In an impressive first effort, Moshi delivers great-sound on-ear headphones at a reasonable price.
Moshi’s new Avanti headphones (MSRP $200) are all about rich, intensely detailed sound—the kind you did not know was even present in the song you’ve listened to hundreds of times with lesser earphones, ear buds, or through your computer or TV speakers.
Moshi, a company that specializes in mobile tech accessories, has expanded its product line to bring its first on-ear headphones to the market. In terms of style, the Avanti fits right into the company’s elegant minimalist aesthetic. A silver stainless-steel headband features a sleek slider adjustment to fit your head, and the attractive ear cups are available in either Caramel Beige or Burgundy Red. The cups turn in on the frame with a ratchet movement, making them more compact for storage in the included gray canvas linen-like carrying case.
Avanti’s sturdy but supple cord attaches with two gold-plated connectors—one for each rectangular ear cup—before joining with your computer or mobile device via a single 3.5mm plug. A pair of 40mm neodymium drivers deliver claimed frequency response of 15Hz to 22kHz with sensitivity of 109 +/- 3dB @ 1kHz.
Overall, the sound was well balanced with extremely crisp tones and a wide dynamic range that captured depth in vocal narrative as well as musical selections. The Avanti put a fresh spin on the intense, alternating movement of layered, pulsating electronic signals that is Jean Michel Jarre’s Equinoxe. Jangle pop pieces from bands such as REM sounded sweeter to my sensitive drums.
The highs and mids have a lovely, refined brightness making the bass, by comparison, seem a bit more modest—but to my ears—realistic and true. Like most people, I respond to a pumped bass, and certain genres like hard rock and hip hop rely on it.
That said, while the bass might be a little lightweight for hardcore metal or hip hop connoisseurs, I found the headphones punched out the bass just fine, even for selections from artists like Beyonce, Kanye West, and Snoop Dogg. Without putting too fine a point on it, the Avanti headphones do these bass-heavy genres justice without going overboard.
Spoken words sounded crisp, with sounds coming through in TV programs and movies that some people may not automatically pick up. It’s a subtlety, but good programming depends on atmospheric noise. Hearing DCI Jane Tennison question a crime victim while a background TV is playing faintly in the next room through the left ear adds depth to the plot that might otherwise have gone missing.
For music, Avanti headphones often uncovered in-depth tones I had never distinguished before, even in familiar tracks. While these phones are not noise canceling, they are noise isolating which means you can concentrate on the sounds but still connect with what is going on around you. There is very little audio leakage from the headphones, so you can crank up the volume a bit and not annoy your sleeping spouse or your seatmate on the train.
Unlike most headphones, I found Avanti’s puffy rectangular ear pads—made of cruelty-free faux leather—extremely light and comfortable. They weigh in at less than six ounces. I could wear them for long periods of time without my ears going achingly numb, as they typically do with other on-ear headphones. Even when adjusted to their shortest length, however, the silver headband was a smidge too long for my head, hanging the ear pads just a touch lower than I would have preferred.
I had to adjust the position of the headphones a bit in order to hear the best sound, but ultimately they were comfortable. It helped that the ear cups are slightly angled with somewhat flexible positioning so I could adjust the fit. The headband is minimally, and just adequately, padded.
The detachable cable has a built-in remote and microphone that are compatible with most phones and tablets, as well as your computer. The cable and mic work just fine although I missed having volume control: There are just stop and track forward/reverse controls.
I did not test this feature on my review headphones, but for the record, Moshi offers a free audio burn-in tool app for iOS that facilitates the headphone diaphragms reaching optimal performance by playing selections from a cache of tones and frequencies. The burn-in tool is customized for Moshi audio products, but it supports third-party headsets as well.
Moshi’s Avanti headphones are impressive. They are comfortable, they sound great in most listening situations, and they can be used with virtually all Apple devices as well as a number of devices from Samsung, Sony, and HTC. If your listening pleasure is in the normal range, Avanti headphones will meet your needs splendidly.
Jackie is a tech writer and editor in the San Francisco Bay Area. Her specialties include Apple hardware and software, art, design, photography, video, AR, VR and 3D, and a wide range of creative and productivity apps and systems.