Pros –

Awesome build quality, Comfortable fit, Lighter case with Qi-support, Powerful and extended bass, Crisp highs, Effective ANC & aware mode

Cons –

No in-app eQ, Sound is more congested than regular MW08, Difficult to justify price jump over MW08

Verdict –

If you’re looking for a premium TWS earphone purely for exercise, then the MW08S’ powerful sound, stable fit and effective ANC make it a good contender. However, the drop in sonic balance and finesse does make this a far more situational purchase than the MW08

Introduction –

While the high-end TWS space has seen no shortage of competitors in recent years, the same cannot be said when it comes to sport-focused models. Sure, almost all of the latest models boast some form of IP rating, but it definitely does help to have a model designed specifically for these uses. Enter Master & Dynamic, New York-based audio company with huge prestige and a focus on premium, timeless designs. They applied the very same mantra to their MW08 TWS earphones which I found to almost match class leaders in terms of refinement whilst excelling with a more technically impressive sound and class leading build quality. The MW08 Sport is its active counterpart, building off the same foundation with a few thoughtful tweaks. The faceplates are now made from shatter-resistant Sapphire glass, memory foam tips offer a snugger fit and the case now uses Kevlar fibre making it super lightweight and permitting wireless charging support.

The MW08S just launched for €349. You can read more about it and treat yourself to a unit on Master & Dynamic.

Disclaimer –

I would like to thank Heather from Master & Dynamic very much for her quick communication and for providing me with the MW08S for the purpose of review. All words are my own and there is no monetary incentive for a positive review. Despite receiving the earphones free of cost, I will attempt to be as objective as possible in my evaluation.

Contents –

Behind the Design –

Upgraded Design

The MW08 Sport swaps the ceramic faceplates of the vanilla MW08 for shatter-resistant Sapphire glass. As before, it has a super smooth oleophobic coating but slightly more squared edges. It retains excellent scratch resistance and are enveloped within a stainless-steel rail as before, providing a much higher quality look and feel than the acetate of the MW07 line-up and essentially all competitors too. An external aluminium antenna works in tandem with the updated BT5.2 codec to deliver stronger range than before despite the denser BOM.

3-Mic System

ANC was a highly touted feature of this earphone given than each earpiece contains a whopping 3 mic system identical to that on the MW08. In turn, compared to the MW07 PLUS that only featured feedforward ANC, the MW08 Sport adopts the more sophisticated feedforward + feedback hybrid ANC of their over-ear MW65 with the addition of a third dedicated wind-rejection mic. The third mic also works to reduce ambient noise during phone calls and permits a more authentic transparency mode on top.

Same Specs, New Case

The MW08 Sport should provide a similar experience day to day as the MW08 before it. It implements the same Beryllium dynamic driver whose high-rigidity and lightweight contributes to a quick transient response and excellent end to end extension. While the case material has changed, operation and functionality remain similar with a one-hand operable vertical design and introduction of Qi wireless charging support. The earphones retain the same 12hr battery life (10 with ANC) augmented by 30hrs from the case.

Unboxing –

Master & Dynamic have always excelled here, and the Sport is no different. You receive a premium looking and feeling package and thoughtful set of accessories. Sliding the card box out from the outer sleeve reveals the charging case with earphones inside and a separate compartment for accessories above. Included are the 5 pairs of silicone tips seen on the MW08 in addition to 2 sizes of memory foam. I feel it is strange M&D didn’t include a medium sized pair, but as they do conform to the shape of the ear, the large tips are quite accommodating of various canal sizes and shapes. In addition, the buyer receives a type-C charging cable and nice aluminium Type-A to Type-C adaptor. The main differences as opposed to the MW08 are the foam tips and omission of a canvas pouch, though this doesn’t feel necessary here as the new charging case is no longer so susceptible to scratches.

Design –

Coming from the MW08, the experience is very familiar here which is a great thing. That means you get the same immensely premium feeling stainless steel side rails and comfortable overall profile in addition to an above average IPX5 water resistance rating. The attention to detail is commendable as on all M&D products; even the buttons are aluminium, and colour matched perfectly to the rails. Positioned on the tops of the rails, you are able to easily squeeze the buttons without upsetting the fit. As this is the portion the user interfaces with the most, you are always rewarded with a premium feel.

As before, the inner portion is a matte plastic and doesn’t look quite as premium, with visible seams but improved tolerances over the MW08. It resists oils well and no stabilising features have been introduced either, prioritising comfort over rock-solid fit – more on this later. The faceplate is the main differentiator. I was impressed by the rich colour and lustre of the MW08’s ceramic plates with the sapphire glass Sport looking a bit flatter by comparison. They do promise improved impact protection, I did accidentally drop the earphones from a height of around 1.5m onto granite flooring and the earphones survived without a scratch. I’m convinced these would fair better in an active setting than ceramic and is a good choice for active use with an infinitely more premium look and feel than plastic.

Fit & Isolation –

With an identical design to the MW08, the Sport model is more comfortable and compact than past MW earphones and medium sized for a TWS earphone. It isn’t quite as low-profile as some such as Apple’s Airpods Pro, with the faceplates protruding from the ear. However, they aren’t overtly large like the 1More ANC TWS either, and this does help the user to more easily access the physical controls. As on the MW08, the sculpted rear of the housing somewhat locks into the concha of the outer ear, redeeming some fit stability in the absence of fins or rings. The foam tips do greatly aid this experience. As the nozzles are short, I do appreciate that the elongated tips which help to lock the rear of the housing into the outer ear to some extent. The tips are similar to Shure olives, unlike Lypertek and Sony’s foam tips, you are still best to roll the tips prior to inserting the earphones for a more locked-in fit.

Otherwise, I did find that the earphones would wiggle loose and fall out during workouts. When rolled, this wasn’t the case, I was able to work out and run without issue, albeit they aren’t as convenient to pick up and play as silicone tips. Their porous nature means the thud of footsteps is reduced and they have a coating which prevents sweat form becoming absorbed as is an issue on Comply foams for instance. The foam tips indeed isolate more than the silicone tips on the MW08. Their conforming nature gives a great seal and without much wearing pressure which helps to optimise ANC performance. Again, they aren’t as convenient as silicone tips, but I do think these are well-considered tips for the Sport model. I still would have liked to see some sort of stabiliser here to provide an even more locked in fit.

Charging Case –

This is where we start to see more tangible changes. The new case is made of Kevlar fibre giving it a sporting aesthetic and drastically dropping the weight relative to the stainless steel MW08 case. In addition, as the construction is no longer metallic, M&D were able to add Qi wireless charging. Besides this, a similar experience is upheld, the dimensions and usability being otherwise identical. That means you get a reasonably sized case with slim proportions that fit well into a pocket, a wobble-free hinge with satisfying reverse magnet and secure magnetic dock that reliably interfaces with the earphones. 3 status LEDs denote power remaining in the earphones and case on the front face. The Type-C charging port is located on the side. The case retains a great sense of substance and solidity in the hand despite a substantial 30% weight loss. It has a soft touch exterior that feels tactile and shouldn’t be as prone to scratches over time. In addition, the lighter case will be more drop resistant simply due to its reduced weight and more elastic material choice.

Usability & ANC Performance –

I expanded on both of these metrics in great detail during my original MW08 review and given the identical design, the experience too is nigh identical on the MW08s. All my comments apply beat for beat, the foam tips do isolate a bit more from low frequency noises, but I already found the ANC to do a great job here. For further detail on how the MW08 earphones perform here, please see my MW08 review here.

Next Page: Sound Breakdown

Sound –

Testing Methodology: Measured using Arta via IEC 711 coupler to Startech external sound card. 7-9KHz peaks may be artefacts/emphasised due to my measurement setup, less so with deep fit. Measurements besides channel balance are volume matched at 1KHz. Fit depth normalised to my best abilities to reduce coupler resonance. Still, due to these factors, my measurements may not accurately reflect the earphone or measurements taken by others. Of note, I was receiving some inconsistencies with my measurements, this graph most resembled my subjective experience, however, please take this with a grain of salt due to these factors. I gave the MW08S 100hrs burn-in to ensure maximum performance prior to subjective breakdown. Note, these measurements differs from that in my MW08 review. I have switched to a new measurement method for TWS reviews as previous measurements were not consistent. This graph is far more in line with what I am hearing.

Tonality –

The MW08 Sport measures and sounds very similarly to the original MW08 but I did find them to differ slightly in listening. That means you get an L-shaped sound derived from a big mid-bass, mostly natural midrange with a hint of upper-mid emphasis to enhance clarity, and crisp top-end with a small lower-treble peak. The MW08S specifically has a slightly heavier bass focus and a more laid-back top-end. These effects persist even when using the silicone tips on both and are further exaggerated with use of the Sport’s foam tips. In turn, the Sport does come across as thicker and more powerful but also more veiled and less separated, even with silicone tips.

Going by sonics explicitly, the standard MW08 would be my pick any day, even for gym use as it already had a robust and powerful sound. The MW08S arguably takes this one step too far, resulting in a sound that isn’t bad, but also isn’t as versatile and therefore, is harder to justify at such a premium asking price. As before, the beryllium driver provides a controlled and textured sound that a lesser driver cannot provide. My qualms here lie chiefly with the tuning which I see as a step back from the MW08. 

Bass –

I was impressed by the MW08 for its solid driver control that permit an articulate bass response even in the presence of large emphasis. While on the MW08S this mostly applies, it is to a lesser degree. The MW08S retains the strong sub-bass extension and power of its forebearer; you get a kinetic slam and rumble that many TWS earphones lack entirely. Though good weight is found below, the mid-bass once again steals focus, laying down punchy, full and rounded notes. They are plumper here than on the MW08 and a bit more bloat and smear is evident alongside a warmer tone. In turn, I did find that impact was overwhelming some of the finer details on the MW08S, but I can see the appeal for bass heads wanting big power and note size. 

Bass isn’t sloppy nonetheless and, as before, the Be-plated driver imparts a speedier and well-controlled note presentation. Here, I can see the driver struggling more with the greater emphasis as notes are a little softer around the edges than on the MW08, and the foam tips do not help either. It’s a tall ask especially when combined with the burden of ANC. Still, note definition is sound and its thick notes are nicely-textured, nevertheless. There is some smear in the mid-bass so it isn’t the most defined, similarly, separation is lacking due to the fullness on display. While the strong driver control and faster decay do help here, they are insufficient to fully counterbalance the tuning. Listeners wanting huge dynamics and weight will still find the MW08S has a position in the market, as it is able to provide this in spades.

Mids –

A medium lower-mid dip and cleaner upper-bass tuning do help to redeem separation between bass and mids. However, due to the level of mid-bass emphasis combined with a less aggressive upper-midrange lift, it remains a clearly coloured presentation. The midrange itself showcases a sound tuning, with progressive emphasis to a natural 3kHz hump that sustains into the 4kHz region for added clarity and delicacy. This does not indicate the MW08s is either of those descriptors in any manifestation as both warmth and body are sizably lifted from the low-end boost. In turn, the MW08S remains clearly on the warmer and fuller side. I found the MW08 to be one step more natural here, assuming an organic character. However, the further laid-back top-end here is rather damming to separation and openness, creating a presentation prone to veil on some tracks.

Nonetheless, colouration is just shy of congestion as vocals always remain reasonably well-resolved and discernible. The voicing is mostly natural but again, quite chesty and bloated, especially male vocals. Bass never overwhelms the midrange, but it is quite laid-back and won’t suit those wanting vocal intimacy in kind. The smoother articulation here, instigated by a drop in treble presence, is not ideal given the level of fullness on display. I think a slight treble bump would be desirable to reintroduce a more defined note structure and lift small details. As is, the MW08S does lack openness and cleanliness to my ears. I feel this is an instance where an in-app eQ of some sort would have greatly enhanced the experience because as is, the midrange will be something for bass lovers to tolerate rather than a complement to enjoy.

Highs –

As on the MW08, the top-end is defined by a modest lower-treble bump that aids crispness and contributes to a more forward detail presence that cuts through its thicker mix. It is slightly more laid-back here, especially so with the included foam tips that are known to attenuate highs. Nevertheless, it remains a crisp, clean and well-resolved sound. While I am not a fan of its effects on the midrange, I still found treble to come through clearly. Instruments are well-bodied too as the peak isn’t especially large and there is plenty of fundamental below. The transient response is fairly clean too, notes have a defined leading edge and decay naturally, leaving textured notes and well above average fine detail retrieval.

Similar to before, the MW08S’ treble response balances energy and long-term/high-volume listenability well, actually it’s more forgiving here than before. This comes with minimal detriment to detail retrieval in the background or foreground and I am hearing similar resolution and extension overall as you’d expect from two mostly identical designs. Further drawing parallels, the MW08S does have a darker background, meaning it is clean and free of glare and other fatiguing properties entirely. This also means its detail presentation is on the superficial side, but the same goes for essentially all TWS earphones. To reiterate, the MW08S is in the upper eschelons of TWS design, delivering great foreground detail retrieval alongside above average background detail retrieval. And this works to the benefit of a far more layered and immersive soundstage than most competitors.

Soundstage –

It’s always important to set up expectations in a review so it should be noted that many comments here are relative to other TWS earphones unless stated otherwise. In the same vein, do not expect the imaging acuity of a wired earphone here, but a stage with good dimension, nonetheless. The MW08s performs mostly identically here to the MW08. You get good width and slightly less depth, forming an oval presentation. Imaging is relatively sharp, slightly less so than the MW08 but still a good performer. Layers especially are well defined and delineated between background and foreground which is a step above your average TWS earphone.

Though vocals are distant, they still uphold a strong centre image which keeps the presentation stable and focused. It’s small details like this that elevate the experience though whether that justifies the extreme price premium is another question. Separation leaves to be desired and is my main complaint coming from the MW08 that was itself, not a great performer. In the bass and bass/midrange transition especially, the Sport sounds quite bloated and fine details are easily glanced over.

ANC On –

I will phrase my MW08 review here as I found the experience to be identical: The MW08(S) sounds identical in all settings, however, slight degradation of sound quality is evident under scrutiny. With ANC on max, the transient response becomes slightly hazier and note definition is slightly reduced. The background is not as clean and there is less separation between layers in the soundstage with a slight drop in width too. The difference is not huge but if you’re critical noticeable. However, in the presence of ambient noise, the trade-off is heavily justified by the substantial noise cancellation and most listeners would be hard pressed to notice the differences.

Next Page: Comparisons & Verdict

Comparisons –

M&D MW08 ($299): The original launch this cycle, the MW08 lacks the shatter-resistant faceplates, foam tips and lightweight case but is, otherwise, identical and slightly cheaper. Sonically, the MW08 is slightly more balanced and refined, but upholds a similar warm, organic and mid-bass focused tonality. It is a little more defined through the bass with slightly better separation and a smidge less emphasis. The midrange benefits from this most, as it is slightly less tonally coloured, the MW08 sounds less congested and more articulate. The treble also is slightly more present and open, it has similar quality and a similar note presentation, but simply sits more forward. This better balances out its big bass. The MW08S has more power and bass focus, however, I wasn’t a fan of the additional thickness added to the midrange which harms separation and clarity.

Lypertek Z7 ($199): The Z7 offers a 3-driver hybrid configuration and far more flexible app with full eQ. It does, however, lack ANC but has a well-isolating design all the same. The fit is slightly less stable and the build quality and haptics aren’t as nice. The Z7 is a similar style of tuning with a warm, thick low-end. However, it has a bigger bump to its midrange frequencies too making it a lot more balanced overall. The Z7 has more sub-bass weight and a slightly cleaner mid-bass. Despite this, it doesn’t have quite the same extension and dynamics as the MW08S, but it does have a cleaner tone and retrieves fine textures better. The Z7 has a full-bodied midrange but a lot more presence and clarity than the MW08S with a larger upper-mid bump.

It sounds more balanced here and more defined, the MW08S is clear but has more congestion due to greater bass spill. The Z7 has a smoother treble but a slightly cleaner transient response that gives its notes more bite. The MW08S has a bit more crispness here and sounds similarly well-detailed in turn. The Z7 does extend a bit better but both have similar soundstage expansion overall. The main benefit to the Z7 is its eQ support meaning you can easily adjust the sound to your liking. With its dual-BA tweeters, you can get a very impressive detail retrieval from the Z7 that exceeds all competitors I’ve yet tried.

Sony WF-1000XM4 ($280): The reigning ANC champ, the Sony is slightly cheaper, more stable fitting and cancels noise more effectively and over a wider range of frequencies. However, the shells are much larger and may not be comfortable for all, I found the MW08S more comfortable for my ears if worn for over an hour. The Sony also has more smart features plus eQ support in its app. In listening, the Sony is warm and L-shaped but far less bass biased than the MW08S. The M&D extends better in the bass, it has greater slam, rumble and texture. The Sony is warmer and smoother, its notes are nicely defined but more rounded and less aggressive. As it has less bass emphasis, it sounds a bit more separated but not as dynamic.

The Sony has a more present, less coloured midrange. While it is also laid-back and on the warm and smooth side, it is far less so than the MW08S. As it has less bass too, it has better separation which aids clarity and balance overall. Treble has similar quantity on both, the Sony is a bit more linear and airy, the MW08S is crisper and more energetic. The MW08S has a sharper attack, having a more defined note presentation. It also has a wider soundstage. While I do think the driver quality is better on the MW08S, delivering more raw detail, the Sony has a better tonal balance and eQ support means you can adjust this to your liking as well. Given the Sony now has an IP-rating, it is a far more versatile buy.

Verdict –

I lauded the MW08 for providing market-leading build quality and design whilst almost matching leaders in all other aspects. The MW08S takes a few steps forward and several back making it difficult to position as an all-around upgrade from the MW08. While one could rationalise that the sound tuning is better suited towards loud environments, the more isolating tips and effective ANC are already sufficient for these use cases. I would argue that there is a very small niche looking to spend this kind of money on an earphone purely for fitness, so I find the MW08 to offer the more versatile package overall. The shatter-resistant faceplates and lighter, Qi-enabled charging case are both very meaningful upgrades that aid convenience during daily use. However, the drop in sonic balance and finesse does make this a far more situational purchase than the MW08 and most competitors for that matter. Still, if you have the luxury of spending this sum on a TWS earphone purely for exercise, then the MW08S’ powerful sound, stable fit and effective ANC make it a good contender, especially alongside a slew of luxuries you won’t find elsewhere.

The MW08 is available from Master & Dynamic (International) for €349 at the time of writing. I am not affiliated with Master & Dynamic and receive no earnings from purchases made through these links.