I have zero fashion sense. I wear jeans, Under Armour t-shirts, and sneakers 99% of the time. But carry, say, the right messenger bag and suddenly that "style" can look more intentional than lazy.

Or wear the right headphones, like the Master & Dynamic MW50. They're pretty darned stylish -- but they sound even better than they look.

Keep in mind I'm not a high-end audio equipment reviewer. I like music, but I don't search for an extra percent or two in, say, midrange performance. (I wouldn't even know it if I found it.) I like elegant design, but I don't quibble over the difference between forged aluminum and stainless steel (although these headphones use both.) I don't scour technical reports for relative noise canceling properties.

I just want headphones that sound great and are comfortable to wear.

Regular readers know I rarely review products; in nearly four years I think I've recommended two. Master & Dynamic, a New York-based startup, makes the third.

Master & Dynamic is the brainchild of entrepreneur Jonathan Levine, the company's founder and CEO. Jonathan has worked to fill the gap between premium headphones that focus on style (think Beats) and those that focus on audio quality. In classic entrepreneurial "and" fashion, he chose not to compromise. He decided to do both.

The MW50 is an on-ear headphone that features detachable lambskin ear pads for easy cleaning, stainless steel components, and a forged aluminum body. (In short, there's almost no plastic.) They have dual omni-directional microphones that work surprisingly well, especially in a noisy office environment. They look great, they stand up well to being carried in a backpack or dropped on the floor (oops), and they sound great.

I wear them to listen to music and podcasts but also when I take calls. They do a nice job of canceling out external noise, and the mic does a nice job of canceling out unwanted noise (like the sound of me taking notes.) That means I can focus and callers aren't distracted: win-win.

Like many entrepreneurs, Levine is also willing to put his money where his mouth is: headphones can be returned within fourteen days of purchase if you're not satisfied, and the two-year warranty is double the typical time period for the industry.

A few other notes. The rechargeable battery life is outstanding; I've gone seventeen hours between charges, which is longer than advertised. The headpiece can be shaped to fit even the lumpiest head (mine.) The lambskin ear pads are soft and comfortable and don't result in "ear fatigue" caused by other headphones I've worn. If you don't want to go wireless, an included cable turns them into passive headphones. And if you're into cool packaging, you'll love theirs. (I realize packaging has nothing to do with product performance, but the attention to packaging detail does inspire confidence that the products are just as thoughtfully engineered.)

And where appearance is concerned, if you prefer a trendy look these may not be for you... but for those who appreciate a classic vibe they might be just right. (Then again, classy is always on-trend.)

If you like great products, and you like supporting other entrepreneurs -- and if you don't, you should -- give the Master & Dynamic MW50 headphones a try.

Levine clearly didn't just create a product he could sell. He spent considerable time and effort creating a product he could love.

And I think you will, too.

Published on: Jan 16, 2017
Like this column? Sign up to subscribe to email alerts and you'll never miss a post.