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Xiaomi Mi Headphones Review (1 Viewer)

SoundReview

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Slowly and steadily Xiaomi is stepping its foot in variety of consumer electronics. It started off with smartphones and tablets, then progressed on to selling Mi bands and finally started moving towards audio. Some time ago they released Xiaomi Mi Bluetooth speakers that have been selling quite well in Asia. When it comes to headphones with fashion quotient, Beats and Monster are on the top, however they do not have the best sound quality that most audiophiles would expect.

Inside the box

mi-headphones-box.jpg


The headphones come inside a large white box which is almost cubical in shape. The packaging is very simple as always. There is “Mi” branding on the front side and additional information printed on the other. Inside, you will find two pairs of ear cushions, 6.5mm adapters, cables, a hard shell case and a carry bag. Most headphone manufacturers either give a hard shell case or a carry bag, Xiaomi generously provides both. Just in case you do not find the cable, look at the pouch inside the hard-shell case. Mi Headphones come with the pleather on-ear ear cushions already attached, but they do provide a pair of on-ear ear cushions made from foam as well as some pleather over-ear cushions just in case you prefer those.

Construction

The stylish appearance of the Xiaomi Mi headphones include a black coating with a golden metallic finish on the cans. The headband may visually appear to be quite tight, however it is still adjustable enough for most head sizes. It is quite comfortable and should not cause any pain unless you have a ridiculously huge head. It has some soft, black material with red stitching on either sides. The underside of the headband has a wavy pattern. The cans are attached to a swiveling mechanism and a rotating mechanism allowing you to swivel them sideways as well as flipping them vertically. The rotating mechanism itself is made from anodized aluminum but there are plastic parts in certain places. The headband can fold just above where the swiveling mechanism is fitted so that you can store these headphones inside the case. All the connected joints feel sturdy and there is no cracking or squeaking noise when you try to move the cans. The swivel and rotating mechanism simply provides more comfort to the user while wearing the headphones.


xiaomi-mi-headphones-.jpg



The question remains whether the mechanical assembly will remain sturdy forever. Users have already pointed out signs of wear and tear just after a week of casual use. Such a thing is quite unacceptable and you will not usually experience this on pricey well known counterparts. On the outer side of the cans you will find aluminum grill which basically indicates that these headphones follow an open design rather than a closed one. Looking at one of the reviews posted on the mi.com forums, the internals are all plastic on the contrary to the metallic outer body. Further, the drivers have a diameter of 50mm and according to the spec sheet, the diaphragm is only 2 microns thick.

On the bottom side of the cans, you can find coloured markings; Red and green with two 2.5mm female jacks (yes you heard it, 2.5mm proprietary jacks). The cable that you get has two 2.5mm male jacks, green and red which go in the corresponding female jacks on the cans. Speaking of the cable, it is ruggedized with Kevlar jacket throughout its entire length. Since, most cables will undergo bends and twists, they can render expensive headphones useless after breaking internally. Being able to detach and replace it with new cable is a very good thing in my opinion.

You will also find an in-line microphone on this cable. The entire construction of the microphone body is metallic with certain plastic part. It appears to be quite thin and much elongated. There is the usual volume rocker buttons on this assembly and a button to answer calls. The cables run out from this section to individual cans with a neat manner. It feels like the joint can take the beating for a long time before failing and rendering the cable useless. According to the spec sheet, there is MEMS microphone which in fact is a very tiny piezoelectric microphone module. Most MEMS microphones have great sensitivity, so it is definitely a good choice over the traditional electret.


xiaomi-mi-hifi-headphones.jpg



Audio performance

Being a semi-open design, you will experience sound leakage. Xiaomi Mi headphones aren’t designed to produce perfectly natural sound. The frequency response isn’t completely flat and it has quite a bump in the lower frequencies producing heavy bass. So much so that you might experience bass leaking into the lower mids. Hence, you may experience punchy and energetic bass, but it can cause the mids to sound blunt. On Xiaomi’s website, they display a THD vs frequency graph comparing the Sennheiser Urbanite and AKG K551 headphones. It shows that Mi Headphones have an absolutely flat THD response in the mids section, but I do not believe in that at all. Any sound engineer or an electronics engineer will spot this immediately. So, I went ahead and dug into this matter some more.

It is simply ridiculous how Xiaomi has created its own THD graph on the basis of their imagination just to promote their product. Have a look at the actual frequency response of Urbanite XL measured by InnerFidelity.com


thd-noise.png


…and now have a look at the THD graph displayed on Xiaomi’s website! Clear sign of fact-manipulation.


xiaomi-thd-graph.png


If Xiaomi is so fond of comparisons, I challenge them to post their technical data online. If they happen to accept my challenge and post it online, who can guarantee that their data is actually “true”? Only way to verify that would be to conduct electrical tests. Now this isn't the first time in reviews from SoundReview that there has been some serious fact manipulation going on from companies. JLab marked Epic Earbuds as the best in comparison to other other earphones in a similar price range when in fact... they weren't. Specifications were falsely modified to display Jaybird Bluebuds X as having 6mm drivers instead of the 10mm ones they actually had. Whether it was intentional, or a mistake, who knows.

In reality, the audio response of Mi headphones can very well be compared directly with the Beats Solo 2 or the Monster 24k. Where the Solo 2 is super bass heavy and completely neglects the performance of other frequencies, the Monster 24k is slightly better than the Solo 2 giving a lot more clarity. In comparison with both of them, Xiaomi Mi Headphones falls on a “better” side. Not to forget, Solo 2 and Monster 24k also cost quite a lot more than Mi!

The sensitivity of the drivers is not the best in class, having a figure of 98dB. The driver impedance is 32 Ohms which will sound quite loud. Comparing this with Philips M1BT headphones which also has semi open design, M1BT has a sensitivity of 107dB and a much flatter response curve and a more sturdy design. Definitely, Mi headphones are much cheaper than Philips but I mentioned this so that you always have an option to look for better alternatives.



xiaomi-mi-headphones-50mm.jpg




Conclusion

Xiaomi Mi headphones have attractive looks, quite good sound quality but are not the best you can get for under $100. However they do provide a lot of accessories with the headphones at no extra cost that most other headphone manufacturers sell separately. If you really care about audio, go for something better. For those that care about street swag, Xiaomi offers best of both worlds, good looks plus better sound quality.

Written by Salil from Soundreview.org, sponsored by Gearbest.

References:
http://www.lowyat.net/2015/56000/xiaomi-mi-headphones-a-sound-engineers-review/?cbg_tz=-330
http://www.mi.com/en/miheadphones/#overview
http://soundreview.org/audio/headphones/sennheiser-urbanite-xl-wireless-review/
http://soundreview.org/gaming/headsets/philips-m1bt-fidelio-bluetooth-headphones-review/
http://soundreview.org/audio/headphones/new-beats-solo-2-review/
 

SoundReview

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Just in-case moderators want to remove this, we have special permission from Dave. If there is anything that appears to be against the rules please verify with him first. We will be posting here quite regularly, forgot to add that this is written by my collegue Salil which has been edited by me!
 

polimorpher

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i have been lurking on home-theater-forum for a while,...decided to join today. I wouldn't be surprised xiaomi would want to fake technical specifications and trash sennheiser just to promote their product because they are a chinese company after all... good review. Good job spotting the malpractices of xiaomi. Have a great day
 

SoundReview

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polimorpher said:
i have been lurking on home-theater-forum for a while,...decided to join today. I wouldn't be surprised xiaomi would want to fake technical specifications and trash sennheiser just to promote their product because they are a chinese company after all... good review. Good job spotting the malpractices of xiaomi. Have a great day
Thanks Poli, copyright law isn't as enforced in China, never would have expected this from Xiaomi. Other products from them are exceedingly good.
 

SoundReview

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"JLab marked Epic Earbuds as the best in comparison to other other earphones in a similar price range when in fact... they weren't. Specifications were falsely modified to display Jaybird Bluebuds X as having 6mm drivers instead of the 10mm ones they actually had. Whether it was intentional, or a mistake, who knows."


This is wrong information, Jaybird support staff claimed that they were 10mm when the drivers are actually 6mm. Jaybird management confirmed this when talking about the new X2s :rolleyes:.
 

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