New York based audio company Master & Dynamic have always pushed the envelope in product design where styling and aesthetics are concerned. This coupled with their strive for audiophile sound has earned them acclaim from many a critic. It is not surprising then that their latest creation – the MW65 active noise-cancelling headphones have been eagerly anticipated in the world of personal audio.
Featuring their most ‘sophisticated technology’ yet, the MW65 headphones are also the company’s lightest over-ears set integrating custom 40mm beryllium drivers. Master & Dynamic have captured the same design language as their prior models as the MW65s still possess the signature house look with anodized aluminium and fine leather material for support.
At $499, the MW65 is $100 dearer than the former MW60 model and comes in three colours: silver metal/grey leather, silver metal/brown leather & gunmetal/black leather. As with the latter model, the MW65 features BlueTooth 4.2 supporting AptX and SBC codecs.
As with all Master & Dynamic products, the MW65 headphones arrive in a neat and classy insert which tie in to the premium feel of the brand. Inside, there is a hinged matted box where the MW65 headphones rest on a foam insert.
Also included is a canvas carrying pouch along with audio accessories: a USB type C to type C charging cable, 3.5mm to 3.5mm audio cable as well as a flight adapter/USB-A adapter.
The Design & Build
Cut from the same cloth as the predecessor models, the MW65 are constructed from premium grade materials with the headband made from cowhide and the ear-pads from lambskin covered memory foam.
The ear-cups have the same honeycomb matte metal design which goes well with the anodized metal design.
Master & Dynamic have done incredibly well to shave off the extra grams that made the original MW60s feel weighty.
Thus the end experience is much more comforting with no overhang or pressure from the contact points of the slim headband. The lambskin treated memory foam ear-pads also aid comfort levels allowing users to listen for hours on end.
Active noise cancelling (ANC)
The MW65s feature two settings for active noise cancelling – low & high. This is the company’s first stab at the implementation of this technology which according to them has been the result of vigorous research. While the market is not short of ANC models the main Achilles heel has always been its (detrimental) impact on the sound signature of the headphone. Master & Dynamic have attempted to correct this drawback with technology they claim should not compromise on signature acoustics.
While neither mode completely isolates the outside completely, the high setting does eliminate low-pitched continuous sounds such as city traffic, the whirring of the bus engine and tower fans. Meanwhile the lower setting does well to attenuate distant conversations, phone calls and door bells. It is incredible that the MW65 still retains their natural and house sound in all of these settings.
In comparison to the Bose Quietcomfort’s 35 II, the MW65 does less well in completely isolating all ambient noises but unlike the former retains much more of a quality sound. Thus, those wishing for complete isolation despite having an impact on the sound should look into the Quietcomfort’s.
The Master Dynamic MW65 does well in retaining their house sound which is natural with a warmer tilt.
Bass extends low with good depth and decay but it should be noted that those who crave basshead levels of rumble and authority should definitely look elsewhere. While possessing an agreeable tone, there is some roll-off in the very low frequencies. The overall tuning is linear with no significant elevation in either the mid or sub-bass territories.
This allows the midrange to be clear and rich with a nice laidback tone that is ideal for hours of refined listening. While detail levels are not the best, as expected from a wireless ANC headphone, the MW65 manages to push adequate bouts of micro-detail and resolution. It is nice to see that these headphones are both open and airy with good bouts of separation and a well-proportioned midrange in the overall soundstage.
Treble is sweet sounding with good levels of extension and airiness. There are no peaks or stridencies which would otherwise detract from the overall fatigue-free nature that these headphones demonstrate.
Wireless & controls
The Master & Dynamic MW65s feature 4.2 Bluetooth technology and is said to boast an impression 20 meter connection range. It is always impressive to listen long distances away from a source especially walking up and down stairs or whilst gardening. Access to the Bluetooth pairing buttons is convenient with a neat on/off and pairing toggle.
On the opposite earcup are the volume up and down keys along with a central button for play/pause and long press for Google’s virtual assistant. It is again nice to see that M & D have incorporated these tactile hardware buttons which have worked well in prior models such as the MW60 and even their latest wireless earphones: the MW07.
Battery life is quoted to be an impressive 24 hours, though my listening test did come out to a total of 21 hours (including a mixture of low and high active noise cancellation). There is also a much needed quick charge feature which clocks 12 hours of playback in just 15 minutes.
The MW65 headphones represent Master & Dynamic’s first foray into active noise cancelling technology with an all-familiar retro-inspired design. While the ANC mode does not completely isolate all ambient noise, the headphones do well to eliminate constant source background noise while preserving that same warm and natural house sound.
One improvement, however, could be clearer microphone voice quality on both low and high ANC settings as there is some crackling present. At $499, however, the MW65s represent a sizeable investment which in my opinion is justified given the use of premium materials, in-house features and extensive wireless capabilities.
- Drivers: 40mm Beryllium
- Rated Impedance: 32 Ω
- Weight: 245 grams
- Plug: 3.5mm Gold Plated
- Bluetooth: 4.2 with Aptx™ high quality audio & SBC
Master & Dynamic MW65 Headphones
Available from: Master & Dynamic