Updated: Nov 13, 2019
Poor build quality and major design flaws hold back what could be a great headset
A bit after I purchased a BlueWave Get, I became aware of another "High-Definition Audio Bluetooth Device" entering the market. Audeze, a major brand known by almost all audiophiles, was working on an planar magnetic Bluetooth headset with all the bells and whistles. This headset would not only include bluetooth, but also your standard 3.5mm connection as well as USB C/3.0. It promised to be able to handle all Bluetooth formats including Sony's LDAC. It also touted a new "Advanced 3D emulation" where the sound moves with your head. If something like this could be made, it would instantly be the greatest Bluetooth, even gaming headset on the market and it was a task Audeze is definitely suited for.
"This headset retail is $399, putting it on the higher end of gaming headsets, but the lowest-end of planar magnetic headsets."
So I've been playing with the Mobius almost non-stop for a month. Using it in different environments from streaming at home (BonemaneGames on Twitch) to grocery store runs to even listening quietly to music at my desk. Packaging wise everything is standard. The headset comes in a nice box while everything else is packed neatly into boxes inside.
At this point I have to state the price. This headset retail is $399, putting it on the higher end of gaming headsets, but the lowest-end of planar magnetic headsets. Checking out the build quality Audeze looks at the Mobius as the "lowest-end of planar magnetic headsets." The headset is chock full of fake leather and cheap plastic. The band as well as the outer ear pieces have a soft, matte texture to them that just feels cheap. Weight wise the Mobius is one of the heavier headsets due to all the tech inside. I feel like this headset could be destroyed very easily any second, but after a month of hardcore use there's not even a scratch. In-fact, my Mobius looks still brand new so maybe Audeze is on to something. It certainly doesn't look or feel like a premium headset though.
Comfort wise out of the box the headset is very tight and there's no way to adjust the band itself, just the ear piece length. After some use the headset does start to conform to your head. I'd argue this brings down the resale value as most likely each headset will be unique to it's primary owner. In the beginning there was some ear pain after long periods of use, but as the headset "adjusts" that went away and I was able to wear them for upwards of 12 hours with no negative effects.
"Due to the limitations of Bluetooth, the mic doesn't work in Bluetooth mode."
Some configuration is needed to get the Mobius to sound perfect. For one, to use the LDAC codec you have to turn it on in your device's bluetooth settings. Otherwise it will default to an inferior AAC codec. Turning on any sort of HD audio format disables the 3D audio. This isn't a hindrance as the 3D is more of a niche you'll almost never use outside of video-games as music is recorded in 2D stereo. Audeze has a beta app that can be used for the USB connection that can custom tune the headset's 3D function based on your head shape as well. If you have an sound card you use for gaming you'll have to purchase a splitter to separate the audio and mic in-order to get it working with your card.
As you start configuring things you'll start running into issues. For a $400 headset...it doesn't remember any settings configuration. Which means every time you power off the headset you'll have to adjust both your mic & audio input volumes, change your presets and switch to your preferred audio source. This is a huge oversight as there are much cheaper headsets on the market that have the ability to retain settings. Having to set everything up again every time I wanted to do anything became very annoying and tedious after a couple of days.
"The cost of having such superb sound quality and a ton of features is a short battery life."
You'll also run into another major design flaw. Due to the limitations of Bluetooth, the mic doesn't work in Bluetooth mode. At first I thought this was a defect until I checked Audeze's official forums where they gave the above reasoning for it not working. This is marketed primarily as a Bluetooth headset yet the mic doesn't work in Bluetooth mode? An oversight like that is unacceptable. Not only that, but word is if the mic did work... audio would be reduced to a low-res mono while using the mic on Bluetooth. Another flaw is that the Bluetooth channels the Mobius uses are extremely distorted if you're within 10 feet of a microwave. Whenever connecting to Bluetooth, there is a high-pitched shriek that is supposed to be a beep that pierces your ears as well. I have to keep the headset off my head until it says connected otherwise I have to deal with the banshee every time.
Sound quality the Mobius is the best gaming headset on the market due to it's use of planar magnetic drivers. It can handle high, mids, and lows extremely well even at high volumes. I have yet to experience any muddiness or screeching on any genre of music from rock to hip-hop. In one aspect that it does disappoint is the sound-stage. While the sound clarity is superb, you can't differentiate between the instruments like you would expect. For example the Bowers & Wilkins P7 presents a polar opposite experience by providing you with a rich sound stage (where you can hear the singer take a breath or the discrete flute playing in the background), but muddiness at higher levels of volume. The cost of having such superb sound quality and a ton of features is a short battery life. Under normal use I was able to maybe get 4-5 hours out of it before having to charge.
The equalizer presets come in the form of Audeze's house mix (default), footsteps, ballistics, music, racing, rpg & flat. Ironically Audeze's house mix is much better than the music preset since the music preset boosts the bass, but muddies the sound. I haven't got much of a chance to test out the other presets. Once I do I'll update this part of the review.
As stated earlier, the advanced 3D emulation and 3D sound experience is rather niche. You'll be thrown off at first with the "centering" of the sound. It doesn't help too that this feature is turned off if you want to achieve any sort of HD audio format such as 16 or 24 bit 192000KHz sound or using the LDAC codec for Bluetooth. In video-games I didn't find it helped much if at all. I found that using the standard processing I felt more immersion than using 3D because the 3D sounded off.
Overall, the Mobius leaves a lot to be desired. Sound wise it is definitely the king of gaming headsets, being able to deliver an unparalleled level of clarity & sound quality due to it's use of planar magnetic drivers. The package itself doesn't feel like it's worth $399. At most it's worth $250 which I believe was what the Kickstarter price was. There is also two huge design flaws that are not noted anywhere. The more I use this headset, the more flaws it shows and the more I dislike it.
Since this review was originally published in late September 2018, Audeze has released a firmware in an attempt to fix the issues present upon release. Supposedly the mic now works in bluetooth mode, settings other than volume levels persist after powering the headset off, and there is a new EQ mode. There were also bug fixes including fixes to the mic gain. I believe they might've adjusted the default EQ levels a bit as well as the sound changed a little from how it used to be. With these fixes, I'm upgrading the review from 3 to 4 stars. Below are the release notes.
Release notes (v3) 2018.11.16: 1. Fixes bugs related charging LED. 2. Changes in voice cues related to 7.1 ch and head tracking 3. Fixes a bug that caused voice cue to disappear when switching from 7.1 to 2Ch 4. Fixes a bug - when powering off in LDAC Hi-res mode, powering on with USB connected , caused it to put Mobius in Hi-res mode instead of the previous USB mode (V2) 2018.11.01: 1. Improves mic gain and makes sure mic gain range is set correctly. 2. Improves noise gate. 3. Mobius Channel setting (2ch/8ch/Hi-Res), 3D mode (off/auto/manual) and EQ presets are remembered on power cycle 4. Other minor bug fixes (V1) 2018.09.26: 1. Adds a ‘Warm’ presets that adds a warm tilt. Boosts the bass and brings the treble down a little. 2018.09.10: 2. Mic: Increases Mic gain to compensate for low Mic volume while using Win 10 and Win 8 Microsoft USB audio drivers. 3. Persistence mode: Remembers the last EQ preset on power cycle.
I continued to experience annoying bugs with the Mobius despite being on the latest firmware. I ended up calling in the headset for repair. Audeze shipped me a brand new headset after receiving my old one & after getting everything setup again the experience has been solid. The new headset's battery last the quoted 8 hours & the bugs, while one in particular still exists, are not as frequent. For this I'm updating this review from the original 3 stars to 4 stars.
4 out of 5 Stars