This week, we reviewed the Audeze Mobius gaming headphones. Sold for €449, this high-end model can be used with a computer or game console via a wireless Bluetooth connection or a wired connection. These gaming headphones feature iconic 4” Planar transducers from the American manufacturer. They also include a powerful 3D spatialization system able to detect the user’s head movements to adapt the sound restitution in real-time. Lauded multiple times by the international press, the Audeze Mobius headphones are said to be the best gaming headphones in the world. As a result, we couldn’t wait to put them on to test their performance.
Audeze Mobius: the brand
The American hi-fi brand Audeze was founded in 2008 when founders Sankar Thiagasamudram and Alexander Rosson met Pete Uka, an engineer who had developed materials and circuits for NASA. Together, they decided to use these new materials to create headphones and earphones. To do this, they approached Dragoslav Colich, who had over 30 years of experience designing Planar Magnetic drivers. This is how the Audeze LCD-1 headphones were created. They rapidly became a huge success with audiophiles and were promptly followed by the legendary Audeze LCD-2 and Audeze LCD-3 headphones, and then by the Audeze LCD-X and Audeze XC models. Four prestigious pairs of headphones that provide unrivalled musicality.
More recently, the American manufacturer made Planar Magnetic technology accessible to a larger audience with the Audeze EL-8 headphones, as well as the Audeze iSINE 10 and Audeze iSINE 20 earphones, which were produced in collaboration with Designworks, a subsidiary of BMW.
In late 2018, Audeze introduced Planar Magnetic technology to gamers by combining it with one of the most powerful 3D spatialization systems on the market, creating the Audeze Mobius headphones we reviewed this week.
Audeze Mobius: packaging & accessories
The Audeze Mobius gaming headphones come in an elegant box containing two cardboard envelopes adorned with the model’s reference. Inside these sleeves are the user manual and a soft travel bag. The Audeze Mobius headphones are hidden underneath. They are held in place and protected from any damage by a thick piece of protective foam. The various accessories are grouped together in a third envelope placed in the middle of the foam. There is a removable microphone, a mini-jack cable, a USB-C to USB-A cable to connect the headphones to a computer or game console, and a USB-C to USB-C cable to connect them to a MacBook or iOS or Android mobile device, for example.
Audeze Mobius: design
The Audeze Mobius gaming headphones have a sturdy structure made mainly of polymer. The headband uses a specific alloy that makes it both robust and entirely flexible. Consequently, it can be handled and folded many times without being weakened. The ear cups are sturdy and feature an elegant pattern in the same colors as the headphones. They can be adjusted using a notched system, but some force is needed to lengthen the headband. The ear cups can pivot 90° to fit the shape of the head, but also so they do not bother the user when they wear the headphones around their neck.
All of the Audeze Mobius headphones’ connectors are situated on the left ear cup. These connectors include a USB-C input for charging the headphones and connecting them to a computer, a 3.5mm mini-jack input and an input for the removable microphone. This ear cup also includes the control interface which consists of a power and pairing button, a switch to activate or deactivate the microphone and two volume dials: one for the microphone and a second for the headphones. The latter can also be used to skip tracks by pressing and holding it.
The Audeze Mobius headphones are a closed, over-ear model. Their large ear cups entirely cover the listener’s ears. They feature thick pads made of memory foam covered by imitation leather. The headband is also generously padded. The Audeze Mobius headphones are very comfortable despite the fact that they weigh 350g. The ear cups are breathable and don’t heat up… unless the headphones are used in USB mode. The left ear cup has a slight tendency to heat up when the 3D spatialization is activated in this mode. Although the heat is mainly concentrated in the outer shell of the ear cup, it still reaches the ear after a few hours of use. Most of the time this isn’t very troublesome and removing the headphones for a couple of minutes allows them to cool down.
Audeze Mobius: Planar Magnetic transducers
Like all of the American manufacturer’s products, the Audeze Mobius gaming headphones boast two Planar Magnetic transducers identical to those present in the Audeze EL-8 Open audiophile headphones. The model used is 4” in diameter and has a very thin diaphragm driven by neodymium magnets with Double Fluxor technology. This technology consists in placing the magnets in between two very powerful magnetic zones, providing dynamic performance and exceptional reactivity across the entire frequency range, which stretches from 10Hz to 50kHz. The Audeze Mobius headphones should therefore be effective at reproducing both the biggest explosions in video games and the most subtle details in music.
Audeze Mobius: Bluetooth and wired mode
The Audeze Mobius headphones are designed first and foremost to provide an optimal gaming experience in USB mode connected to a computer or game console (Playstation 4, Xbox or Nintendo Switch). This configuration ensures optimal conditions for multichannel soundtracks. The Audeze Mobius headphones are versatile and suitable for mobile use as they feature a Bluetooth controller for listening to music freely with a smartphone, tablet, computer or DAP. This module is compatible with SBC and AAC codecs, as well as the high definition codec LDAC to ensure high quality transmission up to 96kHz. This allows the user to make full use of the Audeze Mobius headphones’ audiophile characteristics with compatible sources. Lastly, a mini-jack input is also present so that the Audeze Mobius headphones can be used with any device that features a headphone output. However, the headphones need to be switched on for this analog connection to work. Unfortunately, it is therefore impossible to use the headphones when the battery isn’t charged. The latter provides an estimated 10 hours of battery life with the 3D function activated. Naturally, the headphones are continually powered when used with a USB connection.
Audeze Mobius: 3D Waves Nx spatialization
The Audeze Mobius gaming headphones’ biggest asset is without a doubt their Waves Nx 3D spatialization system developed in collaboration with Waves, the world’s leading developer of DSP technology. This system uses a powerful algorithm that is based on three axial accelerometers and three axial gyroscopes that track and analyse the slightest head movements more than 1000 times per second. The Audeze Mobius headphones can then adapt the sound restitution in real time to spatialize the different channels and provide very realistic 7.1 channel sound. To illustrate this concept, let’s take the example of a 7.1 channel setup with actual speakers. When the listener is directly opposite the screen, the center speaker is opposite them and the other speakers are positioned in front, to the side of and behind them. If the listener turns their head to the left, the center speaker and front speakers may not be perceptible to the right ear. Unfortunately, this perceptive difference cannot be reproduced with a pair of headphones as they always remain in the same position, regardless of the user’s movements. This is where the Audeze Mobius’ gyroscopic system comes in. By detecting the user’s head movements, it can mimic physical speakers by adjusting the restitution. For example, when the screen is in front of the listener and they turn their head to the right, the sound will seem to originate from the left, as if they weren’t wearing headphones.
The second major advantage of the Wave Nx spatialization system is that it is fully integrated into the Audeze Mobius headphones. It can therefore be used with any source, without having to use a control app. As a result, you can enjoy multichannel video game soundtracks with any computer or gaming console. This 3D spatialization can also be used for 5.1 or 7.1 channel movies, and even for stereo music. In the latter case, only the two front channels are reproduced. Naturally, this function can be deactivated using the button on the Audeze Mobius headphones’ left ear cup.
Audeze Mobius: control app
Although the Audeze Mobius headphones’ spatialization system is entirely functional right out of the box, it can still be optimized and made even more spectacular with the Audeze HQ app available for Windows and Mac. By entering different measurements (head circumference, distance between the ears, etc.), the app determines the shape of the user’s head so that the headphones can adapt their restitution accordingly. To be completely honest, this system doesn’t radically change the restitution, but it does enhance it slightly, especially the surround sound effects. The Audeze Mobius headphones’ control app also provides a “room simulation” mode to extend the spatialization. This feature is highly effective, but we recommend using it sparingly. When this parameter is set to maximum, the Audeze Mobius headphones apply an echo and reverberation effect, which can quickly distort the sound.
Audeze Mobius: listening impressions
First, we listened to the Audeze Mobius headphones by connecting them to the USB port of a Mac computer to enjoy multichannel movie soundtracks via the VLC media player. During the DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 channel soundtrack of the blockbuster Avatar, the different sound effects were expertly reproduced. During the forest fight scene between the Avatars and the humans, the explosions were reproduced with incredible intensity. It was as if there was a subwoofer hidden inside the Audeze Mobius headphones. All we needed was to install a home theater seat shaker on the seat or sofa for a completely immersive and physical experience. With the 3D spatialization mode activated, the soundstage was wider and the lateral sound effects were perfectly spatialized. When the animals ran across the screen, it almost felt as if they were running through us. The surround sound effects were also very convincing, especially when moving our head. The immersion obviously wasn’t as impressive as it would have been with a genuine home theater installation, but this was actually one of the most powerful systems we had ever come across in a pair of gaming headphones. The advantage of using planar transducers was clearly demonstrated by the excellent responsiveness of the Audeze Mobius headphones.
It was as if there was a subwoofer hidden inside the Audeze Mobius headphones.
Bluetooth and wired mode
We continued our review of the Audeze Mobius headphones, this time in Bluetooth mode with a Mac computer to play music via Qobuz. On the track Feel Good Inc. by Gorillaz, the Audeze Mobius headphones produced incredibly generous lows. The bass was powerful and punchy. The Wave Nx 3D spatialization mode slightly enhanced immersion, but somewhat distorted the audiophile quality of the headphones. This mode is not suitable for mobile use, as one’s head constantly moves when on the go. Naturally, we deactivated this feature to continue our review of the Audeze Mobius gaming headphones. In a completely different genre with Nils Lofgren’s track Keith Don’t Go, the myriad of nuances from the acoustic guitar were extremely well reproduced, allowing us to imagine the slightest strum of each string. In addition, the restitution of the singer’s voice was natural and perfectly spatialized. Even during complex arrangements and high notes, the Audeze Mobius headphones remained in control and the sound never seemed opaque.
In order to make the most of the Audeze Mobius’ wide frequency range, we then paired it with a USB DAC using the mini-jack cable. We continued to play music via Qobuz (Sublime subscription, 24-bit/96kHz and 24-bit/192kHz streaming). Although we regret not having used these headphones in passive mode, their integrated amplifier did an excellent job. On Joao Gilberto’s track Corcovado, Astrud Gilberto’s voice was full of detail and warmth right from the intro. The saxophone solo was reproduced very smoothly without the slightest hint of harshness, even during the highest notes. We enjoyed the iconic sound signature of the American manufacturer’s high-end hi-fi headphones.
With the Audeze Mobius, we enjoyed the iconic sound signature of the American manufacturer’s high-end hi-fi headphones.
Playstation 4 Pro
Lastly, we paired the Audeze Mobius headphones with a PS4 Pro to test its performance with video games. To do so, we connected the headphones to the PS4 controller using the supplied mini-jack cable. As a reminder, the Wave Nx 3D spatialization can be used with this type of connection. During the game Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, the Audeze Mobius offered exceptional immersion. We were truly swept into the heart of the action and the fight scenes. The sound of the swords and armor was incredibly realistic. Even the most subtle details were precisely restituted and spatialized. For example, when our character was crouched in the undergrowth, the rustling of the grass was so realistic it seemed to brush past our ears. As well as optimizing the spatialization, the Wave Nx system also contributed to a much better gaming experience by allowing us to clearly identify the position of our enemies. For example, when they attacked outside our field of vision, the Audeze Mobius allowed us to easily identify which side they were coming from. When there was the slightest doubt, we simply had to turn our head slightly to be sure. The precision was such that it was also possible to get a fairly accurate picture of how far away they were.
Audeze Mobius: compared to…
Audeze EL-8 Open: the EL-8 features the same 4” Planar Magnetic transducer as the Mobius, but its open design provides a much wider soundstage for hi-fi listening. However, this openness means that the headphones can only be used at home, as the people around you can hear the music.
Sennheiser GSP 670: these Sennheiser gaming headphones also provide 7.1 spatialization for movie and video game soundtracks on a PC or Playstation. Nonetheless, the spatialization offered by the Mobius and its gyroscopic system remain superior. The Mobius also provides more generous and dynamic lows. For the rest, the Sennheiser puts up a pretty good fight, especially with its higher quality microphone. The latter includes a noise reduction system that greatly reduces background noise. Moreover, its battery life in Bluetooth mode is twice as long. However, it is not compatible with the LDAC codec.
Audeze Mobius: conclusion
The Audeze Mobius gaming headphones impressed us with their remarkable versatility. Whether you’re listening to music, watching movies or playing video games, the Audeze Mobius provides an incredibly precise and richly detailed restitution. The Wave Nx 3D spatialization system is very impressive and by far one of the most advanced on the market. It plunged us into the heart of the action, sometimes making it seem like there were genuine speakers dotted around the room. Despite that fact that they are rather large and weigh a hefty 350g, the Audeze Mobius headphones are comfortable. However, it’s unfortunate that the left ear cup tends to heat up after a few hours in USB mode. This isn’t a huge problem because one simply has to remove the headphones for a few minutes for them to cool down. Lastly, the integration of LDAC Bluetooth is a further advantage, allowing you to listen to your music free of restrictions. That said, the Audeze Mobius’ size makes it more suited to domestic use.
What we liked:
- The remarkable musicality
- The impressive 3D spatialization
- The impact of the lows
- The comfort
What we would have liked:
- A passive mode
- A longer USB-A to USB-C cable
- For the left ear cup not to heat up in USB mode
- For the headphones to have been more compact