When you think of gaming headsets, the name Audeze rarely comes to mind.
A high-end headphone company, Audeze is more known for expensive beauties like the Sine headphones. But all that changes today, as the company has just announced its new Mobius gaming headset.
Audeze is billing the cans as the "first immersive cinematic 3D audio headphones designed specifically for gaming."
It's a mouthful, but what all those words mean is that you're going to get a headset that combines head-tracking technology with highly immersive audio created specifically for achieving the best in-game audio performance. But unlike its exorbitant, higher-tier brethren, the Mobius is currently available for pre-order for $199 on Indiegogo. If you miss the early-bird special, the headphones price will jump to $399.
I had a chance to go ears-on with the Mobius in a rather impressive first listening session.
As a maker of premium headphones, Audeze wasn't about to go full gamer ablaze with customizable lighting and gaudy color. Instead of donning the typical red-and-black gamer motif, the Mobius are available in either black and turquoise or black and copper with an eye-catching honeycomb pattern printed on the earcups. The majority of the headphone is black with lovely accents in one of the two available colors.
The Mobius are lighter than a traditional pair of Audeze headphones since they're made of plastic rather than aluminum, leather or wood. The plastic base adds some durability to the design, so much so that I could bend the headphone band in the opposite direction with no lasting effects.
Aside from your typical dials for chat and in-game volume, there's buttons for power and enabling the 3D audio effect. When it's time to charge, simply use the USB Type-C port and if you want to use the Mobius as a regular pair of cans, you can simply remove the boom mic and plug it into your phone with the 3.5mm audio jack, the Type-C port or pair via Bluetooth and go wireless. Thanks to the integrated battery, the headphones can last up to 10 hours on a charge.
Equipped with an 8-core processor, a 3-axis accelerometer and a 3-axis gyroscope, the Mobius delivers full 3D head tracking with a three-dimensional emulation surround sound technology. Using Audeze's proprietary anatomy calibration, which will measure your head size and ear placement and combine that with the company's head-tracking and sound localization tech. When enabled, the sound localization centers the sound on where your head is facing.
That means when you're trying to navigate the horrors of Resident Evil 7, it'll sound like you're in that incredibly spooky house (for better or worse). Or if you're trying to get that chicken dinner in PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds, you'll hear any hostiles trying to rob you of your prize long before they hear or see you coming. The 3D audio also works with music, video and phone calls.
Before you go whipping out VR headsets like the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive, know that Audeze doesn't recommend using the Mobius for virtual reality titles. Since most VR headsets have some form of head tracking in play, listeners won't get the any of the Mobius effects.
For my demo, I walked around the room while listening to a few music tracks. Instead of a static performance, it sounded like I was in a fairly spacious concert hall. Depending on what direction I was facing, a different instrument became more prominent.
And when I watched the echo game scene from House of Flying Daggers, I closed my eyes and accurately pinpointed which direction the bean hit as well as the dancer's response via her ribbon-wrapped swords. And during a racing game demo, when I took a hard right turn, I could hear the tires gripping onto the track along which dislodged some dirt, which hit a road sign on my right.
The 3D audio and sound localization was very accurate, many times causing me to look in the direction of the sound. While it was made for gaming, I really enjoy listening to music in 3D audio, especially considering how good Audeze headphones normally sound. That great audio, in large part is possible thanks to the planar magnetic drivers that deliver low distortion, strong bass response and overall spaciousness.
Instead of relying on flashing lights and other gaudy gimmicks, Audeze is entering the headphone space with meaningful innovation. Building on the foundation of its planar magnetic drivers, the company has created a headset that can deliver 3D audio and sound localization that enhance video games as well as music, videos and phone calls. With a removable boom and wireless capabilities, gamers can smoothly transition into life outside the LAN party without advertising their love of gaming — all for a reasonable $199 (to start). I'm eager to test the Mobius headset further once they arrive at the Tom's Guide offices.