When a pair of Master & Dynamic MG20‘s landed on my desk I was over the moon. When it comes to sound quality this particular company is up there with the big brands thanks to their premium design, materials and attention to detail.
MG20 Never Play the Same?
This is Master & Dynamic’s first venture into the world of gaming headsets. Can they come up with a superior must-have product?
Design and Control
Right from the very start of even getting to the product that is within the box, the packaging is well thought out. Having slipped the sleeve off you open the cardboard door to the box to reveal the matt black of the MG20 wireless headset lying before you. The detachable boom mic held in place by a security seal. I received the Black Onyx headset, the other colour alternative is Galactic White.
After lifting out the top layer you find below the included pop filter, low latency USB adapter that is both PC and Playstation compatible, 2m USB-C to 3.5mm jack lead as well as the USB-C to USB-A charging cable. Each are in their own compartments. The “Getting Started” box houses probably one of the fanciest quickstart guides that pulls out of a black envelope. For one moment you feel as if you are about to announce the winner of a show. Also within the box is a smart fabric bag to house your MG20 headset when not in use.
Ok, enough of the packaging and contents, onto the headset itself!
The MG20 headset looks and feels premium in your hands. The headband has a rippled inner section made from Alcantara which is a synthetic suede-like material. The idea is to offer cushioning from the 322g of weight that the headset is with the boom mic attached, as well as stop the headset from slipping. The headband connects down to the ear cups in a mixture of shiny metal before turning into a matt grey which I must say looks striking as well as feel very sturdy. When it comes to the ear pads you are greeted with lambskin leather. They feel soft and very plush against your ears. The ear cups can swivel to be stored flat or placed onto your shoulders when not in use.
The black magnesium ear cups, each adorned with anodized aluminium controls, look minimalistic and once more of a premium build. On the right cup you have a dial for volume as well as a multi-function button that acts as a typical smart headset feature in order to take calls, skip tracks and call upon your voice assistant when paired with a smartphone.
On the left cup there is a dial to control the microphone level and it can be pressed in to mute when required. There is a 7.1 surround sound feature button and finally the main on/off button that also enables Bluetooth pairing.
There is a handy battery indicator on the left cup but sadly no wireless charging on the MG20 headset, instead relying on the USB-C connection. Thankfully the headset can be used while it is charging. The battery is said to last up to 22 hours and can get to 50% capacity on only 30 minutes of charging.
As I mentioned earlier, the mic boom is detachable and Master & Dynamic has included an onboard mic array. While I do prefer gaming with a mic, equally this makes the MG20 a versatile headset rather than one solely just for gaming.
When it comes to the sound makers, Master & Dynamic are in their element. Featuring a pair of 50mm Beryllium drivers that output at 32 Ohms. Ok, so what is the buzz about Beryllium? A quick science lesson for you. The best sound quality is produced by a diaphragm with the right combination of rigidity and weight. Beryllium isn’t cheap however, it has these necessary qualities, with one of the highest strength to weight ratios of all materials. This equals amazing sound production!
While the main controls are located on the ear cups, there is also a Master & Dynamic app that you can download onto your phone to configure the software side of things.
The MG20 uses Bluetooth 5.0 with AAC & Qualcomm’s aptX HD for music and Low-Latency for wireless gaming. What this adds to the headset is 24-bit music quality over Bluetooth, the end result is that you can hear even the smallest details in the music. A perfect coupling for getting the most out of the Beryllium drivers!
Sound and Performance
After reading all of the above you must be absolutely craving this section! True to their word, the MG20 headset performed admirably when it came to producing sound. I have never experienced anything quite like them in fairness having tested a fair amount of headsets in the past. The sound is so rich and encompassing, whether you are listening to music or playing games. I found when playing FPS’ such as Call of Duty and Battlefield that the gun fights and explosions were immense. Unlike some of the other headsets out there, this was not just the result of a loud boomy bass thrown in to rattle the drivers, this was a well concocted smooth and lavish experience. Similarly when driving my Audi R8 around Brand Hatch on GT7 both the roar of the engine and gear changes had amazing clarity and vibrance. I couldn’t help but smile as the MG20 headset performed time and time again whether on PC or PS5.
I did have a play with the 7.1 surround sound feature and found that it was pretty good compared to other headsets. I have always been dubious that it seems to just add a horrible spacial echo to the sound but the MG20 certainly had its time and place when listening out for footsteps during FPS games.
While the sound quality when paired to the low latency USB adapter was nothing short of immersive and fantastic, equally it was just as good when paired to my Samsung S21 Ultra which has Bluetooth 5.0 as well. There is a slight degrade in quality due to the lack of aptX on my phone but you really have to listen to both to be able to compare. I found that I could not travel that far away from the USB adapter when in use. Although this is not a massive deal-breaker, for gamers we all like to be able to wander to the kitchen to grab a drink and snack while still chatting to our friends. At home my range was around 6m before I lost sound which is quite a low range when compared to my other headsets.
When it comes to features, I feel that the MG20 could be better. It is a gaming headset after all. There is no noise-cancelling, therefore the mic picks up everything around you, all of the time when in a chat party. With no side-tone you will be unaware of the issue unless others online raise it. Yes, you can lower your mic volume however it will not eliminate it. There is also no sound cancellation on the headset itself, seeing that the MG20 has an onboard mic array you would imagine that ANC was a given surely?
When it comes to the dual Bluetooth connection to both the USB adapter and your phone, the MG20 does not handle it very well. I tried it with a couple of mobile phones and for some reason I kept having a crackle disrupt the audio whenever the phone was due to make a noise such as a phone unlock or notification. The only way to stop this is to disconnect the phone.
You require your phone to control your MG20 headset. Sadly the features are lacking here once more. The M&D Connect app is used to keep your headset updated and has handy online guides however it is the features that again seem to be lacking. With no PC software to configure your headset you would be led to believe that the app would be where you could create and set profiles, customise Eq’s, play with the mic level, etc. Sadly the only two options you have is selecting one of three pre-configured sound profiles; namely “No Eq”, “Esport” (where the bass is dropped), and “Bass Boost” as well as setting the auto-off timer. I was expecting more here for a gaming headset having played in the past with the likes of Roccat and JBL that both offer a very customised experience through their software applications.
When it comes to the 22 hour battery life I found it to be subjective to how you were using the MG20 headset. If just listening to music then the battery life was a similar stated figure however when in a chat party as well as gaming I seemingly lost a few hours. This is fairly typical with most gaming headsets however.
When it came to the comfort of wearing the MG20 headset over a long period, one thing I noticed was that the closed cups around your ears do make them sweat quite easily. While they are amazingly pleasant to wear, the weight not causing any discomfort whatsoever, you do notice your ears heat up.
The Master & Dynamic MG20 wireless gaming headphones are a right mixed bag in all honesty. While I absolutely love the sound quality, something that I seriously cannot compare them to at all, I struggle with the fact that for a gaming headset there are so many lacking features. While I can appreciate that the design is very minimalistic, it feels as if some areas have been overlooked, despite having the hardware to do it. If the software could be tweaked to incorporate ANC, noise cancellation on the microphone, the option of sidetone as well as customisable sound profiles and sort out the Bluetooth connection crackle when a mobile phone interacts while the headset is connected to the USB connector then Master & Dynamic would have one of the most powerful gaming headsets out there.
With the price of the MG20 headphones set at £429 you are certainly getting quality when it comes to build and sound, there is no doubting that. When it comes to gaming, sadly it is a bit disappointing.
The Master & Dynamic MG20 wireless gaming headphones scores a Thumb Culture Silver Award.
Disclaimer: A sample was received in order to write this review.