REVIEW – Just before the pandemic hit in 2020, I reviewed the wonderful (but flawed) Master & Dynamic MW07 Plus earphones—easily one of the best sounding wireless earphones at any price. The one weakness was too subtle (for me) active noise canceling (ANC). It just wasn’t very effective. As the old saying goes, time marches on and Master & Dynamic (M&D) have bettered the MW07 Plus earphones in many, many ways—the Master & Dynamic MW08 True Wireless Earphones—without increasing the price. Let’s look at whether they are worth an upgrade.
What is it?
The Master & Dynamic MW08 Active Noise-Cancelling earphones are the latest iterations of a successful line of unusual-looking—but very comfortable—totally wireless earphones. The combination of audio quality, good looks, and build quality show that M&D remains one of the top-tier players in the earphone (and headphone) market.
- Dimensions: 21.19mm x 20.22mm x 25.08mm
- Speakers: 11mm Beryllium
- Weight: 9.0g each
- Materials: Ceramic
- Water resistance rating: IPX5
- Battery life: 10 hours with ANC
- Microphone: 3 in each earphone
- Active noise canceling: All day and Max modes
- Ambient/awareness mode
Design and features
When a successful earphone is updated, the process can either go in the direction of audio or visual improvements. The MW08 earphones benefitted from both. They (still) sound fantastic and while they look similar at first glance, they’ve been re-designed—a lot.
Gone is the fingerprint magnet chrome carrying case—at least for the earphones I received. There are four colorways for the MW08s—each with its own case. The black ceramic version (what I’m reviewing) has a matte black metal case. Blue ceramic gets a polished graphite1case, while both the white and brown (yes, brown) ceramics get a stainless steel case. Actually, the brown MW08 earphones look better than you might think—at least online.
The redesigned case is different. The MW07 Plus case opened at the top while lying flat, the MW08 case opens more like an Apple Airpods pro case—a flip-top lid on its side. This new design allows the MW08 case to be opened one-handed. Battery life remains the same—an impressive 10 hours for the earphones with 3 additional recharges from the case for a total of 40 hours between charges. There are three lights on the front of the case indicating the remaining battery life of the two earphones and case. The earphones magnetically snap into the case and cannot be shaken loose. Also, when in the case, the MW08 earphones are slightly angled forward to better present themselves to the user. It’s a nice design touch. Note that M&W will engrave any case when ordering for an extra $30.
There are a few accessories included: A USB-C to USB-C charging cable (with USB adapter), 5 ear tip sizes, and a canvas pouch.
As I said, the MW08 earphones have received a substantial redesign. The ceramic exterior looks similar but is now a bit smaller, which makes them fit better—at least in my ears. The “underside” of the earphone is more bulbous than was the MW07 Plus. This noticeable bulge helps the MW08 fit inside the outer ear better, eliminating the need for optional “fit-wings” the MW07 offered. However, I do miss how the wings did a better job locking the MW07 in place while in my ears. Fitting for the MW08 simple: Just push into the ear at an angle and twist into place.
One of the benefits of the new MW08 earphones is a new M&D Connect app (iOS and Android), with some caveats. The app allows you to update firmware, look at the QuickStart Guide, rename the earphones, set the auto-off timer, and control in-ear detection. What you cannot do is equalize the audio to your taste. Hopefully, that can be added in future app updates.
For some reason, the app needs to be paired with the MW08s regardless of whether they’ve already been paired with Bluetooth or not. It’s weird, but this has happened with other audio apps as well. Every now and then, I’ve encountered a “catch 22” situation when the app stubbornly refuses to pair even though they are already paired via Bluetooth. When trying to remedy the issue, I thought, “I can just look at the QuickStart Guide in the new app!”—except you can’t use the new app to read the QuickStart Guide until the MW08s are paired. So round and round I went until the app finally decided to work. It was frustrating. I think the app needs to mature a bit to make it truly worthwhile.
Call quality using the MW08 earphones is also better—way better. I’m not a fan of using any earphones for making calls except Apple’s Airpods Pros. Even though the MW08s haven’t changed my thinking on that, M&D has updated the external mics with a wind-reduction microphone array. I’m not sure what that is, but people I talk to think I sound great. I know I’m no engineer, but how come so many earphone makers can’t get this right? It’s nice to see M&D make improvements others should be making.
There is one nagging issue I have with making and taking calls with the MW08s. When talking on the phone, the MW08 earphones automatically turn off Ambient mode. And you also cannot switch to Ambient mode during a phone call. This bugs me because I like to hear what’s around me when talking on the phone. I don’t like being enveloped in silence while talking because I can’t hear my own voice and end up yelling at my caller.
Another improvement is active noise canceling (ANC). This was one of the weak areas with the previous MW07 Plus earphones. I’m happy to say that the MW08’s ANC works well, although it still falls a bit short of Apple’s wonderful ANC. Once on, background drone sounds drop off. M&D has done a great job of not letting ANC negatively affect audio quality. ANC does accentuate the bass just a little when on, but music still sounds great with ANC either on or off. And after all, music is the single reason the M08 earphones exist.
What I like
- Audio quality
- Build Quality
What I’d change
- I miss the fit-wings
Master & Dynamic have delivered a truly great set of earphones with the MW08. They may be expensive, but the larger speaker, better case, improved ANC, and all-day comfort make the price justifiable.