Review: MU6 Space 2 noise-cancelling headphones. Against leaders Sony and Bose what’s it worth?
Just like the market for ultra-lightweight Airpods, the market for noise reducing smart headphones is booming. Bose with QC35 and Sony with WH-1000XM3 are setting the standard. Both manufacturers have succeeded in creating ergonomic devices that effectively isolate ambient noise with audio quality degradation under control. But the competition is getting more and more intense. Both the historical brands such as JBL, Sennheiser or PLT as well as newcomers such as MU6 are introducing products with the same performance and lower prices.
Is there still a place left in the market for high-end wireless noise reduction headphones? That’s what MU6 thinks as it launches its SPACE 2 headphones, the second product of this young company born in 2016.
It will have been financed like its MU6 SPACE 1 in a participative way via IndiGogo and presented in January at CES 2020 in Las Vegas.
The MU6 SPACE 2 active noise reduction headphones in brief
- Two-stage noise reduction (ANC) with first-class technical components (Yamaha DSP)
- Audiophile design
- Lightweight and comfortable (breathable ear foam, zero pressure)
- Foldable design
- Tactile controls
- Auto pause
- Transparency mode
- Integration with Alexa, SIRI, Google Home
- USB-C connection
- 800mah battery, 4 Hours charge, 20 to 24 hours use
- Noise reduction is a key feature of the new headphones, and the MU6 boasts that it outperforms the leading models from Bose and Sony in noise reduction comparisons.
AESTHETIC AND COMFORTABLE
Mu6 doesn’t break any codes when it comes to looks compared to the competition. Its SPACE 2 helmet is sober. It breathes quality with a qualitative feeling in hand.
Its weight remains light, 297 grams.
Black in color, the MU6 Space 2 is an imposing on-ear headphone like the Sony or Bose headphones. Its adjustable headband of 2 * 3.5 cm allows it to fit even small heads.
The pressure is moderate which contributes to comfort. The foam on the headband follows the shape of the skull, which allows you to wear it for several hours.
In order not to get mixed up on the direction in which the headphones are worn, large letters L and R are printed on the inside of the earcups. Above the letter L, the helmet removal sensor can be distinguished as follows
The pads are comfortable. They cover the ears well. They measure approximately 65 * 40 mm and the material of the pads is breathable.
The ear cushions can be oriented, which contributes to comfort. It is also practical for wearing on the neck or for storage. Once the ear cushions are flattened and folded, the space in the rigid box provided is super optimized
To control the headset, two multi-function buttons are first accessible on the left side. The first one with a mini LED turns on the power, connects the bluetooth and announces the battery level by voice in English. The second allows you to change the operating modes between active sound attenuation, deactivation and transparent mode (to hear outdoors). This second button can also launch a voice assistant (Siri, Alexa, Google) via a double press.
The right earpiece is also used for piloting but in a different way. By sliding your fingers across its face, you can increase the volume or change tracks.
By tapping via the palm of the hand on the headset, playback is paused or played.
A long tap of this palm activates the transparency mode, i.e. the ability to hear the outside via the built-in microphone.
The headset has a 2.5 mm jack port for use outside. I think it’s silly not to have a more standard 3.5 mm jack. Charging is done via a USB-C connection.
Comfort and ergonomics are important for a headset and on this point, MU6 did a good job. It takes a little time, however, to master the gestures to change track or volume.
Provided it is configured in the application, playback pauses automatically as soon as the headphones are removed from the ears and resumes automatically as soon as they are replaced. This feature is not available from Bose, which may be surprisingly convenient.
A STILL MINIMAL APPLICATION
MU6 provides a mobile application for Android or iOS with its headset. However, at this date, it offers only few functionalities. Unlike the screenshots published on the official website, the current application does not have an equalizer function to refine the audio output.
The noise reduction level is the main criterion. It is configurable on two levels, normal or loud. It is also possible to disable the automatic pause and sleep mode.
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the Android application allows you to update the headset to version 2, which is not offered on the Apple version. This is a bit tedious in connection with the overload of the update cloud I think.
The MU6 headset is Bluetooth version 5 compatible without NFC help. It is necessary to press a button for a long time which is less ergonomic than a dedicated button.
The latency is low which makes it possible to watch a movie without fear of having voices too out of sync with the image. The MU6 SPACE 2 headphones can therefore be used with some limitations on a TV.
REAL NOISE REDUCTION
In addition to comfort, audio quality and noise reduction are the main reasons to buy headphones such as the BOSE QC35 II or SONY WH-1000XM3. On the MU6 Space 2 side, comfort is already assured but what about the rest?
Level audio restitution, I am satisfied. The headphones use a pair of 40mm diaphragms. The general audio signature is pleasant, quite neutral in the end with bass that is not too overwhelming. The acoustic titles have a lot of relief with very clear instruments. The stereophony is wide. I felt a good separation of the channels.
Compared to a wired listening, it has no difference.
For the noise reduction part, the closed design of the MU6 contributes automatically. The headphones isolate strongly as soon as they are placed on the ears. But it is naturally the electronic noise reduction part that is of interest on this model.
MU6 uses microphones placed on the earpieces for this purpose. They pick up ambient noise and a circuit cancels it out by producing inverted frequencies.
The noise reduction of the SPACE 2 headphones can be adjusted on two levels via the application. From the first level, the effect is audible. Many outside noises disappear, but some continue to pass in certain frequencies.
I personally own a Plantronics PLT BackBeat Pro 2 headphone with excellent audio quality and the noise reduction is ridiculous compared to the MU6.
To compare with the leaders, I went to the store before the lockdown to compare with a Sony WH-1000XM3 and a Bose QC35. In this subjective test that was too fast, the MU6 SPACE 2 headphones convinced me of its filtering of ambient noise and ability to compete with these high-end products. I would have needed more time to be able to make a hierarchy.
This noise attenuation has no effect on the audio quality.
There is, as with the competitors, a slight hiss when the noise attenuation is on.
The integrated 800 mAh battery provides around 20 hours of use, noise reduction activated and median volume. This is consistent with the competition. The SPACE 2 recharges in about 4 hours.
The headset can also be used as a hands-free kit for troubleshooting. The quality is correct for the callers.
What’s it worth?
The MU6 Space 2 is unambiguously a good helmet which was not an obvious choice. As soon as you put them on your ears, you enter as in a cocoon quite well isolated from ambient noise. The listening quality is good whatever the type of music, which is also important. Then the comfort is there.
However, I am disappointed by the MU6 application which offers too few features at this time.
It rivals the BOSE QC35 and Sony WH-1000XM3 in noise reduction, I’m not far from thinking so, but I’d have to make a comparison again.
But at the current price level, 200€ on Amazon (249€ – 20% coupon), it is in my opinion too expensive.
Its price is too close to the market references for those looking for good deals considering that the MU6 brand is still too little known.
I therefore recommend to wait because the prospects of decline are certain to consider the price at the time of its launch. At less than €150 and that will be a new deal.