M&D’s impeccable first take on noise-cancelling headphones

The excellent sound suppression of the MW65s is matched by high-spec design and admirable sound quality

Master & Dynamic MW65, £449
Master & Dynamic MW65, £449 | Image: Hugh Threlfall

I recently wore these, the latest model from New York’s luxury retro-style headphone-maker Master & Dynamic, for the whole of a JFK-to-Heathrow flight. I am pretty sure it was the best cans-on-a-plane experience I have ever had. Not only did their soft, all-encompassing leather and memory foam earpads not rub or chafe or get sweaty even after six hours, but the music from their 40mm (that’s big) beryllium drivers was sweet, loud and natural. The session barely put a dent in the battery life – they will run for 24 hours on a charge. The Bluetooth is incredibly strong. The headset is unusually light at 245g. Oh, and the noise-cancelling didn’t leave me feeling weird and “coldy” as the technology sometimes can.

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Yes, noise-cancelling. M&D has been going for five years and this is its first venture into electronic noise suppression. I often felt it wasn’t necessary, because the size and squishiness of those characteristic big earpads (based on a 1940s pair of aviator headphones that founder Jonathan Levine saw in a museum) were enough to keep out extraneous racket. And for much of my flight, I had the noise-cancelling turned off – it always affects music a little, although barely in this model’s case. But when I turned off the sounds for a snooze and just used the MW65 as a sleep aid, it was exceptionally effective. M&D includes two forms of noise-cancelling, and, without getting technical, one is mild, the other strong. You may prefer one to the other, or to turn it off. Whichever, these are beautiful and impeccable performers.

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