Audeze Mobius gaming headset review: Surround sound all around
All-time great sound, all-time high price
The Audeze Mobius is something of an oddity among gaming headsets. Traditionally, headsets are tuned to deliver bass-heavy audio that complements the bombastic experiences that games like Call of Duty and Madden provide. Though the bar for quality has risen dramatically in the past decade, they are often the opposite of what audiophiles look for in headsets, which is pure, sonic truth. So when Audeze, maker of impressive high-end headsets for audiophiles, decided to make its first gaming headset, it raised the question: Is this actually going to be better?
Of course it is. Audeze’ planar magnetic drivers produce a cleaner sound in and out of games. The headset also offers a host of advanced surround sound features, such as 3D audio—virtual surround sound where you can also hear things “above” and “below”—and head-tracking technology, so your surround sound maintains directionality when you turn your head. These features aren’t unique anymore, but the Audeze Mobius’ incredible quality still makes it an incredible PC gaming headset if you’re looking to splurge.
Audeze Mobius: Look and feel
The black plastic frame is covered with grey accent lines and clustered dot designs over the ear cups, which keep it from looking plain, but don’t exactly stand out either. Unlike standard headphones, gaming headsets often trend toward bold and colorful peacockish aesthetics. This one’s restrained enough that you could use them as a pair of everyday carry headphones in a pinch.
High Quality, High Price
A straight look at the Audeze Mobius. Mike Epstein
The headband and earcups feature memory foam padding covered with artificial leather. The top band padding is a little thin, but the cups are plenty plushy, creating a tight, but cozy space for your ears. Weighing in at 13.2 ounces, they’re on the heavy side, but still light enough that you can easily forget you’re wearing headphones, even during a long gameplay session. Despite all that padding, the Mobius doesn’t do much in the way of blocking out ambient noise, though.
Interestingly, the Mobius supports three connection types: digital, analog, and Bluetooth wireless. The headset includes cables to connect the headset using standard USB (USB-A), USB-C, and a 3.5mm audio jack. USB is still the preferred choice, as you have limited control of the 3D audio and head-tracking in 3.5mm and Bluetooth modes. Despite that, I would only recommend using them in wireless mode for non-gaming purposes. Bluetooth often introduces enough audio lag to create a jarring gameplay experience, especially in multiplayer games.
Plus, with only an estimated 10 hours of battery life, according to Audeze, there are far more substantial wireless gaming headsets. All that aside, having the ability to plug the Mobius into a console or pair it with a phone makes it more versatile, even if you’re better off keeping it tethered to your gaming rig.
Built-in ports and controls
Speaking of connections, let’s take a closer look at the earcups. The Mobius has a lot of inputs and ports stacked on the left cup. From back to front, you have two volume rollers—one for volume and one for microphone monitoring—a 3.5mm audio jack, a USB-C cord for digital connections and charging, the detachable wire boom microphone, and, finally, the “3D” button. The 3D button allows you to calibrate and recalibrate the Mobius’ head-tracking feature by “centering” the tracking so the direction you’re looking at becomes the new forward.
There are also two inputs on the back of the left earcup; a microphone mute switch and a power button, which also doubles as the Bluetooth pairing button. In fact, almost all of the inputs have multiple functions when you tap, double-tap, or hold them. Learning these inputs is a bit of a hassle to learn. In some cases, it’s worth it, but I’m not going to memorize those media controls when I have perfectly play and track select keys on my keyboard.
Audeze Mobius: What are planar magnetic drivers?
One of the Audeze Mobius main draws is its 100mm planar magnetic drivers. They sometimes show up in high-end, audiophile-grade headphones, but rarely make their way into gaming audio. Most headsets (and consumer-grade speakers) sport dynamic Neodymium drivers, which feature a cone-shaped diaphragm. Planar magnetic drivers, by contrast, are flat, which experts will tell you minimizes minute moment-to-moment distortions to sound quality. They are also conducive to bass-heavy audio experiences, which describes most AAA video games.
In the world of gaming headsets, though, the Mobius planar magnetic sound doesn’t come off as bass-heavy. It feels incredibly precise and well-balanced. It is capable of producing big, booming sounds like grenades going off with incredible detail and texture. At the same time, though, you are also getting strong mids and sharp highs without any hint of tinniness. In every situation I tested—from listening to pop, hip-hop, and EDM on Spotify, to playing multiplayer shooters Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War and Splitgate—there’s incredible detail and nuance in every second of every song and sound effect.
Audeze Mobius: Surround sound that turns heads… and turns with them
Mobius stands apart, even from the Audeze Penrose console headset line, because of its 3D audio and head tracking. Virtual surround sound has been the most popular upgrade among gaming headsets in the last few years. Virtually every headset either has it or is optimized for services like Dolby Atmos, which simulate it on your computer. The Audeze Mobius not only offers a very precise, natural-sounding virtual 7.1 surround sound, but also 3D audio, which can simulate audio coming from any direction, including above and below you.
Depending on the game, having 3D audio can make subtle differences in how you react to games. In Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War, for example, it allows you to hear the exact trajectory of a bullet whizzing by your head, rather than simply what direction it came from. In other games, you can follow footsteps more clearly, or are simply more immersed in a game’s cinematic qualities.
The Mobius also features head-tracking technology, which allows the virtual soundstage to follow your real-life head movements. Without head-tracking, the “forward” speakers are always facing the center of your screen. With head-tracking, forward is wherever you’re looking.
In theory, it’s a game-changer. Head-tracking prevents your audio from breaking your immersion in a game by ensuring that audio information always sounds like it’s coming from the right place. In practice, its use is fairly limited. When used for virtual reality, where you’re physically moving around in 360 degrees, it’s mind-blowing. It also should theoretically make a subtle difference for players using a very large curved monitor, who will tilt their heads to see something on the side of their screens. With a traditional setup, you don’t turn your head as much, so its magic is more subtle.
Since the Mobius was initially released in 2018, some of these features have become more common. Most notably, the PlayStation 5 features technology that can imbue 3D audio in any headset you connect to the console. Still, 3D audio remains rare among PC gaming headsets, doubly so when you pair it with head tracking.
Audeze Mobius: Track your head tracking
To fine-tune the Mobius’ sound and 3D, head-tracked soundscape, Audeze offers a configuration app called Audeze HQ. As an audio app, HQ is pretty basic. You have access to a handful of sound profiles, including a competitive mode for detecting footsteps, an ultra-low ballistics mode for punchy explosions, and non-gaming options “music” and “warm.” Beyond that, you can switch among different 3D audio modes and choose between stereo and surround sound, but those are also available via onboard controls.
Instead, HQ is primarily meant for fine-tuning how the Mobius senses your head. The first time you boot it up, you’ll want to measure the circumference of your head and adjust that setting. (It makes a difference!) You’ll also be able to fine-tune the sensitivity of the head tracking in a number of ways. Personally, I found the head tracking incredibly accurate, so I didn’t feel a need to change these settings, but I could see a VR expert tinkering with it over time.
Frankly, though, my favorite part of the app is that it animates your head position. It’s the easiest way to confirm that the head tracking is working accurately, and it’s also very fun to listen to music and watch the virtual head bop along.
Audeze Mobius: But what about the microphone?
It’s easy to forget about the Audeze Mobius’ microphone in the face of these interesting headphone features. Comparatively speaking, the Mobius’ detachable wire boom mic feels fairly standard. Detachable wire mics have become the de facto standard among gaming headsets. The Mobius has a good one—it’s thin, flexible, and holds its shape. The sound quality is also very good: In testing, I found that it picked up voice very well without too much fine adjustment and filtered out a lot of ambient noise. I can’t say that the microphone quality is noteworthy, though. The Mobius is, unsurprisingly, a listener’s headset.
Who should buy the Audeze Mobius?
The Audeze Mobius headset is among the best headsets I’ve ever tested. It is, however, incredibly expensive. At $399, it is the most money you’ll spend on a dedicated headset. Between the incredible sound quality and advanced surround sound features, though, the Mobius has the tech to back up that price. That said, not everybody needs audiophile-grade sound and head-tracking, so I’d primarily recommend it for VR hobbyists and PC players who will pay any price to lose themselves in a game.