Master & Dynamic MW65 review: good noise-cancelling headphones at a steep price

Master & Dynamic MW65 Headphones
(Image: © Bryan M. Wolfe / iMore)

New York-based Master & Dynamic (M&D) is known for its stylishly, high-end audio products made with durable, long-lasting materials such as buttery leather, lambskin, and premium metals. The result: excellent sound in an expensive package.

For its first new product of 2019, the company has introduced the MW65 Active Noise-Cancelling Wireless Headphones, its first ANC headphones to date. Offering M&D's now familiar design that has become the company's bread and butter, the MW65 headphones are packed full of useful features. Are they worth the price of admission?

The Good

  • Light-weight
  • Amazing battery life
  • Impressive, well-balanced sound
  • USB-C!
  • Awesome quick charge
  • Good ANC

The Bad

  • Bulky cups
  • Bluetooth 4.2, not 5.0
  • No sidetone feature
  • High retail price

Ready for its closeup

What is the MW65?

If you've never seen a pair of M&D headphones, you've been missing out. If you are familiar, the MW65 will instantly remind you of the company's other headphones, whether it's the foldable on-ear MW30, versatile MW50+, or iconic MW60. (With the MW65, M&D now offers three wireless headphones and two wired versions.)

mw65 color choices

MW65 black and brown (Image credit: Master & Dynamic)

The MW65 look strikingly similar to the MW60 although the former uses anodized aluminum instead of stainless steel which makes it lighter (245g versus 345g). There are other key differences between the two as you can see below.

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Header Cell - Column 0 MW65MW60
Color Choices26
Dimensions165mm x 190mm x 66mm200mm x 185mm x 50mm
MicrophoneBeamforming Noise Reduction Mic ArrayOmni-directional
Battery length between charges24 hours16 hours
Quick charge50 percent in 15 minutesNone
Charging cableUSB-C to USB-CMicro USB
Materialsanodized aluminum, leatherPremium grain leather, stainless steel, aluminum
Ear PadsReplaceable Lambskin-Wrapped Memory FoamDetachable lambskin memory foam
DriversCustom, 40mm Beryllium45mm Neodymium High-Performance
ANC choices2None
VoiceGoogle AssistantNone

Good ANC, familiar sound

MW65: What I like

There's much to love about the MW65 headphones starting with their light-weight design. These headphones are more comfortable than previous M&D headphone models which seem to get heavier with each new hour of use. The MW65 feel better overall, but they aren't as comfortable as the Bose QuietComfort 35 II.

For its first go-around, M&D did a good job at ANC. On the MW65, you'll find two ANC settings, high and low power. The first has been designed to block out sound on busy city streets, in airplanes, and other noisy environments. Low power works best in windy environments. (You can also turn off ANC using a button on the left cup.)

During my tests, I couldn't detect significant differences between high and low power. Though M&D's ANC doesn't quite match ANC technology offered by Sony and Bose, it's close. Beyond this, M&D signature sound is more than apparent. The sound coming from the MW65, like other M&D headphones, isn't overpowering. Instead, it offers a balanced, warm sound that should impress most users. If you're looking for headphones with deep bass, it's best to look elsewhere.

Master & Dynamic MW65 review

M&D also did a good, not great, job when it comes to the MW65's built-in microphone. Powered by a beamforming noise reduction mic array, the tool works well and offers a clear sound during calls. There's no sidetone feature, unfortunately, which allows you to hear yourself during a conversation, so you know whether you're too loud or quiet. This oversight is slightly baffling given the MW65's price. Still, I didn't detect any problems when making calls. Those on the other side told me I sounded crisp and near. Plus, the MW65's use of Google Assistant also works well, although finding the button on the right cup while the headphones are on isn't always easy because it's a little on the small size like the other buttons.

Finally, I can happily report that the MW65's battery life lived up to expectations. I drained the battery twice during my tests; for one of those cycles, I was able to quick-charge the device up to 50 percent in 17 minutes, which is close to M&D's promise of 15 minutes.

Aging look, high price

MW65: What I don't like

Back in 2014, Apple introduced the iPhone 6, which featured an all-new redesign which excited the masses. Unfortunately, Apple wouldn't change the look of the iPhone again until 2017 when it announced the iPhone X. In the interim, Apple revealed the iPhone 7 and iPhone 8, both which featured the then-tired, familiar design. I'm worried the same could soon be said for M&D which continues to go back to the same general design for its headphones.

Don't get me wrong, I continue to love the M&D look which has been extended successfully to the MW65. While other companies are cheapening their audio products, M&D continues to release terrific looking headphones made from high-quality, durable materials. However, moving forward perhaps M&D would be wise to change things up and do more than just change the colors of its headphones. I'm thinking new metals, a refresh designed, and more.

MW65 in black

Beyond this, there's little not to like about these new headphones. In 2019, M&D should have used Bluetooth 5.0, not Bluetooth 4.2. Despite this, I didn't run into any problems when using them away from my iPhone. M&D promises a range of up to 20 meters, and I was able to achieve this.

What about the price?

I'll end this review by discussing price. At $499, the MW65 headphones aren't cheap. However, the price is in the same ballpark as similar headphones. Bang & Olufsen's Beoplay H9i wireless headphones, for example, are also priced at $499, although they're often on sale at Amazon. By contrast, the industry-leading Bose QuietComfort 35 II ANC wireless headphones, which offers a more mainstream look, is $349.

The bottom line: If you're willing to spend $500 for a pair of wireless headphones, the MW65 should be on your list of the products to consider. If the price is the most critical factor and you want ANC, look to Bose and save some cash.

Best to date

Master & Dynamic MW65 Active Noise-Cancelling Wireless Headphones

The MW65 is now M&D's best headphones thanks to its smooth ANC and incredible battery life. Just make sure you can live with the dated design and the hefty price tag.

See MW65 at Master & Dynamic

Have any questions?

If you have any questions or concerns about the MW65 or wireless headphones in general, let us know below.

Bryan M Wolfe
Staff Writer

Bryan M. Wolfe has written about technology for over a decade on various websites, including TechRadar, AppAdvice, and many more. Before this, he worked in the technology field across different industries, including healthcare and education. He’s currently iMore’s lead on all things Mac and macOS, although he also loves covering iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch. Bryan enjoys watching his favorite sports teams, traveling, and driving around his teenage daughter to her latest stage show, audition, or school event in his spare time. He also keeps busy walking his black and white cocker spaniel, Izzy, and trying new coffees and liquid grapes.