Other than travelling, another one of my interests is gadgets. Therefore I try and combine the two wherever I can and keep a decent selection that can keep me entertained whilst I’m on the road. One item that I’m sure is in most peoples carry on luggage is a pair of headphones. As such, I’ve tried out a few pairs over the years, going right back to a pair of Sennheiser PX100’s that I picket up for one of my early solo trips back in 2006.
More recently, the Bose QC25’s were my main choice when flying as according to most reviews, they were unrivalled when it came to noise cancelling. More recently, I picked up a pair of Sony WH-1000XM3’s as according to reviews, they had knocked the latest Bose QC35II’s off the top of the perch. I also have both the first generation Apple AirPods and the second generation for when a pair of over ear are just a bit too much.
When I was recently contacted by Mixcder to try out their flagship noise cancelling headphones, I was interested to see how they stacked up against their more pricey opponents. The specs sure looked good: Noise cancelling technology, carry case, airline adaptor, wireless connectivity – all the same features as the more premium Sony and Apple products I own on paper. But how do they stack up in the real world? Lets take a look.
The packaging wasn’t quite as substantial as either the Sony’s or the Bose, but considering that will likely be thrown away, its not worth worrying about too much.
The headphones come in their own hard shell carry case, which is a little bigger than both the Bose and Sony’s.
Opening up the case you’ll find the headphones and a package including an airline adapter, USB-A – MicroUSB charging cable and a 3.5mm-3.5mm lead to connect the headphones to any inflight entertainment systems out there.
There’s also a user manual, although like most people, I didn’t pay any attention to this. Which is also a plus point for the Mixcders – connecting them wirelessly to my iPhone was a fairly straightforward process, where as even now I find the Sony’s and even Apple’s own AirPods to be a bit hit and miss at times.
On to the sound quality then – I tested this by listening to the same three songs on each pair, one from my downloaded Apple iTunes, one Master Quality track from Tidal and the final 320kbps from Spotify. Seeing as the Mixcders are a lot cheaper than both the Bose and Sony pairs I own, I must confess I wasn’t expecting too much. Well, I was proven a little wrong – I wont lie, the sound quality isn’t up to the same standard as the pricier units, but these certainly hold their own against them. The sound is a little warmer than the Sony’s, and had the bass had more of a punch than the Bose. If anything I would say that the Mixcders are a little easier on the ears compared to the Sony’s. One of the biggest issues I’ve had with them since I’ve owned them is that they have just a bit too much bass, meaning it gets a little distorted at the top end on some lower quality recordings.
With regards to the weight and fit, despite being the biggest with regards to size of the three, they weigh about the same as the Bose and are a little lighter than the Sony, but there’s very little in it. With the fitment, they are a little tighter than the other two pairs, however this really isn’t an issue – during the hour or so it took me to write this review, I was wearing them and at no point did I feel they were uncomfortable in any way – so you could certainly get away with wearing them for a decent amount of time on a long haul flight. One other difference is that the Mixcder aren’t quite around ear as the other two pairs, but again this isn’t an issue – they’re still a perfectly comfortable pair of headphones.
The battery life is comparable to the Sony’s, with 30 hours without the noise cancellation turned on, or 28 hours with – so easily enough to see you through even the worlds longest flight, and have more than enough juice for the taxi ride to the hotel at the other end.
The main feature I look for in a pair of headphones these days is noise cancellation. The Bose were great for their time and Sony has it absolutely nailed as far as I’m concerned. So how do the Mixcders compare? Well, this is an area where they did come across as a much cheaper pair of headphones. In fact I had to double check a couple of times that the noise cancelling feature was indeed turned on. I found they didn’t really cancel any noise at all, it just muffles what was already there. But its worth remembering that these headphones do come in at a much lower cost than the others on review here, so there will be areas where they do come up a little short in comparison.
On to the bottom line then – what do I make of them? I was very impressed with these headphones. As mentioned above, I was fully expecting there to be a more noticeable difference between the Mixcders and the more expensive pairs, but in all honesty there isn’t too much to choose between them. Ok, maybe the sound stage is a little bigger with the Sony’s but they let themselves down a little with the bass being a little too overwhelming. Again, I would say the now quite old Bose QC25’s have a little more detail than the Mixcder but I’m being VERY picky with this. Its barely noticeable. For the price though, I have to give them full marks. Considering they cost a over £200 LESS than both the Sony’s and Bose (when they were new), I was amazed. I must confess to being very fussy when it comes to sound quality – although I wouldn’t go as far as to call myself an audiophile – so the things I’ve picked up on here have come from many years of listening to a wide variety of music through many different speakers / headphones over the years. The chances you will pick them up and think they sound great. Which they do. For £55, you simply cannot go wrong with these. The only downside to these headphones is the sub par noise cancelling. If you plan on using these on the ground then they are an excellent pair of headphones. However if you’re looking for a pair of headphones that will give you complete silence on a plane, then be aware that you won’t find that here. Still, for the price I’d say they are still a very worthy purchase.
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