Earlier on Tuesday, Blue Microphones announced- finally -Mo-Fi, professional quality headphones for audiophiles and musicians. The company gave us this maddening, teasing not-quite-a-glimpse back at CES in January, and I've been waiting eagerly since. Fortunately, Blue gave me early access to them, and this review is based on hands-on and ears-on testing for the last two weeks.
Mo(bile)-Fi(delity) by Blue Microphones
What Mo-Fi Is
Mo-Fi are over-the-ear headphones aimed at audiophiles and musicians who want a high fidelity experience. Listen to vinyl, and not because it's ironic? Is it lossless or nothing for your digital files? Do a lot of music mixing on-the-go or at your desktop? Mo-Fi is for you.
They offer a nominally flat listening experience, rather than a tuned experience like Apple's bass-heavy Beats brand. Because they are nominally flat, you're hearing more or less what the source material sounds like.
You'll find some early reviews out there focusing on Mo-Fi as a mobile-listening solution. My review focuses on the target market for Mo-Fi, audiophiles and musicians.
Fit and Feel
Before I get into how these sound, please allow me to wax poetic about how Mo-Fi feels. Because, seriously, no headphones have felt so right on my head. In fact-and I'm OK if you decide at this point that I am completely bonkers-I feel safe when I have my Mo-Fi headphones on.
I know, it sounds ridiculous, but it is absolutely true. I suspect it's related to the swaddling effect, but the way Mo-Fi grips my head is comforting. I have worn these for up to 4 hours in a stretch, and I've never felt any fatigue or discomfort from doing so, and that is really saying something.
So let's talk about Blue's approach in making Mo-Fi. The headband is not a headband; it's a four bar linkage system. Most headphones use a spring-loaded band to grip your head, and some do a better job of that than others.
Note the Tension Knob for increasing and decreasing the tension
If you look at the photograph above, you will see that there are two hinges across the top, and all that business with those side trusses is part of the (patent pending, FWIW) four bar linkage. This not only eliminates a stress point that many headband-headphones have, it helps them sit more comfortably on your head.
The cups are suspended from a pivot-arm (it makes me think of a dog's knee), not a slider. This helps keep the cups even, but more importantly, adjusting the position of your earcups won't affect the tension in the four bar linkage system at all. That allows the headband portion of Mo-Fi to remain at an optimal tension at all times, which is good for wear and tear, as well as comfort.
Most importantly, all this stuff gives you a good seal, no matter the shape of your head and position of yours ears.
Mo-Fi is heavy, a bit more than a pound heavy, thanks in part to the built-in amp. The solid construction of the four bar linkage system and the 50mm drivers also adds to the weight. Personally, I felt that heaviness when holding or carrying Mo-Fi, but I did not feel it when wearing them on my head. Your mileage may vary on this front.
But they also don't fold up very much. That makes them awkward to carry, despite the emphasis on 'mobility' in the Mo(bile)-Fi(delity) name. I suspect that people who highly value the flat sound and the amplified volume won't mind, while those who don't will find them cumbersome.
Next: Amp, Battery, and Modes