Master & Dynamic’s MW09 are premium wireless earbuds with a stunning battery life

M&D’s flagship buds get a makeover and slim down while increasing playback time. Could these be the most beautiful earbuds around?

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Master & Dynamic MW09

Master & Dynamic MW09

Review Overview

Our rating

9

Our verdict

Exquisite build quality and design
Rich and detailed sound with support for hi-res codecs
Stellar battery life
Very solid active noise cancelling

To our ears, they need a minor EQ tweak out of the box
Relatively pricey
No spatial audio or head-tracking

Aluminium case £319, kevlar case £369, masterdynamic.com

Master & Dynamic, based out of New York, has always prioritised quality over quantity. As such, its relatively small lineup of audio products has won over many audio pros as well as everyday listeners.

The latest generation of its MW series wireless earbuds builds on earlier successes but also enters a crowded market with many companies having got in on the act. A couple of generations in, can they still stand out?

This reviewer has a long-serving pair of MW07s that are still going strong, and tested the MW08s on their launch which saw a big change to the design of the case. The MW09s have a similar case to their predecessor but a significant weight saving has been achieved and though the case is still very robust it is much lighter than before – 50g to its predecessor’s 81g. This makes an appreciable difference when you factor in the other things you carry around, and is very welcome.

MW09 right earbud
MW09 right earbud

The cases and buds come in a range of colours, all very modern and stylish, and there’s a kevlar case option that adds £50 to the price – our review pair had the aluminium case. The buds themselves are very light, secure and comfortable, with a choice of seven pairs of tips. There’s also splash resistance for the buds and case so taking them on a run shouldn’t be an issue.

Despite the weight-saving, M&D has dramatically increased the battery life and you now get up to 16 hours in the buds (or 12 with ANC on) and an extra 32 in the case, for a total of 48 hours. There’s USB-C charging for the case that gives you 50% in 20 minutes and 100% in 60 minutes via a cable. Or pop it on a wireless charger and you’ll get 50% in 70 minutes and 100% in 160 minutes. A quick five-minute charge will also give you up to two hours of listening in an emergency. These numbers easily beat Apple’s Airpods Pro 2 with their six hours of listening time in the buds and 30 in the case. In practice, battery life like this means you will never really run out of juice if you remember to just drop the case on a wireless mat every few days.

Connecting the buds is simple and they have multipoint support, meaning you can switch for example between your phone and your laptop without re-pairing. A range of 100 feet means we’re able to wander between rooms without ever losing signal from our desktop Mac. Bluetooth 5.4 is supported as are multiple codecs including AptX Lossless up to 16-bit / 44.1 kHz, AptX Adaptive up to 24-bit / 96 kHz and AptX Adaptive for low latency gaming. As ever, Apple users only get the basic AAC and SBC codecs whilst Android users may be able to take advantage of the higher bitrates.

MW09 sound settings on the Connect app
MW09 sound settings on the Connect app

M&D’s Connect app for mobile devices lets you manage settings and while there’s not the galaxy of tweaks you get with some apps, there’s everything you really need. One thing you’ll want to do is run the acoustic seal test to optimise the noise cancelling for your particular ear canals – out of the box we find even the max level of ANC isn’t quite as strong as we’d hoped for, however running the test seemed to tighten it up.

Adaptive ANC did a good job of modifying cancelling levels as we navigated the tube network, and Ambient mode provided useful pass-through for when walking in public. ‘All Day’ ANC is a mode for quieter environments though we personally prefer our cancelling nice and total. All this is powered by a six-microphone array with wind reduction that also enables the AI-enhanced talk mode, providing one of the clearest phone call experiences we’ve ever had on wireless earbuds. The buds use buttons for interaction rather than touch surfaces, which helps prevent accidental triggering in our experience.

M&D has always been about the sound quality and here the MW09s don’t disappoint. One thing that surprised us however was that these are the first M&D model we’ve found necessary to use EQ with. The app provides some presets as well as a manual five-band equaliser; out of the box we find the buds a little on the bassy side, with the mid and upper-mid ranges slightly lacking. This was easily remedied by using the ‘audiophile’ EQ preset or indeed dialling in a little more mid in the manual section which really brought things back into balance and added a lot of life to the sound.

MW09 in use
MW09 in use

Your ears will have their own preferences of course – you may prefer a different treatment. When you have tuned them to your liking you’ll find the custom-designed 11 mm beryllium drivers deliver a rich and warm soundstage, tackling the nuances of neoclassical music just as well as the punch and drive of drum’n’bass. While lesser wireless buds can sometimes remind you that you saved a few quid on them by sounding or feeling a bit lacklustre, the MW09s sound natural, sweet and powerful.

To return to our initial question – these buds do indeed stand out in a crowded field. They’re beautifully designed and built, putting the popular Sony WF-1000MX5s, Bose QuietComfort 2 and even AirPods Pro 2 in the shade in terms of looks and build quality. They also comfortably outclass all three (admittedly less expensive) models in terms of battery life, though the Bose has slightly better ANC. There’s also none of the spatial and head tracking stuff you get from Apple but that will only be a dealbreaker for some listeners.

Despite our mild surprise at having to make an EQ tweak which we haven’t had to do before with M&D gear, the MW09s still offer superlative sound, just perhaps with that one extra step. Battery life is excellent, recharging is quick and they’re lighter than the previous generation while significantly extending playback. The cancelling is very good and if not perhaps best in class, certainly adequate for all but the very noisiest environments.

Most of all though it’s the playback that gets you. There are buds around the £230 mark that come close and even offer a wider range of features, but can’t touch the MW09s for sheer fidelity.

Back of MW09 earbud
Back of MW09 earbud

Key features

  • 11 mm beryllium drivers
  • 48 hours total battery life
  • USB-C and wireless case charging
  • Active and adaptive noise cancelling
  • Six-microphone array
  • AI-powered voice clarity
  • Companion app with manual and preset EQs
  • Bluetooth 5.4 with multipoint connectivity
  • AptX Adaptive up to 24-bit, 96kHz codec
  • Splash proof
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