With the wireless MW50+, American manufacturer Master & Dynamic is going in an unusual director. These semi-open headphones are available as both supra-aural and circumaural headphones and promise plenty of possibilities. I test them to see if things hold up in practice.
In addition to the MW50+ itself, these headphones come with sets of ear cushions (on-ear and over-ear), a soft fabric transport bag with an inner pocket for headphone storage, as well as a cable with a mini jack plug and a USB-C charging cable. Both cables are fabric-sheathed for durability. A velvet-lined leather case is also provided as a handy storage solution for whatever pair of ear pads you’re not using. Virtually all packaging is recyclable, with the manufacturer completely dispensing away with plastic bags.
Design & Manufacturing
Master & Dynamic have made it their mission to manufacturer a solid pair of headphones with the MW50+, utilising robust materials to ensure a long service life. That’s exactly what’s on offer here, with quality aesthetics, impressive materials and a high level of workmanship. These headphones are available in attractive metallic silver, with black or brown leathers, as well as metallic black and leather. Quality leather is used for the exterior of the headband and earpieces, while the inside of the headband cover is trimmed with soft lambskin leather. Stainless steel is used to ensure the longevity of the heavy-duty components. All in all, workmanship is of a high standard, down to the smallest of details.
From a technical point of view, there are two 40mm drivers with beryllium membranes that combine high rigidity with a lighter weight. Drivers made of this material are used in high-end models from other competitors, such as Focal. They enable the headphones to reproduce frequency ranges from 5 Hz to 30 kHz. There’s also the wireless aspect of these headphones to consider. For wireless connectivity, there’s Bluetooth 4.1 and the aptX code, guaranteeing a first-rate sound.
Functions & Handling
For wireless control, the MW50+ provides all typical controls such as on/off, pairing, combined volume and skip control, as well as call acceptance/termination. Two LEDs indicate the pairing status, as well as battery and charge status. The integrated battery should provide 16 hours of operation, with charging taking place via a supplied USB-C cable. This can also be used to update firmware. A microphone array consisting of two omnidirectional mics is also integrated into the main body of the headphones. Pairing and operation are self-explanatory and intuitive, while performing perfectly during testing. And what’s more, M&D equip the MW50+ earpieces with a rotating mechanism, making them incredibly slim and ideal for storing away for transport.
Undoubtedly, one of the most special factors of these headphones is the choice of two pairs of ear cushions. They are held by magnets affixed to the ear cups, with their position decided with the use of two small pins. This makes replacement quick and effortless. Memory foam and sheepskin
leather makes them a very comfortable choice, with breathable soft leather preventing the usual build-up of heat and sweat usually found with similar materials. The size adjustment of the headphones won’t suddenly change on you, even though it isn’t rasterised. The tilting earpieces can also be swivelled thanks to their pivot mechanism, ensuring you’ve a set of headphones that adapt well to respective head shapes. Contact pressure is good and ensure these headphones remain fixed firmly, even when shaking your head and performing typical, everyday movements. This is also enhanced by its weight, with these headphones weighing just 229 grams (without cable), yet still boasting solid and robust materials. The length of the included cable is 1.20 metres, offering excellent flexibility for when you’re out on the go and at the ideal length for tucking away under clothing.
Sound & Applications
Master & Dynamic promote the MW50+ as having a sound that’s “warm” and “full”. From my own experience, I can vouch for these claims. The first thing I noticed was the finely tuned highs. M&D have produced a set of headphones that are clearly capable up to the super high range, while there’s an openness that’s simply outstanding. Its mids are differentiated, with clear vocals that are given the limelight they deserve in busier productions. Rich basses are also standard here, although there’s a somewhat gruff sound character in the lower mids. Nevertheless, the MW50+ can also handle real bass well, going down into the sub-bass range.
The MW50+ is loud and precise. At higher volumes, however, the high frequencies become a little excessive, meaning that having to use the EQ application is required. This is particularly true if you’re using the over-ear cushions. There’s nothing wrong with the dynamic response of the headphones, with the signal being powerful and convincing with a wide stereo impression and a wonderful sense of depth. All in all, the sound of the Master & Dynamic seems anything but linear. The frequency contours are excellent for listening to pop music, with tracks sounding brilliant, wide and full of character. What’s more, the muffling of external noise is top-tier thanks to a tight fit. What I didn’t like as much, however, is the sound isolation to the outside. If you listen to sound with these headphones while you’re on the go, don’t be surprised if you get the odd angry look from those nearby if you’re listening at higher volumes.
The versatility of the semi-open Master & Dynamic MW50+ is certainly convincing. Included accessories definitely impress, while aesthetics, choice of materials and the quality of manufacturing are all up to discerning standards. Handling is also user-friendly, while the fit is exemplary. What’s more, Master & Dynamic’s proximity to the New York art scene has obviously had an effect on the development department. Freethinkers don’t want to be restricted when it comes to on-ear or over-ear decisions, so the option of both from the MW50+ is definitely welcome.
In terms of sound, two sound signatures are on offer, each with distinct character. With ear-covering cushions, the headphones produce a much richer sound, while providing overall enhanced volume and better isolation from external noise. If ear cushions are used, the sound is much more muffled. In either case, the MW50+ stands for powerful reproduction with detailed mids and high treble. The Bluetooth function of the M&D is easy to use, convenient and does not demonstrate any noticeable sound differences when compared to cable operation. The only real drawback is the low isolation from the outside world if you’re on the go with the MW50+, especially if you’re in a busy urban environment with a higher volume enabled. The bottom line is the Master & Dynamic MW50+ is an extremely versatile headphone, showing few weaknesses and offering plenty that will make sophisticated audiophiles very happy when it comes to listening across all genres.
Measurement ResultsMore measurement results
- Ear couplingOver-Ear, On-Ear
- Transducer principledynamic
- Frequency response (headphones)5 - 30.000 Hz
- Impedance32,95 ohms
- Sound pressure level (SPL)103,64 dB
- Pressure averaged from big and small head513,5 g
- Weight with cable240 g
- Weight without cable229 g
- Cable length120 cm
What's in the box
- 2 pairs of ear pads (on-ear & over-ear)
- Leather case for ear pads
- Interchangeable cable (mini jacks)
- USB C charging cable
- Transport bag
- available in silver/brown, silver/black and black
- BT version: 4.1
- BT codec: aptX