MW65
The MW65 is an active noise-cancelling, wireless headphone game changer (Photos: Master & Dynamic)
By Kirk Miller / July 8, 2019 6:31 am

We’ve raved about Master & Dynamic’s form and function many times before. 

Started in New York in 2014, the audio brand has always mixed eye-catching aesthetics with rich, warm acoustics. These aren’t headphones for DJs or fans of heavy bass, and they’re also not for cheapskates — they’ll run you $250-$500 a pair, but they’re worth it.

Just last month, Thirty Five Ventures — owned by new Brooklyn Nets hero Kevin Durant and sports business executive Rich Kleiman — announced their company would become an equity partner in M&D. They plan to be active participants, too, working with the audio gurus on “creative, design and building out the intersection of sports and music.”

As long as they don’t disrupt what’s working for Master & Dynamic, we’re game (a Brooklyn championship wouldn’t hurt either). Their first collaboration is actually a “Studio 35” colorway of the newly released MW65 Active Noise-Cancelling Wireless Over-Ear Headphones

While we didn’t get to try out that snazzy silver/grey/orange colorway, we did test out a silver metal/brown leather variation on the MW65s (it also comes in black leather/gunmetal). It’s the first active noise-canceling wireless set from M&D, which already makes our favorite wired over-ear and wireless earbuds, the latter of which won a Red Dot Award for Product Design. With the MW65 Wireless, they’re looking to conquer yet another category.

So have they achieved it? Let’s find out.

The setup

The MW65s arrive in a box with a soft protective carrying case with zippered pouch, a two-pronged flight adaptor, 3.5mm audio cable (for when you’re going wired), USB-C charging cable and USB adaptor. I plugged them in for three hours to charge, skimmed the single page start-up pamphlet and then paired it with my iPhone 7+. No issues here.

MW65

The specs

  • 40mm beryllium drivers
  • Bluetooth 4.2 
  • Weight: 250g 
  • Pairing range up to 65 feet
  • 24 hours of listening time on a full charge
  • Quick charges to 50% in 15 minutes
  • Built from assorted leathers and anodized aluminum

What works

  • Setup and mastery of the controls takes about five minutes
  • Like all M&D products, the push buttons on the headphones are easy to find by touch, respond easily and don’t leave me confused like other audio sets that insist on using taps or other, less tactile responses
  • They’re so light! 250g, or about 2/3 the weight of the MW60s (which are wireless as well but not noise-canceling)
  • The lambskin-covered memory foam on the ear pads make for a comfy experience, even during long music listening stretches
  • The active noise canceling wasn’t the most powerful we’ve ever experienced — that’d go to the Bose QuietComfort line — and it was sometimes hard to tell the difference between the two levels of noise reduction, except when we were already in a quiet room. That said, even with ANC off, the MW65s blocked out almost all office and most street noise; with either ANC level on, our outside environment was further reduced, without harming our music/podcast listening experience. 
  • A selling point for the headphones is its compatibility with Google Assistant (or, with a bit of button pushing and finagling, switching to the voice assistant of your choice). It was fun to press a button on the right ear pad and get notifications — including text messages read out loud. Pressing a different button allows you to make voice commands, which worked as well (or not) as any other time I’ve used a voice assistant. 
MW65
The MW65s definitely work better sitting than walking around

What needs work

  • The pairing light (it’s white) can be hard to see 
  • As well, having the pairing and battery level indicators right on top of each other can be confusing
  • While fantastic when sitting or standing still, the headphones shifted and slipped slightly during long walks, even after multiple adjustments of the headband
  • The sound is good, natch. But like all wireless sets, you’re sacrificing something when you use Bluetooth. I found myself getting a lot more punch when I turned off the wireless and plugged in the 3.5mm cord to my laptop.  
  • The ear cups lie flat, but there’s no hinge to fold up the set
  • Two small quibbles on Google Assistant that I probably have to pin more on Google than on the headphones: 1) a verbal request to play the Discover Weekly playlist on Spotify brought me to the playlist on my phone, but didn’t actually “play” it until I pressed play on the phone app. And 2) making requests via the app, as opposed to speaking them through the headphones, means Google Assistant will respond but not pause the music (if you go through the headphones to make your request, it will stop your tunes). 
  • The price (see below)

What others are saying

Almost the perfect headphones … a more refined design than most of the competition, but the MW65 are expensive. — Engadget

The MW65 is a very pleasant headphone to listen to. Not necessarily incredibly exciting or dynamic, but it’s well-balanced and smooth. — CNet

The list of things to love about the MW65 is long: The styling and materials, the low weight, the crazy battery life, the excellent noise-reducing tech, the crisp audio. — Wired

Recommendation 

The MW65 ain’t cheap (it’s $500). But wow, do they look good, and they’re so lightweight and comfy it’s physically difficult to go back to other, more cumbersome headphones. If the sound and specs aren’t top of the line, they’re certainly close enough. So while we’ve moved almost exclusively to the MW07 earbuds for convenience, we may very well make the MW65s our headphones for office days and long plane rides.