Master & Dynamic MW09

Master & Dynamic MW09

Verdict

Yes, they’re a little bit bulky and the sound they produce is, in absolute terms, a little bit lop-sided. But the MW09 are deeply satisfying as objects – to the point that you may be prepared to overlook their little shortcomings…

Pros

  • Robust and assertive sound
  • Good specification, great battery life
  • Impressive standard of build and finish

Cons

  • Can sound slightly blunt
  • Fiddly on-bud controls
  • Relatively big and heavy


  • Auracast readySupports next-gen Auracast streaming tech

  • Battery life16 hours from a charge, 48 hours in total

  • CallsA.I. enhanced talk solution for clearer calls

Introduction

Master & Dynamic isn’t the first rather self-consciously premium audio brand to have run into the true wireless conundrum: how do you make a product that is, by necessity, as small and light and unobtrusive as possible seem upmarket and, well, premium? Just because it isn’t the first, though, that doesn’t make Master & Dynamic’s task any easier.

The MW09 are certainly priced like a premium product. So how exactly has Master & Dynamic decided to justify your outlay? And has it succeeded?

Availability

The Master & Dynamic MW09 true wireless in-ear headphones are on sale and in the United Kingdom they’ll set you back either £319 (with aluminium charging case) or £369 (with Kevlar charging case). In America the going rate is $349 or $399, while in Australia you’re probably looking at AU$599 or AU$699 if my understanding of international exchange rates is anything to go by.

You can pay more than this for true wireless in-ear headphones (Devialet and Montblanc, I’m looking at you in particular – and don’t get me started on Louis Vuitton), but equally you can pay less and get something extremely well-regarded from the likes of Bose or Sony. So there had better be more to the MW09 than some choice materials… 

Design

  • 46 x 65 x 26mm (charging case, HxWxD); 20 x 22 x 21mm (earbud, HxWxD)
  • 8.1g (earbud); 50.5g (Kevlar charging case); 62.5g (aluminium charging case)
  • Anodised aluminium and sapphire glass construction

The MW09 earbuds are the classic twist to fit shape, and they are beautifully constructed from a combination of plastic, anodised aluminium and sapphire glass. Each earbud is not exactly small, and at over 8g each they’re quite heavy – must be all of those premium materials. An IP54 rating means you don’t have to be super-careful with them, though. 

Even the more expensive Kevlar option for the charging case doesn’t make it all that much of a flyweight, either – although to be fair, its 50.5g is definitely preferable to the 62.5g of the (slightly more affordable) aluminium alternative. Each case is IPX4 rated, though, so the occasional water-splash shouldn’t be problematic. 

Master Dynamic MW09 charging caseMaster Dynamic MW09 charging case
Image Credit (Trusted Reviews)

If you fancy the aluminium charging case option, you can choose between black buds in a black case or silver-and-white buds in a silver case. Go for Kevlar and you can pick between blue and black, green and black, gold and gold, or gunmetal and black. 

Rather than allowing the lovely glass finish of the outside of the earbuds to get smeared by using them as a capacitive touch surface, Master & Dynamic has instead fitted physical controls to the edges of each earbud. They can be used to adjust volume, cycle through the ANC options you’ve defined in the control app, skip forwards or backwards, wake your player’s native voice assistant, and play or pause music. It’s a fiddly and rather hit-and-miss implementation, though, and nothing like as elegant or straightforward as a well-sorted touch-surface is.  

Master Dynamic MW09 controlsMaster Dynamic MW09 controls
Image Credit (Trusted Reviews)

Features

  • 11mm beryllium dynamic drivers
  • Bluetooth 5.4 with aptX Lossless
  • Impressive battery life

There’s really no arguing with the way Master & Dynamic has specified the MW09. It’s true that you can’t judge a book by its cover, but it’s possible to get quite excited by the prospect of a pair of true wireless in-ear headphones when checking out their specification.

The MW09 use Bluetooth 5.4 for wireless connectivity, and compatibility with aptX Lossless and aptX Adaptive codecs means lossless 16-bit/44.1kHz resolution is available (if you have a source player than can deliver it), as is a lossy 24-bt/96kHz. There’s also a low-latency gaming mode, and the MW09 are also Auracast-ready. They’re set up for multipoint connectivity, too. 

Master Dynamic MW09 earphones design detailMaster Dynamic MW09 earphones design detail
Image Credit (Trusted Reviews)

Once it’s on board, sound is served to your ears by a couple of 11mm beryllium full-range dynamic drivers – Master & Dynamic isn’t quoting a frequency response, but I’m expecting very low to extremely high as a minimum. Each earbud also features three mics to take care of telephony, voice control and active noise-cancellation.

There’s a fair bit of adjustability available where ANC is concerned, too. As well as off, it’s possible to choose between three Ambient positions (natural, voice or awareness, which are basically degrees of intensity) and three ANC positions (max, all day and adaptive). 

The MW09 can be charged either via the USB-C slot on the side of the charging case, or by using any Qi-certified charging pad. And unless you’re absolutely caning the volume, the earbuds will run for over 15 hours before they require any attention – which is a very decent figure in anyone’s language. With two further full charges in the case, you should be able to go two days and two nights without recourse to mains power.

Master Dynamic MW09 control appMaster Dynamic MW09 control app
Image Credit (Trusted Reviews)

The control app itself is free for iOS and Android, and is in its own way just as swish and stylish as the earbuds it controls. As well as deciding on your active noise-cancellation of Ambient Sound options, it has a five-band EQ with both presets and the option to save a custom setting, features an acoustic seal test to make sure your earbuds fit correctly, allows you to switch in-ear detection on or off, set an auto off time limit, and check for updates. It’s stable and useful – which is about all you can reasonably ask.

Sound Quality

  • Solid, quite dynamic sound
  • Good staging and detail levels
  • Treble response is tricky to finesse

With the EQ settings left well alone, with the MW09 connected to a Samsung smartphone via the aptX codec, and with a TIDAL-derived FLAC file of Barry Adamson’s The Vibes ain’t Nothin’ but the Vibes playing, these earbuds take next-to-no time to reveal themselves. They give every impression of wanting to let the music know who’s boss around here.

What this means in practice is that the MW09 overstate the lower frequencies while rolling off the top end. Neither trait is fatal in this instance, but it’s noticeable. The bottom end is big and bold, and punches with real determination – but it’s reasonably well controlled where attack and decay are concerned, and so rhythms are expressed with some positivity and momentum is maintained. 

Master Dynamic MW09 earphonesMaster Dynamic MW09 earphones
Image Credit (Trusted Reviews)

Bass sounds are pretty detailed, too, with plenty of variation in tone and texture to accompany the out-and-out thump. The top of the frequency range, meanwhile is perfectly fine and expressive until it reaches authentically high – and then it’s rolled off quite steeply. It’s possible to add a little more bit and shine to the top end by using the EQ settings, of course – but the knock-on effect of this is a slight hardness and edginess that is just as unwelcome, in its own way, as the sudden roll-off it replaces.

In between, though, the midrange needs no excuses made for it. It’s detailed and informative, expressive with vocalists and has sufficient dynamic variation to make the harmonic changes in a voice or an instrument perfectly apparent. The MW09 create a very plausible and expansive soundstage, too, so a vocalist occupying the midrange has sufficient space to stretch out without worrying about getting swamped by all that low-frequency presence.

Switch to a Qobuz file of Rude Girl on Rotation by of Montreal and the dynamic thrust the MW09 are capable of becomes apparent. Without shifting character in the slightest, without sounding in any way flustered or stressed, the Master & Dynamic simply put significant distance between the most and least intense sections of the recording. And, again, they are adept enough with harmonic variations to paint a complete and colourful sonic picture.

Master Dynamic MW09 with earphonesMaster Dynamic MW09 with earphones
Image Credit (Trusted Reviews)

In some ways, the active noise-cancellation mimics the audio quality of the MW09 – or, rather, represents the flip-side. Perhaps it’s to do with the earbuds’ reticence where the higher frequencies are concerned, but the Master & Dynamic seem to have no problem in dealing with high-frequency distractions from outside – and without giving any hint of counter-signal or otherwise betraying how hard they must be working. 

They do a very decent job on ambient sounds in the midrange, too – but they are less successful where bass-y noises are concerned. If you’re hoping to completely banish that aircraft drone (and not just the drone of its passengers) you may need to cast your net a little bit wider… 

Latest deals

Should you buy it?

If you like nice things

This isn’t the first Master & Dynamic product to look and feel a cut above its nominal competition, and I doubt it will be the last.

You’re determined to get as much sonic bang for your buck as possible

The MW09 are an enjoyable listen, certainly, but you can get a more complete (or, at least, a more naturalistic) sound from some more affordable alternatives.

Final Thoughts

There are reasons why the Master & Dynamic MW09 aren’t for me: my ears are on the smaller side, I dislike the physical controls, and the sound they make is just slightly skewed. But if they turn out to be just the ticket for you, I shan’t argue – because there is plenty of substance to go along with the style here.

How we test

We test every pair of headphones we review thoroughly over an extended period of time. We use industry-standard tests to compare features properly. We’ll always tell you what we find. We never, ever, accept money to review a product.

Find out more about how we test in our ethics policy.

Tested with real world use

Tested across several days

FAQs

What is Auracast?

Auracast is a streaming technology allows a user to seamlessly jump between audio playing from two different devices, share audio with friends and even stream to large numbers of people in public spaces.

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