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Master & Dynamic MW08 Sport review

Soundful, shatterproof, and steeply-priced

Master & Dynamic MW08 Sport review
(Image: © Regan Coule/Future)

Our Verdict

The Master & Dynamic MW08 Sport is a sturdier, more expensive version of the original with similar performance.

For

  • Wide, natural sound
  • Solid ANC
  • Excellent battery life
  • A sleeker, lighter, and more durable design
  • Bluetooth 5.2

Against

  • Higher price than the original
  • Needs more features
  • Bugs remain in the system

After launching the well-received MW08 just three months back, Master & Dynamic decided to give its flagship wireless earbuds the sporty treatment, creating the fitness-centric MW08 Sport.

Possessing the superior sound, noise cancellation, and battery life of the original, along with aesthetic upgrades such as shatterproof materials and water resistance, these buds seem like the ultimate combination of style, substance, and sturdiness. They even come with a Kevlar charging case that adds to the product’s ruggedly handsome appeal. In essence, the MW08 Sport checks off many boxes, earning a spot on our best wireless earbuds list.

Any improvements made by M&D were mostly form, not function, which shows in the buggy performance and lack of features. The heavy price tag might also have some consumers looking elsewhere. However, if your ideal workout companion is one that that keeps the noise to a minimum, while blasting energetic music for long stretches, then the MW08 Sport is worth the investment.

Master & Dynamic MW08 Sport review: Availability and price

The Master & Dynamic MW08 Sport can be purchased for $349 directly from Master & Dynamic. It comes in four colors: Black, Blue, Green, and Silver. Bundled with the purchase are a wireless charging case, USB-C cable, USB-A adapter, five different sizes of silicone ear tips, and two different sizes of foam tips. 

Released simultaneously with the buds is the Master & Dynamic MC100 Wireless Charging Pad, which can be had for $69 and is available in two colors: Gunmetal and Silver.

By comparison, the MW08 Sport is priced significantly higher than other popular sporty models, including the Beats Powerbeats Pro ($199) and Jabra Elite Active 75t ($179). It is also more expensive than elite ANC models like the AirPods Pro ($249) and current category leader, the Sony WH-1000XM4 ($279). Should you be in the market for something less luxurious and relatively affordable, the JBL Reflect Mini NC ($149) is a noteworthy alternative with effective ANC, warm sound, and durable construction.

Master & Dynamic MW08 Sport review: Design and comfort

M&D left the silhouette and much of the detailing untouched. The distinctive D-shaped frame, minimalist logo, and button placement remain intact. As for changes, the MW08 Sport comes IPX5-rated for water and sweat resistance and comes with a shatter-resistant sapphire glass body for scratch-proof protection; the original featured a ceramic frame. 

Master & Dynamic MW08 Sport review

(Image credit: Regan Coule/Future)

These beauties are built to survive the daily abuse you’ll put them through on commutes or at the gym. M&D also managed to scale down the weight of both the earbuds (0.3 ounces) and charging case (1.9 ounces).

Master & Dynamic MW08 Sport review

(Image credit: Regan Coule/Future)

As previously mentioned, the charging case is covered in Kevlar fiber, a huge difference from the stainless steel used on the standard MW08 charging case. According to the company, this material ensures “protection from the elements,” and though it’s quite attractive, I learned firsthand that it doesn’t fare well against scratches. On the plus side, Kevlar is lighter than steel, so the MW08 Sport’s charging case won’t weigh down your pockets. 

Master & Dynamic MW08 Sport review

(Image credit: Regan Coule/Future)

The angled sound port seamlessly inserts into the canal, while the body rests gently on the concha to allow for lengthy wears. I felt fine wearing the buds for 3 hours straight before fatigue set in. Fit is decent, mainly because the silicone tips don’t offer the strongest seal, causing slippage when exposed to moisture. The included foam memory tips do achieve tighter grip around the canal, but they also feel uncomfortable.

Master & Dynamic MW08 Sport review: Controls and digital assistant

The MW08 Sport has no touch controls, and that is OK because M&D has arguably the best physical button scheme in the category. These buds come with a full suite of media controls, including playback, call management, volume, listening mode activation, and digital assistance. The right houses a multifunctional button and the left comes with volume rockers that also take on different functions; holding down Vol+ enables ambient listening and Vol+ enables ANC. Each button supplies excellent tactility to reassure users of commands being executed. 

On-ear detection is available to automatically pause whatever you’re listening to when removing the buds and resume playback when placed back on your ears. It does operate on a delay (2 seconds), but it works nonetheless.

Master & Dynamic MW08 Sport review

(Image credit: Regan Coule/Future)

Siri runs smoothly on the MW08 Sport and picks up voice commands incredibly well. I can’t say the same for Google Assistant, which is incredibly buggy. Most times it didn’t register anything verbalized. When it did, the AI bot misinterpreted basic inquries like “When is my next event” and gave me awkward responses like “sorry, something went wrong while I was looking for your alarms.” Also, the Google Assistant screen prompt never showed up when activated on my Android devices, and there were times when Spotify would continuously play over the feature.

Master & Dynamic MW08 Sport review: Audio quality

Whether for casual listening or exercising, the MW08 Sport is sonically gratifying. These buds carry the same 11mm beryllium coated drivers as the original and produce balanced frequencies for lively, well-rounded sound. One would expect the low end to receive a boost, especially since most sporty models are engineered with emphasized bass, but it remains deep and impactful.

I got my warmup started with some A Tribe Called Quest and felt a shock wave from the colossal drum strikes on “Solid Wall of Sound” that filled up my energy tank before a 5K run. How M&D’s soundstage handled the melodic piano and acoustic guitar spots over the boomy production is a thing of beauty. The MW08 Sport also exceled on heavier bass tracks like Travis Scott’s “Butterfly Effect.” To hear the rapper’s hazy auto-tuned vocals articulated so well was impressive. Throw gliding synths and a pummeling bassline into the mix and you’ve got a fine mix of sounds that blend superbly together.

Jazz always does the trick when entering recovery mode and these buds delivered the soothing resonance that one comes to expect from the genre. Leroy Hutson’s “Cool Out” did exactly what the title promised. The finely tuned piano and hi-hat taps calmed my body, while the swinging horns provided enough stimulation to hop off the ground when finishing stretches.

Master & Dynamic MW08 Sport review

(Image credit: Regan Coule/Future)

Lows, mids, and highs all sound amazing and don’t outshine one another, but the soundstage’s ability to pick up on subtle nuances is what separates the MW08 Sport from the competition. I bring The Police’s “Roxanne” into the conversation because of its infamous recording mistakes – mistakes that are audible at the highest level on these buds. I’m referring to the atonal piano chord pressed by accident around the 3-second mark and Sting’s laughter shortly after. You won’t hear them any louder or clearer on a pair of sporty wireless earbuds.

Just because the drivers and sound profile were left untouched doesn’t mean M&D didn’t perform any enhancements on the audio end. In fact, the MW08 Sport comes with aptX Adaptive, which isn’t available on the original and enhances wireless streaming in numerous ways, including low bit rate transmission, scalability, lower latency, and richer audio quality.

Master & Dynamic MW08 Sport review: Active noise cancellation

ANC hasn’t been tampered with on the MW08 Sport and tames external sounds just as well as its sibling. It is stronger than what you get from the Vista 2 and can go toe-to-toe with the AirPods Pro, but it won’t compete with noise-neutralizing goliaths like the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds or WH-1000XM4.

There are two different ANC modes to select: Max ANC for loud ambient environments and All Day ANC for less noisy environments. Each one works well for their specific purposes, though I always favored Max ANC since it reduces low-frequency noises better.

During outdoor runs, joggers sprinted by like ghosts and construction work was moderately quiet. I didn’t hear the airplanes flying above, nor the droning sounds from bus engines. Wind resistance isn’t the strongest and noises created by gusty drafts and whisking cars transform into a whooshing effect, but the level at which you’ll hear them isn’t anywhere near as harsh as some of the cheaper wireless ANC earbuds out there.

Master & Dynamic MW08 Sport review

(Image credit: Regan Coule/Future)

I also loved the silence these buds provided during office hours. Common distractions like cat meows, doorbells, kitchen appliances, and iPhone timers went unheard. It required high-frequency sounds like tea kettles and my infant’s crying during nap training to break my concentration. Besides that, I was able to block out a vast majority of noises around the house. 

Ambient mode has two settings available for selection: Awareness and Voice. Awareness comes in handy when running outdoors and opens the soundscape to hear traffic and loud pedestrians. Personally, I thought Voice performed better, allowing me to engage in clear-sounding chats with the missus and still hear noises around me.

Master & Dynamic MW08 Sport review: App and special features

If you’re thinking the MW08 Sport would come with more features than the original, guess again. M&D kept functionality limited to active noise cancellation and ambient listening, two features I’ve already touched on. The M&D Connect app just lets you toggle between the two listening modes and their settings.

An auto-off timer, battery level indicator, toggle controls, and a Quickstart menu round out the app. M&D does offer firmware updates, but instead of accessing them through the app, you’re required to update the app via App Store or Google Play. Seems counterproductive.

Master & Dynamic MW08 Sport review

(Image credit: Regan Coule/Future)

Like I said when reviewing the MW08, the app could only benefit from more extras, be it an EQ with presets or a slider to adjust ANC/ambient listening levels. At least throw in a Find My Buds function; any pair of wireless buds priced over $300 should have this feature.

Master & Dynamic MW08 Sport review: Battery life and charging case

When it comes to battery life, the MW08 series is in the upper echelon. This latest entry gives you 10 hours of ANC playback, which can be extended to 12 hours when turning off the feature. Mind you, this is on a full charge. Listening times drop by about 30 minutes to an hour when factoring in calls, streaming, and volume. Even then, the MW08 Sport crushes the AirPods Pro (4.5 hours) and outlasts the WF-1000XM4 (8 hours) in ANC playback, while beating out fitness favorites such as the Powerbeats Pro (9 hours) and Vista 2 (8 hours). I used the buds moderately (2 hours daily) for about 4 days before tossing them into the charging case.

Master & Dynamic MW08 Sport review

(Image credit: Regan Coule/Future)

Speaking of which, the charging case can hold a monstrous 42 hours. Do the math and that is double the AirPods Pro, Powerbeats Pro, and Vista 2 cases (24 hours). This is also several hours more than the WF-1000XM4 case (35 hours). Quick charging is also ridiculously strong, netting you up to 50% use in 15 minutes. 

M&D finally introduced wireless charging on the MW08 Sport. As previously mentioned, the company’s MC100 Pad is sold separately, but the charging case will work on any Qi-enabled wireless charging pad.

Master & Dynamic MW08 Sport review: Call quality and connectivity

Call quality is serviceable. I mostly used the MW08 Sport indoors to communicate with clients and my wife during her daily walks, which resulted in loud and mostly clear conversations. Volume was loud and voices were crisp on both ends, though she mentioned some minor muffling. Outside was fine just as long as I had a quiet backdrop; ambient noises increased muffling and wind exacerbated it.

Master & Dynamic MW08 Sport review

(Image credit: Regan Coule/Future)

Connectivity on M&D’s wireless earbuds has gotten better, but it isn’t perfect. These buds operate on Bluetooth 5.2 and Qualcomm’s Wireless Mirroring technology, which means you’ll instantly pair to recognized devices. Range is still a problem. The MW08 only allowed for 15 feet of wireless listening before stuttering like crazy, which was awful. Despite the MW08 Sport not achieving its advertised 100-foot range, you do get the standard 30 feet (10 meters) that most other models reach, but the connection is finicky depending on your settings. There were no problems when using the buds in open spaces. Moving from room to room caused serious dropout.

Multipoint technology isn’t available on the MW08 Sport.

Master & Dynamic MW08 Sport review: Verdict

M&D has something special with the MW08 Sport. There’s no denying the sound quality on these buds, nor the ANC or playtimes you get on a full charge. The spec sheet is also high powered, from the hardware to the technologies (e.g., aptX Adaptive, Bluetooth 5.2). Furthermore, the shatterproof design is a significant upgrade that increases the MW08 Sport’s value. 

But is $349 too much for a pair of wireless sport earbuds? Answer: Yes and no. If you want the best battery life, sound, and noise cancellation in this sub-category, then prepare to spend big. Otherwise, you may find more performance and functionality on competitive models like the Elite Active 75t or Powerbuds Pro, and for much less.