An excellent audio performance is hampered by ordinary noise cancellation performance. Master & Dynamic’s MW75 are a stylish pair of ANC headphones delivering great call quality and excellent wireless performance – if you can get past the expense.
- Balance, natural and precise sound
- Fashionable looks
- Simple to use
- Stable wireless performance
- Very good call quality
- Average ANC for the price
- Not for penny pinchers
- Noisy audio signal
- BluetoothSupports aptX Adaptive Bluetooth
- M&D Connect appFeatures customisation of sound and noise cancellation
- ConstructionMade from lambskin leather and tempered glass
Headphones are expensive, and most of us don’t have deep enough pockets to shop at the higher end of the market. The past few years has seen an increasing number of models push into the territory of “luxury” purchase. These are your AirPods Max, Bang & Olufsen H95 and, more recently, the Mark Levinson No. 5909. And now, you can add Master & Dynamic’s MW75 to that list.
M&D is no stranger to the premium end of the headphones market, but the overall performance of its headphones hasn’t always lived up to their sumptuous aesthetics.
This is a long-winded way of saying that M&D’s MW75 have plenty of competition, which means there’s a smaller margin for getting things wrong. If someone is willing to pay nearly £600 for a pair of headphones, they won’t want buyer’s regret.
- Stunning, premium looks
- Good comfort
- Simple control operation
The MW75 are available in a choice of Gunmetal/Black Leather (this sample), Silver Metal/Grey Leather, Silver Metal/Brown Leather, and Black Metal/Black Leather colourways, with the difference mainly relating to the colour of the headband and earpads. I’m a fan of the brown leather version, but I wouldn’t say no to the gunmetal version either.
The earcups are made from lightweight and durable aluminium, with the outward face of the earcups using tempered glass. The sizeable earpads are made from a combination of memory foam and lambskin for a soft, cushioned feel. Their appearance is elegant, although the use of lambskin will probably put off vegans.
Comfort levels are solid and although they feel large, at 338g they don’t weigh on the head. The oval cut out of the earpads offers enough room for my ears to slot in, and the seal the earcups creates is reasonably good; but it can be made tighter through the adjustable headband. Thankfully, the earpads are replaceable in the event they become damaged.
The M&D MW75 can’t be collapsed, adopting the same approach as the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700, but they can be folded flat and placed into the large hard-shell, soft-felted case. The case takes up a fair amount of space in a rucksack or, more likely, those male/female designer bags the MW75 will look to slip into.
The control scheme prefers physical (anodised aluminium) buttons over touch controls for a tactile approach. Five buttons are all the MW75 offers: one for power, another for noise cancellation/transparency modes, volume up and down, and a multi-function button for playback, track skipping and access to your device’s voice assistant. It’s easy to grasp, although I have on occasion turned the headphones off when I meant to change the noise cancelling mode.
There’s a USB-C port but no 3.5mm jack; in the case’s built-in storage lies a USB-C cable for charging that supports a 24-bit / 96kHz connection, as well as a USB-C to 3.5mm cable for plugging into a wired source. Also in the case are USB-A, flight and 6.3mm adapters, so M&D has you covered for any route you want to take.
- Average noise cancellation
- Excellent call quality
- Near-flawless wireless connectivity
Battery life is 32 hours or 28 with noise cancelling enabled, which is a couple of hours short of the Bowers & Wilkins Px7 S2. Fast-charging sees six hours of playback gained from a 15-minute charge.
Wireless connectivity is Bluetooth 5.1 with SBC, AAC and aptX Adaptive streaming codecs. The headphone’s aptX Adaptive wireless performance has been near-flawless, with only the briefest of blips in Waterloo station. The MW75 have come through pockets of crowds, and busy areas such as London Bridge and Victoria without the connection breaking.
Voice assistance is available through the controls, but there’s not much in the way of smarts. The M&D app features a few more customisation options over what’s provided for the MW08 true wireless models. Sound profile offers a choice between bass boost, bass cut, vocal boost and audiophile (or you can have no EQ).
World volume features three ANC modes: Max, All Day and Adaptive, while Ambient is a choice for voice (for improved conversational awareness) and awareness (general awareness of surroundings). Whichever path is taken becomes the default mode when tapping the noise cancellation/awareness button. You can cycle through the ANC modes on the left earcup (ANC, Ambient and Off).
Other features include setting an auto-off time and toggling the on-head detection. For head detection there’s a sensor in the right earcup borrowed from the Sony WH-1000XM4. As a feature, it’s inconsistent in its effectiveness. Lift the earcup up and put it back and it works as it should; rest the headphones on your shoulders and then put them back on, and audio doesn’t don’t resume – which becomes wearing in a different sense.
Call quality is excellent: my voice came through with clarity, and while the headphones did pick up background noises here and there, these didn’t compete with my voice. Perhaps not quite up there with the WH-1000XM5 but not far off, either.
Noise cancellation is an area I don’t think Master & Dynamic has fully grasped the potential of. I imagine a balance has been struck with the MW75 in offering enough suppression to the point that it doesn’t negatively impact the audio. To describe it in rather totalitarian terms, the MW75 subdue rather than suppress, and when the decibels pick up, they struggle to maintain a sense of calm.
These headphones are best suited to dealing with ambient sounds and groups of people, dialling down the intensity to ensure that whatever you’re listening to remains discernible. But even on commutes the hum of the air conditioning is still audible, and announcements can break through the noise cancelling bubble. There are more minor interruptions than I’d like.
In short, Bose and Sony are better – and for much less. The awareness mode is more of a success, the built-in microphones elicit a clear performance, letting sounds flow through naturally.
- Crisp, neutral presentation
- Wide and spacious soundstage
- EQ presets to customise sound
While I can pick out faults with the noise cancellation, I can find few with the MW75’s sound. Once turned on there’s a noticeable hiss before a track has even been played; but, thankfully, it doesn’t overtly affect the presentation – although it is still audible in the lulls of tracks.
The tone the MW75 strike is one of neutrality and accuracy from their 40mm Beryllium drivers. They’re clearer and more precise than the Px7 S2, which they ought to be since these headphones are nearly £200 more expensive. Treble is bright and sparkly; bass is measured rather than overcooked; the mid-range is fettered of detail, crisp in tone and natural where voices and instrumentation are concerned.
The soundstage the MW75 pitch is coherent in how they organise and knit the details together; it’s a spacious, wide and enveloping sound. A slight nudge on the headphones’ default volume helps their expression, bestowing more authority and refinement on music.
Travis Barker’s drum hits in Tinie Tempah’s Simply Unstoppable (Yes Remix) land with confidence, the changes in pitch of the percussive hits naturally conveyed. The MW75 show no signs of sloppiness with conveying the rapidity and rhythm of Barker’s hits; it’s never anything less than an exciting and fluid listen.
Arguably, the mid-range crispness sees vocals lose a degree of warmth and richness found through the Sony WH-1000XM5, but the clarity of Jazzmeia Horn’s voice on a Tidal Master track of Green Eyes is terrifically handled. The MW75’s precision and sharpness extract plenty of detail and emotion, capturing the inflections of her voice at rises and falls. It reinforces the feeling the track is being relayed in the manner it was meant to be heard.
There’s also a brisk sense of dynamism, both in a broad sense and on a smaller scale; the MW75 capture the undulations of a track with an almost nonchalant ease. The brightness of the treble brings out more expression than I remember the WH-1000XM5 being capable of, with a twinkly and sharp performance. These aren’t overtly bassy headphones; the MW75 take on a bass response in Childish Gambino’s This Is America that’s tastefully applied and not at all overbearing.
Should you buy it?
If you’re about the high-class lifestyle The MW75 aren’t for most of us, but if the £549 figure doesn’t make you baulk then you get excellent audio and call quality, stylish design and near-flawless wireless performance.
If noise cancellation is the main reason for purchase These headphones aren’t as good as Bose, Sony or Technics in the noise cancelling department, and all the above are available for much less than the MW75’s asking price.
The Master & Dynamic MW75 are a very good pair of wireless headphones – but they don’t breach the territory of “must have”. Expense is one reason for this, but even if you’re someone for whom the price is more of a minor bump in the road, the noise cancelling performance is bettered by far less expensive headphones.
Nevertheless, you do get an excellent sound and wireless performance for the price, as well as one of the more stylish pair of headphones on the market. One of the best-sounding wireless headphones of 2022.
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Tested for a month
Tested with real world use
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Master & Dynamic does not support battery replacement for the MW75
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