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Master & Dynamic MW08 Review – Gleam

Pros –

Class-leading build quality, Class-leading battery life, Improved comfort and case design, Rich yet controlled sound, Wide soundstage, Effective ANC, App integration, Good Call Quality

Cons –

Fit stability for workouts, No sound customisability in M&D app, Warm and bassy sound sacrifices some separation

Verdict –

The technical performance of its sound and the refinement of its all around feature set feel akin to industry leaders while its luxury elevates the package intro truly prestigious territory.

Introduction –

New York-based Master & Dynamic hit it out of the park with their industrial designs which have cemented them as a main player in the portable headphone market. While their IEM designs flew under the radar for many, their TWS offerings have been very well received, often being early adopters of the latest codecs and standards of each generation. The MW08 continues this legacy, building atop the lauded MW07 PLUS before it and is, to me, one of the most exciting TWS releases of late. It features a complete overhaul inside and out with a new case and updated stainless steel and ceramic earphone housings. The body design is now more compact and ergonomic with a more sculpted and rounded profile. Spec bumps all around and the addition of a new M&D app all promise a much stronger experience throughout.

The MW08 supersedes the MW07 PLUS as the company’s flagship TWS earphone coming in at $299 USD. You can read all about the MW08 and treat yourself to a unit here.

Disclaimer –

I would like to thank Heather from Master & Dynamic very much for her quick communication and for providing me with the MW08 for the purpose of review. All words are my own and there is no monetary incentive for a positive review. Despite receiving the earphones free of cost, I will attempt to be as objective as possible in my evaluation.

Contents –

Behind the Design –

Updated Design

The MW08 implements ceramic faceplates with a super smooth oleophobic coating. M&D tout that this is a luxury time-piece grade material with high scratch resistance. The faceplates are enveloped within a stainless-steel rail that provides a much higher quality look and feel than the acetate of the MW07 line-up. An external aluminium antenna works in tandem with the updated BT5.2 codec to deliver stronger range than before despite the denser BOM.

3-Mic System

ANC was a highly touted feature of this earphone given than each earpiece contains a whopping 3 microphones. In turn, compared to the MW07 PLUS that only featured feedforward ANC, the MW08 adopts the more sophisticated feedforward + feedback hybrid ANC of their over-ear MW65 with the addition of a third dedicated wind-rejection mic. The third mic also works to reduce ambient noise during phone calls and permits a more authentic transparency mode on top.

Updated Specs

In addition to the revised hardware, the MW08 performs better around the board. As before, the MW08 implements a Beryllium dynamic driver whose high-rigidity and lightweight contributes to a quick transient response and excellent end to end extension. It now has a larger 11mm diameter and the company promises it delivers a richer sound than before. A new case assumes a more one-hand operable vertical design and battery life has been enhanced to 12hours (10 with ANC) of runtime augmented by 30hrs from the case.

Unboxing –

M&D always provide a lavish unboxing experience and the MW08 continues suit. Sliding off the outer cover reveals a card box. The case and earphones lie at the bottom, protected with a plastic cover. Above are labelled compartments containing a fabric pouch to protect the stainless-steel charging case, Type-C cable, USB-A Adaptor and selection of ear tips. Only silicone ear tips are provided though in a generous 5 sizes. They have an updated design with softer silicone and a firmer sound tube. They appear to also have a horn design to enhance high-frequency reproduction. Of note, the MW08 now has an oval nozzle, it still fits 3rd party tips, but I found them to work best with the firm stemmed OEM tips. It’s a very nice selection of accessories that create the impression of a premium product from first impression.

Design –

The MW08 represents an evolution of the MW07 formula and, in some senses, a shift to greater focus on daily usability over pure versatility. This is not a bad thing as the MW08 feels substantially more premium and achieves a less fiddly, more comfortable fit in the ear. This is apparent as soon as you interface with the new stainless-steel rails running their perimeter. In addition to the polished ceramic faceplates, the earpieces offer a superlative sense of density and quality. The MW08 carries the same IPX5 water resistance rating as its predecessor and new design elements such as the wind-rejection mic are apparent on the outer face too.

Unfortunately, this experience is somewhat mired by the plastic inner housing that has obvious and palpable seams running across its surface. The finish on the plastic inner portion is uncharacteristic of M&D, excusable on the former designs only as it was covered by silicone. I would consider this to be acceptable given that this portion of the earphone isn’t felt or seen by the user during normal use, serves to reduce weight and doesn’t affect comfort. As before, the earphones have physical controls with good feedback. Positioned on the top of the earphones, the user is able to pinch the controls which doesn’t upset the fit as tap controls or faceplate mounted buttons can. They have been slightly enlarged from the MW07 earphones which aids convenience. Despite the finish on the plastic portion, the MW08 still looks and feels like a very premium product, leagues above its competitors.

Fit & Comfort –

The MW08 represents the first complete redesign of the MW formula and with that comes a noticeably different wearing experience. No longer is the D-shaped housing stabilised by a finned silicone shell, the plastic housing is shapelier, and fins have been omitted entirely. Subtle protrusion of the rear and bottom of the housing seat comfortably in the folds of the outer ear, redeeming some stability despite the absence of fins. The faceplates are also slightly more compact, and the nozzle is more sculpted and elongated to better support the weight of the housings.

In turn, the MW08 offers a slightly deeper fit but still sits relatively shallow in the wearer’s ear. This contributes to a comfortable fit reminiscent of other TWS options like the Airpods Pro who don’t have to rely as much on seal for isolation due to the implementation of ANC. The MW08 provides a similar experience with minimal wearing pressure. By removing the fins, the earphones also place less pressure on the outer ear, enabling almost perfect long-term comfort with zero hotspot formation. However, as a result, they are no longer as stable in the ear, especially when taking their heavy faceplates into account. This means the MW08 is not as suitable for workouts as its predecessor.

While I was able to run with the earphones in, I found myself readjusting them several times during my usually 6 kilometre track, and found them to jostle loose during bench-based exercises too – issues I didn’t experience with the MW07 earphones. If you’re looking for a workout bud, the more compact, water resistant and stable-fitting MW07 GO is a safer pick. However, the MW08 is noticeably more comfortable during daily use than these models and less fiddly to insert and remove from the ear too. In pursuing a streamlined user experience, M&D have sacrificed a little versatility though with their extended line-up cater towards all needs.

Of note, you can tip roll to improve the experience here. However, as the earphones have short, oval nozzles, not all tips work ideally. I found Spinfit CP360’s to provide a good experience and Sedna Fit Short tips were a great match too. However, I found the ANC most effective on the stock tips which simply feel best made for the nozzle design. Memory foam tips can be used to aid stability, though are not ideal for workouts due to their porous nature and are not included in the box.

New Case –

The MW07 Plus made subtle refinements of the MW07 case and the MW08 continues this trend. The new case assumes similar dimensions but is markedly heavier, appreciably slimmer and has an upright orientation. This makes it far easier to operate with a single hand and it is slightly more pocketable than before too. One huge upgrade is that the earphones now sit higher out of the case and are angled forwards to make them easier to remove and place. As before, the magnets in the dock are strong, reliably seating, charging and power cycling the earphones – I also never felt they would accidentally drop from the case as with some competitors. The action of the case too satisfies with a strong spring and reverse magnet though could be smoother to nit-pick.

Otherwise, the experience is much the same. The stainless-steel finish is beautiful, it scratches over time but can be polished easily to retain shine and conscientious users can use the included fabric pouch for caution. The new cases also have various finishes based upon the colour of earphone you purchase – in blue, it has a black chrome finish that looks sensationally dapper in person. The 3-LED power indicators remain on the front side while the Type-C charging port has been relocated to the side. As before, the metal construction means wireless charging is not supported, though the case does offer an additional 30hrs of runtime on top of the 12hours offered by the earphones themselves which is easily sufficient for at least a week of heavy use.

Next Page: Usability & ANC Performance

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