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Headphones

Here's a shockingly good budget-price headphone that's due in 2016

The Audiophiliac listens to the Mi In-Ear Headphones IV and comes away impressed.

Chinese tech giant, Mi (aka Xiaomi) sent an advance sample of their rather exceptional In-Ear Headphones IV. It looks, feels and sounds like a really nice $100 'phone, but it will sell for $29.99 in the US. The In-Ear Headphones IV went on sale in China earlier this month.

Each brushed aluminum earpiece has two drivers: one balanced armature for treble frequencies, and one composite (PET material and titanium) dynamic driver for midrange and bass frequencies. As far as I know, the In-Ear Headphones IV is the only two-driver headphone around for this kind of money. Impedance is listed at 32 ohms, and the Kevlar reinforced cable has a mic and phone controls.

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The Mi In-Ear Headphones IV

Mi

It was the look and feel of the In-Ear Headphones IV that first intrigued me -- it's a major upgrade over what I usually see in budget headphones -- but as soon as I started listening I was thrilled by the clarity. Even more than that, the In-Ear Headphones IV's bass, midrange, and treble balance was fairly accurate. These headphones told no lies. Oh, and the bass went deeper than most, if you crave high-impact bottom end, you'll love these things. The In-Ear Headphones IV's are small and light, so they were very comfortable to wear for extended periods of time.

Comparing the In-Ear Headphones IV with my favorite under-$100 in-ear model, the FiiO EX1, (which currently sells for $70), was fascinating. The EX1's bass was even better defined and clear, but stereo imaging was less spacious, and vocals sounded thinner and smaller. If you can't wait for the In-Ear Headphones IV, I still recommend the FiiO EX1 -- it's a great headphone.

Mi hasn't yet set the exact US introduction date, other than to say some time in 2016. At that time I will follow up and request another sample to make sure the headphones on sale here are as good as this pair.