offered went in the opposite direction. The MS07 GO didn’t have ANC, but their smaller size and lighter weight made them ideal for listening to music when running, walking, or doing other activities. And they were more comfortable than either the MW07 or the MS07 Plus.

Master & Dynamic MW08 ANC True Wireless Earbuds Review: A Gear Diary Editor's Choice

MW07 GO right, compared to smudged MW07

The battery case was a significant improvement. Rather than the large, heavy, metal case that scratched easily, the GO shipped with a smaller, lighter case wrapped in fabric. And while it looked and felt far cheaper than the aforementioned silver case, the benefits far outweigh the negatives. The GO quickly became my top recommendation for a “sport” TWE. They still are.

Master & Dynamic MW08 ANC True Wireless Earbuds

All of this brings us to the new Master & Dynamic MW08 ANC true wireless earbuds. These earbuds make it clear that M&D has learned a great deal about TWE in the past years. The earbuds are better in every respect, and the battery case was also a huge upgrade.

Master & Dynamic MW08 ANC True Wireless Earbuds

Inside the box, you get the MW08 ANC true wireless earbuds, the battery case, additional ear tips, a USB-C charging cable, a USB-C to USB-A adapter, and a cloth pouch. You can click any photo to open a gallery.

 

Stainless Steel Charging Case: The slim case is designed to fit in your pocket and provides an additional 30 hours of charge for up to 42 hours of total playtime with your wireless earbuds.

Master & Dynamic MW08 ANC True Wireless Earbuds Review: A Gear Diary Editor's Choice

M&D’s previous battery cases all opened like a box. They were longer and wider than they were high and, due to the side of the one included with the MW07 and MW07 Plus, they were large and heavy when pocketed.

Master & Dynamic MW08 ANC True Wireless Earbuds Review: A Gear Diary Editor's Choice

As you can see, the new case, which comes in three finishes, reorientates the case. The black powder finish on my review sample doesn’t collect fingerprints quite as easily, is easier to open, and a bit less prone to scratches. (The company does still include the protective pouch for the protective case.)

Master & Dynamic MW08 ANC True Wireless Earbuds

It’s great, but it’s not perfect. It’s a small thing, but it often takes me a few attempts to figure out which earbud goes on which side and in what orientation. That’s especially true if I’m listening to the earbuds at night in bed. That is, of course, a first-world problem if ever there were one.

The MW08 ANC true wireless earbuds’ battery case measures 64mm by 47.1mm by 25mm and weighs 81g.

Master & Dynamic MW08 ANC True Wireless Earbuds

It charges via USB-C; there’s no wireless charging to be found with the MW08.

In just fifteen minutes, the Master & Dynamic MW08 ANC True Wireless Earbuds can have a 50% charge, and they can be fully charged in under an hour. That’s impressive. Equally impressive is the additional 30 hours of charge the case delivers.

Master & Dynamic MW08 ANC True Wireless Earbuds Review: A Gear Diary Editor's Choice

As you can see, the MW08 (right) is the same size as the MW07 Go.

The new MW08 ANC true wireless earbuds are a huge improvement. They are smaller and lighter than the MW07, coming closer in size to the GO.

Master & Dynamic MW08 ANC True Wireless Earbuds Review: A Gear Diary Editor's Choice

The MW08 (right) is even thinner than the MW07 GO.

The small size makes them more comfortable than ever, and the small size makes them great if you like to listen to music in bed.

Master & Dynamic MW08 ANC True Wireless Earbuds Review: A Gear Diary Editor's Choice

Rather than acetate, the company’s material of choice for their first three TWE, the MW08 ANC true wireless earbuds are made from ceramic.

Master & Dynamic MW08 ANC True Wireless Earbuds

It looks just as good but is lighter and more durable than acetate; the material change also allows the earbuds to be lighter.

Master & Dynamic MW08 ANC True Wireless Earbuds Review: A Gear Diary Editor's Choice

At the same time, while the MW07 Plus is available in a range of colors and designs, M&D has inked some incredible deals with companies, athletes, and artists to design exclusive earbud designs, the MW08 are only available in a few colors. These include:

 

I suspect that will change, and we will see a similar partnership bringing new colors and designs to the earbuds. I love the initial offerings but wish M&D let customers mix and match the MW08 ANC true wireless earbuds and charging cases at the time of checkout.

The most noticeable design change to the MW08 ANC true wireless earbuds is the loss of the “wings” found with all of M&D’s earlier offerings. The wings, which come in a few sizes, allowed users to find the right fit for their ears. They did the job but, as previously noted, caused ear fatigue over time.

Master & Dynamic MW08 ANC True Wireless Earbuds

I never loved the design and am happy to report that M&D has moved away from them, favoring, instead, a more traditional ear tip. They include a few different sizes but the ones in place when they shipped work well for me. The remarkable thing about the design change is that they are not only more comfortable, but they stay in place even better than the previous models.

 

The surface of the MW08 ANC true wireless earbuds looks great but has no functionality. M&D didn’t locate controls on the surface, which helps maintain their sleek appearance. And while they COULD have implemented touch controls on the surface, such a control design never works as well as advertised. The result is that the MW08 earbuds look fantastic.

Of course, users need to be able to control their music while the earbuds are in place. To accomplish this, M&D placed small buttons on the top of each earbud. TWE needs some controls, however, and there are physical buttons along the top of each earbud period.

Master & Dynamic MW08 ANC True Wireless Earbuds

On the right, there is a multifunction button that can play and pause music. On the left, there are volume up and volume down buttons. These buttons also control the hybrid ANC and Ambient Listening Mode. The buttons are small, but after just a day or two of using the MW08, it became quite intuitive. Well done, master and dynamic period.

Master & Dynamic MW08 ANC True Wireless Earbuds

As I mentioned, the MW08 ANC true wireless earbuds are incredibly comfortable. They have the stability that I’ve always wanted without the discomfort that usually accompanies that stability. Plus, you don’t need ear hooks or any other tricks to keep them in place. Once comfortably inserted, they simply stay where you put them. I mention that again because for the ANC and Ambient Listening Mode to work well, you need a good seal. The earbuds give you that.

Master & Dynamic MW08 ANC True Wireless Earbuds

The sound from these earbuds is amazing. But that has always been the case with M&W TWE. When I interviewed Jonathan Levine, the company CEO a few years ago, we spent a lot of time talking about how Master & Dynamic tune their products. When they were doing the initial development, Jonathan mentioned that they created a playlist of music of different genres. They weren’t satisfied until they had the earphones tuned so that everything sounded great regardless of the genre. And it worked. M&W’s TWE all sound amazing.

That same native tuning can be found right out of the box, but the MW08 ANC true wireless earbuds give you more control thanks to a new M&W Connect app. The app lets you control the ANC (All Day ANC, ANC Max or off aka high, low and off) and the degree of Ambient Listening (Awareness Mode, Voice Mode or off aka high, low or off).

I’ve always been impressed enough with the way M&D tunes their earbuds that I didn’t feel I was missing anything by not having an app, but I appreciate the added control you get with the combination of the MW08 and the app.

Master & Dynamic MW08 ANC True Wireless Earbuds

11mm Beryllium Drivers: The increased size of acoustic drivers provides a wider sound-stage and delivers a rich, warm sound that mimics the acoustics of a live performance.

Right out of the box, the MW08 ANC true wireless earbuds sound fantastic. That’s largely thanks to the 11mm beryllium drivers. But, as good as the MW08 are out of the box, they get even better when the ANC is active. Gone are the days when ANC created pressure inside your ear or pumped a quiet, but ever-present, buzzing. When on low or high, the ANC simply removes ambient sound and leaves you with silence… or at least something close to it. I have not been traveling, but I expect the ANC will do quite well on long flights.

And while I appreciate the ANC, the Ambient Listening mode is an even more important upgrade. The reason is simple. The MW08 creates an excellent seal in your ear. (The app has a feature to help you make sure the fit is right but is simply a series of questions rather than a feature that actually TESTS the seal.) The seal is great for listening to music or speaking on the phone, but it cuts you off from the world around you.

That’s fine when I’m at my desk or sitting in my reading chair but not as good when walking down the street or not pissing off your wife, who has been trying to get your attention got the last three minutes. (That’s not theoretical.)

The Ambient Listening Mode solves this by grabbing the ambient sound and feeding it to you. What’s more, the Ambient Listening Mode can be used with the ANC on or off. (I also love that you can use the ANC without music playing if you simply want to shut out the world and be left with your own thoughts.)

It all works incredibly well.

Other changes under the MW08 ANC true wireless earbuds’ hood add to the impressiveness of the MW08 ANC true wireless earbuds. They have Bluetooth 5.2 for a solid and secure wireless connection. I never had a connectivity issue with the earlier models, and I haven’t had any with these either. They also have aptX, AAC, and SBC, so your music sounds great.

For example, I listened to Tep Lo’s “Swear Like a Stranger” using a variety of true wireless earphones. With the MW08, I heard elements in the song that were entirely missed using other earphones. It is rather remarkable that a single pair of earphones that handle deep, thumping bass and not lose any of the mids in the process.

Master & Dynamic MW08 ANC True Wireless Earbuds

External aluminum antennas further help with the connectivity.

6-MICROPHONE Talk Solution: A proprietary wind-reduction microphone array means clearer calls in any environment – focus only on the sound you want.

Master & Dynamic MW08 ANC True Wireless Earbuds

There are six microphones built into the MW08 ANC true wireless earbuds, which also have a new wind-reducing talk solution. They sound great when I’m using them at my desk, but I would be remiss were I not to mention that, while walking my dog Nava yesterday, there was so much wind that I had to pick my iPhone up so the other person could hear me. In all fairness, however, the wind gusts were rather extreme at the time.

In addition, the MW08 has an IPX5 water resistance rating, so you don’t need to worry if you wear them when there is light rain.

Let me be a little more pointed than I usually am.

I have a pair of Apple Air Pods Pro. They sound fine, and the active noise cancellation works well. They are, by far, the easiest earbuds to use if you are part of the Apple ecosystem. But while they sound fine, they don’t sound amazing. The MW08 ANC true wireless earbuds do. And while they are made from cheap plastic, the MW08 are made from gorgeous, lightweight, scratch-resistant ceramic.

The AirPods come with a plastic battery case that works well, but… It is plastic. The MW08 ANC true wireless earbuds come with a beautiful stainless steel case. The only clear advantage the AirPods Pro has over these is the wireless charging built into their case. The MW08 doesn’t charge wirelessly. That’s a small bummer but not a reason to choose anything else.

Master & Dynamic MW08 ANC True Wireless Earbuds

I know this review may make me sound like a Master & Dynamic fanboy. I’m okay with that. When I don’t like a product, I say so. And when I love a product, I say so as well. If I want over-the-ear headphones, I grab my MW65s. And if I want TWE, I grab the MW08. So yeah, I’m an M&D fanboy… but only because they have earned it. And with the updates baked into the MW08 ANC true wireless earbuds, that hasn’t changed.

The Master & Dynamic MW08 ANC true wireless earbuds are comfortable; they get great battery life, have an excellent, redesigned battery case, and they have ANC and Transparency modes that really work. Plus, the MW08 sounds fantastic. If you are in the market for true wireless earbuds and don’t mind paying $299 for them, these are the ones to get. Trust me; you want to check these out.

The Master & Dynamic MW08 ANC True Wireless Earbuds retail for $299.00; they are available directly from the manufacturer.

Source: Manufacturer supplied review sample

What I Like: Great design; More comfortable than ever; Better battery life than their predecessors; ANC and Ambient Listening Mode work well; Smaller and lighter but maintain the same iconic design; Redesigned battery case is better in every way; Have an accompanying app

What Needs Improvement: Battery case is still heavy; Only four colors available initially; No wireless charging; Not always intuitive when putting the earbuds back in the case; I wish customers could mix and match earbuds and charging cases

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About the Author

Dan Cohen
Having a father who was heavily involved in early laser and fiber-optical research, Dan grew up surrounded by technology and gadgets. Dan’s father brought home one of the very first video games when he was young and Dan remembers seeing a “pre-release” touchtone phone. (When he asked his father what the “#” and “*” buttons were his dad said, “Some day, far in the future, we’ll have some use for them.”) Technology seemed to be in Dan’s blood but at some point he took a different path and ended up in the clergy. His passion for technology and gadgets never left him. Dan is married to Raina Goldberg who is also an avid user of Apple products. They live in New Jersey with their golden doodle Nava.