Master & Dynamic's MW75 Headphones: Hands-On With the Latest AirPods Max Competitor At $599, the MW75 noise-canceling headphones certainly have a premium price tag. But they've got a sweet design and deliver top-notch sound.

Over the years Masters & Dynamics has built a loyal following for its reasonably priced — and well-built — headphones and earbuds, which typically start at around $300. On Tuesday it revealed the MW75, a new set of flagship noise-cancelling headphones going on sale on June 28 in four colorways. They’re impressive headphones, but they come at a decidedly luxurious price point $599.

I received a sample of the gunmetal colored headphones and the first thing I noticed is that they fit my head more comfortably than the earlier ones MW65 ($499). The MW75 is 338 grams heavier than the MW65 (245 grams) but 48 grams lighter than Apple’s AirPods max Headphones (386 grams). Master & Dynamic says the new headband and earpad design helps with weight distribution, and I’ve gotten a more snug fit with the MW75. They’re comfortable headphones, but not quite as comfortable as Sony’s new $399 headphones WH-1000XM5 (250 grams).

The plush ear pads are magnetic and replaceable. They are lined with lambskin leather and provide a good seal for passive noise isolation, even without activating active noise cancellation. They fit well around my ears, but it’s worth noting that the earpads aren’t very spacious inside, so those with big ears may run into some issues. For comparison: the ear pads on the Sony WH-1000XM5 and Mark Levinson #5909 ($1,000) Headphones are larger on the inside.

Master & Dynamic headphones are known for their sturdy construction, and the aluminium-clad MW75 certainly feels solid and well-built. Unfortunately, the metal construction adds weight, but that’s a trade-off that some people don’t mind. They’re great looking headphones too, with tempered glass on the earcups giving them a distinctive, premium look. A felted hard-shell travel case is included and features an interior compartment for storing the headphones and USB-C charging cable.

Master & Dynamic MW75 headphones in four different colors

The headphones are available in four colors.

Masters & Dynamics

The MW75 has a very solid feature set. The noise cancellation has three modes – All Day, Max and Adaptive – and is very effective with practically no noise. However, it’s not quite as good as the Sony WH-1000XM5, which does a better job of blocking out higher-frequency noise. There are also two ambient modes that allow sound.

As you’d expect, there are ear detection sensors, so your music will pause when you take the headphones off and resume when you put them back on. You get Bluetooth 5.1 with support for AAC and aptX Adaptive audio codecs. (aptX Adaptive enables near-lossless Bluetooth wireless streaming with certain Android phones and music players when streaming high-resolution music files.) The MW75 has physical control buttons with volume and track controls on the right earcup and an ANC/room control button on the left earcup.

In addition to 40mm beryllium drivers, the headphones are equipped with eight microphones, four of which are beamforming for voice calls and four for noise cancellation. Battery life is 32 hours with noise cancellation off and 28 hours with noise cancellation on (the MW65s were rated for up to 24 hours). Unlike the MW65, the MW75 is paired with a companion app for iOS and Android that offers equalizer settings and firmware upgrades. Multipoint Bluetooth pairing, which allows you to simultaneously pair the headphones with devices such as a computer and smartphone, is on board.

The headphones are actually quite good for voice calls, with good noise cancellation – I tested them on the streets of New York – and good voice pickup. Callers said they could hear me clearly with just a little background noise. The only thing missing is a sidetone feature that lets you hear your voice while on the phone so you don’t speak too loudly. I think it’s an important feature (and best if it’s adjustable) and hopefully Master & Dynamic will add sidetone with a firmware upgrade.

Controls on the Master & Dynamic MW75 headphones

The headphones offer both wired and wireless listening.

David Carnoy/CNET

I tested the headphones for sound quality with one iPhone 13 pro and a few Android smartphones that support aptX Adaptive Bluetooth streaming. I use the streaming music service Qobuz, which offers high-res streaming. I also did some wired listening – yes, you do get a slight degradation in sound quality when using a cable. It’s worth noting that you can use the included USB-C to 3.5mm cable for analog listening, or use the USB-C to USB-C cable for a digital connection that supports high-resolution playback Audio files up to 24 bit supported. 96kHz.

The MW75 sounds excellent, with clean, accurate sound, natural-sounding mids and beautiful high-end detail. Bass is tight and punchy with just enough warmth. The MW75 seem to do well with all types of music genres and I had no trouble wearing the headphones for longer listening sessions. I didn’t experience any listening fatigue or comfort issues, although your ears will fog up if you wear the headphones in a hot environment.

Didn’t get a chance to do a ton of comparative listening but I think they sound a little better than the Sony WH-1000XM5. The MW75 sounds a little more accurate, with a slightly more refined tone that allows you to hear instruments a little more clearly in tracks where many instruments are playing simultaneously. The breadth of the soundstages is similar – they’re fairly wide and open – but the MW75 just has a slightly richer, more nuanced sound.

I also found that they were on par with Apple’s AirPods Max in terms of sound quality – again, the MW75 felt like the more accurate, natural-sounding headphones. The AirPods Max had a little more energy and played a little louder, but the MW75 sounded a little smoother and a little more articulate.

I’ll have to spend some time with them before I can give a final verdict, but the MW75 are easily Master & Dynamic’s best full-size headphones yet. Needless to say, they’re expensive and most people will be happy with the $400 Sony WH-1000XM5, which is lighter, more comfortable, and offers top-notch voice calling and noise-cancellation. But the build quality of the MW75 is hard to beat, and they offer top-notch sound for a wireless model, as well as strong voice calling and noise-cancelling performance. With their support for aptX Adaptive, they have an added appeal for Android users who can get a touch better sound quality with the right setup. But I’ve also been pretty happy streaming music with my iPhone 13 Pro using the AAC codec.

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