Shenzhen Aoni Electronic has kindly asked me to write a review for its Mixcder E10 Noise Cancelling Headset, now available on Amazon.com. What follows is a subjective review of the headset, based on my experience with gaming, podcasting and music.
Choirs emerge from silence. A couple of logos fade in from black, as the beautiful theme of Ori and the Blind Forest fills my ears and flows straight to my heart. Colours spread all over the screen. The main menu appears. I’m in love.
These were but the very first moments of Ori’s journey and I hadn’t even started the game yet. But I was already in for more; and I feel like the headphones I used played a gigantic part in all this.
Great for gaming… At one condition
I must say I approached the Mixcder E10 set with a degree of skepticism. I mean, a Chinese audio brand, right? What could go wrong, right? And my first impression wasn’t overwhelmingly positive.
You can expect most mid-tier headphones to have at least a decent audio quality, nowadays. The most zestful audio enthusiasts will tell you that wired headsets are the way to go, but I’d argue that audio technologies have become so advanced, you’ll barely notice any difference whatsoever in wireless headphones. If you’re looking for a perfect, top-tier experience, perhaps you shouldn’t be scouting for mid-tier headsets to begin with.
Me, I don’t necessarily care about all that. Who cares if the microphone has an impedance between 150–250 ohms or not? Everyone has different needs. All I wanted was to enjoy (and I mean, really enjoy) my gaming sessions with a good audio experience, and Ori’s intro was enough to enclose my heart within a warm clutch.
There was one problem from the outset, though. Bass was too pumped, compromising the treble frequencies for no discernible reason. That first test had me visibly disappointed, especially considering that it only happened in wireless mode. Could there be such a huge difference between wired and wireless on this headset?
Then I turned off noise cancelling. I sighed in relief.
I played 9-something hours of Ori, most of which with the Mixcder E10 on. It did not fail me once. I must give credit to the amazing soundtrack for that, but the audio quality was clear and balanced enough to enable me to really delve into Ori’s world. The sound effects fell a bit flat on the ear, which made me think the Mixcder E10 is probably best with music-heavy experiences.
But that problem with noise cancelling… Oh, boy.
Better with music on
The problem I barely mentioned with noise cancelling stays. There’s a reason most of these headphones cost what they cost — making good use of the noise cancelling technology is expensive and, if you don’t spend what you should, you can easily end up with a mediocre set. The way I think Mixcder E10 works is by suppressing most treble frequencies straight in your ear, which, yes, does cancel the external noise, but also provides an awfully unbalanced listening experience. It can be helpful to an extent in the Tube/Underground or in very noisy places, but I would not recommend using the Mixcder E10 noise cancelling in other contexts.
I tried a couple more games with the Mixcder E10 and my overall general impression was confirmed: the Mixcder E10’s performance is above average for gaming, but dammit if you need a good soundtrack to enjoy it. Which isn’t necessarily positive.
Mixcder E10 performs best when music is in place. Sound effects come off as kinda weak, which can give you a droopy excitement if you’re in the middle of a multi-sensory shooting game. Jumping around the forest with Ori and Sein was among the best gaming experiences in this generation, but imagine being slingshot into a fully-immersive battlefield all around you, and realising that sound isn’t as deep as it could be. But it must be stated that the Mixcder E10 isn’t exactly a gaming headset to begin with.
If you’re willing to ignore the noise cancelling issue, the device is actually pretty good in what it does. Music feels rich, clear and pristine, with little to no amount of audio distortion in place. I stress-tested it with the Circle of Life from the Broadway version of the Lion King, and it sent chills down my spine every single time. Even at the loudest volumes, and even when on Bluetooth connections.
So yeah, at least your Disney music tastes are covered, I guess.
Forget podcasting, though
I have deliberately avoided talking about the microphone until now. There is no better way to put it; the Mixcder E10 microphone sucks ass. Do not use it for audio messages on WhatsApp, do not use it for recording audio reminders, and for the love of God do not use it to record your own voice for podcasts. It will end badly. You’ve been warned.
When I started using the microphone, I had the blunt impression it had been included in the headset only because they had to. It is arguably nice to have, but even your phone’s microphone will be a better choice for recording anything. It does its job for phone calls — in that it makes your voice audible. But it’s neither a good quality input, nor a clear experience for listeners on the other side.
Overall, this is most definitely the worst aspect of the Mixcder E10: at the price it is sold for (which is $89,99 RRP), I was expecting a much better input quality. You can find gaming headsets on Amazon for $15-$20 which will depressingly have a superior microphone quality.
But if all you care about is an above-average listening experience, the Mixcder E10 has got you covered. Which was undoubtedly a more than pleasant surprise.
My overall impressions with the Mixcder E10 weren’t overwhelmingly positive, but they weren’t negative either. Jumping around the forest as Ori was an unforgettable experience and I still believe the headset played a huge part in it.
If you love listening to podcasts like I do, you can rest assured too; human voices felt clear and rich in depth, and there was no discernible ‘tin-can’ effect when a voice spoke or sang a line. I listened to a few episodes of the Glass Cannon Podcast with the Mixcder E10 and I’m definitely satisfied with the result.
So long as you only use it for gaming, music and listening to podcasts, you will not be disappointed with the Mixcder E10. It is a more than adequate headset for most of your geeky needs, which is fair for its price.
Speaking about the price, you can get the Mixcder E10 at a special discounted price ($80,99) on Amazon.com, but only until May 31, 2020. All you have to do is input the code MIXCDER10 at checkout and you’re in for a treat.
Just remember to keep that damn noise cancelling off.