Master & Dynamic is a firm out of New York that has gotten a name for themselves for producing high-quality headphones and earphones, with the associated price tag. Rather than trade on just name alone, the New York firm wants to deliver a signature sound, which is warm, rich and intimate while also offering up earphones and headphones that will last for years to come. It's a new year for Master & Dynamic, and they're hoping to expand upon their initial success of the MH40 over-ear headphones with the new ME05 earphones. The New York company focuses on quality materials, and the ME05 continues this trend with brass earphones and a flat, tangle-free cable. So, do these latest earphones from Master & Dynamic live up to their price tag?
Features and Specs
- 8mm Custom Neodymium Drivers
- 16 Ohm Impedance
- 1.2M flat, anti-tangle rubber cable
- Gold-plated 3.5mm connector
- Omnidirectional microphone with remote (play/pause and volume up/down)
- Canvas carrying case, leather storage box
- Clothing clip
- Replacement sound filters
- Polishing Cloth
- XS, S, M and L sized eartips
Design and Fit
Classic designs are what Master & Dynamic have become known for, the MH40 were modelled after pilot's headgear, and there's an air of classic design here as well. No doubt about, the fact these are made out of brass is apparent as soon you take them out of the box. They're a lot heavier than other earphones, but they do sit in your ear fairly well, and the inclusion of XS sized eartips helps here. They almost look gold in their appearance, as they're bright and shiny, and with the black rubber mixed in gives them a classy look and feel. When looking at the 1.2m cable and the way it splits quite late towards the neck was one thing I didn't like. I'm a big guy, and the split is quite close to my chin, but this is not going to be a problem for everyone, I realize. The placement of the microphone and remote is fairly good though, and makes it easy to find regardless of whether or not you're listening to both ears or just the one.
More on their overall fit, and these are a mixed bag where comfort is concerned. They are by no means uncomfortable, but they're not the comfiest set of earphones I've used. To get the full sound of these, I found that I had to keep pushing them in my ear to keep them from slipping out just a tad. They never once fell out of my ear however, but this is something to be aware of. The cable never did get too tangled during my use, and the canvas carrying case is a nice inclusion, but the now-trademark leather storage box is the real luxury. This is a great way of keeping your earphones neat on your desk while looking good at it.
Speaking of add-ins, there are replacement sound filters included in the box, unlike earphones from the likes of Rock Jaw and RHA, these won't change the sound signature. Instead, these filters are replacements, to keep your pair of ME05s going for years to come. A recurring theme of Master & Dynamic's overall approach to their products.
For all their add-ins and good-looks, a pair of earphones has to sound good above all. Happily, this is just what the ME05 do; sound good. We touched on the New York's firm 'signature sound' earlier, and here it's mostly business as usual with a little something else. Listening to the MH40, ME03 and now the ME05 gives similar results; they all sound rich, warm, deep and punchy without drowning out the mid-range or the high-end. With the ME05, sound is a little more one-sided than with the flagship MH40. Bass is very punchy, and more on the boomy side of things than tight, but the high-end sings and resonates pleasantly, when given the chance. This is perhaps due to the brass housing, but the overall sound signature here brings with it punchy, boomy and warm bass with some clear and resonant highs. The mid-range is sort of subdued throughout, but everything is very clear and there's no distortion or any straining of the driver.
When listening to "Can't Stop" by the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Anthony Kiedis voice comes through crisp and clear, but the boomy bass from the drums can be a little overpowering, but Fleas's bass notes are still here and so is that high and mellow guitar. More upbeat and high tracks like CHVRCHES' 'Clearest Blue' are also a treat here, with the sweet and soft vocals coming through resonant and clear, without being too piercing. Overall though, there is a slant to the lower-end of thing, but it's more like listening a warm HiFi than it is just turning up the bass for the sake of it.
There's no doubt about it, at $199 the ME05 are not a cheap pair of earphones, but rather than chase celebrity endorsement or promise the Earth when it comes to sound quality, this New York firm has gone down a different route. The company now has a house sound that's warm, rich and intimate and that's true of the ME05 here as well. These are designed to be hard-wearing, and the company passionately believes in making products that last for years, rather than asking you to upgrade or throw away a defective unit in a year or less. The replacement sound filters lets you rejuvenate them once they get clogged up with gunk or whatever, and the use of brass was used as a compromise between build-quality and sound.
For those that want a classy, good-looking pair of earphones that will last a long, long time then the ME05 are a great option. More than that offer, they also sound excellent, and while this low-end focus won't be to everyone's taste, they perform well in almost any genre out there. A classic pair of earphones for the modern listener, the ME05 are available directly from Master & Dynamic themselves.