Another day, another pair of noise-canceling earbuds, this time from premium headphone makers, Master & Dynamic, though, not from Nothing. Though the true wireless earbuds market is already crowded with expensive noise-canceling offerings, such as Sony’s WF-1000XM4 and Jabra’s Elite 85t, these buds go after the workout crowd, adding features that can weather the wear and tear that comes with burning calories and pouring sweat.
Master & Dynamic’s MW08 Sport launch today, with a price of $349 — the buds are available in four colors. They’re a follow-up to the MW08 that launched earlier this year, which we liked. The only big drawback was a lack of wireless charging, but that’s no longer an issue. Alongside the earbuds, the brand is also releasing the MC100 wireless charging pad for $69.
Tougher than they look — With a luxury look that feels more at home at an office rather than a gym, the D-shaped earbuds don’t appear to be a solid option for working out with at first glance. However, the shiny finish of the earbuds’ surface isn’t just an aesthetic design choice as the body of each bud is made from shatter-resistant sapphire glass. Not only that, it has an IPX5 rating, meaning it’s okay against low-pressure water sprays from any direction. For working out, that should be more than enough with Master & Dynamic promising the buds are “built to withstand any workout.”
To drive that point home even further, the buds are housed in a case made of kevlar of all things. I’m not sure who’s routinely working out in a battlefield, or dropping their buds off a cliff, but, you know, good on Master & Dynamic for doing what it can to justify its price point. The buds are also made for comfort, including foam ear tips in two sizes that can better fit the shape of your ear — silicone ear tips are also included in five sizes.
One feature that stands out, in particular, is the addition of physical buttons, a feature rarely seen anymore. The buttons make interacting with your buds less complicated, especially when your hands are sweaty or dirty from working out and won’t function properly with touch controls.
Premium internals — Of course, these days no pair of truly wireless earbuds is complete without noise cancellation, with the MW08 Sport relying on Qualcomm’s Hybrid Active Noise-Cancellation. I’m sure the noise cancellation is good, but what I’m most excited about is the two ambient listening modes that let in external sound to remain aware of your surroundings. It’s a feature that lower-priced noise-canceling earbuds sometimes lack, and it can be extremely useful when going on a run to stay alert of oncoming traffic. Ambient listening is maybe my favorite feature on my old pair of Jabra Elite 65t — I use it when listening to podcasts when I cook as they help me be more present in the kitchen.
Inside the buds are 11mm Beryllium drivers, which should produce great sound with support for three audio codecs: AAC, SBC, and Qualcomm aptX Adaptive. With Bluetooth 5.2 wireless connectivity, the buds have over 100 feet of range. Each earbud is equipped with six microphones that use proprietary noise reduction to mitigate external sounds such as wind or loud ambient sounds. At a time when many are still working from home and attending Zoom meetings, this feature is much appreciated.
Big batteries — But high-end features on a pair of earbuds don’t mean a thing if the battery life isn’t there to back it up. The MW08 Sport doesn’t disappoint here. On a single charge, the buds get up to 12 hours of battery life, though it’s worth noting that that number probably refers to battery life with ANC off. There’s no mention of battery life with ANC on or when making calls.
Regardless, the case holds an extra 30 hours of charge, coming out to 42 hours of total listening time. When you need a quick top-up, the buds charge to 50 percent in 15 minutes, or 100 percent in 45 minutes. The case charges 50 percent in 15 minutes and reaches full charge in an hour when using the included USB-C cable and power adapter. When using the 10W MC100 wireless charger (sold separately), charging is slightly slower but not at a snail’s pace either — 50 percent in 30 minutes and a full charge in 100 minutes.
Best in class? — The true wireless earbud category is flush with noise-canceling options, but not many of those are rated for working out, which requires some water resistance and drop protection. Without having yet tested the MW08 buds, I can’t say how these stack up to Jabra’s Elite 75t, named the best workout headphones by New York Times’ Wirecutter, but it looks like it has the chops to challenge the reigning champ. For me, the ambient listening modes and huge battery life make the MW08 Sport a worthy pickup while features like external noise suppression and durable design being a nice bonus.
The $349 price is steep even for a pair of noise-canceling earbuds, but if you like what you see, you can pick up the buds right now in black, silver, blue, or green sapphire glass.