We review Xiaomi’s Mi Headphones HiFi Edition!
With photos from Richmond Tan
Aside from its truly value-for-money handset offerings and powerbanks, Xiaomi has also been making waves among gadget enthusiasts and in the tech industry for its award-winning earphones. Its in-ear headsets, particularly the Piston v2 and v3, not only received prestigious Red Dot and iF design awards, but have gotten the nod of the most discerning audiophiles for punching well above its price class in terms of sound quality.
If these “in-ear monitors” (IEMs to sound purists) are good enough for high-resolution audio, then imagine what Xiaomi could do with a well-thought out, full-on headphone!
Enter the highly anticipated Mi Headphones HiFi Edition. Because of the success of its Piston siblings, Mi fans and budget audiophiles alike want to know if Xiaomi’s HiFi offering has the same value for money performance as their other offerings. This baby has yet to make its official appearance in the Philippine market, a few enterprising phone and audio enthusiasts have been able to source units from neighboring countries. Priced at 499 RMB (3600 Pesos) in China, it’s considerably more expensive than Xiaomi’s other audio offerings. While that’s true, it’s important to remember that the Mi Headphones – though designed with Mi mobile phones in mind – was engineered for taking on high-resolution audio. Hence, the “Hi Fidelity Edition” tag.
This marriage of mobile phone and hi-res audio use is evident in all aspects of its design, from physical build to sound quality to bundled accessories. Its defining features also speak to this duality: big 50mm Beryllium diaphragm speakers (large enough for full-blown desktop amplifiers), but with a super low 32-ohm impedance so that it can easily be powered by the smallest of mobile phones.
The sound reproduction is just about the best that can be had at its price point. It has the signature Piston v-sound configuration, wherein the high and low frequencies are given more emphasis to compensate for the human threshold of hearing, which is more attuned to the middle frequencies. While you do get booming, thumping bass and bright highs, they’re not at all overpowering, and its mids are not as recessed as in Pistons…thus putting the Mi Headphones’ sound configuration nearer to “reference” headphones, probably in deference to the preference of most audiophiles. But if you want to, you can pump up more bass using equalizer controls and the Mi Headphones will deliver without getting distorted or “sabog” or “basag” at all.
The power and beauty of the Mi Headphones, though, is best appreciated – and the true potential of its sound quality unlocked – when it is plugged into a high-resolution digital audio player and/or a quality headphone amplifier. You won’t really feel your money’s worth until you hear this baby churning out sounds from a lossless audio file played on a sweet hi-res DAP! The next best thing we’ve found, though, is a superb hi-res audio player from Onkyo, available from the Google Play store that can be used on any Android device.
The Mi Headphones package comes with a whole bunch of options and accessories – which isn’t the case with even the priciest of headphones: standard soft pouch AND a nice egg-shaped hard case; a 3.5mm to 6.3mm gold-plated adapter plug AND an airline adapter plug; a removable cable with microphone and receiver/music control; and last but definitely not the least, not one but THREE interchangeable ear covers. This last feature is a design coup – no longer will you have to choose if you want an on-ear (resting on your lobes) set or an over-ear one, since you get both options just by changing the ear covers. It’s a wonder no manufacturer has ever thought of this before! The over-ear cover has pleather pads, while the on-ear ones come in both pleather and cloth foam.
Verdict: Awesome HiFi headphones that Xiaomi needs to sell in the PH IMMEDIATELY
In true Xiaomi fashion, the Mi Headphone’s superb build and design touches belieits (comparatively) low price tag. It truly is a thing of beauty in both appearance and sound. For the sound quality it produces, the Mi Headphones’ pricing is just about right. When you take into account the impeccable physical build and the package it comes in though…that’s when you realize that Xiaomi actually has undercut competitors’ prices yet again!