Mighty Vibe Spotify Music Player review: A tiny Spotify player that frees you from your phone
If you were sad when Apple's iPod Shuffle was discontinued in 2017, you might find some solace in learning that the Mighty Vibe is essentially the new iPod Shuffle for the streaming era. It retails for $86 in the US and £61 to £80 in the UK (via Amazon and elsewhere), but it's also sometimes sold for as low as $69 (plus $5 shipping) from the manufacturer's website (see discount details).
Now, the big caveat from the "it's like the Shuffle for streaming" is this: It has nothing to do with Apple or (blech!) iTunes. Instead it's just for Spotify, the most popular subscription streaming music service in the world -- and an an up-and-coming purveyor of podcasts too.
With a 0.7-ounce (20-gram) body made of plastic instead of aluminum, it's not quite as small or swanky looking as the Shuffle. But it's pretty tiny and is designed to clip onto a piece of clothing -- just like the Shuffle was.
Those similarities aside, the Mighty Vibe has two key features missing from the Shuffle: Bluetooth wireless connectivity and the ability to download any song or podcast you want from Spotify. The caveat is that you have to be a Spotify Premium subscriber to use it. That'll cost you $10 (£10 or AU$12) a month.
Some people experienced Bluetooth hiccups with Mighty's first-generation player. Addressing those complaints, Mighty said it has improved the Bluetooth performance for both connectivity and range in the Vibe. It seemed mostly fine to me, and fellow CNET editor David Katzmaier also didn't encounter any major issues.
Setup and synching were straightforward and I had no problem re-pairing the device with the Mighty app -- it's available for iOS and Android -- when I needed to refresh a playlist with additional songs or add another playlist.
While the Vibe is connected to the app on your iOS or Android device via Bluetooth, you transfer playlists over Wi-Fi. That means your phone and Vibe need to be on the same Wi-Fi network for synching. It's also worth mentioning that when you transfer playlists you can choose between three quality levels -- Normal, High and Extreme. If you use the Normal setting transfers are faster, but syncing proceeds with reasonable speed regardless of what setting you choose, thanks to the Wi-Fi connection.
I only put three playlists on my review sample, with about 80 songs in each playlist. You can store more than 1,000 songs on the device and switch between playlists by clicking on the small menu button next to the LED light that lets you know the player is operating. You can also transfer Spotify's podcasts.
Holding the menu button for 2 seconds puts the player in shuffle mode, so tracks play at random. There are also controls on the Vibe for adjusting volume along with pause/play and track skip forward and back.
The only small bump I hit was with re-pairing some Bluetooth headphones with the Vibe (you can also pair the Vibe to a Bluetooth speaker) after the initial pairing process was complete. If you turn the Vibe off, it's supposed to automatically re-pair to your Bluetooth headphones when you turn both the Vibe and your headphones back on. (Mighty has a video explainer here.)
Although there was a delay of about 10-15 seconds, the re-pairing worked with a Sony WH-1000XM3. But I had to manually reconnect a Marshall Minor II in-ear headphone via the app to get it re-paired. The same was true for an older Sony headphone, the MDR-1RBT. The long and short of it is that after using a few different Bluetooth headphones, I can't say with any confidence that the automatic re-pairing will work with every Bluetooth headphone. Also, don't expect the automatic wireless headphone or speaker re-pairing to work as quickly or smoothly as it does with your phone.
You won't run into any of these potential issues if you go with wired headphones -- yes, there's a headphone jack, and the player charges via that jack with a special 3.5mm to USB cable (don't lose that cable). Indeed, plugging in a wired headphone is the simplest way to use the Mighty Vibe. That's because if you go wired you don't have to worry about reconnecting to the app until you decide to change up your music. You can use the Vibe as you would an iPod Shuffle or any standalone MP3 player. Depending on the headphones, you also might get slightly better sound by going wired.
Battery life on the first-gen Mighty Audio player was 4 hours of music playback. The Vibe adds an hour, bring the total up to 5 hours at moderate volume levels. That's not great, but it's enough to get you through a few runs and workouts at the gym. I use the workout example because this is really the device for the person who doesn't want to carry around a phone for listening to music.
Another possible use-case scenario: You're a Spotify Premium user looking for a music player for your phone-less child. Katzmaier gave one to his 9-year-old daughter, and even for older kids, some sleep-away camps do not allow any devices with screens. Since you're actually downloading the playlists to the device, your child could play music on the Vibe while you listen to music on your phone. Put another way, you don't have worry about Spotify telling you that you can't stream because someone else is using your account.
The Mighty Vibe's audience is limited to Spotify Premium users, but I really do like the concept and liked the device. My only reservation would be around the Bluetooth headphone connection. If you were on a long run without your phone and lost the connection between your headphones and the Vibe, you'd be pretty upset. I'd personally consider carrying a backup set of wired earbuds just in case -- or going wired from the get-go.