LOOKING FOR DECENT HEADPHONES UNDER £60?
These headphones were sent to me by Mixcder to review. I have written the video content, and all views are entirely my own.
I’m not going to spend too much time looking at the minutiae around how the headphones work or how to set them up. You can find that in the ‘Goods In’ unboxing video I published a few weeks ago. I’ll stick to the review here and how well they do what they do.
I’ve spent the last two weeks using the E9s exclusively. For me, this means listening to music when out and about, in the office and also using the headphones on conference calls.
There’s a fair bit to cover so I’ll get started.
The E9s are minimalist. Some might say they’re boring or bland, but I love them. The E7 headphones mix silver with black which looks great, but here there is nothing added that doesn’t need to be there. The headphones aren’t going to make a fashion statement, but they are no-nonsense, which is arguably a statement within its own right. I would say they’re more of a masculine design, mainly because of their large size and the amount they protrude from your head. I have felt entirely comfortable and confident wearing these out in the street and walking around the office. You wouldn’t want to exercise in them though.
All the standard buttons are available with the power button and volume buttons also operating tracks changes. The active noise cancellation is powered up independently of the other electronics and has a toggle switch on the left driver. This does make it easy to use and test, but because it’s a physical switch, I always leave it on. I’ve had to charge the headphones twice now because I turned them off on one side and not the other. I’ve seen this on other budget headphones, and it’s not something I like.
They fold in 2 ways, inwards by folding the headband and flat by rotating the drivers. The rotation mechanism of the headphones needs to be tighter. They flop around when they’re in your hand and need to have a way of clicking into the normal listening position. It’s just a niggle really, but I got frustrated when handling them.
They come with a durable carry case which will hold the headphones in their flat and smallest configuration. Although it’s a bit annoying to adjust the size setting each time you put them away, the case is a decent addition, and I have been using it. It will provide protection, but the headphones can take up less space when folded rather than in the case.
Headphones must be comfortable. It’s likely that you will wear them for hours at a time, so they have to be right. The Mixcder E9s are tight against your head. I found myself stretching the metal band out a bit to try to reduce the pressure, but they are very comfortable. The deep pseudo-leather cushions feel great around your ears, and the relatively light weight of the headphones (272g) means that you don’t notice them much after a while. I wish my regular daily headphones (Sennheiser Momentum 2.0 wireless headphones) were as comfortable.
The only problem relates to that tight headband. When you drop the headphones to your neck, a reasonable place to have this style of headphones, the pressure is too much. I didn’t like having something so restrictive around my neck and kept taking them off. I love the decent pressure on my head though so I guess there’s a bit of a trade-off here.
Connectivity is over standard Bluetooth 4.0. No apt-X here I’m afraid. You can also use a standard 3.5mm cable if you prefer sacrificing wireless for ultimate quality. Bluetooth pairing is fast and reliable every time. There’s nothing more to say here.
Due to their large size, the E9s can house a decent battery. Mixcder quote battery life as 30 hours without ANC and 24 hours with it on or when talking. My battery testing was messed up in both cases as I left the ANC on but if they come close to the quoted time, this is seriously impressive. Charge time is a few hours. Very quick for the amount of runtime.
These are budget headphones and, while this does show in the build quality, it is not bad. You won’t find the use of premium materials here such as leather ear pads or an anodised aluminium finish but don’t be put off. They are plastic, and it works. It keeps the E9s lightweight. There are no rough finishes or sharp edges. For the money, build quality is what I would expect and what it needs to be.
In the UK, most mobile calls (both same network and inter-connect calls) can use high bandwidth codecs in 2019. This makes calls sound crisp and clear. It’s quite a shock when the signal drops and calls fall back to the old codec which has a ‘normal’ phone sound. The E9 Bluetooth codec doesn’t support high bandwidth audio for calls so, compared to others on a call, you may not sound as clear.
This flaw is worth knowing, but after using these on work and personal calls for two weeks, not one person has complained about audio quality or level. Everything was understood. Audio is loud enough and gets the job done.
ACTIVE NOISE CANCELLATION
The active noise cancellation on the E9 headphones is very effective. It’s not as aggressive as other headphones I’ve used which means it may cancel quite as much, but the closed nature of the headphones also takes care of a lot. Also, it’s more comfortable to have on for long periods. People sometimes report nausea or dizziness when using noise cancellation. I wouldn’t go that far, but it’s not 100% comfortable to use. This is one of the nicest I’ve heard. Turn it on, and there’s a clear difference.
Audio quality is somewhat subjective. You will have to trust my judgement when I say that, for £60, these headphones produce great sound. The frequency response is 20Hz up to 20kHz. The treble is clear but can be a little smeared over the limited Bluetooth codec. The bass is solid and deep. Other headphone manufacturers claim ‘bass’ when the emphasis is around 100-200Hz. The E9s will drop to the low stuff.
Oddly, turning the ANC on makes quite a change to the audio quality. It’s as though they need to EQ it somehow. Turning ANC on brings up the midrange and makes the audio more present. One is not better than the other. The headphones just sound different depending on whether you use ANC or not.
Whatever genre of music you listen to, the E9s do a decent job. They’re not ‘reference standard’ by a long way but, for the price, you will not be disappointed.
At £50-£60, these are outstanding value for money. They perform well, have reasonable noise cancellation and good sound quality. If you’re after a fashion statement, they might not be for you. If you want a good value pair of second headphones for travel or a great gift for someone, you could do a lot worse.