Audeze Mobius Review Page 2

I’m lucky to have access to a modest surround system where I live and I hooked up my systems to it and compared the experience. Unsurprisingly, I found the Mobius superior. Too often with surround sound I can hear the individual speakers, the room issues, or some sort of weird processing going on. Getting in-room home theatre to work right is hard work. With the Mobius I was immediately dropped directly into the soundstage of the game. In fact, sometimes I felt as though I was dropped a little too far into the game’s foley stages.

Especially on Assassin’s Creed games, some Call of Duty and other pseudo-realistically designed games I was able to discern the odd resonances, strange room sounds or mismatched mics and spaces used on the voice actors. On games with largely electronic or synthesized noises, like the recent Spyro remasters, these were negligible, but I found a few triple AAA titles that I was able to ruthlessly dissect with the Mobius. Not to say the headphones threw detail in my face, simply that it was easier to observe and pick apart these nuances with the Mobius, especially in wired mode, I felt like my head had been plunged into a sonic fishbowl of video game sounds. It was quite simply delightful.

The Audeze HQ app provides some additional tools to customize this experience. You can put in basic head measurements, although these are not proper HRTFs, I did find dialling them in seemed to tighten up imaging. You can also adjust the ‘artificial room’ sound or the amount of reverberation. I played with this a little, but found I generally liked it best with it turned completely off. One feature I wished for was an equalizer to be able to control and customize the tunings more to my personal taste, like the cipher cable for the iSine series. There were a few tunings I really liked except for one or two frequency bands, and it would have been nice to have had the control to tweak this. My pipe dream is that a future update will allow me to create custom tunings that I can tweak in the app and store in the headphones – for now though, it’s just the default ones that are available.

The app is on the whole, appealingly simple.

The experience is not without a few hiccups though. The Bluetooth has far too much latency to be used for gaming wirelessly, nor does it really serve as a useful headset for travel purposes. Likewise, the microphone had rather finicky gain settings and I had occasional problems getting certain programs and games to recognize the microphone due to it showing up as a multichannel device unless the entire headphone was switched to two-channel mode. A recent update seems to have alleviated some of these issues, but this is not the most responsive headphone of all time. The on and off presses take quite a long time and sometimes button presses or mode switches register a little sluggishly. To this day I find myself moving at a faster pace than the Mobius – once I’ve got it set right it works flawlessly, but the amount of fiddling needed to get it set up in the first place means I end up waiting a little more than I’d like. The Mobius reminds me to stop and smell the roses, even when I don’t want to.

Comfort is also adequate but not superb. I do get a bit of fatigue on the top of my head, though the fit of the headphone overall is reasonably comfortable. I did encounter a weird issue with the drivers on my headphone. I was poking around the driver cover, and accidentally stuck one of my fingers a bit far into the headphone, and ever since the driver crinkles a bit when I put the headphones on. Sound quality does not seem affected at all, but it does have some of that weird electrostatic pressure-crinkle sound to it. A word to the wise – don’t mess about inside the cups! I’ve also heard reports of some folks with noise, hiss or crackling drivers who did not foolishly stick their fingers inside the drivers. I do notice a very low level of hiss on full volume with no music playing when using the surround sound mode, but it disappears on hi-rez mode, so take that as you will. It doesn’t bother me, but for most of my usage, such as travelling, gaming and the like, it doesn’t bother me. Like I said, for music I usually just set it to hi-rez and warm and leave it.

Speaking of which, I’m not sure why this thing has so many modes. I took some basic measurements and did a fair amount of listening over the last few months, and I really couldn’t find a reason to use anything other than the default and warm settings. None of the gaming settings were useful in my gaming experience – certainly not for adjusting on the fly during gaming. I found the default setting, which has a slightly-shelved treble and ever-so-slightly forward upper-midrange suited me just fine for a broad suite of gaming and movie-watching duties. The music setting just made the treble peaky and midrange brash and crunchy. I much prefer the ‘warm’ preset that was added recently. It seems to add a bit of elevated midbass and a smoothly rolled-off treble and flatter midrange, which helps alleviate some of the thinness and artificiality I perceived in the other tunings and with the 7.1 and two-channel modes. It does come at a cost, as the default and flat tunings have much better imaging and are a bit less boomy in the low mids, but to me it was a fair trade-off for a much more pleasant music experience.

I’ve already written nearly a dozen paragraphs and I’ve feel like I’ve barely covered just the features of the Mobius. This headphone is overflowing with features, but once you get the hang of the features you use the most, you’ll find it surprisingly straightforward to operate. The few reservations I have about the headphone such as lack of customization and sluggish response are things I’ve found myself slowly getting used to. They are more mild annoyances than frustrations, which I can live with considering how the headphone does what it does. Even with the artificiality of the NX head tracking this is simply the most sublime gaming headphone I’ve ever used, and there’s no getting around that. I don’t know if it’s perfect, but until I hear something better, I feel confident in calling it the best I personally have heard.

In regards to music I would be remiss not to mention that this headphone actually gets more listening time than any other headphone I use. I travel extensively, both domestically and internationally and the Mobius accompanies me on every single one of my trips. In hi-rez mode it’s a spectacularly good Bluetooth headphone – one of the few Bluetooth headphones I’ve heard that’s able to overcome Bluetooth’s tendency to sound lifeless and thin. It won’t win any awards when stacked up against a good R2R or Multibit DAC, but it’s exceptionally good for Bluetooth. I think it’s obvious my ‘I can live with it’ factor is high with the Mobius. Do I think it’s worth $400? Unfortunately there’s still that caveat of ‘the kickstarter price was lower…’ that always haunts products a year or two after their release. It’s just an unavoidable marketing after-effect. That said, I think Audeze’s asking price is reasonable.

I know planar magnetics and the amount of electronics stuffed into the Mobius are not inexpensive to develop and refine and while there are things I’ve always admired about Audeze headphones from afar, this is the first one I’ve purchased. If I were to be faced with the prospect of purchasing a Mobius at its current asking price, I would probably sit on it less, and feel like I paid a fair price for a reasonable product. If you’re looking for a top notch travel and gaming headphone, this is the contender to beat.

Audeze LLC
3412 S. Susan St, Santa Ana California 92704, USA
(714) 581-8010

jaredjcrandall84's picture

Awesome review! I've been eager to read a review by an audio savy source.

MFHRaptor's picture

My only problem with the Mobius was the comfort, and - for me - that's not nitpicking. I come from owning the Philips Fidelio X2 and Bose QC35. Fortunately, I managed to remedy that by using Brainwavz Angled Pleather Pads that not only drastically improved comfort but also solidified the imaging and refined the soundstage, emphasizing that "Theater-like" experience that I love the most about the Mobius. Moreover, the ZMF Pilot Pad relieved the pressure on top.

I'm also an IndieGoGo backer, so it would be hard for me to swallow the current asking price (especially that it comes without the traveling bag).