It's been years since I played video games without headphones. At first, my basic earbuds sufficed. They worked admirably to drown out external sound and kept my gaming local to my ears when my partner was sleeping in the same room. Soon after, I upgraded to the official Xbox chat headset, and the over-the-ear style revealed to me some of what I was missing, but I still wanted more from my games. Last spring, I was gifted the Turtle Beach 700, which until recently was the best headset I'd ever used. It revolutionized the way I play all kinds of games, making me a more exacting PUBG tactician, a more attuned castaway spotter in Sea of Thieves, and a more engaged story participant in Red Dead Redemption 2. I didn't think it could get any better and I felt content with what I had.
I was wrong. Recently, I undertook over two weeks of hands-on time with the Audeze Mobius, and more than ever, I am amazed at how far gaming headset technology has come. With over 100 hours sunk into the pricey headset across Xbox, PS4, Steam, Switch, plus music and podcast binges, I'm confident the Mobius is a you-get-what-you-pay-for proposition.
Audeze is a high-end headset company with some ranges on their website priced just under $4,000. Best known by music producers and audiophiles, the Mobius is their entrance into proper gaming headsets and is listed for $399. Out of the box, the Mobius comes with a detachable microphone, two USB cables (A to C and C to C), and a 3.5mm analog cable. The headset is also Bluetooth-enabled and it's important to consider all of these options because some are required depending on how you're using the versatile headset. I've put the specs front and center for those who want them, but after so much time with the Mobius, I find it hard to convey with a table or even these paragraphs how impressive it has been. Mobius is the best headset with which I've ever played.
|Style ||Over-ear, closed-circumaural|
|Transducer type || Planar transducer|
|Diaphragm || Ultra-thin Uniforce™|
|Phase management || FAZOR|
|Magnet type || Neodymium N50, Fluxor Magnets|
|Transducer size || 100 mm|
|DSP || Audeze Cipher DSP|
|Amplifier || Built-in balanced amplifier (output 1W)|
|Maximum SPL || >120dB|
|Frequency response || 10Hz – 50kHz|
|THD || < 0.1% (1 kHz, 1 mW)|
|Earpads || Contoured memory foam: artificial leather|
|Microphone || Detachable with separate volume control|
|Battery type || Lithium-polymer|
|Wireless Connection || Bluetooth (SBC, AAC, LDAC)|
|Wired Connection || USB-C, USB-A, 3.5mm analog audio|
|Weight || 350g (including battery)|
If you play battle royale, you know how nerve-wracking the audio experience can be. Looting the upstairs of a PUBG Vikendi home when you're interrupted with an opening door and footsteps below can be something out of a horror movie. Previous headsets provided a much-needed range I'd never before experienced, but right away the benefits of the Mobius' design were so obvious that it had us in laughter and awe. We dropped into the ever-fiery Pecado on the desert map. I took the roof of the multi-story blue building on the southwest edge of town. My brother wasn't far, but he couldn't get up to me as a team of two was in the building below me and he was outside of it. With the game's 3D audio enabled and the chat-game audio mixed using the headset's dual dials, I tracked each of their every steps. With lesser headsets, I may have been able to locate their closest steps, but not like this.
One of them ran outside and I knew precisely where he was before I ever saw him. I traced his steps invisibly through the roof as he scurried below, waited for him to come into view, and dropped him fast. He never knew I was there but I traced him with something like echolocation, mapping the game's intense world with my ears. His partner panicked and came following, knowing now where I was thanks to my loud gunfire, but again I traced his footsteps like a seasoned hunter. They were sent back to the menu before they'd even looted much for us to pilfer. It was an experience I'd never had before and it was an amazing first impression.
Over 100 hours of playtime later, I can say that this anecdote captures my experience throughout and I was consistently impressed with each new feature I explored. The Mobius has simply made every game, every podcast, and every song better, and if that's hugely important to you — and if you can afford the price tag that dwarves those of what many used to consider some of the best gaming headsets — it's seriously worth investing. Full stop. Audeze's gaming headset is literally built with repurposed diaphragm parts originally designed for NASA. You don't have to understand what all those specs mean to become a believer.
It often feels like a headset from the future with its smooth matte finish and the faux leather ear cups. The detachable microphone makes it better yet. If you're playing a single-player game or just catching up on your podcast queue, it's not needed and thus can be removed. The headset's buttons and dials are smartly designed, and because they're all so versatile, kept to a minimum. The power button also functions as the Bluetooth pairing button, the call answer and end button, and the pause button depending on how many clicks you do and for how long. The 3D audio button doubles as the input change button, so you can enable 3D with a single button press, tweak it to your liking with a longer hold, or swap between your game and an incoming call with a double-click. The two volume wheels also adjust EQ and skip tracks if you're listening to a playlist. Only the mic mute switch has no secondary function, giving the entire device just five spots to fidget with, all of them easy to find on your left ear while it stays on your head.
On consoles, either a USB or 3.5mm connection is required — and the latter makes much more sense because you can plug it right into your controller — meaning if you're just in the market for a wireless headset for Xbox, PS4, or Switch, the Mobius won't give you that. My previous headset was 100% wireless and audio regularly cut out for reasons that seemed Bluetooth related. If you can get past the one controller-to-headset cord being necessary for console gaming, take comfort in the fact that this largely unintrusive wired connection eliminates such interruptions. PC gaming and mobile connections for music, videos, or anything else on your phone or tablet can be done via the Bluetooth connection too, making it a fully wireless device until it's time to charge it again, which is in about 9-10 hours with 3D audio enabled throughout. If it was off, it's meant to last longer.
The Mobius comes in three colors: copper (pictured), blue, or carbon.
The absolute highlight of the Mobius is twofold: the optional 3D audio setting and its brilliant EQ presets. If you've heard a lot about 3D audio but haven't tried it out yet, consider it a leap similar to when TVs went from standard definition to HD and now 4K. While stereo once dazzled before surround sound took the throne as home entertainment's best, a true 3D headset like the Mobius is the new standard bearer for audio enhancement. It not only allows for the headset's volume to achieve a higher ceiling, which really immersed me in VR games like Resident Evil 7, but more importantly it provides the most nuanced surround sound experience I've ever heard.
While the headset provided a full and clear experience across the board, its ceiling never seemed to reach the same heights on PS4 as it did on other platforms. Perhaps that's a constraint built in by Sony's own volume settings or maybe it's because my launch PS4 sounds like a commercial airliner and some of that was somehow seeping through the noise-canceling Mobius, but for whatever reason I couldn't get the volume to go to 11, so to speak, on just that one platform.
As for the EQ presets, the Mobius comes with eight built into the headset: default, footsteps, ballistics, music, racing, RPG, flat, and warm. Where this feature shines brightest was the footsteps preset. PUBG especially does a great job already of localizing ballistics audio, and so that preset was used in more traditional PVP multiplayer like Call of Duty, but the footsteps feature once again elevated my game. Previous headsets offered a sort of "super" mode that did heighten the audio in some helpful ways, but at the cost of leaving the game sounding very tinny too. With the footsteps preset enabled on Mobius, I was locating enemies from never before heard distances without sacrificing the game's natural soundscape.
As someone who has spent the last four years regularly improving his gaming audio experience with long- and short-term upgrades, I can honestly say the Audeze Mobius is the best experience I've ever had. It truly has made everything I've played better, and not just games. My music found new life, and I now know who really has the best microphones among my 30 or so weekly podcast hosts. The Mobius is a gaming headset first and foremost, and because of that, it's going to appeal mostly to players who want to improve their games sonically just as so many of us have done visually in recent years. However, because of its versatility, smart design, and long battery life, it has become not just my PUBG headset or even just my gaming headset — it's become my work-from-home, public transit, everything in between, never-taking-it-off-my-head life accessory.
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