The loss of the headphone jack first led to hysteria, then to a plethora of wireless earphones.
But while wireless earphones don’t need different cables for a bevy of different devices, they do need to be constantly charged, and paired again when switching devices.
While the Type-C USB port is not quite the hoped for standard, it’s in enough devices to make Type-C earphones useful.
Xiaomi’s USB-C buds are a good, dongle-free way to get wired sound on your new phone.
Chinese electronics company Xiaomi’s Mi Type-C noise cancelling earphones ($129 on the official Xiaomi Australian website, but can be found for around $70-80 elsewhere) plug right in and don’t need charging.
With so many devices and gadgets that need to be charged these days, I’d forgotten how pleasant not charging something can be. And it is a sheer delight not to have to worry about battery life.
Included in the pack are also earhooks, three pairs of different sized earbuds, and a small microfibre cloth bag.
The inline controls could have been a little more thoughtfully designed.
The rectangular inline control module is small, black and sleek with rounded edges. Unfortunately, while it looks beautifully minimalist, the three circular buttons on the controller are identical, with no visual or touch markings to distinguish between them. It’s annoying fiddling around to increase the volume for example. You get used to it of course, but it is such a small and easy design feature to include.
I tested the Mi earphones on a variety of devices, including the Samsung Galaxy S10, Samsung Note9, Oppo R17 Pro and the HP Envy laptop.
The audio is generally crisp and clean, and sounds great from the soulful depths of Nick Cave, and Bradley Cooper’s and Lady Gaga’s Shallow, to the musical energy of Beyonce. The bass is good, while the sound is a smidge tinny on the higher notes, but not many earphones sound as good as a Bose or B&O (and of course you’d be paying a lot more for that superior sound quality).
Listening to movie trailers was fine; I could still feel myself immersed in the movie magic, but of course with any in-ear buds you’re not going to fully enjoy a film where big soundscapes are an integral element.
The buds are extremely comfortable.
The sound also depends on the device you’re using. While I found the Samsung and HP great listening, the sound clarity, and sound quality in general, fell down on the Oppo.
The noise cancellation is disappointing. Flick the switch on the in-line control module and noise cancellation kicks in when the blue light is on. It’s reasonably good, but the noise is muffled rather than cancelled. Music playing on the other side of the room felt as if it was playing through a fluffy pillow.
But on the other hand, this could be considered a feature since there is a school of thought that we shouldn’t be too cut off from our surroundings. It pays to be aware of the sound around you, whether it’s traffic noise or walking home alone at night.
I found the Mi earphones incredibly comfortable, even for long wears. They fit snugly and don’t fall out, even when I tried making them drop out by shaking my head from side to side.
The cables are a little strange in design, being half braided and half rubberised. The cable from the inline controls to the USB-C plug is braided, which is great in minimising damage from constant tangling, but the cables connecting to the buds are not braided.
The earphones have a solid yet light feel to them. Even though they are titanium coated, they don’t look metallic, but they don’t look like cheap plastic either.
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