Master & Dynamic has collaborated with Japanese fashion brand A Bathing Ape (or BAPE, as founder Nigo's 1993 streetwear label is usually called) and I think it's one of the most exciting audio partnerships of 2022.
Why? First, the products were great to begin with. The M&D headphones in question include the excellent MW08 true wireless earbuds, which we called "a luxury wireless experience" under intense review, and the talented MG20 wireless gaming headset, which we enthused was "where hi-fi meets gaming in a high-end headset" upon testing them rigorously.
Secondly, BAPE's design language is here and it is unmistakable. Personally, I prefer the earbuds (but then, I'm a novice gamer at best). The aesthetic is typically strong and unapologetic, and I like everything about that.
Opinion: expensive, but not much more so than before BAPE
The MG20 Gaming Headphones and MW08 Active Noise-Cancelling True Wireless Earphones will retail for $499 / £479 / €499 and $349 / £329 / €349 respectively, (which is around AU$770 for the gaming headset and AU$539 for the earbuds).
OK so they're not cheap – but this is Master & Dynamic we're talking about, and considering the MG20 gaming headset regularly retails for $449 (£429, around AU$625) it's a relatively small price to pay for BAPE's formidable aesthetic. Yes, that pricing is almost unheard of for a gaming headset, but Master & Dynamic is a well-known name in hi-fi circles, where that sort of price is not uncommon.
Case in point: Master & Dynamic's June-issue MW75 premium over-ears, which arrived priced at $599 / £549 / €599, aka very expensive however you look at it – and by that we mean equally as expensive as the launch price of Apple's AirPods Max (which arrived in December 2020, with an asking fee of $549 / £549 / AU$899).
For me, the star here is the MW08, because I'm really drawn to that etching on the silver case. And, at four-and-a-half stars, these are talented earbuds. The battery life is an outstanding 12 hours of playtime for the earbuds (that's with ANC), with the case providing an additional three charges, for a total run time of 42 hours.
And the audio? It's slightly warm but likable rather than cloying. These buds never sound fatiguing and there's a sense of body and verve to whatever music you’re listening to.
For me, the new finish makes them some of the best noise-canceling earbuds I've seen this year – and as we said in our review, deploying the ANC (or ambient, for that matter) has no noticeable effect on the sound quality.
The gaming headset is still a looker, but for M&D over-ear collabs, I'm still all about the Mercedes-Benz MW65, which make you look as if you're in an F1 crew.
One for the Christmas list, perhaps? And (whisper it) might the originals get involved in a few Black Friday deals because of this fresh BAPE release? If that happens, you'll be the first to know.
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Becky is a senior staff writer at TechRadar (which she has been assured refers to expertise rather than age) focusing on all things audio. Before joining the team, she spent three years at What Hi-Fi? testing and reviewing everything from wallet-friendly wireless earbuds to huge high-end sound systems. Prior to gaining her MA in Journalism in 2018, Becky freelanced as an arts critic alongside a 22-year career as a professional dancer and aerialist – any love of dance starts with a love of music. Becky has previously contributed to Stuff, FourFourTwo and The Stage. When not writing, she can still be found throwing shapes in a dance studio, these days with varying degrees of success.