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Master & Dynamic MW07 earbuds review: truly wireless, truly expensive

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They work well, but they’re not worth it

There’s something to be said about the convenience of using truly wireless earbuds on a commute. They’re less conspicuous than wearing headphones, they can be recharged on the go, and they can produce an audio experience that’s similar to wearing large on-ear cans. Master & Dynamic’s MW07 wireless earbuds are the first pair from the New York-based audio hardware company, and they accomplish all of those things.

These truly wireless earbuds cost $299, but given how most of their advantages are already shared by cheaper models, the MW07s are undeniably expensive. By comparison, Apple’s AirPods cost $159, and the Jabra Elite 65ts retail for $169. So what do the MW07s really give you?

At first glance, the MW07s look rather large compared to other wireless earbuds, but they have a comfortable fit once you put them on. I’d credit their overall shape for staying in my ears and not falling out, but it’s the “fit wings” (Master & Dynamic’s term, not mine) that allowed them to grab on to the inside of my ear.

They haven’t fallen out of my ears while walking, going up stairs, or running in the city. Master & Dynamic advertises IPX4 splash resistance, so they can withstand human sweat and splashes, but you should stop short of dunking them into a pool. They’re also lightweight despite their size: each bud weighs 9 grams. (An AirPod is even lighter at 4 grams.)

Because they’re flexible and soft to the touch, the MW07s also don’t press too hard on my ear ridge, so I don’t experience fatigue and can wear them for hours at a time. And in the event that you don’t have a snug enough fit, you can swap out the default silicone caps for five other sizes (plus a smaller pair of “fit wings”) that are included in the box.

The audio quality is crisp in the mids, has punchy bass at medium to high volumes, and is clear at the highs. Whether I was listening to jazz in the morning or hip-hop on my way 凯发k8官方旗舰店home, the MW07s delivered a warm sound that’s comfortable to listen to at all volumes. Even though there aren’t any sound profiles to select or an accompanying app, they sound equally balanced when delivering audio from different forms of media, including podcasts, music, and videos. (I also didn’t have any syncing issues when watching videos.)

The audio experience with the MW07s is similar to on-ear headphones because they have a snug, noise-isolating fit that makes it more difficult to hear outside ambient noises and conversation. This is a good thing if you commute on the subway, for example, but not if you want to have a conversation without needing to remove one of the buds.

Despite how good their noise isolation is compared to the AirPods, however, they fall short of the Jabra Elite 65ts. The Jabra earbuds have a passive audio mode that amplifies ambient sound when you want to be aware of your surroundings, thus they get around both issues of filtering outside noise and retaining your environmental awareness.

On the flip side, when speaking to a friend on the phone or video call using the omnidirectional microphone, I realized my voice didn’t come across as crisp as it does with the AirPods. (My friend noted the same thing.) In the office or at 凯发k8官方旗舰店home, the microphone does a fine job, but walking along a busy street, I had to raise my voice — something I hardly ever have to do with AirPods.

Each MW07 earbud has a set of controls. The left earbud has two small but accessible volume control buttons, while the right earbud has a single multifunction button. You can hold the button on the right earbud to trigger your phone’s assistant (Google Assistant on Android or Siri on iOS) as well as play/pause music. All of the physical buttons (there are no fiddly touch controls, thankfully) worked consistently and without any fuss, which is great.

The MW07 earbuds also have the essential and automatic play / pause function, for when you remove one or both from your ears. Usually, the left and right earbuds synced correctly when I put one in, and I haven’t had any connection issues when paired to a single device. However, I did have some difficulty pairing and staying connected if I attempted to pair both a PC and a smartphone at the same time. In other words, you should only pair them to one device at a time.

The MW07s have high-end materials in their construction, including stainless steel enclosures, 10mm beryllium drivers, and acetate covers. Master & Dynamic’s design choices are distinctive on what would otherwise be another generic-looking pair of wireless earbuds.

You can get the headphones in four different colors: “grey terrazzo,” “tortoiseshell” (seen here), “matte black,” and “steel blue.” I appreciate the tortoiseshell look, which matches my sunglasses, instead of stainless steel or plastic options. I think this is a nice touch because they’re unique and they stand out in a sea of black and white wireless earbuds. However, I don’t believe it’s worth adding to the cost of a still-developing product category, especially since the MW07s are Master & Dynamic’s first wireless earbuds attempt.

The carrying case — which is larger than an AirPods case but can still fit in my jeans pocket — doubles as a charger. The earbuds’ rated battery life is about 3.5 hours, and they charge inside of the charging case that holds up to three additional full charges, for a total usage time of 14 hours. I’ve found these numbers to be accurate while I used them on commutes, walking through town, or just talking to friends via video or phone calls.

Unfortunately, the case (which reminds me of the back of an iPod) is a fingerprint magnet. It’s just IPX3 certified, which only makes it resilient to water sprays instead of splashes like the earbuds. Also, despite keeping the carrying case on my desk or in my pocket, it’s already collected plenty of visible micro scratches.

The MW07s have a worse battery life than the four or five hours of usage you can get out of the AirPods and Jabra’s Elite 65ts. Fully charging the MW07s in their case also takes 1.5 hours (not a short time), while the case itself charges to 100 percent in 40 minutes via USB-C.

Overall, the MW07s are great for casual listening on your commute, on a run, or in the office. You can wear them comfortably, as long as the battery life lasts.

The MW07s have redeeming traits when it comes to design, but the price is just too high, especially when less expensive alternatives from Apple and Jabra have better battery life, noise isolation, or both.

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