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Master & Dynamic MW75 review: High-end audiophile jewellery

Andy White
28 Jul 2022
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
549
inc VAT

The Master & Dynamic MW75 deliver keenly balanced audio in a stunning package, but noise cancellation could be better

Pros 
High-quality sound
Super-stylish
Great call quality
Cons 
Average ANC
Very expensive
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The Master & Dynamic MW75 are some of the most luxurious Bluetooth headphones on the market. Crafted from premium materials and oozing style, they’re an over-ear option guaranteed to draw admiring glances wherever you wear them.

And, unlike the M&D MW08 earbuds I reviewed earlier this summer, they excel in the audio department, too. Sadly, the same can’t be said for their noise-cancelling capabilities, which are lacklustre in comparison to class-leading options from Sony and Bose.

The lofty price will limit their appeal, but those able to afford them and not overly bothered about ANC will find their combination of style and sonic substance hard to resist.

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Master & Dynamic MW75 review: What you need to know

The MW75’s origins can be traced back to Master & Dynamics’ first pair of over-ear headphones, the MH40. We first reviewed those back in 2017, and the New York-based brand has since fine-tuned its over-ear formula with the release of the MW50 and noise-cancelling MW65, as well as launching two lines of true wireless earbuds: the MW07 and MW08.

As M&D’s flagship over-ear option, the MW75 are also its most advanced headphones, adding an adaptive element to the noise cancellation found on the MW65, improving connectivity and streaming capabilities, and refining what was already an eye-catching design. Battery life has been increased from 24 hours with ANC on to 28 hours, while switching off noise cancellation entirely will take your total listening time to around 32 hours.

Bluetooth has been upgraded from 4.2 to 5.1, and the MW75 now benefit from support for the Hi-Res Audio certified aptX Adaptive codec in addition to SBC and AAC. Bluetooth multipoint is also supported, allowing you to remain connected wirelessly to two devices simultaneously. The number of microphones inside the MW75 has been bumped up to four for improved call quality, and the headphones are compatible with the M&D Connect companion app, unlike their predecessors.

The app is relatively limited by current standards but provides access to four preset sound profiles, lets you select default settings for the ANC and Ambient modes, and allows some basic control customisation.

Master & Dynamic MW75 review: Price and competition

The M&D MW75 cost the princely sum of £549. Apple’s AirPods Max, which feature support for Spatial Audio, launched at a very similar price, but are now typically found around the £469 mark, while the Montblanc MB01 are another pair of premium noise-cancellers that will lighten your wallet to the tune of £520.

Compared with those options, the Sony WH-1000XM5 are a snip at just £379. With smart ANC, a super-comfortable fit and highly detailed audio, they’re our favourite over-ear all-rounders, though it’s still worth considering the last-generation XM4 at their discounted price of £229.

Other less expensive alternatives include the Bose QuietComfort 45, which excel at attenuating external sound and are available for £320, the gorgeous Bowers & Wilkins PX7 S2 (£320) and the Technics EAH-A800, which can be picked up for under £300.

Master & Dynamic MW75 review: Design and features

Luxurious design is what Master & Dynamic is all about, and that’s exactly what you’ll be getting if you fork out for the MW75. The exteriors of their earcups feature tempered glass circles adorned with M&D logos, while the cups themselves are crafted from aluminium. The headband is fashioned from soft lambskin leather, as is the lining protecting the replaceable memory foam earpads, which will put off vegetarians and vegans but does contribute to the premium aesthetic.

There are four different models available, with the colour of the cups and leather changing depending on which you go for. I was sent the gunmetal/black leather version, which is my favourite of the quartet, with black metal/black leather, silver metal/grey leather and silver metal/brown leather completing the lineup. All four variants look great, with the new half hangers that connect the adjustable headband to the cups a big improvement on the hangers used by the MW65.

Physical controls are sensibly laid out, too, with the power and ANC buttons located on the left earcup, and volume up, volume down and multi-function buttons found on the right. They may be a touch small for some, but I didn’t have any issues locating them or executing commands. There’s no built-in smart assistant, so hands-free voice commands are off the table, but holding the multi-function button for four seconds will summon your smartphone’s default digital helper, negating the need to reach into your pocket.

The USB-C port on the right earcup can be used for both charging and creating a wired connection to your audio input. A USB-C to USB-C charging cable is included in the box, along with a USB-C to 3.5mm audio cable, 3.5mm to 1/4in adapter and two-pin flight plug adapter. That’s a pretty generous range of accessories by the standards of cheaper headphones, but we’d expect nothing less given the MW75’s price.

You also get a hard-shell carrying case and, while I’m not overly fond of the felt cover, the built-in cable and accessory storage is very neatly implemented. This makes it easy to carry around everything you’ll ever need to use the MW75 without worrying about tangled cables or loose adapters.

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At 338g, the MW75 are a fair bit heavier than a lot of the competition. Of the options mentioned above, only the AirPods Max weigh more at 386g, while Sony’s WH-1000XM5 are significantly lighter at 250g. We’re talking less than a 100g difference, and the MW75 never felt unpleasantly heavy, but I always felt aware of their presence on my head.

Overall, they’re pretty comfortable. There’s ample memory foam inside the earpads, and the earcups are spacious enough to ensure your ears aren’t cramped for room. The clamping force exerted by the headphones is smartly balanced, too. There’s enough of it to hold the MW75 in place when moving your head, but they don’t ever feel too tight.

The MW75 aren’t flush with features, with on-head detection the only one of note aside from the active noise cancellation and ambient modes, which I’ll discuss later. The wear detection sensor is located inside the right earcup and proved rather hit and miss. Taking the headphones off or lifting the right earcup would always pause audio, but resumption was far less consistent. I found that if I put the MW75 back on within a few seconds, music would start playing again, but if I waited any longer than about five seconds, it wouldn’t, which was a little frustrating.

Far more impressive was the call quality delivered by the MW75. The headphones use four beamforming mics and clarity was superb regardless of whether I was on a Google Meet call, in a Zoom meeting or chatting on the phone. In situations with very little environmental noise, the MW75 picked up my voice with great fidelity, and they were able to suppress background noise effectively outdoors, too. Mic clarity is unlikely to be at the top of your list when shopping for premium headphones, but it’s certainly one of the MW75’s biggest strengths.

Master & Dynamic MW75 review: Sound quality

Another area of strength is their audio. I liked certain aspects of the sonic presentation of M&D’s MW08 true wireless earbuds but found the bass response slightly overshadowed the mid-range. The same can’t be said for the MW75. There’s a better balance across the frequency spectrum, with crisp vocal clarity even on tracks that are bass-heavy. There’s greater sparkle to treble, too, which results in a more satisfying overall sound.

On Aktive’s “Touch”, a rolling DnB track featuring a female vocalist, the MW75 gave equal weighting to the chopped up vocals, throbbing bassline and futuristic synths to deliver a cohesive, precise sound. There’s a clear focus on accuracy in the MW75’s delivery and they rarely put a foot wrong; nothing feels overly sculpted or boosted, which will please those after musical fidelity.

“December, 1963 (Oh What a Night!)” by Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons demonstrated the MW75’s ability to adeptly handle less bombastic content. The stereo imaging is precise, and individual elements of the track are spread across a wide soundstage. Dynamic and tempo shifts in the song are smooth and the vocal ranges on show are articulated extremely cleanly. The iconic falsetto sections sung by bassist Don Ciccone were especially memorable due to how brightly they shone without straying into piercing territory.

Unlike the MW08, the MW75 allow for some audio customisation. You can’t create your own EQs, but can instead select from one of four preset EQs within the M&D Connect app. There’s Bass Boost, Bass Cut, Podcast and Audiophile, with the latter putting a greater focus on mid and high frequencies. For the most part, I was happy with the equalisation presets off, though I did favour the Bass Boost mode when listening to rave music as I was happy to sacrifice a bit of mid-range clarity for low-end impact.

Master & Dynamic MW75 review: Noise cancellation

My experience of the MW75’s noise cancellation was very similar to that I had with the MW08 earbuds, which is to say it works reasonably well but isn’t as effective as M&D’s key rivals. There are three ANC modes available: Adaptive, Max and All Day and none of the options can match Bose or Sony’s external sound attenuation.

Adaptive is the default setting and automatically adjusts the level of cancellation based on the amount of sound in your environment. I noticed it shifting slightly as I moved in and out of noisy areas, but there was always a small amount of external noise making its way to my ears. I was able to register conversations taking place around me on the train (though only snippets) and the rattle of the tube remained a bit of a distraction while playing on my Switch on the Jubilee line. The Max ANC setting does a better job, but still can’t rival the near-silence created by the Sony WH-1000XM5 or Bose QC 45.

The two ambient modes are more successful, particularly the Awareness option, which is very handy if you’re in busy areas and need to keep your wits about you. The Voice mode could still do with a bit of additional clarity but fulfils its brief when in close proximity to those you’re wanting to hear.

One final thing I want to touch on that doesn’t directly relate to noise cancellation, is that regardless of which ANC or ambient mode the MW75 are in, the headphones emit a low-level hiss. I was only aware of it when not listening to any music or listening at extremely low volumes, so it’s not too detrimental to the experience, but may annoy those that use their headphones to simply block out as much of the world around them as possible.

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Master & Dynamic MW75 review: Verdict

The Master & Dynamic MW75 get more right than they do wrong. While it’s disappointing that their noise-cancelling performance isn’t better, and they could stand to be a little lighter, sound quality is as refined as you’d hope for the money.

What’s more, they’re comfortable to wear for long periods, and there’s no denying that their looks turn heads. On more than one occasion, I caught passers-by eyeing them up enviously, and who can blame them, they’re a stunning pair of headphones.

Suffice to say, if you can afford them, then you’re in for a treat: the MW75 offer an unashamedly luxurious combination of style and audio prowess.

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