Master & Dynamic is considered a boutique audio brand with a focus on design. They started with building headphones fashioned in vintage aviator headsets using premium materials which make their headphones very durable. When M&D released their first-ever true wireless earbuds, the MW07, in 2019, it was a departure from their iconic design but they set a new one. The faceplate shaped like a “D” is made from acetate, its unique design pattern changes regularly with the season and brand collaborations. After receiving numerous feedback on their first TWS, a revised version was released months later. The MW07+ comes with ANC, while the MW07 GO uses lightweight and less premium materials.
With the release of MW08 and MW08 Sport in 2021, M&D has retained its faceplate shape and materials, while tweaking the ear mould and the charging case. The review unit is all-black but there are other earbud colours like white, blue, brown, as well as three charging case variants in matt black, polished graphite, and stainless steel. The charging case feels so dense and heavy, you can use it as a paperweight.
M&D has abandoned the unique “fit wing” design, which I thought was very helpful in securing the earbuds in the ears. I definitely feel that the MW08 does not hold in my ears as securely, even though they never dropped out during my casual review.
The buttons remain unchanged – a single button on the right and a 2-way rocker on the left. I like that M&D retains the physical buttons, so there will not be accidental triggers during handling. Surprisingly, the button layout works rather intuitively – play-pause and change tracks with the right earbud, and adjust volume and ANC/Ambient Sound on the left. They are IPX5 water rated, deliver 12 hours playtime (10 hours with ANC), while the charging case adds 30 hours.
The ANC level is quite strong at the lower frequencies but does not reduce the noise extensively at high frequencies, for instance, keyboard typing sounds. There are 2 ANC levels to choose from, and so is the Ambient Sound, selectable from the smartphone app. The ambient awareness mode sounds natural without excessive amplification that creates hissing sounds. The voice mode alters the frequency response to cut off lower range and boost the vocal range. But in both cases, they do not give you heightened aural senses. In fact, I still felt a little stuffed with Ambient Sound on.
When switching ANC/ Ambient Sound modes, there will be a voice prompt which cannot be disabled. This disrupts my listening experience and I hope there will be options to manage the prompts with firmware updates.
The audio quality of the MW08 is further refined from the MW07 GO when tested side-by-side (I could not compare with MW07+ because the battery died). The most noticeable improvement is the treatment of treble, which sounds more refined, less harsh and bright. The bass sounds musical with pronounced tonality and timbre, delivering cushy impact while does not veil the treble presence. The midrange is supported by the prominent bass to extend the warmth and thickness. Overall, the tuning makes the MW08 sound detailed, pleasant, enjoyable, inoffensive, not too harsh. I enjoy listening to the bass lines while the treble retains good presence. The MW08 sets the sound stage well to provide good bass presentation yet not sounding too bass-heavy like Audio-Technica ATH-CKS50TW. It would be great if the smartphone app supports EQ adjustment, but this feature is not found at time of publication. Another issue is that it takes several seconds to switch the noise-cancelling modes, and during the switchover, the audio does not get cut off but goes through re-calibration.
For calls, the MW08 makes the voice sound bright and shrill, which stands out from the background noise. But when using it in noisy public, the voice sounded distant, so the consolation is that the bright voice makes it more audible. The lower-frequency background noise is not so audible, but any high-pitched ambient sound will be picked up by the mic.
Retailing at S$449, the MW08 is available at a street price of around S$350. It is more polished than the previous models and continues to feel premium, though the faceplate is as less fancy as the MW07 series. I enjoy the bass presentation which is strong but not too bloated, so listeners who love to enjoy clear bass lines rather than a boomy blur should try the MW08. The click button controls remain easy to use and prevents accidental touch triggers. Distributed in Singapore by Ban Leong.