Master & Dynamic is one part fashion brand, one part headphones manufacturer. It’s a company that usually champions the premium over the practical, however its latest pair of headphones tries to deliver both. The new Master & Dynamic MW65 over-ear cans have active noise canceling, up to 24 hours of battery life with USB-C fast charging, and a weight of just 250g / 8.8oz. That’s a sliver lighter than Sony’s 1000X M3s, and it’s doubly impressive since M&D is doing it while using substantial chunks of metal and leather instead of Sony’s more pragmatic all-plastic construction. Alas, the MW65s also cost an impressive $499, far higher than Sony’s sensible $349.
I’ve had a pair of pre-production MW65s in for testing the past couple of weeks, and while I can’t speak to the quality of their build yet, they were representative of the weight and sonic performance of the final device. The first big deal is that these headphones actually fit me. Earlier M&D flagship over-ear models like the MH40s were always a little too small for my large head, but the MW65s have room to spare. I’m no longer maxing out their headband extension just to get them on. Moreover, their reduction in weight has made them extremely comfortable and easy to wear.
The noise canceling that M&D has developed for these headphones can’t compete with that of Sony or Bose’s flagship NC headphones, though it’s decent enough to be valuable. The advantage of the MW65s is that they sound better, more natural than Sony’s 1000Xs. Both pairs are very comfortable, but Sony’s embodies a philosophy of “kill noise at any cost” while Master & Dynamic’s is a “let’s help music sound its best by quieting external noise.”
One thing that disappointed me about the MW65s was the latency in their wireless performance. I took a call with these headphones connected to my MacBook Pro, and there was a detectable lag between the things I said and the reaction from the other side. This undermines the central reason for why you’d want a pair like the MW65s: they’re versatile, portable, and can be more or less your only pair of headphones. But in our time a pair of wireless, practical headphones must also give you a great microphone and call experience, and I just didn’t get that from these cans.
The Master & Dynamic MW65s are available to buy now for $499 / €499 / £449 in a choice of brown leather with silver metal or black with gunmetal.