It's time to ditch the wires as HFC sees how these stylish in-ears measure up
We’ve seen some innovative wireless headphone designs from US-based Master & Dynamic such as the MW50+ 2-in-1 (HFC 438) that came with interchangeable earpads and provided a wired connection too. In its latest in-ear design, the MW07 is committed to the wireless connectivity route and leaps onto the ‘true wireless’ bandwagon, with a compact set of Bluetooth in-ears that simply sit inside your ear canal without any wires whatsoever.
The earpieces are fairly chunky, as the outer section has to house a battery, Bluetooth antenna and controls. Even so, the design is attractive, with a sturdy acetate outer shell that is available in a variety of different colours.
The inner section consists of a steel casing wrapped around a 10mm beryllium driver. To ensure a firm, comfortable fit there are five different sizes of ear-tips, along with two pairs of ‘fit-wings’, to hold the earpieces in place.
Each earpiece weighs around 9g, and is rated IPX4 for water resistance. Battery life is relatively modest – just 3.5 hours when fully charged – but the MW07 also includes a smart stainless-steel charging case, which provides three more recharges, for a total of 14 hours. It takes around 40 minutes to completely charge the headphones, but you can quickly charge them to 50 percent, which gives around 100 minutes of listening from just 15 minutes in the case.
I’m not sure I’d trust the earpieces to stay in place when I go running, but I manage to find a fit that’s comfortable when walking around, and the MW07 conducts itself well as I connect my smartphone and listen to my lossless ALAC files.
I kick off with the multi-layered mediaeval chorale of Spem In Alium by Thomas Tallis, performed by Pro Cantione Antiqua. The MW07 performs well and proves capable of adjusting to the contrasts within this 14-minute epic. There’s a delicate stillness in the early sections, allowing the quiet, almost whispered voices to hang lightly in the air. And the MW07 does well to maintain the clear, detailed sound as each new set of voices joins in, intertwining as they build to a majestic climax around the halfway mark. Admittedly, the compact earpieces can’t quite capture the sheer, cathedral-like sense of the piece like larger, wired headphones can, but it’s a satisfying performance given the limitations of Bluetooth.
The simple string arrangement of Max Richter’s Daylight presents another contrast, but again the little headphone punches above its weight. It reveals the deep, rich texture of the cellos that form the bedrock of the piece, creating an effective contrast with the wistful, delicate violins that weave around each other like dancers that never quite touch.
Turning from the sublime to the ridiculously raucous, the thrashing rock of My Chemical Romance is also handled well. The sheer energy of Planetary (Go!), keeps some distance between the driving guitar and keyboards, balancing the competing sounds rather than allowing them to merge into sonic mush. Also, on the Fabulous Killjoys album, the MW07 really lets rip with Vampire Money, delivering a firm slap to the drum intro, and then launching into the shouted chorus with clarity and energy. The middle-eight is a head-banging delight, as the MW07 balances the sharp drums and crashing cymbals with the high-speed guitar. If there’s a weakness, it’s that the bass guitar gets a little lost lower down in the mix.
Bluetooth connectivity is often a compromise, and that’s especially the case with many wireless designs. Master & Dynamic does a good job of combining wireless tech with good sound quality and, although battery life is limited, the MW07 is an attractive option for audiophiles that want to travel light. CJ
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