(Pocket-lint) – If you needed any more convincing that gaming has become a market too big for prestige and legacy audio brands to ignore, you need only look at the fact that Bang & Olufsen got into the market earlier this year, and that Master & Dynamic are now following that trend with this: the MG20.
Just as there’s a market for premium headphones in the wider world, there are doubtless plenty of gamers out there who don’t want a bit of plastic tat on their head as they game. So if you’re looking for a more luxurious experience then the MG20 could be for you.
- Available in black or white
- Weights 322g with microphone
Master & Dynamic makes attractive headphones, and no mistake, the MG20 is the latest in a long line continuing to prove that fact. We’re used to couching our praise for headset designs with the words “for a gaming headset”, but that doesn’t apply here.
The MG20 looks absolutely great, in short, with a clean and simple look that’s augmented by plenty of clever details, and a simplicity that’s far harder to engineer than it might look. Everything is made from premium materials, whether that’s magnesium or aluminium, but despite their weightiness, the headset isn’t too heavy overall.
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We’ve got the black version in for review and when you unplug the removable boom microphone you wouldn’t know it was a gaming headset at all – these are headphones nice enough to wear and use in any setting, and attractive enough to draw compliments in most of those too.
That said, they’re not waterproofed or really suited to sustained use outside the home, but knowing that they won’t look amiss is reassuring. Alongside the boom microphone, you get a range of controls on the earcups, including volume and a dial to control your microphone’s pick-up.
There’s also a Bluetooth button that doubles as a power switch, plus a toggle for 7.1 surround sound, lending you plenty of options as you use the MG20. Those dials are easy to use and well-made, with satisfying actions, and the feeling that you’ve got a premium product is really deep-set, right down to the soft Alcantara coating on the inside of the headband and the classy indicators of which ear is which.
It all looks classy, but when it comes to wearing the thing, the MG20 slides down from the top-end into a bunfight with every other headset. Sadly, while it’s perfectly comfortable, it doesn’t come close to the best options in its class, from the likes of SteelSeries. You’ll still be happy enough wearing it for a few hours, but there’s a slight tightness and weight that you’ll eventually come to notice.
- 50mm Beryllium drivers
- 7.1 surround sound support
If M&D makes beautiful hardware, it’s also been able to back that up for some time with seriously impressive sound, and that’s also very much the case for the MG20. It’s an exercise in how to bring a premium ethos to the table in gaming.
The 50mm drivers here have a huge amount of power to offer up if you want to crank things to high volumes, but it’s the balance that’s impressive out of the box – although you can easily tweak equaliser settings using the companion app.
You’ll get a good broad soundstage that lets you hear louder sounds and music with warmth and depth, but also pick up the subtler details like footsteps – the cacophony of Battlefield 2042 can be overwhelming at times, but you’ll reliably hear enemies sprinting near you using the MG20.
There’s 7.1 surround sound support, too, although you’ll find that more rewarding if you’re a PC gamer and you’ve got a system that can output it properly. Activate it on PS4 or PS5 and you’ll get yourself a confusingly echoing oddity, but that’s no issue when you can just deactivate it as easily.
Using the headset as a pair of headphones and listening to some music from a phone confirms that they’re also a great fit for this, with warm tones and impressive performance in both bass and highs, making for an impressive degree of adaptability.
- 22-hour battery life
- Bluetooth connectivity
- Dongle for PlayStation consoles
- aptX low-latency and HD compatible
There are all sorts of features that you can add to gaming headsets in order to stand out, from haptics to RGB lighting, but M&D has kept things simple and restrained – which is admirable in some ways – so this is really a headset that does what it says on the tin.
You can connect to a PS4, PS5 or PC using the included low-latency dongle for a great connection that withstands some solid distance or go wired if you prefer, while Bluetooth will work with mobiles and PCs too.
However, while there are some aptX codecs here for no-lag mobile gaming, there isn’t really anything else to write home about on the features side, and we’d think that for this price point you might want some active noise-cancellation (ANC) to really isolate your sound. But, no, no dice.
Similarly, we’ve been a little disappointed by the battery life of the MG20, which is stated at 22 hours – but frequently lasted much less for us. This was with a power-down after the end of a gaming session, too, rather than relying on a head detection feature that in theory should do this for us anyway.
Still, connecting to our PS5 was an easy process and worked reliably, and that connection never dropped out unexpectedly. You also get a soft warning sound to let you know that the battery is running low, although this will only give you a few minutes before the headset powers down completely.
It charges via USB-C, as you’d hope, meaning you don’t have to worry about accommodating an extra cable in your routine. M&D also ships the headset with a lovely heavy fabric carrying case, with bespoke pockets for the microphone and a charging cable and a magnetically-closing top, which is something we’ve loved using for storage.
Finally, the headset has onboard microphones so that you can take calls using it without needing the boom microphone, and while the microphone pickup isn’t trailblazingly good, it’s more than serviceable and a nice touch.
We’ve really enjoyed using the MG20, but whether it represents value for money isn’t quite so simple a question. This is unquestionably one of the more lusciously-made gaming headsets out there, though; it looks beautiful and feels great.
If it were less expensive then we would be more whole-heartedly behind it, but for this price you could buy more than one of some of our other favourite headsets and get the same level of sound performance (or better).
If you care particularly about the look and feel of your tech – and more power to you – then you won’t be disappointed by the MG20, but right now its value proposition just isn’t going to be quite right for most people.
SteelSeries Arctis 7P+
Our favourite headset for the PlayStation 5, this is far more explicitly aimed at gamers, and therefore can’t touch the MG20 for style and looks. However, it sounds just as great, costs way less and is useful in almost all the same ways.
Writing by Max Freeman-Mills. Editing by Mike Lowe. Originally published on .