Audeze Mobius Review

This review has been a pretty long time in the making, I’ve actually owned the $400 USD Audeze Mobius since the beginning; I’ll freely admit that I was one of the first kickstarter backers for it.

I don’t recall if there is a headphone that has excited me quite as much in the last few years as the Mobius has, other than maybe the Ether 2.

At the time I ordered the Mobius I didn’t have much extra money lying around to spend on audio gear, I was travelling a lot and didn’t have a suitable headphone. It’s been almost a year that I’ve owned the Mobius and I’m quite grateful that I’ve had the chance to really sit with this headphone for a while.

The Mobius unit is my own, purchased with my own money. I mention this because I want to emphasize what living with this headphone is like – of course I try to do this with every review I write, but especially here, where the Mcobius’ price point puts it in a category where many will buy it as an everyday workhorse. The ‘can I live with it’ factor needs to be high.

So what exactly does the Mobius bring to the table?

It’s nicely built, mostly plastic and while it’s not exactly a feat of industrial design, it feels reasonably sturdy in the hand. The version I have is blue, although all versions have a generally black look to them, so I find the copper variant relatively inoffensive as well. The buttons and scroll wheels are solid and I haven’t had any issues with them over repeated use. In fact, I haven’t had really any issues with the exterior build quality of the Mobius over the life of the headphone. All jacks, buttons and external pieces have been totally solid, and I found that the semi-flexible headband design, which I’m seeing more and more, is really nice when you shove them in a backpack or occasionally sit on them, as I do. I’m usually pretty gentle with my things, but this headphone has seen more than its share of tossing around. I travel a lot and never have to worry about the reliability of the Mobius.

In terms of features, the thing is loaded – I recommend you check out the Audeze web page for all the details, but it has SBC and AAC Bluetooth Codec compatibility, as well as LDAC (a 16-bit/44,1kHz Bluetooth codec), an internal amp/DAC capable of 24-bit/96kHz playback, Audeze’s Cipher DSP with eight presets, Waves NX head tracking, HRTF customization, surround sound support up to 7.1, a microphone, USB and aux wire connectivity, and it’ll even make you toast in the mornings… well, maybe not that. The point is this is one seriously impressive package. I recall first receiving my Mobius and being rather surprised by just how many accessories and features come packed into the bundle. There’s a USB C to A, C to C, 3.5mm cable, microphone and then headphones inside a nice sturdy hard case. In some ways I’m glad I’ve had as much time as I’ve had to figure out all of this, as the Mobius is probably the most feature packed headphone I’ve ever used.

So that’s all the fine and good – that is what the Mobius is, but how does it perform? My first impressions were muted but positive. I’ve used waves plugins in my pro-audio life, and frankly never much cared for them. They often have a kind of synthetic and processed sound to them that can be pleasant on certain kinds of electronic music, but kind of bugs me for anything else. Waves NX, their desktop head-tracking app seemed a bit better, a little more natural sounding, though again, a little odd for my ears. Comparing them head-to-head I preferred the Mobius’ implementation. I suspect due to a more holistic implementation of the actual head tracking device into the headphone.

Still, in its surround sound ‘3D’ mode the sound on music is fairly artificial to my ears compared to good old two-channel listening. Switching to the two-channel mode things relax a lot and switching to the ‘high-rez’ mode is a pretty big leap in clarity and naturalness, this combined with the new ‘warm’ tuning is my preferred setting for listening to music. Things are much more natural, channeling some of the smoothness and gentle warm tilt of the LCD headphones, though without quite the same level of bass heft and a slightly better behaved treble. For travel, I like this one a lot and there aren’t very many headphones I like a lot when travelling.

On games and movies, the experience is totally different. My first time plugging these into my computer was revelatory. Dolby Atmos for headphones is capable of some impressive feats, especially with the sophistication of Wwise, sound particles and game audio design in general. The Mobius leaves Dolby Atmos in the dust. While I find Atmos at its best can sound a little more natural, less artificial especially around Nyquist, the immensity of scale with the Mobius is on a level I’ve not heard from any other gaming-oriented spatialization system. It’s not just that the sounds are pin-point, they jump out at you. When listening to music I find the experience a little washed out, even smeary sounding, with mediocre frontal localization. Likewise, Audeze’s demo at their booth was never particularly compelling to me, it just didn’t hit quite the right notes. However in the comfort of my own home, on my own TV and controller, especially with one of the Assassin’s Creed games, or a First-Person RPG or shooter, I actually get that spooky level of immersion that mimics good speakers which make you think someone is knocking on your door. I jumped out of my chair more than a few times when irradiated ghouls ambushed me in a Fallout game, or a Manticore sprung out of the bushes at me in the Witcher 3.

COMPANY INFO
Audeze LLC
3412 S. Susan St, Santa Ana California 92704, USA
info@audeze.com
(714) 581-8010
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COMMENTS
jaredjcrandall84's picture

Awesome review! I've been eager to read a review by an audio savy source.

MFHRaptor's picture

My only problem with the Mobius was the comfort, and - for me - that's not nitpicking. I come from owning the Philips Fidelio X2 and Bose QC35. Fortunately, I managed to remedy that by using Brainwavz Angled Pleather Pads that not only drastically improved comfort but also solidified the imaging and refined the soundstage, emphasizing that "Theater-like" experience that I love the most about the Mobius. Moreover, the ZMF Pilot Pad relieved the pressure on top.

I'm also an IndieGoGo backer, so it would be hard for me to swallow the current asking price (especially that it comes without the traveling bag).

Richter Di's picture

I also own the Mobius since the start. But I got mine via the indiegogo campaign (was there really a Kickstarter one?). I had before invested in the Ossic X desaster as a 1000 US Dollar development backer on Kickstarter, and I still am invested int the Smyth Realizer A16 „maybe“ desaster from Kickstarter. I guess I am healed from Kickstarter backing. Even made to a Mobius top influencer as I posted the Mobius as an alternative to my Ossic X „inmates“.
I really liked that you own the unit and that you took the time before you wrote the review. It would be so great if all reviews could be that way. Actually I now own my second Mobius as my first froze completely during the last firmware update. It makes a great company that Audeze directly took care of everything. They stopped the rollout of the firmware and exchanged my Mobius - as they knew I it wasn’t my fault, having updated Beta versions of the firmware before to give them feedback. Overall Audeze is a new standard when it comes to customer orientation.
Overall the Mobius coud be comfortable for my ears. I bought the new gel pads but have to admit that they are not a game changer when it comes to long wear. So I tried to put the Brainwavz HM5 (pleather, angled) on, and I have to say comfort is incredible. But sure it changes the sound a bit since you have a much bigger chamber of air.
Also with both Mobius I have a loose connection with the USB C at the earphone. So this is a bummer. I had to use a toothpick and a contact spray to get it right.
Sound of the Mobius is good and especially for films very immersive. But for mobile use I often take my Meze 99 classics, HD 25 or even Apple Airpods for a walk instead, since I had it sometimes that battery ran out with no real warning. I would love to have a display outside to see how much is left in the battery.

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