One of the few Xiaomi products that is open for official sale in Europe and the U.S are the Xiaomi Mi Headphones, at $80 – $100 are these headphones worth choosing over other flagship products?
So right off the bat I am calling the Xiaomi Mi Heaphones a ‘flagship’ product, why? Well compared to the rest of the Xiaomi audio range the Mi Headphone have the highest quality materials, the most features and the highest price tag. While they might be much cheaper than other brand ‘premium’ headphones, they are still the flagship for the Mi range. So are they any good?
Xiaomi Mi Headphones Review – in the box
The Xiaomi Mi Headphones come in a large white box, this is both exciting and worrying. It’s exciting because you know there are going to be some additional accessories, but it is worrying because you don’t know how customs are going to handle the package. In my case I had to pay 25 Euros customs charges on top of the high price tag making the Mi Headphone quite a costly piece of kit.
A sleeve fits over the main box and sliding it open will reveal a set of instructions. As my Xiaomi Mi Headphones came from China I received Chinese instructions, I am not sure if the international models get an English booklet.
Under the booklet is the first small package (3 in total). Inside this we have some larger, oval, over ear cushions which you can switch too to change the fit and feel of the headphone.
Lifting that first package out reveals a black headphone case (which has the Mi Headphone inside along with an adapter for use on airplanes and thicker 6.5mm plug, plus the Kevlar braided main cable which can be detached from the headphones).
Box 2 has some more on ear cushions. These are the same round shape and size as the factory installed ones, but with a foam cushion rather than PU coated.
The final box, box 3, contains a microfiber carry case which you can use as an alternative to the hard case and also doubles up as a nice screen cleaner.
Xiaomi Mi Headphone Review – Design
With a price tag of at least $80, Xiaomi have a hefty budget to build a set of headphones. In actual fact Xiaomi have handed the design of the headphones to 1More Design, the same team behind the excellent Pistons.
In photos of the Mi Headphones I was always drawn to the gold finish on the metal body and wire mesh grill and how it stands out against the black headband and ear cushions and wondered how this might look in real life. In the flesh the gold colour is much more subtle. This is perfect for me as I’m not a huge fan of gold, I’ve always thought it to be garish and tacky.
All the metal parts of the Mi Headphones get the same subtle gold finish. Anything that isn’t gold is covered with a leather-like black PU material. This is a very soft flexible material perfect for achieving a comfortable fit.
Across the head band the PU cover is stitched in to place with red stitching. With gold, black and red all in one place it sounds a little messy, and in all honesty I’m not 100% sure that 1More Design have managed to pull the design off.
The headband itself has hinges meaning that you can fold up the Mi Headphone for easy storage in the included hard-shell case or microfiber cloth bag.
Looking closer at the design you will notice that the main speakers are large 50mm drivers. The front side directing music in to your ears, with the backside under that gold mesh. The marketing makes it sound impressive but the design means that sounds leaks in and out of the headphones easily.
In the underside of the gold bodies are plugs for the headphone cable. the cable is removable meaning that if you managed to damage the wire you can just replace it rather than the whole headphone unit. The idea is great, but we don’t imagine it’s so easy to buy a spare Xiaomi Mi Headphones cable outside of China.
The 1.4 meter cable itself is a thick Kevlar coated main cable, the Kevlar prevents tangles and also adds durability to the delicate wires inside.
As the cable exits the remote it splits in two separate non protected wires for left and right speakers. The remote is a simple single button unit that is compatible with most Android device and any iOS device running iOS 5 or above. Inside the remote is a Knowles MEMS microphone offering crystal clear hands free calls.
Xiaomi Mi Headphone Review – Audio Quality
On the Xiaomi Mi Headphones product page, Xiaomi state that the 50mm diaphragm on the headphones are 25% larger than standard and result in incredible sensitivity and exceptional bass.
Being someone who enjoys music and likes the feeling of being sucked in to the sound and having good experience with Xiaomi Piston earphones, I had great expectations for the Mi Headphone.
I tried the Mi Headphone on the OnePlus 2 to start with. As noted in my review of the OP2, audio isn’t a strong point on the phone, but I hoped the Mi Headphone might help to improve things. As usual I had issues with Maxx Audio seeing the headphones, but sound quality is good. The bass is nice, rich and deep, but I’d say that the sensitivity isn’t quite there and the bass can drown out some of the nice details hidden in the background of complex tracks.
Knowing how well the LeTV Le1 is for audio I moved to that phone hoping that the headphone would really see its potential. Again the sound quality is good and the headphones are amazing at around 1/2 volume, unfortunately that’s the volume my wife starts telling me the sound is too loud and can be easily heard by people around me.
Bass is rich and the 3D surround sound is really stunning, sometimes it can sound like you are in the studio right with the artist, but then a bump or bang from the environment around you will shatter that illusion, poor audio insulation really compromises an otherwise great product.
I found during my tests that the optimal level of volume is around 1/3 on the OnePlus 2 (a little less on the Le1). This gives you enough volume to enjoy bass and the nice hiss and crackle of an LP transferred to MP3, and means that people nearby can’t quite be annoyed by your choice in music. However, this volume level does mean you can hear everything going on around you so you need to find a nice quite place to really chill and enjoy.
During my test I listened to Royksopp – Melody AM, Roni Size – Take Kontrol, Various Q-Tip tracks, Audioslave, Fear Factory, Bjork, 4 Hero, and Nu Yorican Soul (Yup, I have varied musical tastes). It all sounds good from the Mi Headphones, and if you are someone who enjoys bass more than searching the track for each and every detail then you will enjoy them.
Xiaomi Mi Headphone Review – Gallery
Xiaomi Mi Headphone Review – Conclusion
I was looking forward to the Xioami Mi Headphone, I had wanted to treat myself to a nice pair of headphones for a while so I can chill in my free time and fully emerse myself in music, a movie or even the odd game, but I’ll have to keep looking.
From my musical tastes you can see that I like drum and bass, and the Mi Headphone does bass well, but it can’t do bass and offer a rich audio experience. I like to listen to my music and uncover details I’ve not heard before, but the Mi Headphone isn’t sensitive enough for that, and with that poor audio insulation the only time you can really let them off the hook is by yourself to not upset anyone around you.
Thanks to Pandawill for supplying us with the Xiaomi Mi Headphones for review.