Beats Buster: Blue Mo-Fi headphones

Blue's Mo-Fi headphone looks and feels like nothing else, but what about the sound?

The Blue Mo-Fi headphones Head-Fi

Another day, another new headphone, and the Blue Mo-Fi is radically different than just about any other headphone I can think of. It's an audacious beginning from Blue, a high-end studio and consumer microphone manufacturer based in California. They're hardly the first to go down that road as AKG, Beyerdynamic, and Sennheiser are also microphone manufacturers.

The Mo-Fi is a closed-back design with 50mm drivers, and a 42 ohm-rated impedance. You get two cables, a 1.2-meter Apple-compatible phone cable, and a 3-meter "straight" cable for home use. There's also a USB charging cable for the battery, and a beautifully finished soft carry case with storage pockets for all the cables. Warranty is 2 years parts and labor, that's double the coverage of most headphones.

Rather than go with a typical spring steel headband Mo-Fi has a racecar-inspired multi-jointed headband design that keeps the ear cups perfectly aligned to your ears. The fit is extraordinary, but there's one catch, it's a very heavy headphone, the Mo-Fi weighs 16.4 ounces (466 grams), my Sennheiser Momentum over-the-ear headphones weigh 6.7 ounces (190 grams). The Momentums don't conform to my head and ears nearly as well as the Mo-Fi, but the weight differential between the two headphones is considerable.

The Blue Mo-Fi headphones Head-Fi

Build-quality wise, the Mo-Fi feels downright rugged, and the extra thick padding on the ear cups and headband are luxurious. You can use the Mo-Fi three ways: "passively" without using its internal batteries; with the built-in headphone amp that lets the Mo-Fi play a lot louder; or with the amp, plus a 4.5 dB bass boost at 65 Hertz. The Mo-Fi's rechargeable polymer Li-on battery delivers around 12 hours of playing time. Before I knew the price I assumed the Mo-Fi was more expensive than it is.

Listening to well-recorded acoustic jazz with the Momentum the sound was more transparent, and hand percussion sounded more realistic. The Mo-Fi's bigger bottom-end had more power and weight. A Tribe Called Quest's "Low End Theory" album tilted the balance in favor of the Mo-Fi; the Momentum put up a fight, but the Mo-Fi's low-end gusto left no doubt it can dig deeper. Turning on the Mo-Fi's bass boost switch clinched the deal. If you crave maximum muscle down there the Mo-Fi is a winner. Comfort-wise the nod goes to the Momentum, its lighter weight and lower head-clamping pressure made the difference.

I haven't listened to my old Beats Pro headphones in years, but it seemed like it would be a worthy adversary to the Mo-Fi. The Pros' low bass is weighty, and overall clarity is decent, but the Mo-Fi is sweeter and more transparent. Bass definition, punch and power exceed the Pro's, and when I turned on the Mo-Fi's bass boost the Mo-Fi clobbered the Pro. All of my listening tests were done with my iPod Classic, no external headphone amps were used.

Blue is planning to introduce more Mo-Fi models next year. The Mo-Fi's US price is $350, the UK price is £275. Blue will begin shipping the Mo-Fi internationally in November. However, Blue could not supply a specific date for availability in Australia. It will be there, we just don't know exactly when, or for how much, though converted pricing would be about AU$400.