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Master & Dynamic MW08 Sport Headphones Review: Amazing Sound, Not Sporty Enough

The fit and waterproof rating make these truly wireless buds hard to recommend for exercise

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(Image: © Unknown)

The days when the sound quality of truly wireless sports buds was passable at best are long gone. There are fantastic-sounding headphones for around £150, very good ones for under £100, and for those seeking something truly special there are now a few deluxe options.

Master & Dynamics MW08 Sport buds (opens in new tab) are among those options. Costing an eye-watering £329, they promise incredible sound in a sports-friendly package, with a hardier design than the regular MW08 headphones thanks to the use of shatterproof sapphire glass.

Other changes to the standard MW08 include the addition of wireless charging and a Kevlar coating on the case, plus two sets of memory foam ear tips alongside the five sizes of silicone ones in the box.

These changes add £50 to the £279 price of the standard MW08 buds, a hefty jump given that the sporty version isn’t all that much sportier in the areas that matter. You’re getting the same water resistant rating of IPX5 on both sets, for example, and the fit doesn’t really change.

The sound quality doesn’t change either: the MW08 Sport has the same 11mm Beryllium drivers as the regular MW08, although that’s not a complaint. As you’d expect, nay demand, from £329 headphones, the sound is exceptional – right up there with the other best-sounding sports headphones I’ve tried, the B&O Beoplay E8 Sport.

It’s not a particularly bass-heavy sound profile, but there’s depth and power there, along with crystal clarity at high volumes. I’ve listened to a range of genres and the MW08 Sport sounded terrific across them all. It’s great to have another set of sports headphones that offer this level of sound quality, though it’s disappointing that you can’t adjust the EQ in the partner app to suit your tastes.

The headphones also offer two active noise cancellation (ANC) modes: Max ANC or All-Day ANC. If you want to cut down background noise when travelling or in especially noisy environments, Max ANC does a better job.

There are also two awareness modes: one is a full awareness setting and the other just lets voices through.

I did notice and enjoy the benefits of the ANC when using the buds on trains, but when running I found using both the ANC and ambient modes would bring in some wind and preferred to turn both off.

You can turn the ANC and ambient modes on and off using the buttons on the left earbud, along with changing volume, while the right one is used to play/pause and skip. These buttons are easy to use while exercising and I prefer them to the touchpad-style controls that are more common on truly wireless headphones, but I would have welcomed the ability to customise the controls in the partner apps.

Master & Dynamic MW08

(Image credit: Unknown)
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The battery life of the headphones is excellent at 12 hours, or 10 when using ANC, and the case adds another 30 hours. You can also charge the buds to 50% in just 15 minutes, and it takes only 45 minutes to fully charge them.

However, the fit for exercise is less impressive. With no wings to provide a more secure fit, I found myself often having to adjust the buds to stop them dropping out when running or during a sweaty spinning session. Using the memory foam ear tips did help with this, but it still wasn’t perfect and I’d often give up on them during a run and stick the headphones in my pocket rather than have to keep tinkering with them.

I seem to have more issues with the fit of in-ear buds than most, but if you do struggle to keep this style of headphone in place while exercising, the MW08 Sport will not be worth the investment based on this alone. The B&O Beoplay E8 Sport headphones have wings for a more secure fit, in keeping with their sporty label, and I’m surprised that M&D did not focus on this as a key area to change from the standard MW08 buds.

The Beoplay E8 Sport earbuds also have a higher waterproof rating of IP57, so you can rinse them off under a tap after exercise. Although they don’t offer ANC I’d say they’re the better pick for a money-no-object, incredible-sounding set of headphones for exercise.

It’s the competition from cheaper buds that poses more of a problem for the MW08 Sport headphones, though – including the standard MW08 headphones for one, which offer all the same key features. You can also get any of the Jaybird Vista 2Jabra Elite Active 75t or Bose Sport Earbuds for under £200 and while they don’t match the sound quality of the MW08, they still sound very good and are better suited to sport, with more reliably secure fits.

The MW08 Sport headphones aim to offer top-class sound quality in a set of sports buds, and they do achieve that, but they fall short in a few crucial areas. The B&O Beoplay E8 Sport outclass them at their price as a result, and the slightly iffy fit means I’d stick with the likes of Jabra or Jaybird if you are going to be using the headphones for regular exercise.

Buy from Master & Dynamic (opens in new tab) | £329

Nick Harris-Fry is a journalist who has been covering health and fitness since 2015. Nick is an avid runner, covering 70-110km a week, which gives him ample opportunity to test a wide range of running shoes and running gear. He is also the chief tester for fitness trackers and running watches, treadmills and exercise bikes, and workout headphones.