Master & Dynamic, a luxury audio brand based out of New York City, is becoming well-known for its beautiful looking and excellent sounding headphones. As a result of its over-ear popularity, the company’s line of in-ear headphones end up playing second fiddle, which is a shame considering the top-of-the-line Master & Dynamic ME05 offers class-leading sound quality.
We say that knowing full well that most luxury audio brands are great at marketing a lifestyle, but many lack the audio fidelity to back up the high prices they command. Thankfully Master & Dynamic bucks the trends and has crafted a well-rounded line of headphones that sound as good as they look.
Said simply, the Master & Dynamic ME05 are worth every cent for those looking for a great-sounding pair of in-ear headphones that look good. While there are more neutral sounding in-ear headphones in the same price range, the ME05 are undeniably beautiful and fun to listen to.
It's often hard to call in-ear headphones beautiful (earbuds are generally pretty plain) but the M&D ME05 really are gorgeous.
The range-topping ME05 are milled out of solid brass and polished to the point where they can be mistaken for solid gold. But don't let the metal veneer give you the idea that these will weigh you down – the headphones are lightweight and extremely comfortable during long listening sessions.
While gold may not be for everyone, Master & Dynamic has shown restraint with the ME05’s styling, which doesn’t look out of place for someone wearing a t-shirt or suit. The only gold accents on the headphones are the driver housings and a small company logo on the base of each earbud.
A quirky feature of the Master & Dynamic ME05 are its replaceable filters. While they don’t change the acoustics of the earphones, they do keep ear wax and dust out of the drivers. Master & Dynamic includes a spare pair of filters in the box and all you need to do is wash them with some hydrogen peroxide once they get gunked up after a few months of use.
Speaking of accessories, the Master & Dynamic ME05 only ships with small, medium and large tips. This means you may not get the perfect fit for your ears compared to companies like Etymotic, Shure and 1MORE, all of which ship its in-ear headphones with a ton of different sized tips. However, there is a nice cloth pouch included for transport and a shirt clip.
The ME05 feature an inline remote that unfortunately only works with iOS devices, which is a shame as 1MORE has figured out how to wire its headphones for both Android and iOS. It’s also a shame that in the inline remote features squishy buttons that make it hard to press.
Neither of these problems are deal breakers by any means but can the remote can be annoying if you’re fumbling to pause or skip your music.
If we had to describe the Master & Dynamic ME05’s sound signature in one word it would be “fun.” These headphones offer a slight mid-bass bump that will get your toe tapping along to your favorite songs.
Thankfully the mid-bass bump doesn’t detract from the treble or bass, and bass has excellent impact and sounds controlled. Treble has good sparkle and dynamic range, making the ME05 sound great with any genre of music.
The Master & Dynamic ME05 are quite efficient so they’ll sound great playing off your smartphone. While a headphone amp will help give them a slight boost, they sound excellent coming straight off of a phone like the .
Noise isolation from the Master & Dynamic ME05 is excellent, blocking out most of the noise from public transport. While they don’t block out as much noise as headphones like the or , they are far more comfortable with soft ear tips that sit gently in the ear.
While the Master & Dynamic ME05 are one of the more expensive in-ear headphones we've tested, coming in at $200 (£180, about AU$295), they are well worth their high-end price tag. While their styling may not be for everyone, they’re subtle enough to be dressed up or down and sound great either way.
If you're not totally sold on the M&D ME05, the are tough competition worthy of consideration. For the same price, 1MORE feels more premium with an all-metal build at the cost of weight. The 1MORE also comes with more ear tips to help you find the perfect fit. The are also a great choice and like the 1MORE Quad Drivers, they offer a more neutral tonal balance that’s slightly less exciting but more natural sounding.
Regardless of the other options out there, the Master & Dynamic ME05 Earphones are worth every penny for those looking for a fashionable headphone that doesn’t compromise on sound.
- Don't miss our round-up of the best in-ear headphones