Earlier this year, New York-based Master & Dynamic introduced its MW08 truly wireless earbuds. Featuring active noise cancellation (ANC) and terrific audio performance, the earphones have everything audiophiles need to listen to their favorite music, podcasts, and other sounds on the go.
Enter the brand new MW08 Sport. Announced just a few months after the MW08, these earbuds offer the same impressive sound brought about by 11mm Beryllium drivers and offer ANC and similar battery life. And yet, you're being asked to spend $50 more for the newer product.
For this, lightweight ceramic has been replaced by shatter-resistant sapphire glass, and instead of a stainless steel charging case, the MW08 Sport comes with one made of Kevlar that's slightly water-resistant. The newer earphones also support inductive wireless charging, a first for the company.
The MW08 Sport, like the MW08, is one of the best true wireless earbuds on the market and has much going for it. It's not quite up there with the AirPods Pro, however, which is a problem when considering the price difference.
In this review, you'll learn more about the MW08 Sport and uncover its best and not-so-best features.
Master & Dynamic MW08 Sport review
Bottom line: Made of high-quality materials and offering strong and lasting sounds, the MW08 Sport is still a head-scratcher in many respects, given the less expensive (and impressive) MW08 option.
- Awesome, modern design
- Impressive battery life
- Unique color choices
- Water-resistance isn't a game-changer
- Fit could be a concern for truly active users
Master & Dynamic MW08 Sport: Price and availability
The MW08 Sport earbuds were just announced (July 2021) and are currently only available through the M&D website. No doubt, this will quickly change as the new product arrives at other retailers, including Amazon. They retail for $349.
Master & Dynamic MW08 Sport: Strong battery life, beautiful design, and sound worth discussing
M&D has only been playing the earphone game for three years. And yet, as it has done with its more mature headphone lineup, the company isn't afraid to make sometimes significant changes from year to year while also respecting what came before.
The MW08 Sport is very similar to its predecessor, the 2019 MW07 Go, in that it targets adventurous users who spend a great deal of time outdoors. However, the previous model was also the company's least expensive model, which meant some cost-cutting measures were put into place compared to the better reviewed MW07 Plus that launched the same year.
So fast-forward to 2021, and, in an interesting twist, it's the sports model that now sits at the top of the M&D earphones food chain.
... the MW08 Sport really shines when it comes to battery life. The earbuds hold up to 12 hours of power on a single charge, while the case can hold 30 hours in total.
The MW08 Sport launches in four color combinations: black, blue, green, and silver, with each set shipping with a durable black Kevlar charging case. The color choices for the MW08 Sport sound traditional, but they really aren't when you take a closer look. The high-quality glossy sapphire glass has a metallic look that's classic and almost muted.
Interesting, the colors and how each is presented don't appear all that sporty.
Moving forward, the MW08 Sport really shines when it comes to battery life. The earbuds hold up to 12 hours of power on a single charge, while the case can hold 30 hours in total. Better still, the case-earbuds combination gives you a 50% charge in 15 minutes and a full one in 45 minutes. By comparison, the AirPods Pro only holds a 4.5-hour charge, with the case providing around 24 hours. The newer Beats Studio Buds provide eight hours between charges and 24 hours on a full case charge.
When discussing sound quality, you must also include a deeper look at the MW08 Sport's ANC modes since they go hand-in-hand. You'll find two modes, Max and All Day, which you can adjust using the companion M&D Connect app for iOS and Android. The former works best out and about where there are loud noises such as buses and trains. Max successfully promotes mids and highs when listening to music. The latter takes a much more subtle approach with ANC, which most affects the sound quality at lower levels, although it still mixes mids and highs well.
You'll also find two ambient listening modes, Voice and Awareness. Both are designed to provide better transparency in the outdoors. These work fairly well, although, during my tests, I didn't find either of them special.
Beyond this, I was also impressed with the MW08 Sport's Bluetooth range, which sometimes extended slightly beyond the 100ft/30m distance the company promises. Drops and connection issues never occurred in the normal range, a step up from the MW07 Go.
The three mics embedded into each earphone also worked well and provided clear calling through my testing. This isn't always the case for true wireless headphones, and M&D deserves major kudos here.
Circling back around to the M&D Connect app, I was happy to see the auto-timer function, which offers four different settings, and the enable/disable in-ear detection tool.
Master & Dynamic MW08 Sport: Frustrating ear tips, strange water resistance, and no EQ
The MW08 Sport ships with silicon ear tips in five sizes and memory foam ear tips in two sizes. And yet, none of these felt nearly as secure as those found on other wireless earbuds, including the AirPods Pro. This is somewhat problematic for an accessory advertised as a sports product, especially when you consider they don't come with earfins for added security. However, at no time during my testing did either of the MW08 Sport earbuds actually fall out of my ears.
The IPX5 rating, alongside the somewhat muted colors options and tip fitting, call into question why these have "sport" in their name.
I also have a beef with M&D's decision to only include IPX5 water resistance on the earphones, which is the same as the MW08. An IPX6 rating would have been a more appropriate choice, considering the MW07 Go had this better rating (at a much lower price). The IPX5 rating, alongside the somewhat muted colors options and tip fitting, call into question why these earphones even have "sport" in their name.
My final criticism is a familiar one found across much of the true wireless landscape: there's no EQ available to adjust the treble or bass. The omission is not make or break, but it's disappointing nonetheless, especially given M&D did go to the trouble of releasing a companion app.
What about wireless charging?
The MW08 Sport is the first of the company's earphones to support inductive wireless charging. For this, you can use one of your existing wireless charging accessories or purchase the company's upcoming MC100 Wireless Charge Pad. No doubt, wireless compatibility brings convenience to any device that supports the technology. And yet, it's probably not the reason most will buy M&D's newest product.
Master & Dynamic MW08 Sport: Competition
Besides the M&D MW08, the MW08 Sport faces a growing true wireless headphone market. Besides the top-selling AirPods Pro, which are the best choice for Apple-only users, there's also the well-received Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2, which offers customized sound and 24 hours of listening between charges. You should also check out the impressive Bowers & Wilkins P17, beautiful headphones from an iconic British brand.
On the less expensive side of the market, consider the AirPods 2. It still packs a bunch and is available at a great price, although an updated version could be announced soon.
Master & Dynamic MW08 Sport: Should you buy them?
You should buy this if ...
- You already love M&D products and want something new
- Color choices include more than white
- Price isn't a factor
You shouldn't buy this if...
- You're only using Apple products
- You are on a budget
- You truly need sports-focused headphones
In summary, the MW08 Sport is a beautifully designed product that sounds great. Did we mention its four color choices?
However, there's much to consider. If you like M&D and want to save a little money, the MW08 is probably a better choice. It offers nearly everything the MW08 Sport does for less.
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