Review: Mixcder E9 wireless noise-cancelling headphones
Image credit: Mixcder
Meet your new adventure buddies: wireless noise-cancelling headphones for the cost-conscious traveller.
Despite apparent evidence to the contrary on our streets, where an increasing number of people are now sporting a small plastic protuberance (usually white) on either side of their head, not everyone wants to use tiny in-ear headphones. Those little buds jammed in the ear canal aren't for everyone, for a variety of reasons: size, fit, fiddly hassle, short battery-life, price etc.
Some people still prefer to wear a reassuringly big pair of cans on their bonce, which simply stay put however much they waggle their noggin and can play all day without needing to be recharged every two or three hours.
Mixcder's E9 are the latest version of its wireless noise-cancelling headphones, featuring the new V3 iteration of the young Californian company's Active Noise Cancelling (ANC) chip and higher-sensitive microphones to detect and counteract ambient noise sound waves. The ANC chip continuously detects and reacts to external noise, analysing the sound waves and blocking out ambient sound by creating inverse waves to cancel it out. That's the theory, at least.
The E9s have been designed to travel everywhere with you. Wherever you go, the E9 wants to follow. The promise of 30-hour battery-life from the rechargeable battery when using the E9s in wireless mode (Bluetooth 4.0) or up to a whopping three full days if using the included audio cable to connect to your music device – with ANC turned on – should be more than enough roaming potential. The built-in 500mAh lithium battery charges via micro-USB (no USB-C here, unfortunately) and takes just under three hours to fully recharge.
The E9s certainly look pretty fancy. The brushed metal outsides of the earpieces have a quality feel and the thick padded headband and soft foam and protein leather earpads add a welcome touch of luxury. Chunky buttons, sitting almost flush to the surface, on each ear control the power, volume and the noise-cancelling aspect, which you can choose to be active or not.
The E9s also have a rotatable and foldable design, so they pack down to half their full size if you want to cram them into a small backpack. Alternatively, at full size you can use the semi-rigid, zipped carry case included in the box. For any adventures that take you further afield, there's also an aeroplane adapter.
The cabin noise of a plane would be the ideal test of the E9s, cancelling out that perpetual low-mid drone. While we haven't yet had the opportunity to test these headphones on a plane, we have used them on several long car motorway journeys, on the daily train commute, in a variety of public places, and around the home. The E9s have impressed us with their performance. We've also blissfully used them at the office: when you really need to concentrate on work, noise-cancelling headphones are a godsend.
What effectively happens is that much of the low-end ambient noise around you is cut, like putting a high-pass filter on the world. You can still hear what's going on around you if you choose to listen for it, as the headphones don't make life completely silent, but for your own ears the focus really becomes whatever audio you're piping in.
This is all well and good, but if the audio reproduction of the headphones themselves is sub-par, what would be the use of all that cancelled noise?
The E9s have been gifted upgraded 40mm headphone drivers to further enhance their appeal. The company claims that the sound is better balanced with improved bass, mids and treble, across the typical 20Hz-20,000KHz frequency range, pushing out sound up to 94 decibels.
From our listening experience, nobody would seriously claim that the E9s are among the best headphones in the world. Do they sound fine? Absolutely fine. If you sit and listen critically, sure, they have some weaker points. These are not reference headphones. However, if you're using them as intended – in noisy environments, on the move, to immerse yourself in your chosen audio, free of external distraction – the E9s do a grand job. Nobody in our test circle who tried them out for a few hours was disappointed.
Having the ANC processing active will drain the battery that little bit quicker, although – as is common with many noise-cancelling headphones – the sonics are better with the ANC turned on. It's not just the noise-cancelling aspect, it's also the tone of the audio reproduction that changes.
If you want best-in-class, near-silent noise-cancelling and top-quality sonics, you're going to have to pay easily four or five times what the E9s cost. These are £70 headphones, remember – but they're punching well above their weight in terms of all-round satisfaction.
What we have here is a very decent set of wireless noise-cancelling headphones that look good and sound good, but which are in fact so reasonably priced that you won't be scared to take them everywhere with you.
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