Xiaomi Mi Headphones: $30 headphones that competes with the big boys (review)

Here at AndroidGuys, we’re big fans of excellent audio. While none of us would describe ourselves as audiophiles, we can appreciate a quality pair of headphones when they cross our desks to review. You may have recently seen Scott Webster’s review of the excellent Master and Dynamic MW50s that really blew him away. Like Scott, I don’t have sophisticated tastes when it comes to headphones.

I love a good pair of earbuds or over-the-ear headphones but I refuse to dump a bunch of money into them because I can’t tell the difference most of the time. A lot of what makes headphones great for me are how they feel on my head and the materials they’re made of. I use a pair of very nice Sennheiser HD598‘s I was able to score during a sale during the Christmas season but they still cost a fair amount more than the Xiaomi headphones we’re talking about today.

You may have heard of Xiaomi in regards to cell phones. It’s a large manufacturer that makes really excellent phones like the Mi 5 and Mi Mix (yes, that’s the one that’s all screen). Xiaomi hasn’t ventured into the US market much and I can’t really find these headphones on sale much of anywhere besides the site that sent these over for us to review, Chinavasion.com.

The first thing that struck me when taking the headphones out of the box was the complete lack of branding. In fact, the only text you’ll find on these things at all are the big R and L in the corresponding ear cups to let you know which way to wear these bad boys. It’s really refreshing to see a company make a product and not slap its name all over it in three or four places. The headphones look super clean and I can’t say enough how pleased I am with the aesthetics.

The outside of the earcups have a dotted design and the left has a pressable button. A short press of the button plays or pauses and a long press opens up Google Assistant on my OnePlus 3T. It’s a nice intersection of form and functionality.  The microphone bump that sits just below the earcups is able to pick up my voice clearly and people on the other end of calls said I sounded just fine.

Above the earcups sits a soft plastic band with plenty of cushion. I’ve worn these for up to four hours at a time with zero fatigue. My only issue with this area is that when extending the bar to fit my big fat head, the plastic that houses it can come apart. You can simply push it back together but that gives you some idea of the build quality we’re working with here. Cheaper, but nice, plastics. They look good and feel good to the touch but aren’t going to stand up to long-term abuse.

Another area where these are a miss on is how they fit. It feels like Xiaomi made the band that sits on top of your head too long. These would sit wonderfully on the round head of an emoji, but for real world, it should have been a bit more narrow.

The headphones don’t squeeze my head at all, which is nice for comfort but can make them come off my head when whipping around to talk to someone standing behind me. Luckily the earcups are pretty deep and hold a little bit or it would be a dire situation. The cups hold these to your head and do it very comfortably. The soft leather-ish pads are extremely comfortable and are among the best I’ve ever felt.

As for how they sound, I have zero issues here. I love bass and these headphones definitely supply enough of it. I wouldn’t say they’re bass heavy like Beats, but bass is definitely accentuated. These won’t be an award winner for its massive soundstage or anything, but I do think that the instruments and voices all have their own space and don’t sound like a jumbled mess like on some cheaper headphones.

I absolutely loved listening to electronic music and podcasts with these on. The deep booming voice of Mike Rowe in his “The Way I Heard It” podcast sounds fantastic and beats in Boundless by Aero Chord are sublime.

There isn’t anything flashy about these headphones. They’re not going to make bad quality audio suddenly better and they’re not going to be turning heads because they’re so fashionable. What they will do, however, is make listening to your favorite songs and podcasts just a little bit better. While I do wish the fit was just a little bit more finely tuned, it’s nothing offensive and I routinely wear them without issue. I love the clean lines and white aesthetics that aren’t mucked up by branding or logos.

Would I give my Sennheisers up for these? No, but I also don’t recommend going out and spending $100 extra dollars on something like that unless you have the cash to toss away. I find that the listening experience is almost as good as my HD598s and that’s pretty incredible when you take into account the price difference ($150 vs. $30)

If you want a pair of headphones that just make everything sound a little bit better, it’s hard not recommend the Xiaomi Mi Headphones. Thanks to Chinavasion for sending these over for review.

REVIEW OVERVIEW
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Matt is an avid sports and technology fan and Managing Editor for AndroidGuys.com. You can get in touch with him by email at [email protected]