review

Master & Dynamic MW50 Plus Review Wireless Headphones

Monday, May 25, 2020

The greatest advantage of on-ear headphones has always been their ability to let you hear what's going around you while listening to music without being blocked off from the world! On-ear headphones are a better choice for those with big earlobes or those who wear earrings that prevents them from comfortably wear over-ear headphones.
Fortunately though, there is a pair of headphones - the Master & Dynamic MW50 Plus - that provides best of both worlds, letting you interchange from on-ear to over-ear and viceversa in just a few seconds via a magnetic clasp system that effectively simplifies the switching process of the earpads.
Having the ability to swap earpad style on-the-go means being able to use the Master & Dynamic MW50 Plus anywhere, in the office or on a commute, without worrying about sound leakage and situational awareness.
The over-ear earpads that come with the MW50 Plus headphones have the same dimensions as the over ear earpads that come with the Master & Dynamic MW60 headphones.
That said, the earpads aren't interchangeable so, the MW60 earpads will not fit on the MW50 Plus because the notches that hold the earpads to the earcups do not align and are smaller than the notches on the MW60 earcups.
Even if you could somehow interchange the MW50 Plus and MW60 earpads, the sound would be compromised because the over ear earpads that come with the MW50 Plus headphones have a small circular opening on the back.
nylon sleeve/ metal plugs
The MW50 Plus headphones have 40mm drivers, while the MW60 headphones have 45mm drivers. The MW50 Plus have the same beryllium coated drivers found in the MW65 headset and MW07 Go true wireless earphones.
While the Master & Dynamic MW50 Plus don't pack the same features as the MW65 headphones (i.e. noise cancellation and native Google voice assistant), the Master & Dynamic MW50 Plus headphones have switchable memory foam earpads covered with soft lambskin.
The padding on the underside of the headband is very thin but, it is lined with soft lambskin, which feels really nice on a bald or skin-shaved head. The lack of thicker padding doesn't cause heat spot on the head, thanks to the low weight (206 grams), making the MW50 Plus the lightest of all Master & Dynamic headphones lineup. Even with the over ear earpads fitted, the MW50 Plus weigh just 240 grams.
The MW50 Plus earcup outer housing is made of anodized aluminium while the drivers are protected externally by a thin aluminium grill mesh engraved with the coordinates of Midtown Manhattan's Grand Central Station (40.7527 degrees north, 73.9773 west). The black ring backing surrounding the grill mesh is made of rubberized hard plastic, which provides a soft surface for the earpads to rest against.
The stock earpads that come with the Master & Dynamic MW50 Plus headphones are true ear cushions without the characteristic donut-style earpads most headphones ship with. The MW50 Plus on-ear pads have a raised "flat dome" design with a 3.7cm squircle diameter and no centre hole so, the earpads sit more comfortably against the ear with very little pressure on the ears cartilage. If you prefer the classic, donut style on ear pads, check out the MH30 on ear headphones.
The MW50 Plus on-ear pads have perforated holes and a 1.5cm deep hollow centre, which prevents heat build up, making them even less sweaty than regular on-ear pads.
The MW50 Plus on-ear earpads measure 5cm wide and 6cm tall with a 1.5cm thick memory foam padding. The rear end of the on-ear earpads integrate lycra material that protects the speaker driver from dirt ingress. Both on-ear earpads weigh 10 grams.
The MW50 Plus over-ear earpads measure 6.3cm tall, 3.5cm wide and 1.5cm deep and have cloth fabric separating the speaker driver.
While the over-ear earpads look visually larger than the on-ear earpads, the over-ear earpads have the same diameter opening on the back that lets the same amount of sound pass through. That said, because of the larger enclosed cavity of the over-ear earpads, you get a deeper bass and better spatial audio reproduction.
Provided that your ears aren't too big, the over-ear earpads are very comfortable, thanks to 2.2cm thick memory foam, which is covered also with soft lambskin. Both over-ear earpads weigh 28 grams.
Detaching and attaching the earpads works well with a good magnetic connection that allows you to easily pull the earpads apart without a fight. The magnetic connection snaps the earpads into place securely, although the over-ear earpads take a little longer to attach as they require pressing down with a bit of force for the earpads to stay in place.
The headband adjusting arm, earcup yoke and the outer perimeter of the driver housing are made of anodized stainless steel.
The yoke can only be tilted up and down very slightly but the earcups do swivel 180 degrees so, the earpads can face flat for safe transportation, which is useful since the MW50 Plus do not come with a hard-shell storage case. Instead, you get a thick canvas fabric zip pouch with an internal pouch to store the audio cables.
thin nylon pouch
In some respects, the MW50 Plus is a fusion between the MH40 Wireless and MW65, integrating the MH40 Wireless characteristic earcup microphone grille mesh and the MW65 smooth sliding headband mechanism. The top of the MW50 Plus headband and outer side of the earcup are covered with thick grain leather, which is sewn together at the top with straight stitching.
The MW50 Plus headphone has similar driver sensitivity (106dB) as the MW60 so, they are both as loud with a surprisingly similar sound. Punchy bass (not bass heavy), clear bright treble and detailed midrange.
Then again, the MW50 Plus on-ear pads are not like any other on-ear earpads since they have a hollow dome design with perforated holes that certainly helps lower frequencies, allowing them to resonate much deeper than regular on-ear earpads.
The MW50 Plus sound good via bluetooth or wired connection, although the volume level is noticeably higher when connecting the MW50 Plus headphone directly to an audio source like a smartphone.
The MW50 Plus speaker drivers do have a 32 ohm impedance rating so, depending on the DAC amplifier inside your phone, you will get less or more fidelity. Hooking up the MW50 Plus to an external DAC amplifier is, definitely, advisable to take the audio sound to its sublime potential.
Once paired to a device, the switching between wired and wireless is seamless. When the audio cable is unplugged from the audio port of a paired device, the MW50 Plus will automatically reconnect the bluetooth connection. The MW50 Plus does not support audio pass through (while charging) in Bluetooth mode but, you can listen to wired audio while the MW50 Plus headphone is charging.
Full charge takes 2.5 hours and it's done via USB-C connection, unlike the MW60, which charges via micro USB connection. You can get a respectable 16 hours playtime when adjusting volume down to 50% and playing audio via the default SBC bluetooth codec.
The MW50 Plus Bluetooth 4.1 chip does support aptX, which reduces video lag but does consume slightly more power than SBC. AptX is not as power hungry as AAC though, which is not supported by the MW50 Plus.
User controls consist of three small mechanical buttons and one "rocking" switch, which activates bluetooth, which supports multipoint pairing, as well as powering off and on the MW50 Plus headphones. The buttons work well, although those with chunky fingers may find them a tad on the small size.
The mini sized buttons on either end have + and - etchings for tactility. The buttons provide full control of the audio playback and incoming calls, which are carried out via two good sounding microphones located on either side of the rubberized 3.5mm audio port that is located on the left earcup.
The microphones do have an omnidirectional pattern but they are noise isolating so, background noise does get reduced substantially. The microphones only work when the MW50 Plus is connected to a calling device via bluetooth so, the headphones will not work in wired mode.
A 1.25 meter long audio cable is included, along with a USB-A to USB-C charging/audio cable. Both cables have Master & Dynamic branding, nylon branding sleeves, metal plugs and reinforced strain reliefs. The 3.5mm connectors are gold-plated. The included leather box weighs 84 grams.
The Master & Dynamic MW50 Plus are a piece of fine workmanship without fancy electronic wizardry that works, sounds and looks top-class. You can buy the Master & Dynamic MW50+ via Amazon.
Gadget Explained disclosure: As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases

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