The all-new Master & Dynamic MW08, a follow-up to the MW07 from 2018, takes the winning formula of its predecessor and updates the user experience with a new app, improved ANC, better battery life, and new materials.
Overall, the MW08 are excellent – the earbuds feel special, unlike the commodity of cheap true wireless earbuds, and the sound quality, ANC, and battery life are all solid. While the MW08 doesn’t look markedly different from its successors, they're now crafted out of ceramic and stainless steel.
The only real knock is the lack of multipoint pairing and a lackluster app – but neither of these are deal-breakers. While the Master & Dynamic may lack a few of the features of its competitors – and come at a relatively steep price – the MW08 are still some of the best true wireless earbuds available right now.
Price and availability
The Master & Dynamic MW08 are available now for $299 (£279, about AU$540). Note that Master & Dynamic’s site states that the earbuds will not start shipping until April 29, 2021, however we were provided a review sample ahead of time.
In terms of competition, the Jabra Elite 85t are a better value at $229 / £219.99 and have more features but can’t compete in sound or build quality, but you should also look at the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2, which is identical in price ($299 / £279 / AU$499.95).
The Master & Dynamic headphones beat out the Sennheiser’s in overall battery life but the Sennheiser’s have better ANC. Sound quality for both is excellent but the Sennheiser’s get a slight edge in detail. Those with small ears will appreciate the smaller MW08, as the Momentum True Wireless are much larger.
The Design of the MW08 is extremely familiar, as it basically looks like the MW07 but smaller and lighter, aiding comfort.
Gone are the stabilizer “wings,” which always popped off the MW07. The earbuds themselves are small and light enough that they stayed in our ears, even when jumping and running around. Your mileage may vary there, though.
The biggest visual departure is the MW08’s charging case, which now comes in three new finishes: the matte black coated stainless steel we have for our review unit, the classic high-polish stainless steel, and a new polished graphite.
The polished stainless case will pick up scratches easily, so if that bothers you, opt for the matte black version. It’s a shame that users can’t mix and match the color of their earbuds with the color of the case, as there are four preset color combinations available.
In terms of build quality, Master & Dynamic is still unmatched. The charging case feels like it’s been milled out of a single block of stainless steel and the earbuds feel premium. The new ceramic on the earbuds resist scratches, but they’re now fingerprint magnets. You’ll want to carry a microfiber cloth with you to polish them if fingerprints bother you.
We’re glad to see that Master & Dynamic has retained the excellent physical controls with the MW08: the left earbud still has a volume rocker, which doubles as buttons to enable/disable ANC and ambient listening. The right earbud has a single button that controls playback, power, and pairing.
Also nice, the earbuds each have an optical sensor to detect when they’ve been removed from your ears and will pause your music. This feature can be disabled in the app if you don't want it, but it does help to save battery life.
Speaking of pairing, we were disappointed that the MW08 still lacks multipoint pairing, which means you’ll have to put the earbuds in pairing mode every time you want to switch to a different device. This is a frustrating experience if you plan to use the MW08 with multiple devices like your phone, tablet, and laptop. However, a three-second long press of the right earbud (whilst out of your ear) will put the earbuds in pairing mode.
The good news? Active noise cancellation returns, and it’s much, much better: the MW07 Plus’s ANC was average at best but the ANC in the MW08 is very effective at blocking out external noise. Voices in particular were noticeably better blocked by the MW08 than the MW07. However, we did notice a faint but audible “ticking” when the headphones were put in Max ANC mode and in a quiet environment.
That being said, we recommend keeping ANC switched to All Day ANC if you’re working in a quieter environment like at home or in an office.
Also worth noting: Master & Dynamic now offers an app, M&D Connect, which is a first for the company, and allows users to toggle between modes without long-pressing buttons on the earbuds themselves. (Note that you must download the app to be able to switch between Max and All Day ANC modes as the button on the headphone only enables the last ANC mode you used.)
The app is simple to use, and it’s nice that it’s really optional, however firmware updates did take upwards of 20 minutes, which is annoying but a rare occurrence. It's also missing an EQ feature, which would be nice to have but we enjoy the out of the box sound enough that we can forgive its omission.
We loved the MW07’s sound quality and are still smitten by the sound quality of the MW08. The headphones now feature a 1mm larger driver, helping with bass response and dynamics.
The tonal tuning of the headphones errs on slight warmth, especially in the mid bass. This means the headphones never sound fatiguing and add body to whatever music you’re listening to. Highs have good extension, but are rolled off at the top, which dulls the sparkle some may enjoy. Overall, the MW08 is easy to listen to for hours because of its slight tilt toward warmth.
ANC, ambient listening, and ANC off have no noticeable effect on sound quality, which is good as the headphones sound consistent in every mode. Voice quality for phone calls is great with friends and family reporting clear audio.
Battery life is rated for 12 hours of playtime for the earbuds (with ANC) and the case provides an additional 3 charges for a total run time of 42 hours.
We found the battery life numbers to be fairly accurate, with the earbuds running dry in about 8 hours at medium volume and All Day ANC enabled. But, if that's not enough, you can eek out an additional 2 hours out of the earbuds by disabling ANC.
One thing we noticed – and really appreciated – is how quickly the headphones charge. M&D claims the case can charge to 50% in just 15 minutes and to 100% in just 60 minutes. Our testing verified this claim, and it's a huge advantage compared to older earbuds that take a few hours to charge.
Should you buy the Master & Dynamic MW08?
Buy them if...
You like premium-feeling true wireless earbuds
We can't speak highly enough of the MW08's build quality. They feel like a premium product, and look great... even if they pick up a few fingerprints.
You need to charge your earbuds quickly
We really appreciated how quickly the earbuds charged. The case can charge to 50% in just 15 minutes and to 100% in just 45 minutes, and the earbuds should last for up to 10 hours with ANC turned on.
Don't buy them if...
You're looking to save some money
The MW08 aren't the true wireless earbuds to buy if you're looking to save money. There are a number of great alternatives out there that cost significantly less, but few of them offer the same build quality that Master & Dynamic offers.
You expect the best-possible app experience
The app – which, thankfully is optional – isn't exactly world-class. It's pretty basic and, in our experience, it takes awhile to update.
- Not picky about form factor? Don't miss our guide to the best wireless headphones that includes in-ear, on-ear and over-ear models, too