updated 08:05 am EDT, Tue August 26, 2014
Includes battery-powered preamp, adjustable headband, more
Blue Microphones, a digital audio brand best known for its USB audio mics popular with both podcasters and musicians, has expanded into headphones with the release of its first Mo-Fi headphone set. As recently noted by one of our reviewers, most headphones sound much better when paired with a combination DAC and amplifier like the Sony's PHA-2 portable headphone amps -- but Blue has taken it a step further by building the amp directly into its headphones.
Noting that, although portable, carrying around a headphone amplifier adds bulk, Blue CEO John Maier said that "Mo-Fi changes all that, with a built-in audiophile amplifier that delivers the power and quality of a hi-fi system-inside your headphones." The company says the included "audiophile amplifier" provides six times more power than comes with typical devices like the iPod or iPhone. The Mo-Fi offers what the company calls "ultra-premium 50mm hi-fi drivers" that benefit from the boost in power. The amp "takes the burden of power off of mobile devices, improving their performance in the process."
The amplifier included in the headphones is powered by a rechargeable battery, and offers three settings: On, On+, and Off. The "On" setting uses the amplifier to produce rich and detailed sound, while the On+ is geared towards music that benefits from lower-frequency enhancement. The amplifier can be turned to Off for for unamplified listening (or if the battery happens to run out), or so that it can be connected to a device that has its own amplifier like a home theatre system (or a portable amp).
The battery on the Mo-Fi can be recharged through a micro USB connector, but is expected to last 12-14 hours on a full charge. The headphones turn themselves off when they are removed to save power, and the headphones continue to work (albeit without amplification) if the battery is turned off or is depleted.
The headphones also feature a multi-jointed headband that the company says provides adjustable settings for a personalized fit for a wider variety of head shapes. The earcups are ear-shaped, and can be fully extended out of the way when worn around the neck. A tension knob lets users set the right amount of tightness and sound isolation.
The Mo-Fi will retail for $350, and is available today from music supply stores such as Sweetwater, Musician's Friend, and Guitar Center as well as Amazon and directly from Blue. More retailers will be added over time.