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Not for everyone: Audeze Mobius @ Superbooth ’18

  • Audeze’s Mobius is a Bluetooth headphone that will talk LDAC to supporting Android devices and AAC to iPhones and iPads. No aptX. For those who insist on lossless feeds, Mobius can be bowel fed via USB or 3.5mm-terminated analogue wire.

    Per Audeze’s modus operandi, Mobius features a planar-magnetic driver, making it this Californian headphone manufacturer‘s most affordable closed-back over-ear headphone to date.

    These points alone are enough to make the Mobius newsworthy.

    However, Audeze isn’t just pitching Mobius to music lovers. It’s going after gamers with an internal digital signal processing (DSP) engine that powers head-tracking software (from Waves) to create a virtual listening room. An earcup mounted button sets the soundstage position. The headphone’s sensors lock it into place, ready to track head movement. Turn to the left and the music moves to your right – just like a live show; turn 180 degrees and the music sits behind you. That’s with 2.0 music. Mobius supports up to 7.1 channels for a virtual surround sound experience.

    Sold? Hold your horses. Audeze’s crowdfunding campaign closed up yesterday netting US$1.2M in production funding. Over 4000 Indiegogo-ers have ‘purchased’ a pair of Mobius without first laying their hands (or ears) on a pair.

    From a dark corner of Superbooth ’18, Tom Francis, Audeze’s UK pro audio distributor, goes on a deeper detail dive:

    The (pre-production) Mobius is lighter and more comfortable on the head than I expected. On sound quality, initial show-based impressions hint at a spacious and airy soundstage – far more so than the Sony MDR-1000X or the B&W PX. The head-tracking is a cute but ultimately non-essential feature for music listeners. For gamers, I’d imagine it’s a highlight. Even more impressive was the Mobius’ rendering of a movie (trailer) where a keen sense of image specificity and high drama macro dynamics delivered numerous wow moments.

    Causing me pause is the pre-production sample’s look and feel: the plastic frame creaks and, as it currently stands, Mobius’ overall fit and finish don’t appear in tune with the sharp industrial design of Audeze’s previous models. In the Bluetooth headphone space, they come up short on the exceptionally high standard set by the B&W PX. That’s a tough pill to swallow even if the Mobius better the PX on sound quality.

    The volume- and microphone sensitivity-attenuating rotaries (that sit behind the left earcup) also look and feel a little cheap. Their over-sized nature – apparently standard in gaming headsets – exposes them to possible outside interference, further underscoring that the Mobius headphone just isn’t for me. I don’t game and I’d only use the Mobius for two-channel music playback, most likely bypassing the head-tracking completely. For this mobile music listener, active noise cancellation remains a more potent use of DSP.

    Mobius is available now for pre-order directly from Audeze at US$339. If/when it lands in high street stores, Mobius will sell for US$399.

    A detachable microphone is supplied. The Mobius’ black plastic finish is available in blue or copper accents.

    Further information: Audeze

    John H. Darko

    Written by John H. Darko

    John is the editor of Darko.Audio, from whose ad revenues he derives an income. He is also an occasional contributor to 6moons and AudioStream and currently resides in Berlin, Germany.

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