LOOKS & STYLE
The Master & Dynamic MW50+ headphones are a truly unique product. Rarely will you find something that blends style, build quality, and performance quite like this. If you think you will use both the on ear and over ear cups, and can stomach the price, these are amazing headphones
Master & Dynamic MW50+From $399
There are almost too many options when it comes to Bluetooth headphones. Most offerings are relatively affordable ($50-$200) and they sound like it. You will generally find yourself choosing between style and sound quality. The Master & Dynamic MW50+ headphones look to give you the best of both worlds and then some.
The MW50+ are the first premium wireless headphones to offer both on-ear and over-ear cups in one package, but at $399 is that enough to justify their high price?
|DIMENSIONS||19cm x 15.5cm x 3.4cm (On-Ear)|
20cm x 16.5mm x 4mm (Over-Ear)
|MATERIALS||Cowhide Leather, Lambskin Leather|
Stainless Steel, Aluminum
|CABLES||1 x USB-C, 1 x 3.5mm|
|EAR PADS||2 x Lambskin Over Ear|
2 x Lambskin On Ear
|WIRELESS TECH||Bluetooth 4.1 w/ AptX|
If you have never heard of them, Master & Dynamic is New York based company that makes premium audio products. They put a huge emphasis on build quality, materials, and sound. The MW50+ may be one of the smallest headphones in their lineup, but they haven’t cut back when it comes to build quality.
With a steel/aluminum frame and soft supple leather everywhere you touch, the MW50+ look and feel like the premium headphones that they are. The headphones feel very solid and appear to be built to last. There is no creaking or squeaking like you may find when bending or wearing plastic body headphones.
Looks & Style
The MW50+ are one of the best looking headphones you can buy. The styling is what initially attracted me to them. The all black model I have for review is absolutely gorgeous. The only hint of color is the silver and black Master & Dynamic logo. If you are looking for something a little more bold, the MW50+ comes in silver/black and silver/tan as well.
There are two sets of ear cups included, both are made of soft lambskin leather and backed by memory foam. Each cup feels incredibly soft, I wish I had a pillow made of the same material. The smaller on-ear cups are noticeably more compliant which allows them to compress onto your ear while the more firm over-ear cups sit snuggly around it.
Fit & Comfort
I found the MW50+ to be extremely comfortable when in on-ear or over-ear mode. The on-ear cups compress down to the point that they are almost flat, which seems like it would be uncomfortable over long periods but isn’t. In this mode you may feel your ears getting a bit hot after a while though.
The more firm over-ear cups surround your ears entirely, creating a nice passive seal that does a good job keeping unwanted sound out and music in. I was able to wear these for an entire 8+ hour workday with no issue. The MW50+ do have a fairly firm clamping force, but I never found it to be uncomfortable or fatiguing.
While they look great around your neck or sitting on a desk, they don’t look quite as good your head. There is a pretty substantial gap between the band and your head. If you are looking for a pair that have a tighter look like the Marshall Monitor Bluetooth, these are probably not the model for you. This applies more for the on-ear cups. the over-ear cups are much smaller and make the overall package look significantly better in my opinion.
MW50+ Features & Setup
Master & Dynamic definitely put most of their attention into the build and audio quality as the MW50+ don’t have a ton of cutting edge features. These are a fairly basic set of cans. You won’t find noise canceling, multi device pairing, gesture controls, or smart phone apps. They also don’t collapse at all, and come with a padded soft case instead of a hard shell which may or may not matter to you.
On the bright side you do get 14+ hours of battery life, AptX for hi-res in sync wireless audio, and a USB-C port for charging and firmware updates. Like most models you can listen wirelessly or through the included 3.5mm braided cable.
The main feature and draw here is the inclusion of two sets of ear-cups. With a light tug you can remove each cup. There are two guide pegs on each ear that you line up with holes on the cups. Magnets hold everything together snuggly. I found the fit to be secure and have never had either cup type pop off unintentionally.
On the right ear-cup you will find 3 small black buttons which function as your controls along with the charging port. These buttons control the following.
- Volume Up, Volume Down
- Track Forward, Track Back
- Answer/End Call
On the left ear-cup you will find a toggle switch that controls power and headphone pairing. There is also a 3.5mm headphone jack in case you run out of juice or want to listen to a non wireless source. The lack of buttons helps maintain the classy look of the MW50+ in my opinion.
MW50+ Sound Quality
The MW50+ have best in class build quality, a gorgeous look but none of that matters if they don’t sound good. I broke down my impressions of the sound for both ear-cup types. It’s important to note that these headphones require a decent amount of break in time. Out of the box they didn’t sound all that great, but after 40 hours or so of break in they really opened up.
Over-Ear & On-Ear Sound Quality
When in over-ear mode the MW50+ sound superb. The headphones have some of the tightest bass I have heard in recent memory, with crystal clear vocals, and crisp highs. While the bass is tight and full, the MW50+ are not designed for bass heads.
Like a lot of high end audio equipment, these headphones sound their best with quality sources and hi-res tracks. I used Tidal Premium to stream high quality audio tracks, testing everything from Daft Punk to Beethoven. I was surprised that these headphones sound so good with a wide variety of music, offering audio quality that matches their high price tag.
As an on-ear model the sound quality takes a hit. While they still sound good, some of the clarity in the mid range and highs is lost. The MW50+ sound signature was clearly tuned for the over-ear cups (as they should have been). I would like to see Master & Dynamic come out with a donut shaped on-ear cup similar to the one found on their MW30 model, this would allow the sound to come through more clearly.
- Neutral, clean sound signature after break in
- Tight and punchy bass
- Clear and defined midrange
- Crisp Highs that capture detail
- Great with a variety of music
- May not have enough bass for bass heads
- Highs can be harsh at times with poorly recorded tracks
- Limited soundstage compared to larger on ear models
- Sound quality not as good when using on ear pads
Overall I really liked the Mw50+ headphones. They combine best in class looks with high end audio performance.
While the drop off in audio quality when using the on-ear cups is disappointing, it doesn’t ruin the experience. Personally when I want to put on a pair of on-ear cans I’m either on the go, casually listening, or in the office. I’m not typically having a session where I’m looking for maximum fidelity. So for me the tradeoffs are acceptable.
If you are looking for a dual purpose headphone, and don’t need noise canceling or any of the other missing modern features this is a solid option. Master & Dynamic has done a great job on the MW50+.
I hope that in the future they release an updated on ear, ear cup that allows more of the sound to shine through that would make these a can’t miss. An app that allowed you to tune the sound for each cup type like some other headphone manufacturers offer would work wonders as well.
Master & Dynamic MW50+From $399