China-based Mi (formerly Xiaomi) has been working to show that it’s more than just a phone manufacturer, even branching out into its own class of accessories. Earlier this month, the company released its latest high-fidelity earbuds and while they’re not available for order in the United States, VentureBeat has spent the past couple of weeks with them and here’s our review.
These new earbuds emerged on the market earlier this month and are priced at approximately $15 (99 ¥). For those that care about the specifications, the earbuds weigh about 0.5 ounces, come with a 4 foot cable, and are available in silver. From all appearances from the packaging to its aesthetic look, the Mi millet ring iron headphones has an aura that wants you to believe that it’s a luxury accessory, but without needing you to “break the bank” to afford it.
Let’s be honest, when you think of earbuds, Mi may not necessarily be on your shortlist of brands you’d be willing to try — you’re probably looking at Beats by Dre, Monster, Bose, or Skullcandy, right? But as Mi inches closer to launching its ecommerce store in the U.S., it’s hoping that the greater exposure in one of the world’s largest markets will help boost its brand notoriety.
Mi has created this headset with a two sound unit to provide you with more treble detail and surging bass, thanks to the use of both an iron and moving coil unit. The company redesigned what the iron unit would be to minimize the distortion. Here’s how the company describes its effort:
Self-developed patented iron structure, high-precision assembly technology, enables more compact unit volume; patented one-piece “armature + drive lever” structure, to avoid the solder off, and thus more solid, sound and stable, low distortion. We also add it to the capacitive divider, natural convergence of high school bass.
As for the moving coil unit, the company utilized what it calls a patented “sandwich” diaphragm structure. The goal of all of this was to really maximize your listening experience and when I had it attached to my iPhone with Spotify on, the sound was sharp and clear. In running a test on them, I found the bass and treble extension to be at 20 Hertz and 17 kHz, respectively, and a dynamic range of 48 decibels below full scale.
The cable on the Mi earbuds felt comfortable as well in that it didn’t feel plastic, but rather Kevlar fibers that are rather durable and didn’t feel like it would tangle right away — the company says this helps to better protect the wiring so you’re not going to have to replace them every few months. The end pieces come sheathed in thermoplastic elastomer, or TPE, designed to minimize friction that comes from rubbing against clothing. In doing so, the headset is better protected against unwanted noise interference.
There’s even a wire microphone in the headset complete with a MEMs microphone with 58 decibels of high range signal-to-noise ratio to provide great call quality — you don’t have to have the microphone so close to your mouth for people to hear you.
The ear pieces felt quite comfortable in my ear while also having a more ergonomic design — it’s not like traditional headsets where you just slip them in, but rather has a design that fits into your ear canal to drive the sound right into your head, making sure that as few beats escape out into the public as possible.
While using them on the MUNI bus system in San Francisco and also recently on an airplane, the Mi earbuds were really good in helping to minimize the ambient noise of people talking and the roar of the engines, allowing me to focus on my music. And I didn’t necessarily need to have the volume turned up to full in order to really hear what’s coming through the earbuds. They felt really comfortable in my ear and were snug enough in there that I felt assured that when I had the volume up, it wasn’t blaring outward that the person next to me would be able to hear the music loud enough that they could easily Shazam it.
Overall the quality of Mi’s millet ring iron headphones are pretty good. They don’t look and feel cheap when you’re using them and they’re not going to break the bank if you buy them — assuming you can find them. It’s probably accessible for those in China, India, and wherever else Mi’s phones and accessories are readily available, but elsewhere in the world, it might be a bit difficult — you can’t place an order on Amazon, that’s for sure.
For about $15, these headphones aren’t the cheapest ones on the market, but they are priced to be cheaper than Bose and Monster Beats by Dre in-ear headphones.
While I’m not a snob about what headphones I have, after trying these headphones out for a while, I must say that they’re not bad and worth giving a shot … if they weren’t just a bit too difficult for me to get than other pairs.
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