Review: Blue Mo-Fi Headphones

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Product: Mo-Fi Headphones
Release Date: August 26, 2014
Manufacturer: Blue Microphones
Original MSRP: $349.99
This product was provided by the manufacturer for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy.

Audio Review:
The audio review for this product is available on Episode 432 of the podcast.

There seems to be a trend lately with higher-end headphones that were usually intended for audiophiles slowly transitioning to the gaming space. Mostly, this move is a result of 3.5mm headphone jacks becoming available on the controllers for the newer consoles, allowing gamers to make the move to hardware that’s simpler but also that’s aimed for a higher level of sound reproduction instead of being tuned specifically for gaming.

If you’re able to plug into your wireless controller, then a complicated wireless receiver with a bunch a connections doesn’t need to be paired with your new console, and the simpler configuration allows manufacturers to put more resources into the actual components that directly affect audio quality. Sure, so far these headphones are still pretty pricey, but they’re not meant for mainstream usage. These are for the gamer that wants the finest audio reproduction packed into a small package. Also, headphones that plug into your controller also allow for a better diversity in usage since you can also use them with your portable gaming devices, your phone, tablet, and even your laptop.

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We’ve reviewed a couple of other headphones in this category recently and the biggest feature that will set the Blue Mo-Fi’s apart from the rest is that they offer both Powered Amplification and Passive modes. When you talk to anyone that would consider themselves and actual audiophile though, nine times out of ten they’ll tell you that any amplification or artificial processing of the source material is a no-no and that’s why a passive mode is also available. The promising news is that the powered amplifier offers two selections, one adding more processing for the lower end of the spectrum, and the other simply making the audio louder.

Including 50mm drivers, the Mo-Fi’s definitely produce wonderful bass without distortion, but they also retain that high quality all the way up to the High’s as well. In passive mode, I couldn’t make the audio falter, no matter how high I cranked the volume up, and for having 50mm drivers, that’s exactly what I would expect. But when I activated either mode of the amplifier I honestly had to stop increasing the volume before I hit the top because they got so incredibly loud, and I really like that! Again, as loud as my ears could handle, I never experienced any distortion or loss of clarity, which is rare and impressive.

… performance in both active and passive modes was excellent …
The best part of all of this though is that they also do a wonderful job with quiet content as well. I heard some truly fantastic and detailed audio at low levels and the oversized cushions that make-up the earcups block almost any outside noise out of your experience, no matter what volume you’ve got them set at.

As with some of the other models we’ve reviewed recently, the Blue Mo-Fi Headphones don’t have any kind of Active Noise-Cancellation but they do a much better than average job at isolating what’s inside of those cushions, making you almost strain to hear anything outside of any significance. One thing that I would have liked though is the ability to adjust the audio volume on the cord somehow since sometimes it’s much quicker and easier to reach that then to dig your source device out of your pocket.

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As I mentioned above, both settings for the amp produce a lot of volume, which again I consider a good thing. Switching to the “enhanced bass mode” surprised me a bit as I expected the kind of “90% bass” you get out of headphones from Beats and Monster. Instead though, the low-end simply got more beefy but never interfered with the rest of the audio. I used this mode quite a bit when I listened to music, especially with Frank SInatra and Dean Martin, oh yeah, and Pantera too.

For gaming though, I chose the other amplified mode, which simply adds to the overall available volume. The amp itself is analog so they definitely retained that warmer sound that you wouldn’t expect with modern amplified headphones. Often, you’d want to keep the bass down a bit when you’re playing a game, as that always seems to help you hear subtle things like faint footsteps and more environmental audio that surrounds you.

The performance in both active and passive modes was excellent and I don’t have any criticisms at all but expectations need to be set, especially for those that currently use wireless gaming headphones. These, like the other controller-connected headphones that we’ve reviewed so far, do not offer any type of Surround technologies (like Dolby’s Virtual 7.1 codec). The thing is though, I don’t think that you’d even notice. Sound moves around in the stereo space exceedingly well, and I never had a problem noticing someone sneaking-up behind me.

… the Mo-Fi’s are built like a tank …
Let’s move on to the hardware design though because this is where things get a bit weird at times. First, the powered amplifier relies on a rechargeable battery which takes about two to three hours to recharge fully. Behind the grill on the outside of the earcup a light will accent the background, indicating if the battery is charging or if it’s full, and I love the aesthetic the light produces. The battery itself though lasts a LONG time. I’ve never actually been able to get it to run out of juice in a single session, but Blue claims that it should last around twelve hours.

If the battery runs out while you’re using them the headphones simply switch to Passive mode so they can still be used with no issue. Also, as a way to preserve as much battery life as possible, even if you forget to turn the amp off, as soon as you take the headphones off and the earcups clamp together, the power automatically turns off which is a pretty fantastic design choice.

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The rest of the design can be a bit off-putting to some since they’re pretty “non-standard” in a few ways. First, when you need to extend the earpieces from the top most headphones usually just slide down on a sort-of track. Here, the entire design of the supports consist of hinges. So when you pull the earpieces apart, instead of having a simple strip of bendable steel, these instead just pull apart with the use of a hinge on each side, and that’s the same concept used for getting the earpieces to move farther down on each side of your head. Fortunately, in the middle of the top support bar there’s a dial that allows the wearer to adjust the tension, which even at the lowest setting might be too tight for some, or so it would seem.

I’ve quipped that the Mo-Fi’s definitely take a different design approach than most of the others that I’ve tried lately. Instead of being all about portability. or keeping the weight down, to me the Mo-Fi’s are built like a tank. Everything feels incredibly solid, with nothing anywhere feeling remotely like it could break or even bend. They honestly take me back to when I was a young’un in the 70’s, when we’d plug those huge Sennheiser headphones with the coiled cable into the family record player. They’re just solid and beefy all-around, and I like that.

… the headphones that I would hang next to my HiFi …
The earcups don’t rotate so you can rest them on your chest and they don’t fold up into themselves for easy transport. Instead, they give you that feeling that you’d find them in a recording studio and that they’ve been there for twenty years with no damage or blemishes. They’ve got some weight to them, enough that you’ll never forget that you’ve got them on and I think that’s why I had a couple of instances where my mind was telling me that they were too tight on my head. But I quickly realized that I didn’t have any pain or discomfort, I simply wasn’t used to headphones feeling like this any more. To further that “old-school” feel, packed-in with the charge cable, two separate audio cables, and an airplane adaptor, is a 3.5mm to 1/4″ TRS adaptor. So there you go, you can actually plug these into your old record player if you have one (and a mixer too).

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Conclusion:
Honestly, the odd hardware design put me off at first. The hinge design just seemed too complex for its own good and I worried about the weightiness as well. But after using them for an extended period of time, I really like the Blue Mo-Fi Headphones for most situations. If you’re looking for headphones to only use for gaming these are probably overkill, and with a price tag of $349.99, they’d be a waste of money and of the headphones themselves. But if you’re looking for a set of cans to use in other ways beside plugging them into your DualShock 4, you’d be hard pressed to find a better option at this price-point.

Personally though, I just don’t like travelling with these at all, but I don’t think that’s what they’re designed for and that’s ok. These instead are the headphones that I would hang next to my HiFi and use when I want to experience some great music without distractions, maybe paired with a glass of Scotch and a fine cigar.

Score:
8.0

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  • Would love a pair. But certainly out of my price range.

  • John Montegudo

    Sounds like a pair I’d get for the home but not for traveling but then again it’s nice they have the airplane adapter.