Master & Dynamic has been in existence for almost a decade now. In that time it has established itself as a purveyor of high-end electronics that incorporate high-end materials and command a high-end price. So in some ways it’s no surprise to find the MW75 headphones cost even more than Apple’s optimistically priced AirPods Max.
In other ways, though, we’re bound to ask what Master & Dynamic thinks it can bring to the wireless, over-ear, noise-cancelling party that the likes of Bose, Bowers & Wilkins, Sennheiser and Sony (to name just four) don’t – despite the fact their headphones cost hundreds of pounds less.
There’s only one way to find out…
Design and build: go big or go home
It would seem that bigger, at least as far as Master & Dynamic is concerned, is better. The MW75 are a substantial 161x198x84mm, which a) makes them even bigger than the beefy AirPods Max and b) means they’ll double the width of the average wearer’s head. Well, b) is probably not true in every case, but it definitely seems like it.
It’s just as well, then, that the MW75 look so good and are made from such tactile materials. Liberal use is made of aluminium (for the earcups, yokes and hinges), tempered glass (for the outside of the earcups, where it collects fingerprints like a scene-of-crime investigator) and memory foam covered with lambskin (for the earpads and headband – so long, vegetarians, it was nice knowing you). ‘Indulgent’ is not too strong a word to use here.
Build quality is unarguable – everything that’s supposed to move does so with well-damped precision, and everything that isn’t simply doesn’t. Although the MW75 are big headphones, at 338g they’re far from the heaviest around and it’s no difficulty to get comfortable inside them. Once they’re in situ they stay comfortable for a good while, and the generously filled earpads resist returning your ear-heat for longer than many alternative designs.
The MW75 don’t fold in on themselves, but they do fold flat – so once they’re in their (nicely finished) soft carry-case they don’t take up quite as much room as they otherwise would.
Features: everything, everywhere
The MW75 use Bluetooth 5.1 for wireless connectivity, with SBC, AAC and aptX Adaptive codec compatibility. Once digital audio information has been wirelessly streamed aboard, it’s delivered to your ears via a pair of 40mm beryllium full-range dynamic drivers. It’s worth noting that the MW75 can be wired to a source (M&D provides a USB C / 3.5mm cable as well as a USB-C / USB-C alternative), and if you choose to do so the MW75 can support files of up to 24bit/96kHz resolution.
Really, though, you buy wireless headphones to listen to them wirelessly, don’t you? Of course you do. And used this way the MW75 will last 32 hours between charges (this figure drops to more like 28 hours if you keep active noise-cancellation switched on) – which is strongly in the ‘good’ rather than ‘great’ category. Charging is via the USB-C socket on the bottom edge of the right earcup. Fast-charging ability means a 15-minute pit-stop results in six more hours of action, though, which we can all agree belongs in the ‘great’ column. The inclusion of an adapter that wirelessly connects the MW75 to in-flight entertainment systems is a very nice touch, too.
Four mics handle call-quality and another four take care of noise-cancellation. Safe to say that call quality is very good here – but as for ANC, we’ll save that for the ‘Performance’ section…
Master & Dynamic MW75 Interface: the positive touch
There are no capacitive touch-controls on the MW75. After all, the glass finish Master & Dynamic has chosen for the outside of the earcups is already keen to retain fingerprints…
Instead, there are a few physical controls spread over each side. On the left you’ll find a small button covering power and Bluetooth pairing, just below an identically sized button that scrolls through the noise-cancellation options you’ve specified in the M&D Connect smartphone app. Over on the right, volume up and down buttons are positioned either side of a multifunction button covering play/pause, track skip and summoning your phone’s voice assistant. They’re all sensibly spaced relative to each other, and user errors should be very few.
The control app itself is good-looking, stable and useful as far as it goes. The noise-cancelling options are good – choose between off, on and ambient, then select from sub-menus (on offers max, all day – basically sort of on, and adaptive. Ambient can be toggled between voice and awareness). There are four EQ presets: bass boost, bass cut, podcast and audiophile. Those first three are self-explanatory, while it turns out audiophiles like a sound that’s aggressively trebly and forward. Of all the EQ settings, I like off the best – and by a margin.
Master & Dynamic MW75 Performance: noise annoys
So with EQ presets left well alone and a TIDAL-derived stream of Tom Waits’ Jersey Girl playing, the MW75 don’t take long to establish their many strengths and very few weaknesses.
On the plus side, they’re an insightful, detailed and nicely focused listen. The soundstage is pleasantly large, open and very well organised, so recordings never trip over themselves or find themselves crowded. There’s more than enough space for each element of the song to express itself easily. The MW75 retain and deliver so much detail that every strand sounds full and complete.
Low frequencies are properly shaped, controlled well, and hit good and hard – so there’s weight and momentum to the sound. The midrange is similarly informative, with so much insight into the inimitable vocal it’s almost sounds painful. And at the top end, there’s ample bite and crunch, but – as long as you’re not tempted to fiddle with the EQ settings – it translates as ‘shine’ rather than as ‘hardness’.
The MW75 do a good job of knitting the frequency range together, keeping emphases even and not overstating any area. There’s a very pleasing unity to the way the song is delivered, and the well-behaved low end helps with naturalistic rhythmic expression. Dynamic headroom is very decent too, so significant distance can be put between the quietest and loudest occurrences of a recording. And the less obvious, but no less significant, harmonic dynamics get full expression too.
As far as audio performance goes, then, the news is almost entirely good. The only shortcoming of any note, in fact, is the minor-but-obvious ‘operational’ sound the headphones make once they’re turned on. There’s a tiny fizzing sound right at the bottom of the noise-floor that is easily overwhelmed by all but the quietest passages of music. It seems unlikely to spoil your listening pleasure, but it’s worth noting that the overwhelming majority of alternative wireless over-ear headphones, even at a fraction of this price, manage to avoid anything like this.
And the active noise-cancellation, too, is slightly compromised. Certainly it doesn’t impact on the overall sound of the MW75 (which is a good thing) but even at max it doesn’t deal with external sounds as decisively as it might (which isn’t). There’s a big reduction in the amount of ambient sound that intrudes, for sure, but midrange sounds in particular can breach the Master & Dynamic perimeter and become part of whatever it is you’re listening to. Any number of more affordable alternatives can do a more complete job for you.
Master & Dynamic MW75 verdict
In the final analysis the Master & Dynamic MW75 are a tricky one. If you like nice things, you want it to be apparent to onlookers that you don’t mind paying for nice things, and you want a pair of wireless noise-cancelling headphones that sound upfront and faithful, by all means check them out.
But a lack of noise-cancelling efficiency, along with a price tag that might provoke a double-take, doesn’t exactly make them a default choice.
All the style and plenty of the substance – but at a price
Balanced, detailed and expansive sound
Beautifully made from premium materials
Foolproof user interface
Not as complete a noise-cancelling experience as you’d hope
Noise-floor is not silent
Master & Dynamic MW75 technical specifications
|Drivers||40mm Beryllium dynamic|
|Active noise cancellation||Yes|
|Battery||32 hours (ANC off) / 28 hours (ANC ON)|
|Bluetooth version||Bluetooth 5.1|
|Codecs supported||AAC, SBC, aptX Adaptive|