Tuesday, November 28, 2017

I've tried a lot of Bluetooth headphones, and these are the best I've ever heard

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I first started to give Bluetooth headphones serious consideration last summer.
With rumors of Apple cutting the headphone jack becoming louder, it was clear I'd need to jump on the Bluetooth-headphone train.
Since the summer I've had the opportunity to try many Bluetooth headphones, but the new king of the hill is Master & Dynamic's MW50's.
They're expensive, and I can't recommend them to everyone, but if you're serious about listening to music, they're peerless.
In the design department, the MW50's fair pretty well. They're on-ear headphones that look nice and feel comfortable, even after extended listening sessions. For the price, though, I'd have expected the build quality to be a little better.
It's good, no doubt about it, but Bowers & Wilkins' P5's still beat these out in terms of materials used and overall comfort. My only other thoughts on the design are that the hardware volume and play/pause buttons are a little too small, and placed in a slightly awkward place.
One thing to consider is that these headphones charge via a USB-C cable. It's forward thinking, but potentially annoying if you're used to using a MicroUSB cable for everything. 
Design is something I think people should consider before buying headphones, but it's secondary to sound. It's clear that Master and Dynamic took the task of making a pair of audiophile-grade Bluetooth headphones seriously— and they succeeded. But, you'll only reap the benefits of their labor if you listen to high-quality, well-mastered music. 
These headphones reveal everything — both good and bad — about the audio of every song, podcast, or video you listen to. You'll heard the reverb and echo in the room of a podcaster's studio, and other subtleties that would be lost on other headphones.
I've been listening to Elliot Smith lately, and I never noticed that he adjusted his guitar for a couple of seconds before beginning to play "Say Yes." The clarity of the drum sound on "You'd Be So Nice To Come Home To" on Art Pepper's album "Art Pepper Meets The Rythem Section" was equally revealing. I could almost hear the drumsticks hit the kit. 
My collection of tracks digitized from audiophile vinyl, SACDs (Super Audio CDs), and high-resolution audio tracks all sounded excellent. I also streamed a lot of music from different eras and genres, which was hit or miss. The songs were all recreated faithfully, but it was easy to tell which tracks were heavily compressed.

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