Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Master & Dynamic MW09 review

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Master & Dynamic launched its latest product, the MW09, a few weeks ago, bringing about its third generation of wireless earbuds. As we might expect from the premium brand, its new model represent a harmonious blend of aesthetic appeal and acoustic performance.

These earbuds, like everything in the brand’s portfolio, are not just about delivering high-quality sound; they’re an emblem of luxury in the personal audio space. They’re equal parts boutique and elegance with an audio experience to match.

Having spent a few weeks with these as my main earbuds, I’m happy to offer up my impressions of the new earbuds.

Setup and Features

The initial setup is impressively user-friendly, catering to a broad spectrum of users. These earbuds offer a suite of features that enhance the listening experience, and it gets even better if you use the mobile app. Speaking of which, I love seeing the steady improvements there as things are starting to meet expectations.

Active noise cancellation effectively drowns out external noise, allowing for an immersive audio experience, while the ambient sound mode keeps you connected to your surroundings when needed. The touch controls are responsive and intuitive, offering a seamless interface to control your audio without reaching for your device.

Design and Comfort

Master & Dynamic offers the MW09 ($350) earbuds in a variety of chic styles. You can choose from classic black, gold, or silver, each paired with a sleek aluminum case. For those who fancy a bit more flair, there are also the eye-catching blue, green, or gunmetal options, each accompanied by a durable Kevlar case for an additional $50.

The earbuds maintain the iconic “D” shape and practical tactile controls of their predecessors, the MW08 and MW08 Sport. This design incorporates small, easy-to-use buttons located along the top edge of each earpiece.

When you receive your MW09s, you’ll find a generous selection of eartips to ensure a perfect fit: five pairs of silicone tips in sizes from XS to XL, and two pairs of foam tips in small and large.

The physical controls on the MW09 might feel a touch traditional compared to the capacitive touch buttons found on many of today’s earphones, but they’re straightforward and user-friendly. In fact, I prefer it, especially in the early days of using them because it’s much easier to know you’ve got your finger in the right place.

A rocker button on the left earpiece adjusts the volume, while a multifunction button on the right manages playback and voice assistant access. The volume rocker also controls the ambient and ANC modes, though the process can feel a bit slow and less intuitive than other models. One notable point is that the control layout is fixed, as there’s currently no option to customize it through an app. Perhaps the next update will see that included.

The earbuds feature a sleek, modern design, available in various finishes to suit individual tastes. They don’t just look good; they feel good too.

To be clear, they don’t feel quite as light or comfortable in the ear as the last generation, but that’s only by comparison. On their own, these present no issues but when you compare it to the MW08 you might discern it over long sessions. And this is more about them getting it right last time. To me it’s a “don’t fix what isn’t broken” and the tiny changes are perceptible.

Performance and Sound

Whether for podcasts, classical music, or contemporary beats, the MW09 adapts to deliver a top-tier audio experience. You’d expect for the money that the audio to be among the best in the space and it is.

The performance of the MW09 is where these earbuds truly shine. Master & Dynamic have fine-tuned the audio output to produce a sound that is both rich and precise. The highs are crisp without being piercing, and the lows are deep and satisfying without overpowering the mid-range. The active noise cancellation complements the audio quality by providing a focused listening environment.

The MW09 supports a comprehensive range of codecs, including AAC, AptX Adaptive, AptX Lossless, LC3, and SBC, showcasing its commitment to future-proof technology. It’s worth noting, though, that while the earbuds support the cutting-edge AptX Lossless codec, this feature isn’t yet widely available on many popular smartphones. The earbuds offer multipoint connectivity for pairing with up to two devices.

Diving into the technical prowess of the MW09, these earbuds are powered by 11mm beryllium drivers, delivering a sound range from 20Hz to 20kHz. They’re equipped with the latest Bluetooth 5.4 compatibility and leverage Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Sound platform. A standout feature is the support for Auracast, an innovative Bluetooth audio-sharing feature that broadens your listening possibilities, from syncing with public TVs in airports to enjoying personalized audio in theaters.

Elegant in any color (via Master & Dynamic)

Battery and Charging

Offering up to 16 hours of playtime and an impressive 32 hours with the charging case, these earbuds are designed for all-week use. The inclusion of fast charging means that even a short charging session can provide hours of listening, a convenient feature for busy users. Users can expect to go from zero to 50% in about 20 minutes with the rest of it taking about 40 additional minutes. Wireless charging is also present with it taking about 2.5 hours or so.

Value and Warranty

The MW09’s premium pricing reflects its high-end status. While they may be a significant investment, the combination of exceptional sound quality, robust build, and elegant design makes it a worthwhile purchase for those who value audio excellence. The warranty and customer support from Master & Dynamic add an extra layer of confidence in the purchase, ensuring that the earbuds are not only a luxurious choice but also a reliable one.

It’s hard to talk about price in a vacuum, but value is a different thing. Are they pricey? Sure. Are they more expensive than what most people want to spend? Yep, Are they more earbud than what a typical person needs? Again, yes.

On the other hand, when it comes to being worth the money, it’s also a yes. Even at $350 I get it. Rewind 6-8 years and you couldn’t convince me to spend that on an accessory. I can tell you though, that with proper care, these will far outlast the earbuds that come in half the price. And they sound a hell of a lot better. And they look great, too.

Conclusion

The Master & Dynamic MW09 earbuds are a triumphant combination of aesthetics, comfort, and sound quality. They look as stylish, feel as comfortable, and sound as incredible as you would expect from a high-caliber brand.

The companion app, improving with each generation, adds to the overall user experience, making these earbuds not just a purchase but an investment in quality audio. The extensive range of audio codecs they support is impressive, ensuring top-notch sound across various devices.

All these features come together to reinforce why Master & Dynamic remains my favorite audio brand – they consistently deliver products that are well worth the investment, and the MW09 earbuds are no exception to this legacy of excellence.

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