Apple may have market dominance with its AirPods Pro, but neither AirPods Pro nor the new Beats Studio Buds can match the luxurious build quality of Master & Dynamic's new MW08 Sport true wireless earbuds.
The MW08 Sport is Master & Dynamic's latest true wireless earbud tailored to an active lifestyle and includes some improvements upon the already-stellar MW08. We're comparing them to Apple's AirPods Pro, which is closer in price, and to the new Beats Studio Buds that are more in line with the target audience.
All three of these earbuds offer similar features, but all boast very different looks. Not just for the buds themselves, but the cases too. We can focus on the differences, but in the end, a large part of this may come down to individual fit.
With AirPods Pro, Apple has kept roughly the same AirPods appearance since the original AirPods. They are small, white, and dangle a bit out of your ear.
You control AirPods Pro by squeezing the force-sensitive stems. You can control media playback, toggle Siri, or change the noise cancellation mode with these force stems.
Beats Studio Buds have a unique design on their own, though very different from AirPods Pro. They don't dangle and come in white as well as black and red. From the side profile, Beats Studio Buds have a pill-like shape with the Beats logo in the center.
To control the Beats Studio Buds, you depress the Beats logo on the earbuds. This hasn't historically been our favorite control method because you press the bud into your ear to control it, and it can be uncomfortable.
Both AirPods Pro and Beats Studio Buds offer three sizes of silicone ear tips in the box.
The new MW08 Sport keeps the same physical shape and size as the still-available MW08. That outer facade looks similar to a capital "D" and is made of shatter-resistant sapphire glass coupled with aluminum antennas. Both AirPods Pro and the Beats Studio Buds are all plastic.
The sapphire glass comes in four stunning colors: silver, black, green, and blue. The colors are slightly metallic and look very high-end.
There are physical controls on top of the MW08 Sport that allow you to control volume and media playback. You squeeze the earbuds from the top rather than pushing in.
Charging case design
AirPods Pro has the most compact charging case of the three, with a white plastic shell. The bottom has a Lightning input, and it also works via Qi wireless charging.
Beats Studio Buds has a slightly larger oval size. It's made of color-matched plastic though it doesn't support wireless charging. Rather than Lightning, it supports USB-C.
Master & Dynamic used Kevlar fiber to wrap its case, which is extremely protective and allows its newfound wireless charging abilities. MW08 Sport's case is the only one that can stand up on its own or lie flat on its back. It supports USB-C charging as an input as well.
|AirPods Pro||Beats Studio Buds||MW08||MW08 Sport|
|Earbud Material||Plastic||Plastic||Ceramic/aluminum||Sapphire glass/aluminum|
|Charging Case Material||Plastic||Plastic||Stainless Steel||Kevlar Fiber|
|Charging Method||Qi & Lightning||Lightning||USB-C||Qi & USB-C|
|Ear Tips||S/M/L silicone ear tips||S/M/L silicone ear tips||XS/S/M/L/XL silicone ear tips||XS/S/M/L/XL silicone ear tips, M/L foam tips|
|Noise Cancellation||Active Noise Cancellation & Transparency Mode||Active Noise Cancellation & Transparency Mode||Adjustable Active Noise Cancellation & Ambient Mode||Adjustable Active Noise Cancellation & Ambient Mode|
|Play Time||8 hours||8 hours||12||12|
|Total Play Time (w/Case)||24 hours||24 hours||42 hours||42 hours|
|Controls||Hey Siri, Force Stems||Hey Siri, Touch-sensitive sides||Physical buttons||Physical buttons|
|Special Features||Spatial Audio with head tracking, Find My support, native iOS integration, H1 chip, Adaptive EQ, Audio Sharing||Find My support, native iOS integration, Apple-designed audio processor with class 1 Bluetooth, audio sharing||M&D Connect app, Auto-off timer, Premium build||M&D Connect app, Auto-off timer, Premium build|
In terms of battery life, Apple once more finds itself behind the competition. AirPods Pro can go for up to four and a half hours with ANC on and up to five hours with noise cancellation off. Beats Studio Buds only offers eight hours of continuous use, while the MW08 Sport can go up to 12 hours from that one charge if ANC is off, but ten hours if ANC is on.
If you include the charging case, AirPods Pro and Beats Studio Buds bump up to 24 hours of total usage, whereas the MW08 Sport can extend to an impressive 42 hours of total time.
All offer quick charge capabilities, though they are presented differently. AirPods Pro and Beats Studio Buds will get an hour of use after only a five-minute charge. MW08 Sport will yield a 50 percent charge in only 15 minutes.
We've done individual reviews of each of these and discussed their audio quality at length. In summary, the MW08 Sport stands above the rest as it pertains to audio fidelity.
The 11mm beryllium drivers in the MW08 Sport deliver a richer and fuller sound with more nuance in the details than either AirPods Pro or Beats Studio Buds. Apple's AirPods Pro doesn't lag too far behind, though.
The Beats Studio Buds have the weakest audio performance of the bunch — which is understandable at the price.
Beats Studio Buds are most similar to the original AirPods in terms of audio quality and are no match for the others.
All of these earbuds offer some degree of noise cancellation, though some are more effective than others. For Apple, AirPods Pro and Beats Studio Buds have three modes — active noise cancellation, transparency mode, and ANC off completely.
Between those two, AirPods Pro offers far better noise cancellation. Between the inward-facing microphones, the H1 chip, and better drivers, more sound can be isolated while retaining the audio quality.
Master & Dynamic tops both of them. Users can choose between multiple levels of both ANC and ambient listening modes. For noise cancellation, users can select "Max ANC" to block out as much sound as possible or "All-Day ANC" to balance battery life and noise canceling.
For ambient listening, the MW08 Sport has a full "Awareness" mode that allows in any external noise — similar to Apple's transparency mode. "Voice" mode suppresses background noises but passes through what people are saying to you.
Its six-mic array and capable driver handily beats AirPods Pro in this area, just as with audio quality.
Perhaps what is most appealing about Apple's AirPods Pro and Beats Studio Buds is the tight integration with iOS. ANC modes can be toggled directly from Control Center or via Siri.
Siri can be summoned hands-free as well, just by saying the key phrase "Hey Siri." AirPods Pro can automatically switch between your active devices as you move between them.
And, Apple's AirPods Pro has spatial audio with head tracking that adjusts audio on the fly in 3D space around you.
With iOS 15 this fall, AirPods Pro gets better with Conversation Boost, which helps those hearing make out what other people are saying.
The MW08 Sport has some unique benefits, including a corresponding app that can be used to manually install firmware updates, adjust the ANC mode, and more.
Master & Dynamic boasts additional water resistance with IPX5 versus IPX4 on the Beats and AirPods. IPX4 can withstand splashes of water, while IPX5 can withstand sustained low-pressure jets of water from all directions.
Which to buy
All three of these earbuds are excellent options to consider, depending on your needs.
The Master & Dynamic MW08 Sport has the most impressive build quality, audio, and ANC.
AirPods Pro is the best compromise with excellent audio quality but getting all the tight integrations with iOS.
Beats Studio Buds give you most of that AirPods Pro experience at a lower cost.