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The Mixcder E9 noise-cancelling headphones eschew some of the things that drive up the cost of premium active noise-cancelling headphones. A big chunk of a premium brand’s $350-plus price tag can be attributed to the high-end materials used in the construction of sleeky designed cans: Genuine leather, versus synthetic material, for example; and metal components versus plastic.
If you’re willing to give up some of those things, the Mixcder E9 deliver very good sound and active noise cancellation at a price that won’t bust a modest budget. Do they perform as well as a $350 set of ANC cans? Nope. But they sound darned good for $70 ANC headphones.
Smart design tradeoffs
The Mixcder E9’s build quality is consistent with a budget-oriented pair of headphones, but you will encounter a few high-value design choices. The lower part of the headband and the ear cups are made of plastic, for instance; but the click-adjustable headband is fabricated from a more durable metal. And the headband is wrapped in imitation leather, but the underside has just enough padding. That said, I found that the headband did apply a slight bit of pressure on the top of my head after long listening sessions. The E9 are relatively light, with mild clamping pressure.
The ear cups themselves are generously padded. The foam padding doesn’t keep its shape, however, and collapses quite easily. This led to the grilles over the driversille sitting closer to my ears than I prefer. I tend to gravitate toward over-the-ear headphones form a more stable igloo around my ears. As a result of this fit, the Mixcder E9 left me fatigued after long listening sessions. And on a couple long trips, I needed to take them off several times.
The Mixcder E9 are ergonimically well designed. The right ear cup has volume controls, power, and a Micro-USB charging port (I would have preferred Mixcder follow the connection trend to USB-C). But the buttons are slightly raised and well suited for tactile use. I never found myself second-guessing which button I was pressing. There’s no support, however, for digital assistants such as Siri or Google Assistant.
The left ear cup has a switch for turning active noise cancellation (ANC) on or off, and there’s a 3.5mm analog input for wired applications.
Surprisingly travel friendly
The Mixcder E9 are surprisingly travel friendly, although the folded footprint isn’t as compact as much more-expensive models from Bose and Sony. The ear cups do fold flat, however, so you can carry the headphones in a supplied, smartly designed hardshell carrying case.
And I really liked the nylon-covered case, which includes an elastic band to keep the headphones in place. They won’t fall out if you unzip the case in a rush with the headphones upside down. My only comment is that Mixcder should have also provided an an internal pocket for accessories. I’d call that a missed opportunity that I hope the company will address in the future.
Active Noise Cancellation
When it comes to consumer ANC headphones, in my experience, there’s Bose, Sony, and—everyone else. Yes, the technology gap is that big.
That being said, for $99 (and a street price that’s even lower), the Mixcder E9’s ANC is solid, but definitely not first class. In my testing on trains and city streets, the Mixcder E9 eliminated or significantly reduced HVAC noise, outside sounds, and train rumblings. I didn’t have the opportunity to test the Mixcder E9 on an airplane during my review period.
How effective the Mixcder’s ANC was depended on the environment. If you’re someone who is primarily concerned about taking the edge off HVAC-related noise that dominates most travel, you’ll generally be well-pleased with the E9.
That said, the Mixcder E9 won’t completely eliminate all HVAC nose, the way today’s top-performing—or even upper-tier—ANC headphones will. On two six-plus-hour trips I took them on, for example, I traveled with both the Mixcder E9 and B&W’s PX noise-cancelling headphones. Comparatively speaking, the B&W PX trounced the Mixcder’s performance, putting me in an absolute cone of silence. But if you’re not prepared to pay four times as much to acquire B&W’s cans, does that really matter?
Budget price, not budget sound
ANC performance is only half the equation. The Mixcder E9 may fall into the budget price range, but the audio perfdormance it delivers is anything but cheap.
I tested the Mixcder E9 streaming primarily Tidal Master and Hi-Fi tracks on an iPhone XS. My consistent impression of the Mixcder’s sound was that I found it provided surprisingly good sound for the price.
Bass is a real strong quality of these headphones—impressing me on track after track. The Mixcder E9 announced that it was no bass pretender on Imagine Dragons “Believer.” The opening bass lines hit with great punch. While the Mixcder wasn’t the last word in bass detail and resolution, the headphones did an excellent job considering their price tag.
Holly Cole’s “Train song” is an audiophile favorite and a great test of a speaker’s or headphone’s bass performance. It features Cole’s vocals with a double bass. The Mixcder E9 performed admirably, providing very good control of the bass lines, although it couldn’t muster enough oomph on the deepest bass notes on this track.
The Mixcder E9’s midrange, on the other hand, tends to be a bit syrupy; and I found the top end rolled off a bit too early. Trumpets on Aaron Copeland’s Fanfare for the Modern Man didn’t quite have their usual sparkle. Guitar chords on Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper’s “Shallow” likewise lacked their typical snap.
A solid value proposition
Anyone on a tight budget looking for a good-sounding wireless headphone with active noise cancellation should give the Mixcder E9 a serious look. You won’t get premium materials or cutting-edge design, but you will be pleased with what you get for much less than $100.
Best Prices Today: Mixcder E9 noise-cancelling headphones