Mixcder is an upcoming manufacturer of youthful audio products that elegantly combine fashion with cutting-edge technology. Their MS301 noise isolating headphones attract both with their affordable price and their understated elegance. But it takes more than great looks to win the hearts of modern-day consumers, who are bombarded with an abundance of choices when it comes to Bluetooth headphones. Without wanting to spoil anything, we can say that the Mixcder MS301 headphones are worth your hard-earned money.
Build and Design
The word that perfectly describes the design of the Mixcder MS301 noise isolating headphones is elegance. More specifically, an understated urban elegance created by the combination of brushed, silver metal parts with plushy, black pleather.
There’s a good weight to the headphones because the manufacturer has reinforced all stressed parts, such as the hinges and the headband, and used metal earcups to protect the sensitive drivers inside. The stitching on the earpads and the headband seems solid, and we like the kind of pleather Mixcder uses. It’s very supple, soft, and breathable. Unlike with many cheaper kinds of pleather, we’re not afraid that this pleather will start to crack and crumble after a few months of use.
We really like how the headphones fit. The size of the earcup is somewhere between over-ear and on-ear. If you have very small ears, you may be able to fit them inside the plushy earpads, but we expect most people to have their ears partly under the earpads. This can be a huge comfort issue with headphones that put too much pressure on the head and also with hard earpads covered with stiff leather or fabric. Fortunately, the Mixcder MS301 remain comfortable no matter how long you use them for. While you can’t exactly forget about them due to their weight, your ears won’t ever become sore.
You can fold the earcups to better fit uwith them inside a bag or a carrying pouch. On one earcup, you’ll find a USB port for charging, and the other earcup houses a 3.5mm audio connector as well as buttons for playback control. Even though the headphones last up to 20 hours on a single charge, having the option to listen using the included 3.5mm audio cable is still a great bonus that can save you whenever you forget to charge the headphones the night before you take them with you outside.
The biggest selling-point of the Mixcder MS301 is the support for Qualcomm’s aptX Low Latency wireless transmission standard. The downfall of Bluetooth, when it comes to audio, is its high transmission latency.
Modern Bluetooth headphones rely on technologies such as aptX to reduce this latency from around 250ms to approximately 150ms. The problem is that even with aptX, your brain can still recognize the delay. This isn’t a problem when listening to music unaccompanied with any visual, but it becomes a problem when playing games, watching music videos, TV shows, movies, or other multimedia content.
The Mixcder MS301 use the latest version of aptX, called aptX Low Latency, which reduces transmission latency to roughly 40ms, meaning that your brain is unable to perceive any difference between the audio source and the sound coming from the headphones. Best of all, aptX Low Latency is backward compatible with existing aptX products. In practice, it’s business as usual. You simply pair the headphones with your smartphone or tablet and enjoy a stable, high-fidelity listening experience.
The headphones lean slightly on the side of prominent bass rather than perfect tonal balance, but that’s to be expected from headphones that are meant to accompany you on your daily adventures, instead of hanging on a headphone stand until you come home and attentively listen to your favorite music for an hour or two. What’s most important is how everything sounds through the headphones. We were blown away by the sheer depth the headphones can reach when playing bass-heavy music. At the same time, we never felt that mids and lows don’t have enough room to shine. Every vocal performance stood out, allowing us to appreciate the emotions expressed by the artist.
The Mixcder MS301 are marketed as noise isolating headphones, which means that they should keep outside noise away without relying on an active noise canceling system powered by a battery. Instead, noise is attenuated by the thick earpads and the closed earcups. The MS301 do deserve the label “noise isolation” because they block nearly as much outside noise as some active noise canceling headphones. All it takes to hear nothing but your music is a slight volume increase.
Overall, the Mixcder MS301 are fun headphones that outperform many other brands in the same price range, even giving some higher-end manufacturers a run for their money.
What’s in the Box?
The packaging contains a Micro USB cable for charging, a 3.5mm audio cable for wired listening, and an instructional booklet with some surprisingly useful tips on how to get the most out of the headphones. We’d be happy to find even an inexpensive fabric pouch inside the box, but, alas, the headphones don’t come with one, let alone a proper carrying case.