A Wireless On-Ear headphone For Less Than $20US That Doesn't Totally Suck

AR-BudgetHeadphones225.jpgWhen I began as an audio reviewer, I had to search out products for review. Nowadays, pitches for new stuff come across my electronic desktop every day. Most end up in the "trash" section of my email accounts. But occasionally I get something that piques my interest such as the missive I received from Karen Thomas PR concerning the Mixcder line of wireless Bluetooth headphones. Touted as "the lightest, most comfortable, lowest cost foldable Hi-Fi wireless headphones on the market" the model HD901 is also Mixcder's least expensive headphone - their most expensive model, the E9, only costs $59 (current discount from $119 MSRP).

So, what do you get in for $19.95? First off, you get a headphone built around 40mm dynamic drivers with electronics from CSR and 4.2 Bluetooth. Battery life is listed at 8-hours, which should be enough to get through most of a day. While wired as well as wireless capability is a pretty standard included feature, the addition of an SD card slot and the ability to play directly from that card, is an unusual added attraction on the HD901 that I have not seen very often, especially on an entry-level headphone. One thing the HD901 does lack is an active noise reduction circuit.

AR-BudgetHeadphonesCOlors225.jpgAs you might expect, the packaging is minimal - you get a nice easily recyclable beige cardboard box. Inside you'll find the headphones along with an instruction pamphlet, 3.5mmaudio cable, and micro USB charging cable.

The reason the DC901s are so lightweight, weighing only five ounces, is because they are all-plastic, including the headband and enclosures. Compared with the Audio Technica ATH M-50x BT wireless headphones the HD901 seem almost flimsy. They fold up into a fairly compact state, but during the folding you will hears a click as the plastic catch releases the earcups from their open position. This does not inspire confidence that these will be around for "the long haul," but during the review period I did not notice any deterioration or loosening of the connection, however.

AR-mixcder2a.jpgPairing with several portable devices went smoothly, although I wish the instruction book's illustrations were clearer. Unlike Mixcder's more fully-featured offerings, the HD901 does not have any noise reduction circuitry, which makes it less ideal for airplane where you need to attenuate outside noise, but handy if you need your tunes while biking or walking out in the world.

The HD901 are an on-ear rather than an over-ear fit. Their fit is similar to the original Sennheiser Momentum series, which were also on-ear. The side pressure was sufficient to ensure that even vigorous head-shaking didn't encourage the HD901 to move.

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The range of adjustability was excellent - the headband could be shortened for even smaller heads than mine and had about 60% more extension available for larger craniums. Although the earpads aren't large, they were sufficiently soft and form-fitting to make a comfortable occluded seal.

Connected to my iPhone SE the HD901 had more than adequate volume near the halfway point of the phone's volume level bar. After a bit more trouble connecting to the FIIO M11, it too, paired correctly. As you would expect, there was no difference in the sound quality between the iPhone and the M11 because the HD901 was the limiting factor in fidelity, not the source.

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The sound was clean with no noticeable distortion and a nice smooth upper midrange with some upper-end roll-off, but the bass had a pervasive plastic coloration and somewhat congested dynamics. If you crave low bass, there was precious little to be had, instead you get a bit overly rich mid-bass. I would rate the sound as pleasant but grayish with a medium resolution level compared with reference-level headphones. 

For around $20 the Mixcder HD901 delivers slightly above mediocre sonics coupled with a decent feature set in a very comfortable package. If you need a "better than nothing" Bluetooth headphones for those times when you want to travel light and cheap. Given what the HD901 gets right, it makes an attractive alternative to other more expensive headphones. And at $20 a pop you can afford to lose them...

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