Master & Dynamic MW08 Review Hybrid ANC Earbuds MW07 Plus Comparison

Tuesday, April 06, 2021

For everyone, except those who really must have Apple centric features, the M&D MW08 will be a breath of fresh air and a superior alternative with a better long term return on investment. Instead of using plastics like many well known brands, the MW08 uses stainless steel and ceramic materials. The MW08 earbuds introduce app support - a first in Master & Dynamic's in-ear line up - as well as hybrid ANC technology similar to the one found in the MW65 headphone version.

The older MW07 Plus version is also equipped with ANC technology but, it only uses one ANC microphone (feedforward); whereas the MW08 uses two ANC microphones (hybrid), making it more versatile also because the ANC and Ambient modes can be tweaked via the newly released M&D Connect app.

As far as the MW08 design, the earbuds retain the classic MW07 series D-shape style with some notable cosmetic and construction changes done to the rest of the body. For instance, the gold plated charging contacts are smaller and with a triangular arrangement, while a light sensor has been integrated to activate the in-ear detection system.

The MW08 in-ear detection feature means the audio will automatically pause and resume when removing and putting the earbuds back in the ears. The in-ear detection light sensor works just like a smartphone ambient light sensor so, it's super accurate without causing false triggers when tilting the head, unlike gyro-based in-ear detection systems. 
The only thing noticeable about the MW08 in-ear detection, it's a second delay before the audio automatically resumes. The in-ear detection can be disabled from the app.

In terms of dimensions, the MW08 earbuds are about the same size as the MW07 GO version with the exact same D-shape size (2cm long and 1.8cm high). The button layout and design is the same with two physical buttons on the left earbud and one button on the right earbud. Aside from the ANC function, the MW08 has the same button functionality too, controlling volume (single presses), voice assistant and skipping tracks. 
The MW08 charging case measures 5.5cm long, 4.7cm high and 2.5cm thick. The USB-C charging port is located on the side. The MW08 charging case matte black version somehow reminds you of a Lockheed Nighthawk fighter plane because of the faceted lines and unmarked design. There is absolutely no outer branding. The MW08 charging case can get scratch though and, it's a finger print magnet too. If that is a problem for you, check out the new MW08 Sport version. It comes with a Kevlar charging case that repels fingerprints. 
The MW08 charging case has a robust black stainless steel construction and two solid metal hinges connecting the lid to the body. There is no slit opening, although the body has a slight shimmer finish to it that helps differentiate it from the lid. The MW08 charging case lid opens and closes reassuringly via magnetic connection. In terms of styling, the MW08 charging case no longer has a bathtub design, although the weight and dimensions are almost the same as the original MW07 series
The MW08 charging case has an upright design with the earbuds sitting inside the charging case at an angle, a bit like a pair of cufflinks inside a cufflink storage box. The angled design, allows the MW08 earbuds to protrude a bit, making them easier to remove from the charging case. The charging dock is magnetic too; hence no fear the earbuds will fall out. The underside of the charging case lid is rubberized to prevent any scratches and to also help push the earbuds down during charging. Inside the lid, there is also a unique serial number. 
The MW08 earbuds are no longer made of acetate but ceramic, including the D-shape cover, which is made of ceramic glass. Under the hood, there is new upgraded hardware too, using the latest bluetooth 5.2 chip version, which supports aptX, AAC, and SBC. The MW07 Plus version does not support AAC, which is useful if you listen to iTunes via the Apple Music app. Signal stability is solid with 30 meters maximum wireless range. 
The MW08 earbuds also have a different microphone design to the MW07 Plus. Instead of dual beamforming microphone arrays per earbud, the MW08 earbuds uses three microphones per earbud. Two of those microphones are designed to handle the ANC function, as well as calls; hence you get a total of 6 microphones when answering calls. Call quality is very good and the noise suppression built-in does a good job at canceling wind noise. The MW08 earbud nozzle tip design has also been changed. Instead of being rounded, it has an oval shape, which surprisingly makes fitting the eartips easier, despite the round bore of the included eartips. 
In terms of performance, it is comparable to the MW07 Plus, although in some areas the older MW07 Plus version outperforms the newer MW08 version. For instance, the MW07 Plus charging case and earbuds fully charge to 100% in just 40 minutes; whereas the MW08 charging case and earbuds take 60 minutes and 45 minutes respectively to fully charge to 100% (42 hours total playtime). The MW08 excel in the battery life department, being able to deliver a runtime between 9 hours with ANC on and 12 hours with ANC off. Both the MW08 earbuds and charging case support 50% fast charge in just 15 minutes.
With the MW08, you get two ANC options (Max ANC and All Day ANC) and two Ambient options (Voice and Awareness), although you can only change these options via the M&D Connect app. From the earbuds, you only have the ability to turn on and off ANC and Ambient modes. Whichever options you choose from the app, they automatically get saved into the earbuds. 
The difference between Max ANC (higher noise suppression) and All Day ANC comes down to the level of noise suppression. Awareness Ambient mode introduces more ambient sounds into the earbuds, while Voice Ambient mode emphasizes speech over ambient sounds. Overall, Ambient mode works as intended, letting you hear outside noise naturally and clearly without having to remove the earbuds. The MW08 sound signature cannot be tweaked via the app as there is currently no EQ function built-in. That said, you can boost the bass and make it deeper sounding by keeping Max ANC turned on.
The MW08 are equipped with 11mm beryllium dynamic drivers, while the MW07 Plus uses 10mm beryllium dynamic drivers. Compared to the MW07 Plus, the volume output doesn't seem as loud, although the MW08 sound quality is noticeably more detailed and clearly layered, letting you experience a wider range of frequencies (e.g. midbass and upper treble) that you typically can't discern with artificially bass-driven earbuds. 
One possible reason why the MW08 don't appear to sound as loud could be because the MW08 earbuds control the source volume (e.g. smartphone), rather than the volume in the earbuds. The physical buttons work well, although anyone who is already used to touch sensitive controls will have to get used to having to pinch the earbuds to prevent jamming them in the ears. Having a physical control does has its upside and that is being able to use them with gloves and not worrying about accidentally skipping in the middle of listening to an audiobook chapter.
The IPX5 rating remains the same; hence you can take the MW08 for a walk outside under light rain. The ceramic body makes the MW08 fit better than smooth plastic, although secure fit entirely depends on your ear canals, especially since the MW08 no longer integrate wingtips. If you plan to jog on them, you may want to look into the MW07 series, which comes with silicone wingtips to prevent the earbuds falling out.
To pair the MW08 earbuds, you have to physically take them out of the charging case.You can switch between them from stereo to mono listening seamlessly. There is a 3 second re-connection delay after taking the earbuds from the charging case. The MW08 earbuds work independently, but can only connect to one device that is active at a time. There is no wireless charging support nor multipoint connection, although it has been reported multipoint will be implemented via an upcoming firmware update. 
The Master & Dynamic MW08 earbuds integrate several voice prompts. You will hear a female voice saying the words "ambient listening off", "noise cancelling on" and "ambient listening on". Noise cancelling on refers to anc (active noise cancelling). There is no voice prompt that tells you when ANC is turned off or when maxing out the volume. 
The MW08 are similar in weight to the MW07 Plus with the charging case weighing 84 grams (without the earbuds) and the earbuds weighing 17 grams (8.5 grams per earbud). The included meter long male to male USB-C cable has thick rubber sheath and metal plugs holding the connectors. The cable joints have thick strain reliefs, The Master & Dynamic logo is etched on the connector plugs too. A USB-C to USB-A adapter is also included. The charging cable weighs 16 grams.
The included pinch pouch weighs 17 grams and, it's similar to the Master & Dynamic branded canvas pouch that comes with the MW07 series, including the MW07 Nike and the MW07 Leica 0.95 limited editions. The MW08 pouch measures 10cm high and 7cm wide; hence it is only big enough for storing the charging case and earbuds . Total weight, including the charging cable, earbuds, charging case and pouch is 134 grams.
The included silicone eartips are bowl shaped with wide bores. The bores have been colored to differentiate them. The L ear tips have grey colored bores. The XL ear tips have black bores. The XS and S ear tips have white bores. While the bowl shape is standard, the ear tips feel quality made with thick rubbery foam bores. There is a tip holder included, which is made of environmentally friendly materials, just like the rest of the packaging. 
The M&D Connect app is lightweight, sleek and user friendly, taking just a few seconds to download. There is a timer function built-in with three intervals (30 mins, 1hr and 3hrs) that you can set to turn the earbuds off automatically. In terms of privacy, the M&D Connect app does require agreeing to the privacy policy and terms of use, as well as grant typical permissions such as phone's location. Considering the app is new, no glitches were encountered. You can buy the the MW08 from Master & Dynamic. Check out also the reviews of the MH30 headphones, MW60 wireless headphones, MW50 Plus on ear and MH40 wireless over ear. 

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