Blue’s Mo-Fi headphones look and work unlike anything before

What do Shure, Sennheiser, Audio Technica and AKG all have in common? They all make excellent microphones … and headphones. Now, Blue Microphones, a relative newcomer to the world of microphone makers, has followed suit with the debut of its Mo-Fi headphones, a full-size set of cans with a built-in analog amplifier that is meant to lift a heavy load from your device’s shoulders so you can enjoy better sound. But that’s not all that make these headphones unique.

One look at the Mo-Fi, and it’s clear someone at Blue was out to reinvent the headphone. With more joints and hinges than an Amish furniture factory, a dial for adjusting clamping force, and a glossy gunmetal grey exterior, the Mo-Fi are not only one of the most adjustable headphones we’ve ever seen, they also look like they came straight off a page from the steampunk style guide.

Beyond the unique exterior design lay a suite of technologies Blue claims will radically change your listening experience. Built into each ear cup is a super-sized 50mm driver, and each of those drivers is powered by a built-in analog amplifier, which draws its juice from a rechargeable battery with an estimated 12-hour run-time. To help preserve that battery, the Mo-Fi will automatically power down when not in use. Thankfully, the use of the amp (and therefore the battery) isn’t necessary. The headphones work in passive mode just like any other headphone.

The idea behind the Mo-Fi’s built-in amplifier is that, by taking a bunch of the workload off of a device like a smartphone or tablet, the source device is able to deliver a cleaner audio signal to the headphones. The Mo-Fi’s amplifier then takes that signal and amplifies it to be played back through those 50mm drivers we mentioned earlier. In addition to straight-up amplification, Blue does provide an “On+” mode, which is meant to boost bass slightly. Don’t expect a Beats-style head pounding, though. Blue designed the bass boost to be fairly gentle, adding just enough richness to the low end to fill out what might be an otherwise anemic-sounding song.

There isn’t any active noise-cancelling here, either — that’s just not the Mo-Fi’s bag. But the earcups do offer some considerable passive noise isolation so with that, and a little help from your favorite tunes, you should have no problem drowning out your office neighbor, a plane engine, or fellow riders on the bus or train.

We’ve had the Mo-Fi in our offices for several weeks now, and have found that they certainly sound excellent, but we’re a little concerned with how hefty and cumbersome they can be. We’ll have more details coming soon in our full review.

Get our Top Stories delivered to your inbox: