As the 3.5mm headphone jack slowly descends into the freezing cold waters of the past, our audio options for most high-end Android phones are limited to three. We can use and subsequently lose the adapter, get some USB-C headphones, or we can ditch the wires altogether. Bluetooth earbuds inelegantly attached to one another by a wire just won’t do any longer; true wireless earbuds are where it's at right now.
Apple’s AirPods have acted as a blueprint for other manufacturers, but none has yet perfected the form and function of this fledgling product category. It’s now Master & Dynamic’s turn to try. The MW07 is the first of its kind by the New York audiophile brand, with a promise of high-end design and build quality along with stellar sound, all for the substantial outlay of $300 (minus a dollar). Can any pair of true wireless earbuds be worth so much money? That’s the question I had at the back of my mind while I put them through their paces.
|Sound||Unrivalled audio quality with tremendously beefy bass.|
|Connectivity and sync||No issues with dropouts and practically no latency when watching videos.|
|Style||Probably not everyone's cup of tea, but they're far more fashionable than many of their competitors.|
|Case||USB Type-C for charging, and it's super fast — up to 40% in just 15 mins.|
|Battery life||I managed just under 3.5 hours with a mixture of music, calls, and podcasts, which isn't up there with the best.|
|Price||There's no getting away from it — $300 is an awful lot to spend on a pair of earbuds, no matter how good they are.|
Design, hardware, what’s in the box
Removing any doubt that this is a premium product, the case has an incredibly shiny stainless steel finish. It’s more than a little ostentatious, but it's small enough to easily fit into most pockets and is sufficiently sturdy. To my surprise, an additional fabric case is also included to keep the metal one from picking up scratches — it has to be said that if you need to store a case inside another case, then maybe that first case is not made out of the right material. The lid snaps shut with a satisfying magnetic click and three lights on the outside indicate battery level of both buds and case with traffic light colors indicators. A USB Type-C port is used for charging, with a C-to-C cable and A-to-C adapter included in the box.
The buds themselves also look reassuringly expensive, which is to be expected when dropping $300. I'm not a huge fan of this camo colorway (Grey Terrazzo) — it's the worst of the four available options; tortoiseshell is the one to go for — but the retro stylings are pretty refreshing compared to other less interesting competitors. Some might prefer a less obtrusive aesthetic, but if you’re looking to make a fashion statement, these will certainly stand out.
While the MW07 earbuds are on the chunky side, the acetate and steel construction makes them light enough to be worn for long periods without discomfort. Unfortunately, no foam tips are provided, but I was able to get a good seal from one of the five included sets of silicone tips. There are also rubber wings in two sizes to help keep them securely in place, and although they do a fine job for walking around the city, I’m not sure I’d want to take them on a run. In spite of their splash-proof IPX4 rating, you don't want your $300 earbuds to fall out and land in a muddy puddle.
Touch controls are the prevailing choice among rivals manufacturers these days, but the MW07 instead features physical buttons. The right bud has just one, used to play or pause with a single press, skip forward with a double tap, skip backward with a triple tap, and a long press summons the Google Assistant. The left bud has only an up/down volume rocker. I find touch controls to be a little bothersome, particularly as you're reaching to touch something you can't see. Physical buttons make more sense as you can feel for them before pressing, and so the M&D implementation is actually preferable to me.
Should you buy them?
Absolutely, if money is no object. As far as the most important metric of all is concerned, the MW07 earbuds sound pretty damn good. Powerful bass is the most notable improvement over other competing products I’ve tried, and the 10mm beryllium drivers also offer well-defined mids and highs for a balanced, warm overall sound profile. Bass-driven electronic music sounds especially good on the MW07, and there’s very little distortion even at high volume.
There’s a distinct simplicity to these earbuds, with no noise cancellation and no corresponding app for different profiles or extra settings. Since the isolation is pretty good anyway, that isn't a problem. You could argue that for $300 we should be getting Bluetooth 5.0, but even with 4.2 I didn’t encounter any connectivity issues. Near Field Magnetic Induction (NFMI) is used for the connection between the buds (just like the Earin M–2), and this makes for flawless syncing, even when watching videos. Call quality is passable but not amazing — as with most true wireless earbuds — but wear detection is practically infallible, pausing playback as soon as I remove one of the buds.
One of the most important characteristics of a product such as this is battery life, and even though I didn’t quite hit the advertised 3.5 hours, it wasn’t far off. That’s not best in class, by any means, but you can do a lot worse. That the case uses USB-C for charging is a huge plus, even though we might feel entitled to it in 2018. It adds around 3 more full charges and can take the earbuds up to 40% in just 15 mins.
Cases from left to right: Jabra Elite Sport, M&D MW07, and Earin M–2.
So there’s really very little not to like about the Master & Dynamic MW07. They sound superb, as good as any rival set I've used, and they tick just about every feature box for the category. The style won’t be for everyone, but they’re one of the more interesting-looking products on the market. If there’s one sticking point for most potential buyers, it’s going to be the price. If you can comfortably afford to buy them, you won’t be disappointed, but if you’re looking for the best value proposition, you’ll have to go elsewhere.
- you don’t mind spending $300.
- you’re looking for a premium product with fantastic sound.
- you want to make a fashion statement.
Don’t buy if:
- you're in need of better than average battery life.
- you can't, or don't want to, drop $300 on a pair of earbuds.
Where to buy
From Master & Dynamic directly: