Thursday, 4 August 2016

Mi Headphones: Great Headphones Made Affordable

From the product launch of 15th January 2015, came the Mi Headphones -  a masterpiece of its own category. Boasting hardware found usually on higher end models of rival companies, will the Mi Headphones be the must-have of any consumers? After one year of using it, it's time to give an updated review of the Mi Headphones.

The Unboxing

Following the tradition of simplistic cardboard boxes, the Mi Headphones come in a white packaging. The one I reviewing here is a prototype model, as the headphones was yet to be sold to public when I've received it. I've got a production model too, and I'll be comparing both within this review but I won't be showing photos of that model as they are visually similar, only differences are different packaging and different earcups.

Pushing out the slide-out drawer, one will be presented with a user manual and a black carrying pouch. In the newer version sold after public release, you'll see a few boxes containing the other interchangeable earcups including an over-ear one and a Hi-Definition one though the last set of earcups is absent in this prototype version of it. The HD Sound version of the earcup is somewhat similar to a Grado earcup, and is made of memory foam.

Beneath the pouch is a black velvet bag which has a really nice feel to it and is intended for users to store the headphones if you don't want the large case, though admittedly it's a little too small and inconvenient to actually pack the headphones into it. The user manual is completely in Chinese, though the international version naturally comes with an English one.

Opening the black carrying pouch reveals the contents - the Mi Headphones, a 1.4M single 3.5mm to dual 2.5mm cable, a 3.5mm to 6.3mm adaptor, dual jack adaptor for on-plane use and a pair of larger ear cups. Again, if you've purchased a production unit now, you'll be getting another set of on-ear earcups which promises less sound quality loss. 

The cable has a 3.5mm end that goes into an ouput and a 2.5mm end that goes into the headphones. They are colour-coded, and so is the input on the headphones so you'll never get it wrong. Certainly a neat feature for those who keep taking the cable off, but it never mattered to me. 

The Review

The gold/black colour certainly looks great (and there's a silver/white version available too), not too striking but not really a low-profile either. The band is covered in pleather and has a layer of cushion for a comfortable fit. The band does curve around the head just nice, but I'd wish for a bit more pressure as it slides off easily if I tilt my head forwards or backwards especially when I'm using on-ear earcups.

Using pleather for both earcups, it feels comfortable and soft after putting them on. One thing to note though, is that the on-ear earcups do give a little too much pressure on the ears, and as an eye-glass wearer I find it very uncomfortable after long-time usage. The production unit has breathable earcups (gladly) but the prototype's earcups is hot and annoying after wearing it for longer periods. 

Headphone jacks usually come plated with gold to improve signal transmission these days, and it's good that the guys at Xiaomi didn't skip on applying that to all the jacks and adaptors. However, I do find the 3.5mm to 6.3mm adaptor to be having a little too gold, the plain gold colour doesn't really go with the design of the headphones, but I know it's just my way of nit-picking.

Putting the headphones on, it clearly stands out of the crowd with the design and colours. Xiaomi is not shy of showing their creation by printing large words around the open-back casing. Removing the earcup reveals the prized 50mm Beryllium diaphragms that Xiaomi claims to be capable of minimal quality loss and maximum sound reproduction.

Now on to sound quality testing. While listening to The Piano Guys - Cello Ascends, the sound of cellos and piano are crisp and clear. Sound stage is somewhat too narrow. Good treble and mids are observed. Sound reproduction is exemplary at this price point, but not exactly top notch as compared to other audiophile headphones.

Tested with Mi Note Pro, Hi-Fi Audio: On, Dirac HD Audio: Off, Equilizer: Off

After we try out instrumental music, it's time for some techno. Punchy bass lines and clear electric tones, all just nice and not overwhelming, can be heard on Dimitri Vegas, MOGUAI & Like Mike - Mammoth; DVBBS & Borgeous - Tsunami and BORGORE & SIKDOPE - Unicorn Zombie Apocalypse.

Tested with Mi Note Pro, Hi-Fi Audio: On, Dirac HD Audio: Off, Equilizer: Off

After one whole year of use, I still have to say the Mi Headphones is a great piece of audio equipment if you're looking for a good hardware at a very low price: the punchy bass; responsive and clear highs; good design. Once again proving Xiaomi's philosophy of "Technology that everybody can enjoy" and 1more's great design capabilities. If you're in the market for a budget headphone that doesn't sound bad, this is the one to go for, plus it's internationally available now.

Source: Mi Global