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Audeze Mobius Review (Gaming Headset)

mightygrey

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You haven't explained why the measurements would vary. As i noted in the review, Aux input goes to the same pipeline as the digital input would. So your frequency response would remain identical which is the most important thing. As will distortion measurements.

You also have to explain to me how many games use Bluetooth for audio. My understanding is that the added latency is a killer there.

I guess we're not going to understand how they may vary until either you or someone else tests it. I know you have your own POV around who/how this headphone is likely to be used, but it's still an inconclusive review until the Mobius' main features are tested.

The frequency response itself may not change via USB or Bluetooth (in the single EQ profile that you tested, anyhow) compared to the analogue input, but the main thing that makes this headphone unique is its DSP capabilities. I would have thought that as a platform interested in audio + engineering that it would be worth exploring to see how DSP is used to change the sound of the Mobius. Does the DSP kick-in with a digital signal only? Is the analogue input a pass-through only? What are the different EQ profiles doing to the frequency response? I guess we won't know. It would also be great to know if distortion may reduce compared to using the onboard signal only.

The Mobius isn't designed to be a console gaming product (ie using the 3.5mm input), it's designed mainly for use with PC - that is, using USB. Its stablemate (the Penrose) is the console version.

The Mobius certainly can be a general-purpose listening headphone, and it's probably the best-tuned Bluetooth headphone that I've heard, with the best technicalities. Ultimately the comfort was a deal-breaker for me, however. I probably used it for 60% music, 20% gaming (yes, including via Bluetooth), and 20% movies.
 
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amirm

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The size of the dip/peak (particularly the treble boost) is likely to introduce clipping.
That is super unlikely because the level of content at that frequency is way down in dB. It is bass boost that causes clipping. To the extent I pulled that down, I already created headroom.
 

Maiky76

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This is a review and detailed measurements of the Audeze Mobius wired and wireless gaming headphone. It is on kind loan from a member and costs US $399.

At this price, I was surprised to see the entire thing feeling like it is made out of plastic:

View attachment 151590

There are mechanical controls for microphone and headphone volume. Sadly they both feel the same and next to each other which can make it difficult to adjust by feel. One should have been on the other side or something. There is support for Bluetooth but I suspect all gamers will use the wired interface which mates with 3.5mm cable. I limited my testing to this scenario. Note that the wired interface is active and will NOT work without the unit being turned on. As such, I expect it to apply any EQ it wants even to wired interface (most of the time not the case with noise cancelling headphones).

It has a bunch of features which I did not mess with. I did turn on the "3D" mode which instantly added a ton of "room" reverb which I did not care for and shut it off for my testing.

On the comfort side, I found them very poor in this regard. The headband is super progressive and almost instantly gets stiff. Combined with small cups, I could not wear them for more than 15 to 20 minutes. Weight due to inclusion of batteries is kind of high for such a small looking headphone:

View attachment 151591

I did not mind that however. Inside cup dimensions are 70x56x24 mm (height, width, depth).

Note: The measurements you are about to see are made using a standardized Gras 45C. Headphone measurements by definition are approximate and variable so don't be surprised if other measurements even if performed with the same fixtures as mine, differ in end results. Protocols vary such as headband pressure and averaging (which I don't do). As you will see, I confirm the approximate accuracy of the measurements using Equalization and listening tests. Ultimately headphone measurements are less exact than speakers mostly in bass and above a few kilohertz so keep that in mind as you read these tests. If you think you have an exact idea of a headphone performance, you are likely wrong!

Fitment on the fixture was challenging due to small size of the cups. I optimized them after fair bit of trying but not optimal.

Audeze Mobius Measurements
As usual we start with our frequency response measurements relative to our desired target:
View attachment 151592

I am relieved to see plenty of bass but we will need to pull fair bit of it down with equalization. Compliance is then good from 500 Hz to 3 kHz (but with some roughness). Post that, we have a couple of ditches which we again have to fill with EQ. Here is our relative response for development of EQ:

View attachment 151593

Notice that we are high by about 5 dB near 200 Hz and down whopping 13 dB around 6 kHz.

Distortion measurements were disappointing:

View attachment 151594

We can ignore the 114 dBSPL due to internal amplifier clipping (I could easily see it in the waveform) but the rest is still bad seeing how they peak where our hearing is most sensitive.

View attachment 151595

Group delay was surprisingly clean but does show fair amount of pipeline delay:
View attachment 151596

I am surprised how high this is given the focus on gamers as the target audience with their obsession with respect to latency. Note that actual latency may be a bit lower as the above is the full roundtrip pipeline in my measurement system.

I did not run sensitive test and impedance test given the active nature of this headphone.

Audeze Mobius Listening Tests
First impression was not bad. If I had not measured it first, one would thing it is good. Then I pulled out the EQ tool and went after the bass and midrange hump:
View attachment 151597

Ah, what a relief that brought. Performing AB tests quickly showed the headphone being "lighter on its feet" with much more open sound and less closed sound. That got amplified more once I added another filter to fill the notch around 6 kHz. Once there, the spatial qualities came forward significantly providing a very pleasant effect. Overall sound signature was a bit bright though (unrelated to my boosting the 6 kHz). I did not try to cure that and hypothesized to be due to distortion increasing high frequency spectrum (frequency response errors did not provide an explanation).

With both filters in place, I enjoyed listening to Mobius until my left ear started to complain with pain at which point I had to take them off for some relief.

Conclusions
$400 is a lot of money for a gaming headset. Does the Mobius deliver? Without EQ, not at all. With equalization, it does sound very good which I would not mind listening to, if it were more comfortable.

As is, I can't recommend the Audeze Mobius. If you add EQ, the sound becomes nice but the comfort for me remained horrid. If that is not a concern for you and you can apply EQ, then it is a decent choice.

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Hi,

Here are some thoughts about the EQ.

Notes about the EQ design:

  • The average L/R is used to calculate the score.
  • The resolution is 12 points per octave interpolated from the raw data (provided by @amirm)
  • A Genetic Algorithm is used to optimize the EQ.
  • The EQ Score is designed to MAXIMIZE the Score WHILE fitting the Harman target curve with a fixed complexity.
    This will avoid weird results if one only optimizes for the Score.
    It will probably flatten the Error regression doing so, the tonal balance should be more neutral.
  • The EQs are starting point and may require tuning (certainly at LF).
  • The range around and above 10kHz is usually not EQed unless smooth enough to do so.
  • I am using PEQ (PK) as from my experience the definition is more consistent across different DSP/platform implementations than shelves.
  • With some HP/amp combo the boosts and preamp gain need to be carefully considered to avoid issues
  • Not all units of the same products are made equal. The EQ is based on the measurements of a single unit.
  • YMMV with regards to the very unit you are trying this EQ on.

Average L/R match.

I have generated 4 EQ, the APO config file is attached.

Default Harman Curve:

Score no EQ: 34.2
Score Armirm: 78.5
Score with EQ: 92.1
Score with EQ Full: 98.3

Audeze Mobius  APO EQ Amirm.png


Audeze Mobius  APO EQ Flat@HF.png


Default Harman Curve -1.5dB @HF

Score no EQ: 45.7
Score Armirm: 86.8
Score with EQ: 93.0
Score with EQ Full: 98.4

Audeze Mobius  APO EQ -1.5dB@HF Dashboard.png


Audeze Mobius  APO EQ Full -1.5dB@HF Dashboard.png
 

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amirm

amirm

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I guess we're not going to understand how they may vary until either you or someone else tests it. I know you have your own POV around who/how this headphone is likely to be used, but it's still an inconclusive review until the Mobius' main features are tested.
It is not the "main" feature. It is an auxiliary feature to use it in wireless mode.
 

mightygrey

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It is not the "main" feature. It is an auxiliary feature to use it in wireless mode.
If that's your take on its marketing positioning, fine (it's a moot point), but testing via USB still ought to undertaken as the best way to test its DSP characteristics and overall performance.
 

mononoaware

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Distortion measurements were disappointing:

index.php

And isn't distortion in low frequencies the least audible? (not sure if this is the case with headphones with the driver closer to your ears as well)

So this kind of distortion performance from the Mobius is backwards no? (Distortion should be minimal in mid to high frequencies and some low frequency distortion is normally acceptable)
 

Koeitje

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Is it old tho? I've had Sennheiser with foam and leather (or leather with sponge inside thingy) that completely disintegrated while still inside the unopened box.
I think this headphone was released somewhere in 2019. Nothing should disintegrate that fast.
 

MC_RME

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That was vegan, fake or protein leather. Starts to crack and peel off quickly in countries where it's more warm and humid, a bit slower in others, but sucks all the way. I replaced my earpads with sheepskin ones - no such problem anymore.
 

Music1969

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And isn't distortion in low frequencies the least audible? (not sure if this is the case with headphones with the driver closer to your ears as well)

So this kind of distortion performance from the Mobius is backwards no? (Distortion should be minimal in mid to high frequencies and some low frequency distortion is normally acceptable)

LOL yes it is a mirror image of what it should be.

How bizarre.
 

PierreV

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You also have to explain to me how many games use Bluetooth for audio. My understanding is that the added latency is a killer there.

I would have thought so as well, but most of the young people I know (15-25) including a couple of the playing in eSports leagues play with wireless headsets...
 

JJB70

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These seemed very hyped on release, and I am not such a fan of Audeze. I think the feature set, especially the head tracking and simulated surround were key selling points as well as the wireless functionality. I am not much of a gamer but gaming headsets have followed regular headphones in that the market is increasingly wireless.
 

Phoggy

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I always have to chuckle at all of the highly technical reviews of the Mobius. All that is fine, and it's interesting to see how it performs and compares to other headphones - but only in one mode. These headphones, however, operate in 3 different modes, the 3.5mm jack being only one of them. It also operates by Bluetooth (LDAC, and sounds pretty great as a BT headset, BTW) but it shines the most when wired via USB on a PC in 3D Mode in 7.1 mode. There are 3 modes with the USB mode - traditional 2 channel stereo, Hi-Res mode (24bit/96kHz), and 3D (7.1 simulated surround). When in 3D mode, the software does something truly magical! There is no other headset that does this. It puts the stereo mix "out" in front of you and it becomes a virtual concert. The individual instruments and vocals, very distinctly, are placed in left, middle and right positions. This is cool enough, but with the head tracking technology built in the headphones, you can then turn your head left and right and the instrument or vocals will stay locked in their positions in virtual space! So you can now turn your head and "look" at the guitar player on the right, but the vocals will stay in the front position (now on the left) and the rhythm guitar will still be off to the left, but further to the left. You can even turn completely around and the band will stay behind you! This truly is a different experience in a headphone. I love to listen to Pink Floyd "Dark Side of the Moon" and hear all of the cool audio effects played out in virtual space, or pull up a symphony orchestra and stare at the violins while the French horns play off to the side and move my head back and forth. You can hear all of the different instruments in different places. The effect is enhanced when the mix was mastered in Dolby Atmos. This is all done at nearly Hi Res so not only is it an amazing experience, but it sounds phenomenal! The central 3D position can be changed manually or automatically, or locked in so the 3D effect surrounds you. The virtual room effects can be adjusted in the Audeze HQ app on the PC so that you can bring the sound closer or further out in virtual space, and the reverb can be adjusted as well to your preference. So this is amazing with music, but it's also incredibly cool as a gaming headset because the 3D effect of the audio is enhanced by the software. So you can discuss all of the technical details, but this is not the headphone to buy if you are concerned about the technical details, even if it is pretty good for this reason too. It is for the amazing experience that you can have while using it. If you have these and understand how to play with them, you'll understand why they are $400. Because you won't get this kind of experience with anything else in a headphone.
 

m8o

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Voice setting kept telling me "Flat" or something like it.
A few things for all the readers to keep in mind. (Post-post edit: Reading this page I see others have done a more exhaustive job at stating much of this.)

There are numerous DSP modes. One made specifically for Music which audibly has more extension in bass and treble. Likely bringing it closer to the subjectively derived target. (My personal opinion is as this was tested and reviewed solely for music sans the 3D spaces or dolby audio for games or movie watching the Music dsp should have been chosen, not Flat).

The real strength of this headphone is in the 3D space it offers with in-headphone gyro based centering and tracking. All of which it does admirably. Plus the absolute best performance in that vein is when it is used in wired USB-C mode. Buying this to use this solely to listen to music with wired analog is a real waste of potential.

Disclosure: I got in on the indigogo drop of this for something like $250 to $280. I am super happy to own it. Weighed against a dozen+ headphones I own, I'd be happy at the stated "today's" price. The tech jammed into this and full breadth of capabilities it offers is quite astounding.
 
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Robbo99999

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I can't really see this as a recommended headphone given the massive sharp dip from 5kHz-8kHz which also happens to be where there is a massive spike in distortion even at the lowest 94dB measured level (blue line on graph), which can only get worse with any EQ trying to fill that gap.
1630953573861.png

And then you've got the measured latency of this headphone which is far from ideal for a gaming headphone in particular. I can't see this as recommended and that's regardless of the extra fact that it costs a pretty expensive $400.
 

m8o

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There was that mention latency is likely not as much as the group delay indicates as that figure is skewed by the measurement pipeline.

That said, I wonder if latency is different and if so whether higher or lower via analog in vs USB-C in.
 

philosobyte

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I joined the Indiegogo campaign for these headphones during college. The only over-ear pair of headphones I had ever owned before hearing this was the Sony MDR-7506.

Given my tinnitus and the treble spike in the MDR-7506, you can imagine how relieved I was at the Mobius having no issues with sibilance. In fact, it sounded pretty neutral to me at the time, as the only reference I had for neutral was LSR305s in a small room. It's interesting to see that the measurements do show a treble dip including the sibilance region.

As for comfort, well, I never complained about the original pads, but once Audeze came out with gel pads, I bought those and those were a significant improvement. The pressure they exerted was more even, especially on my glasses. I think I remember a slight loss in bass quantity, but that did not outweigh the increase in comfort for me. Unfortunately, the gel pads were discontinued.
 

Bimbleton

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Appreciate this excellent review Amir. I own the sister headphone to this, the Penrose, which I believe shares the same drivers and very similar tuning. A few points, from personal use:

+ Penrose X is a pretty good wireless headset because of its ease of use.
+ No issues pairing it with a PS5. Just gotta make sure the dongle slider is on ‘PC’ for anything other than XBox.
+ Sounds better than the Arctis, and most other gaming headsets. More convenient to wear than an LCD-X. Pretty light!

- It was really uncomfortable at first because of clamping. I reduced the clamp by storing it on a headphone yoga block.
- No matter how much I EQ down the treble, it’s still a little bright. I agree with Amir, it’s probably distortion.
 

PeteL

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You haven't explained why the measurements would vary. As i noted in the review, Aux input goes to the same pipeline as the digital input would. So your frequency response would remain identical which is the most important thing. As will distortion measurements.
How is it the same Pipeline? There is an extra ADC (and an extra DAC at the source) How can you say the distortion measurments will remain the same? The gain structure is not the same neither.

Who would use it like that? It's a DSP based system why use an analog in? Even the name of the input gives a big clue that it's an edge case "Aux" as in auxiliary, as in not the main one.

As for the justification of the frequency response being the same, this headphone, as I understand, as more than one frequency response.

That said, it's OK Amir, We all understand that to keep this community engaged you need new reviews everyday, it's an amazing amount of important work and with this many reviews it's fair to not expect thoroughness. But it's also OK to to be candid about it, it's OK to not have the time as long as it's clearly stated that it's been only partially tested, but you know better than to give us these rationales as a justification.
 
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