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Master & Dynamic's MW60s are a stellar mix of style and sound

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My first experience with Master & Dynamic's audio gear was the time I spent with the MH40 wired headphones this summer. I noticed the company's knack for stellar design a while back, but I hadn't been able to give the goods a try. Now, the company continues its aesthetic prowess with a new set of cans: the MW60. Keeping many of the striking design details from the MH40, the MW60s nix the required cable in favor of Bluetooth connectivity. Those same materials that give the MH40s their attractive look are back once more. The combination of leather and metal not only looks sophisticated, but maintains comfort and keeps the extra heft to a minimum, even with the added wireless components. However, the added Bluetooth feature does arrive with a $149 price hike. I took a pre-production unit for a spin to see if they lived up to Master & Dynamic's reputation for stellar audio products, and here's what I found.

Gallery: Master & Dynamic MW60 hands-on | 21 Photos

Just like the MH40, it's the details that really make Master & Dynamic's audio gear stand out. From the stitching on the leather headband to the etching on the outside of the earcups, if you're a design geek, look no further. The same piston-like mechanism handles the size adjustments and the earcups themselves hinge for a snug yet comfy fit. The rim of the left earcup houses the Bluethooth switch and pairing slider while the edge of the right earcup has volume controls and a play/pause button. On the MW60s, the arch of the headband is noticeably wider and flatter than the MH40s. It's not as round, which gives the top of the headphones a bit of a boxy look, especially when you have them on your head. Master & Dynamic is planning to make the give the headband a bit more of an arch ahead of the MW60's release, but the change won't make it nearly as round as most headphones (or the MH40s). I prefer the rounder profile for the MH40s, but depending on your personal taste, it might not be that big of a issue.

The headband is also considerably thinner width-wise and the exposed wires from the earcups are now hidden inside. While I don't really care for that headband changes, MW60s are just as comfortable as the MH40s. Even after long listening sessions, the over-ear headphones didn't feel heavy and I didn't start to feel like the headphones were pinching my head. They're really quite comfy, but my trusty B&O H6s are still tops on my list in that area.

I was quite impressed with the audio quality of the MH40 and the same applies here. The MW60 headphones offer stellar sound, rivaling that of the B&O H8s that I spent some time with a few months back. In fact, the MW60s handle bass a bit better than the H8s. What's more, Master & Dynamic says the sound on the final units will be even better as it's still making some last-minute adjustments. The cans handled every genre I threw at them admirably, offering a depth of bass that was warm without being overpowering. Audio here is also super clear, even at high volumes when a lot of headphones and speakers tend to distort. And when you turn them all the way up, you can still pick out details like snares, hi-hats, guitars and more.

The only issue I have with the sound is that when you crank them up, the people around you can hear what you're listening to. It's something I noticed with the MH40 as well, so if you're into cranking the music up to 11 like I am, just know the person in the next cubicle will probably hear some noise. However, opting for a medium volume kept my tunes well concealed. When it comes to battery life, Master & Dynamic says you can expect up to 15 hours of playback before needing to recharge. And should the need arise, the MW60s will keep the tracks going as a wired set.

The MW60 comes in either a silver/tan (pictured) or gunmetal/black color scheme, and you can opt for an aluminum travel case to protect the goods. That extra case is made by Zero Halliburton, and adds an extra $300 to the total cost. If you can do without the added protection, the MW60s will set you back $549 and they're available now. Based on what the company has told me about the changes it's making before the MW60s ship, the headphones could be more comfortable, easier to use and sound a smidge better than the ones I tried. Given that these already made quite an impression, I'd bet the final version will be well worth the steep asking price.

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