Headphones are often found in the review section on AVForums. From budget examples, wireless all singing and dancing sets, right up to high value audiophile cans. There are headphones to suit everyone and covering whatever cash you care to splash on them.
Covering very much the high end of the market is our review item today from Audeze. When we talk about high end, this is a company that has a pair of headphones costing $4000! Based on that, you would presume they know their stuff.
Retailing for around £400, the Audeze Mobius are Immersive 3D Cinematic Audio Headphones packed full of incredibly impressive sounding features. Including 7.1 surround sound, 100mm planar magnetic drivers and, for the gamer, integrated head tracking and sound localisation. These look to cover all bases with features aimed at not only the gamer, but the audiophile and movie watcher too. Read on to see how this impressive looking set of headphones performs in our review…..
What about the Design and Controls?
Unless you go for one of the popular blingy brands, headphones whether they cost £10 or £500 don’t usually vary too much in design. There isn’t really much you can do with a set of headphones to make them stand out from the crowd, it’s usually what is inside them that matters.
Here with the Mobius set, they are all black with the Audeze branding across the headband, Audeze logo on the dark grey adjustable part of the headband and around the cans themselves a dark grey edging. The side of the headphones are patterned including the Mobius logo on the left one. Understated on the design front and purely by looking at them they don’t scream high end (well, they might whisper it a bit). Audeze also produce these in Copper and Blue colours, but these seem to be rarer than a certain wooden animal's droppings.
Whilst they may not immediately look high end, the feel and build quality certainly is. The earpads and headband cushioning are artificial leather effect with contoured memory foam and whilst packed full of features, they are fairly lightweight, coming in at just 369g. The headband is adjustable to cater for all head sizes and each earcup rotates 90 degrees inwards and around 15 degrees outwards including about 35 degrees of vertical adjustment. Regardless of your head size and shape, these are designed to ensure they will be extremely comfortable.
The controls are numerous and all found on the left unit. To the exterior of the left is the microphone mute switch, LED light and the power button, then to the base are the 3D surround switch, detachable boom mic connection, USB-C charging connection, 3.5mm jack and separate volume controls for the headphones and the mic.
The functions performed by the controls are very comprehensive. The power button alone performs functions such as play/pause audio, answer/end a call, reject and call and Bluetooth pairing. The 3D Button changes the 3D mode, source and ‘centre’ function which tells the headset that you have your head centred. The headphone volume control can also change song/track and double clicking will link back to the last Bluetooth Host Device. The Microphone volume control also changes the audio mode and the EQ preset.
Out of the box we get a 3.5mm aux cable, USB-C to USB-C cable and USB-C to USB-A cable. The headphones arrive in premium looking packaging with the unit nestled in a foam box. Full instructions are included but not the usual 'this does A, this does B' etc. They are written in a very informal and often amusing style detailing all the nifty features and how it all works. Clearly these are a labour of love for those at Audeze and it shows.
Specifications and Features
- Transducer Type: Planar Magnetic
- Magnetic Structure: Fluxor Magnet Array
- Phase Management: Fazor
- Magnet Type: Neodymium N50
- Diaphragm Type: Ultra-thin Uniforce
- Transducer Size: 100mm
- Maximum SPL: >120 dB
- Bluetooth Technology: 4.2
- Bluetooth Codes: SBC, AAC, LDAC
- Bluetooth connectivity distance: Up to 10mtrs
- Battery: Lithium Polymer
- Frequency Response: 10 Hz – 50 kHz
- Charging Time: up to 3 hours
- Battery Life: up to 10 hours
These are not your average headphones so where to start with the features is a tricky one as there are so many.
Firstly, for the Gamer, whether that be console or PC, the headphones connect via the USB or 3.5mm analog connection. Using USB you get access to the 3D surround powered by Waves NX Technology with 5.1 and 7.1 modes. Both connections give you the head tracking, speaker emulation and microphone functions.
For PC Gamers you get the added benefit of the Audeze HQ Gaming App. This gives you increased customisation including personalised HRTF parameters and sound profile selection. It also includes head gesture key bindings, where for example if you were playing an FPS game, you can set it so that when you nod your head the player performs an particular action, such as reloading, throwing a grenade, melee.
The Bluetooth codecs supported are SBC, AAC and LDAC. iPhone and Android users as standard have the AAC and SBC codes, with Android users alone having access to the LDAC codec giving 44.1/48Khz audio at 990 kbps. AptX and aptx HD are not supported on the Mobius.
Setup and Performance
For Bluetooth use, the headphones are simple to setup. You just double click the power button and pairing mode is activated. Pair your device and you are all set. You then have the different options of the 3D mode and the audio mode.
For music, if you have access to high resolution audio, activating Hi-Res mode will set the Mobius to two channel playback and allows it to process sampling frequencies of 24 bit/96kHz. The 7.1 channel mode maxes out at 24 bit/48kHz and the 2 Channel (Stereo) mode tops out at 16/48. But note, this is when the headset is connected via USB. For Bluetooth it is 2 channel stereo only.
With Bluetooth, the music quality was excellent and, in our opinion, probably the best you will get with the limitations of Bluetooth 4.2, but switch to USB and it enters another level completely, especially when you activate the Hi-Res mode. It really needs to be experienced to be believed.
During our testing for music, we used a variety of sources including Amazon’s HD audio service, YouTube and music on our smart device. Across the board the audio quality was superb. From vocal heavy tracks, to classical, pop and rock, a little AC/DC and the Mobius coped with everything we threw at it. Tonally it is spot on with an excellent bass and treble level. Every detail was heard and there was no audio break-up even at maximum volume. With the Hi-Res mode activated the soundstage is perfect. If you can find a source of 24 bit/96Khz audio then you will get to experience just how amazing the Mobius headset is.
For the gaming features, with the Audeze software we were able to configure the head tracking, sound parameters and the HRTF (head related transfer function) setup. Via the software you can also change the 3D mode, audio mode and other functions instead of using the buttons on the headphones.
During gaming, the audio is exceptional. With a game that has good quality audio and surround sound such as Battlefield V you can hear exactly where the action is coming from, where the bullets are coming from and hear the planes flying around you. For a long gaming session comfort is also very important and the Mobius certainly excels in this department. Even during the recent heatwave, at no time were our ears on fire, which you often find with cheaper headphones.
The microphone, whilst not the raise to mute type, does have a switch on the side of the headset to quick mute. It is also very flexible so can be bent out of the way fairly easily. The quality during testing was superb, with no background noise and crystal clear speech. Definitely one of the better microphones we've tested.
Now let’s get onto the 3D Audio. This may sound like one of those features that manufacturers add to gadgets to try and get one up on the competition, but with the Mobius it really works. Using WavesNX Technology and low latency head tracking the audio is always coming from the correct location. For example, with normal headphones if someone is shooting at you from the right, if you turn your head to the left, up or down, the audio is still coming from the same place in the headphones.
Using the 3D audio you initially centre your head in the software and then it continuously tracks exactly where your head is. If you are getting shot at from the right and turn your head to the right, the audio will move to the centre of the headphones. It really does work very well indeed. But, saying all that it can be a marmite feature. Once we have got past the initial ooh and aah, we tended to have it turned off.
Another feature is the head gestures. This takes some getting used to but does work exactly as described. You have 9 different customisable head gestures, so for example if you want to reload your gun quickly, set ‘nod’ to your reload key and a when you nod your gun will reload. Simples. If you want to lean left or right, set that key to the tilt head left or right option.
The controls are easy to use and whilst there are several different functions available on each button, they are simple to understand and activate. It is not the issue we have seen with other headphones where one single button tries to do everything. The only minor gripe is with the power. You have to hold the power button for at least 5 seconds to turn it off and about 3 to turn it on. It often feels like more and we would really love to see a simple on/off switch on these headphones.
- Superb audio quality
- Immersive gaming experience
- Excellent surround sound
- Good bass level
- Very comfortable to wear
- Planar Magnetic Drivers
- 3D Audio may not be for everyone
- USB cable too short
Audeze Mobius Immersive Gaming Headphones Review
For £400, the Audeze Mobius headphones are not your average set of cans. Coming from a company that makes $4000 headphones, you should hope to get superb quality and that is exactly what we found.
Using Planar Magnetic Drivers, which you would usually only see in much higher priced headphones, the audio quality is superb. Perfectly balanced, spot on bass level with just the right amount of kick. The audio is amongst the best we have heard using Bluetooth 4.2 and via USB it enters another level entirely and needs to be heard to be believed just how good it is.
They are also stocked full of features, from the Hi-Res audio mode for the audiophile, the 3D audio with head tracking for a fully immersive gaming experience and the 7.1 surround sound. Possibly the only negatives we can think of are the extremely mean length of USB cable provided. It is barely enough for general use, so we’d definitely recommend getting a longer cable. Quite why for £400 they have been so tight with this; we do not know.
For the gamer, especially the PC Gamer, this is in our opinion probably the best gaming headset on the market today. For the audiophile, there are probably better (and significantly more expensive) options available, but if you are heavily into gaming and enjoy high-quality audio playback, the Mobius from Audeze comes very highly recommended. So much so, when this review sample is returned, this reviewer will have to buy a pair!
Our Review Ethos
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