Master & Dynamic MW65 review: An impressive but expensive wireless noise-cancelling headphone

New York-based Master & Dynamic made a name for itself by making distinctly styled headphones that featured premium materials and very good sound. The company’s latest wireless model, the MW65 ANC, is the first to feature active noise cancellation and is arguably its best headphone to date. However, at $ 499 it costs more than other excellent – and already quite expensive – noise canceling headphones like the Sony WH-1000XM3 and the Bose QuietComfort 35 II. And there’s no really compelling reason to buy it over those models.

But let’s forget the price for a minute and talk about what’s good about headphones. For starters, they definitely have the look and feel of a premium headset, with leather trim, foldable hinges, and elegantly padded lambskin-lined ear cups. And thanks to the use of anodized aluminum instead of stainless steel, the 250 gram MW65 is significantly lighter than the 351 gram MW60 and more comfortable to wear as a result.

What you get in the box.

Sarah Tew / CNET

Like the MW60, I found this headphone a bit too large and it barely fit in my head, so it may not work for people with smaller heads. But they were an excellent solution for my colleague Ty Pendelbury, who has a larger skull (he also commented that they felt lighter than the previous Master & Dynamic headphones he had tried).

I would have preferred it to have Bluetooth 5.0 instead of Bluetooth 4.2, but I had no problems with wireless connectivity. Walking the streets of New York, I encountered minimal hiccups or Bluetooth interference – the connection was mostly as solid as an iPhone X and Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus.

I also had no problem making calls. There is no sidetone feature, which allows you to hear your voice in the headphones so you don’t speak too loud (a $ 500 headset should have this feature), but callers said they could hear me well and the headset is equipped with two arrays of noise-reducing microphones that are used to muffle ambient sounds when listening to music and to reduce background noise during calls.

Master & Dynamic describes its sonic signature as “rich, warm sound that captures the details of well-recorded music”. I think it’s actually a very accurate description of the sound. The MW65 is a very pleasant headphone to listen to. Not necessarily incredibly exciting or dynamic, but it’s well balanced and smooth. It’s a headphone that you can listen to for a while without getting tired.

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