Master & Dynamic are a brand synonymous with impeccable audio delivered through equally impeccable hardware. Everything about the new Master & Dynamic MW75 Active Noise-cancelling Wireless headphones screams that ethos loudly. You’d be extremely pressed to find a better looking, feeling and sounding set of Bluetooth headphones. Which is just as well since they cost an eye-watering $900(and currently aren’t retailing in Australia).
For context, that’s $100 more than Apples AirPods Max and a whopping $400 more than the fantastic Sony WH-1000XM5. While there is no doubt that the MW75 is arguably the best looking of the bunch, it’s unfortunately not the best at noise-cancelling. That said, if you love beautiful tech and have deep pockets, there’s really nothing quite like this latest entry from Master & Dynamic.
Master & Dynamic MW75 ANC Wireless Headphones Review
Let’s start with the design and build because that’s the thing that will get you the most stares and questions. The MW75 is simply stunning. It’s built from only the finest premium materials as you’d expect from Master & Dynamic. The ear cushions are really plush memory foam wrapped in luxuriously soft lambskin leather. The headband is dressed similarly and has polished aluminium hangars to hold the ear cups. Meanwhile, the ear cups have tempered glass faces and clicky, anodized aluminum buttons. Opulence is the word that comes to mind and I’ve never felt more posh with a piece of tech.
Sadly, despite the impeccable design and build, I can’t say that I actually enjoyed wearing them for long. I blame it on a combination of heavy clamping force and the oblong-shaped ear cushions that don’t cover my ears that quickly brought me discomfort especially on my left side. No amount of fiddling with swivelling, heigh-adjustable cups made a difference which was a huge disappointment to me. The Sony WH-1000XM4 which look positively boring next to the MW75, are far more comfortable to wear. Of course, we all have different head and ear sizes so your experience will be different, but I was pretty disappointed.
Good thing is that whenever I needed to take them off, the equally posh carrying case was ready to store them safely from wear and tear. It’s a hardcase with soft felt finish that feels wonderful but is possibly a nightmare to keep clean. The MW75 lay flat once inside and has a center console that neatly hides all the accessories and cables. These include a 3.5mm and USB-C charging cable plus some handy conversion adapters like a 3.5mm to 1/4” adapter, a Flight adapter and a USB-C to USB-A. The case is a bit chunky and will take quite a bit of room in your travel bag but it’s worth it to keep these beauty’s safe from accidental cracks and scuffs.
Now despite the glass panels on the ear cups, the MW75 surprisingly lacks touch controls. However, the few buttons that exist on the ear cups are delightfully tactile and easy to press. I especially love the power button on the right cup which needs just a single press instead of the tedious long press to power on or off the headphones. There’s also an ANC toggle button to cycle through the main modes. On the left is a multifunction button which is used for call management, controlling playback and activating voice assistants. This is flanked on either side by volume up and down buttons which are equally responsive. It’s also slightly raised above the volume buttons for easy recognition which I also appreciated.
The MW75 connect primarily via Bluetooth 5.1 and supports AAC, AptX Adaptive and SBC Bluetooth codecs. With ANC active, the headphones will last you about 28 hours and 32 hours with it off. That’s pretty average for ANC headphones although the latest iteration of Sennheiser’s Momentum 4 will go up to 60 hours. If the battery runs out, the headphones will charge to 50% in about 40minutes.
But if you don’t have the patience to wait for the headphone to charge up, you can actually continue listening to your media by connecting the USB-C cable to a compatible device which also gives you Hi-res 24-bit/ 96kHz audio. And thanks to a low impedance of 32Ohms, even your console controller has no problem driving the MW75 for some excellent game audio.
Master sound dynamics
The MW75 is one of the best sounding Bluetooth headphones money can buy. M&D has done some clever engineering here and the results are phenomenal. The ear cups are angled and fine-tuned for a wide soundstage that sounds incredibly lush and full bodied. The custom 40mm Beryllium coated drivers evenly distribute the sound with emphasis on warmer lows and richer highs. The bass response is fantastic and throbs your ears with delight but never, ever loses its clarity. It’s a fun sound profile that will get hip-hop lovers bobbing and classical fiends waving their hands like a conductor.
I listen primarily to instrumental type music with epic movie and game scores my preference. The new soundtrack from Lord of the Rings: Rings of Power by Bear McCreary who also penned the epic God of War soundtrack has been such a delight to listen to. Drums shake the drivers while violins and strings are crystal clear. The MW75 also deliver a warm, rich tone to voices in content like Podcasts and YouTube videos. And thanks to the USB-C and 3.5mm connectivity, the MW75 can become a surprisingly good gaming headset. The sound stage is wide with great stereo separation that makes it easy to position audio sources. I enjoyed playing some Ghost of Tsushima on PlayStation which has a beautifully rich soundscape.
There is some limited EQ customisation in the M&D App which is available on both iOS and Android. You can’t create your own but you’ll likely not need to given how wonderfully tuned the MW75 is right out the box. The app also allows you to update the firmware, change the ANC modes and more. It’s a good looking app that matches the design feel of the headphones.
Call quality on the MW75 was also really good with very rich tonality to callers voices. The MW75 uses 4 microphones to capture your voice and it does a very good job. My listeners never had a problem hearing me and didn’t complain about background noise.
Not so master Noise Cancellation
This is where the MW75 falter and bring into question their premium price. That’s not to say it’s bad but it certainly doesn’t come close to the offering from Sony WH-1000XM5. I was fortunate to finally get on a plane after several years of lockdowns and I got to test the MW75. While it does drown out the lower roar of the planes engines, there was still significant higher end whine coming through. I would say, it cancelled out about 60% of the plane noise where the Sony’s would do closer to 90%.
Also, walking the busy streets of Melbourne, I wasn’t shrouded in silence as much as the Sony’s. I could still clearly hear vehicles though more like I was indoors and they were outside. All this was while using the ANC in Max mode but you can also choose Adaptive which tunes itself to changing environments and All Day which aims to extend your battery life.
I should also point out that there is audible hiss whenever ANC was activated. It’s not noticeable when media is playing but stop playing anything and you’ll hear it loud and clear. Additionally, there’s these big gaps of two to three seconds when switching modes that can be quite jarring. There’s also an Ambient mode which lets you hear your surroundings rather than drown them out. This is essential for airports and train/ bus commutes where you want to hear important announcements. I wasn’t very impressed with this mode as I still struggled to hear announcements.
Some might call this nitpicking but at $900, such details become much larger concern considering that headphones half the price don’t have similar. I’ve gone through firmware updates and not had this resolved so perhaps its a deeper hardware issue. Either way, it’s not the premium experience I expected.
The Master & Dynamic MW75 is a truly wonderful set of Bluetooth headphones and undoubtedly one of the most gorgeous and well designed I’ve ever laid hands on. They also sound incredible across a range of media and if you so please, can be a pretty good gaming headset too. Call quality is excellent and battery life is good too. While I had some comfort issues, I don’t think that should scare anyone off.
But the real deal breaker for most (besides the price) is the lackluster active noise-cancellation. At $900, you expect the best of everything and unfortunately, the MW75 don’t have the best ANC. So, if noise-cancellation is your priority, forget these and look for something cheaper like the Sony WH-1000XM5 or Bose QC45.
However, the aesthetic nerd in me just can’t get over how gorgeous looking and sounding the MW75 is and if those two things matter more to you than best of the best ANC, by all means get them.