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Master & Dynamic MW09 Review

Master & Dynamic faced initial challenges with its true wireless earbuds, but the latest MW09 ($349 or $399) marks a significant improvement. Building on the success of the MW08 Sport, these earbuds boast a recognizable design coupled with upgrades in sound quality, active noise cancellation (ANC), and call performance. True to the brand’s signature, premium materials take center stage, though the starting price exceeds that of most competitors.

Pros:

Cons:

Master & Dynamic MW09 Review

Master & Dynamic MW09: Design Overview

Master & Dynamic kept the design mostly unchanged. The outer part of each bud maintains the familiar D-shaped housing, now featuring a new aesthetic circular element housing the iconic “M” branding. Notably, this addition is purely cosmetic; no extra touch panel or physical button accompanies it. Controls remain on the top edge, featuring a volume rocker on the left and a multi-function button on the right for playback and calls. Volume controls also serve to activate/deactivate ambient sound and ANC through a long press on either end. However, it’s a simple on/off function, not cycling through all available MW09 options.

Material Excellence and Design Choices

A distinctive feature of M&D lies in its choice of premium materials—usually leather and metal, though not ideal for earbuds. Similar to the MW08 Sport, the MW09 features a blend of aluminum and sapphire glass, housed in a sleek aluminum charging case. Additionally, a Kevlar option is available for the case, albeit at an extra cost of $50, and is exclusive to certain colors. Despite these high-end details, the MW09 boasts an IP54 rating for dust and moisture resistance, while the case holds an IPX4 rating. Notably, Master & Dynamic provides a broader range of fit options compared to many headphone companies, furnishing the box with five sizes of silicone tips and two sizes of foam tips.

Master & Dynamic MW09: Software and Features

Master & Dynamic MW09: Software and Features

All MW09 settings and customizations are conveniently accessible through the M&D Connect app. Upon device selection, the main screen displays combined earbud and case battery life. Navigating to the Sound menu via a gear icon unlocks sound presets, a fully customizable EQ, and ambient sound controls.

Within the Sound menu, Sidetone, facilitating call voice feedback, and the option to disable audio prompts are easily found. In the Settings menu, Master & Dynamic offers features like in-ear detection disablement, auto-off timer adjustment, an acoustic earbud seal test, and Bluetooth connection management. Multipoint functionality is supported and functions seamlessly.

While the options aren’t overwhelming, they cover essentials with a decent level of customization. For instance, active noise cancellation and ambient mode each offer three settings, ensuring users aren’t confined to a single default configuration.

Sound Quality and Noise Cancellation

Sound Quality and Noise Cancellation

Master & Dynamic consistently delivers a love for balanced, natural sound with exceptional clarity—ideal for extended listening sessions.

The MW09 showcases this tuning prowess, notably evident in albums like Chris Stapleton’s Higher. Every nuance, from bluesy rock riffs to the subtle decay in a snare drum rattle, is vividly captured. This earbud excels across genres, embracing the nuances of country rock, bluegrass, classic jazz, and even the thickness of metal, steering clear of flat compression. For a more personalized touch, the Audiophile sound preset, emphasizing treble and mids, stands out.

Claiming optimized microphone and sensor placement for ANC, Master & Dynamic introduces three presets: Max ANC, All Day ANC, and Adaptive ANC. The latter adjusts dynamically to environmental changes. While Max ANC proves effective against distractions, it comes with a battery life trade-off. Notably, all presets struggle at volumes below 50 percent, with persistent interference from white noise machines and human voices.

Master & Dynamic MW09: Call Quality and Ambient Sound

Master & Dynamic boasts an “AI-enhanced” voice setup with six microphones, promising optimal call performance with wind reduction. While background noise reduction impresses, the claimed natural clarity falls short, making it suitable for casual chats but less ideal for work calls.

For a balanced audio experience, the MW09 offers three ambient sound modes, vital to avoid inadvertently raising your voice. Using Sidetone in the app enhances the ambient experience. The Voice preset emerges as the top choice for calls and environmental awareness, while Natural and “enhanced” Awareness tuning provide alternatives. Although M&D’s transparency mode doesn’t match Apple’s AirPods Pro, it still stands above average.

Master & Dynamic MW09 Battery Life

Master & Dynamic MW09 Battery Life

Master & Dynamic enhances MW09 battery life by two hours with ANC compared to the MW08 Sport, reaching 12 and 16 hours with ANC on and off, respectively. The charging case gains an extra two hours, totaling 32 hours.

A quick charge feature adds two hours of usage in five minutes, hitting 50% charge in just 20 minutes. However, during a test at 85% volume with All Day ANC, the MW09 lasted 10 hours—below the stated 12-hour figure. M&D clarifies that 12 hours is an average across scenarios and codecs at slightly over 50% volume. Although falling short of the claim, 10 hours places the MW09 competitively among premium earbuds, surpassing Sony’s eight hours and Bose’s six with ANC activated.

Master & Dynamic MW09: Competition Comparison

Sony’s WF-1000XM5 remains our top choice, excelling in both ANC and sound quality. Despite being pricier than the MW09, Sony packs unique features like Speak-to-Chat and DSEE Extreme upscaling.

Bose’s QuietComfort Ultra Earbuds, priced at $299, offer a compelling alternative. With a design similar to the comfortable QuietComfort Earbuds II, they stand out with stellar noise-canceling capabilities.

Final Thoughts

Master & Dynamic’s MW09 introduces tweaks, notably in sound profile and customization. While ambient sound mode and multipoint Bluetooth impress, ANC performance and call quality are average. For those valuing natural sound and premium materials, MW09 satisfies, but budget-conscious consumers might find better alternatives.

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