Blue (formerly Blue Microphones) began teasing music-lovers at CES 2014 that a new type of headphone was coming. When the $349 Blue Mo-Fi Headphones were revealed, it was clear the company was not messing around with its initial headphone market entry. The Mo-Fi look and sound unlike any other headphone Judie and I have tried, and we’ve tried a lot!
Dan: When you first see the $350 Mo-Fi Headphones, you’ll immediately know they are different. These are anything but compact, and they would fit into a scene from Transformers without issue.
Judie: It’s true! These are larger than many, slightly bulkier than most, and they aren’t featherweights, but don’t let that scare you! The slightly H. R. Giger-esque industrial design will grow on you quickly, and they distribute their weight so well that you’ll find them comfortable.
Dan: The industrial design of the headphones is just the beginning, though. Inside the Mo-Fi is an integrated hi-fi amplifier, and since it has its own rechargeable power source you can simply plug your iPhone in, start playing some tunes, and activate the amplifier to get sound you never thought possible from a mobile communication device.
Dan: Blue explains what the headphones are all about when they write:
Mo-Fi stands for “True Mobile High Fidelity”. Now you can have studio-quality, high fidelity sound on any device, anywhere. Mo-Fi is the first headphone designed around an integrated hi-fi amplifier. Since Mo-Fi doesn’t rely on another device for power it can have custom drivers that are power hungry-and extremely accurate. Forget everything you know about headphones. Mo-Fi is the first headphone that brings real audiophile sound quality to every device—from home A/V receivers to laptops, tablets and even your phone. And Blue completely reimagined how the headphones fit on your head, so you’ll get optimal sound and listen-all-day comfort. Mo-Fi is the first headphone that combines a built-in custom audiophile amplifier and insanely great-sounding drivers for a truly mind-blowing listening experience. With high-end, high-fidelity sound drivers and a perfectly matched amplifier, Mo-Fi delivers the most accurate sound reproduction you’ve ever heard. It’s like having the power and quality of a hi-fi system—inside your headphones.
In other words, while some headphones are best for use with a mobile device and others are designed for use with a home audio system, the Blue Mo-Fi Headphones are able to serve well in pretty much any and all audio worlds. That noted, due to the design of the Mo-Fi, they are anything but small and compact, meaning they are best used at home or in the office. Sure, they come with a protective bag and can certainly be brought along for your adventures, but these are big, bulky and heavy headphones. I, for one, have them hanging out in my living room for those times when I want to listen to music while sitting, or laying, on the couch.
Judie: While it’s true that you could travel with these headphones if you really wanted to (and I have done it), I agree with Dan that the Mo-Fi don’t seem to be suited for it — unless you like wearing your headphones around your neck as you get from point A to point B. In that case, you’ll likely enjoy traveling with them just fine. When you have them around your neck, the ear cups fold down a bit, so the headphones rest comfortably on your chest.
Fit and Comfort—Reinvented: Mo-Fi is no ordinary headphone. From the multi-jointed design to ear cups shaped like ears, Blue has completely reimagined the form and functionality. The result feels less like a headphone, and more like a high-quality instrument you can wear.
Dan: I’ll admit it took my a while to get over the design of the headphones. It isn’t just that they are big. They are, but if I can enjoy the Princess Leah-sized AKG K551 donuts, then I can certainly enjoy these. It’s more that the headphones look exceptionally industrial and, thanks to the multi-jointed headband and adjustable tension knob have the look and feel of something a bit aggressive in its styling. That’s no surprise since, by Blue’s own admission, the headband was “inspired by the finely tuned suspension of an open-wheeled Formula One race car.” So yes, I did initially feel a tad bit self-conscious when I listened to these in public. The comfort, fit, finish and, most importantly, sound of the headphones helped me quickly overcome any and all concerns about appearances. After all, when headphones sound this good who cares what they look like? And, that noted, in the weeks since I got my hands on them I’ve grown to love the way they look.
Judie: I think that the design of the headphones was actually a selling point for me. They don’t look like anything else available, and the fact that they are so comfortable to wear — due in no small part to the padded top of the straight (rather than arched) headband — made them more appealing to me. These headphones look expensive, they fit comfortably, and yes — they will draw attention. I’ve lost count of the number of times Kev has tried to relieve me of mine. =P
The unique multi-jointed headband was inspired by the finely tuned suspension of an open-wheeled Formula One race car. It’s elegant. It’s comfortable. And it features an adjustable tension knob that allows you to dial-in the perfect setting—not too tight, not too loose, but just right. Pivoting arms allow for a small change in the angle of the ear cups to achieve a large amount of height adjustment. The ear cups simply float into place. You get a level of fit and comfort that just isn’t possible on other headphones. Plus, it creates a perfect seal, resulting in solid bass response, improved isolation and reduction in bleed—perfect for tracking in the studio
Dan: The Mo-Fi headphones can be used in three different ways. They can be powered off, where you can simply use the sound pushed out by the audio source to which they are connected. They can be used in amplified-mode, where they serve up bigger and better sound than the audio source likely can produce on its own. The effect is similar to that of using an external headphone amp like the Fiio amps I have. The only difference is that, with the Mo-Fi you don’t need to rely on anything other than the headphones. Finally, there is a mode that boosts the base and gives you even bigger sound. This is likely ideal for the listener who is used to bass-heavy garbage like Beats headphones but actually wants decent sound.
Makes Every Device Sound Better: Mo-Fi improves the sound of every source—from smartphones to studio gear—by reducing the audio workload on your device. The amplifier provides tons of power so your source doesn’t have to work so hard. You’ll get way less distortion, leading to unparalleled sound quality on every device.
All-Analog Amp Modes: Unlike those bass-in-your-face headphones, Mo-Fi includes three amp modes so you can choose the right sound for your music. No DSP tricks here—this is all analog. No matter if you’re listening to 70s-era rock, modern pop, orchestral, hip-hop or something else, you’ll have total control over your listening experience.
Dan: One of the questions you might be wondering is, since the Mo-Fi headphones rely on an internal battery to power the amp, how long does the charge last and are you dead in the water when the battery runs down?
The answer to the latter question is a resounding “No”. The Mo-Fi headphones sound just fine when the amplifier is turned off and, in such situations, is simply a pair of high-end over-the-ear headphones. So if the battery runs down, you can still enjoy your music.
Judie: I find myself using the Mo-Fi in either the first or second settings most of the time; these headphones sound great with no amplification, but they sound even better with the gentle boost.
Dan: The answer to the former question is that Blue made sure to think this through long before revealing the headphones. As a result, they offer what Blue refers to as “Intelligent Power Management.” The battery charges in 3-4 hours; once fully charged, you can expect up to 12 hours of playtime. The good news is that this is 12 hours of actual active listening. That is achieved by the Mo-Fi headphones knowing when the headphones are not in use and automatically powering down. Take the headphones off, let the ear cups touch, and the headphones turn off.
Judie: Right, and when you pull the ear cups apart and put the headphones back on, they’ll automatically power up again; it’s very efficient.
- Output power: 240mW -THD+N: 0.004%
- Frequency response: 10Hz-20kHz -SNR, self noise:
- Noise: < 20 uV -Battery capacity: 1020mAh
- Type and size: 50mm, titanium-reinforced dynamic driver
- Impedance: 42 ohms
- Frequency response: 15-20kHz
- Enclosure details: Sealed enclosure with tuned damping materials
- Weight: 466 g (16.44 oz) -Outer dimensions (closed): 21mm x14mm x12mm (8.27” x 5.51” x 4.72”)
- Outer dimensions (open): 18mm x 29mm x 12mm (7.09” x 11.42” x 4.72”)
Dan: Here’s our video look at the Blue Mo-Fi Headphones from CES 2015…
Judie and I love the Blue Mo-Fi headphones. They look unique, they fit amazingly well, they are surprisingly comfortable for something so large and, most importantly, they sound fantastic. I’ve been using a headphone amp when listening to music at my desk for the past year or so. It works great, but it is one more bulky connection that has to be made. With the Mo-Fi headphones, you don’t have to worry about that since the amp is already inside. And while some may use them with the extra oomph-setting in play, I’m quite happy with the amp turned on and my music playing. I like these so much that they are the headphones that sit next to my computer in my new home study. For me that is the ultimate vote of confidence.
Judie: These are my favorite full-size headphones. They are the ones I reach for when I am working and I need to shut noise out a bit — even when no music is playing, and they are the ones I wear when I want to listen to my favorite music. The Blue Mo-Fi headphones create excellent sound, and they are comfortable enough to wear for hours on end. The fact that they look cool is a bonus!
Source: Manufacturer supplied review sample of the Blue Mo-Fi Headphones
What We Like: Amazing sound; built in Amp; Three analog amplifier settings; Works when the battery runs down; Smart battery management; Very comfortable; Eye-catching design
What Needs Improvement: Big and bulky; Take some getting used to due to the design; Pricey