Mixr headphone by Dr. Dre - review by Dale
Youtube review: http://youtu.be/UD6RfLz1Z84
Sources: iPhone4 alone, iPhone4 with v-moda Verza DAC/amp, various computers using the HRT Microstreamer DAC/amp and the Microstreamer's headphone out.
First impression of the Beats Mixr: Bass! The kind you don't have to quibble about. It's there in abundance for any conceivable need you might have. That aside, I see this Mixr as 2 headphones in one (a bargain BTW) - the extra-bass model for gaming, TV action film, house and other bass-centric music, and the hi-fi model (using bass reduction) for symphonies, folk and acoustic, jazz, rock/pop/metal, and other such delicate genres. Unless otherwise noted, all comments below apply to the Mixr using bass reduction, since I listen to music only, and my tastes are mostly towards neutral reproduction.
The Mixr's sound is slightly dark, since even with bass reduction as noted above, the lower frequencies' emphasis produces a darker overall tonality than the average high fidelity headphone. The reasons I believe that the Mixr is a 2-headphones-in-1 bargain is because 1) The Mixr's sound using bass reduction is excellent, with no bothersome peaks or dips anywhere in the music frequency spectrum; 2) The sound played flat (no EQ) provides the extra bass that gets lost in many portable use situations - outdoors or on public transport for example; and 3) Where most "bassy" headphones don't have the extra strength in the deep bass that they have in the upper bass, and using bass reduction with those headphones results in a weak lower bass, the Mixr's lower bass remains solid with good impact. The only other headphone I recall having this good of a bass response is the v-moda M100.
The overall sound of the Beats Mixr is quite lush, and very smooth from top to bottom. I don't remember reading tech reviews on the various Beats headphones, other than watching interviews with Dr. Dre and noting that he's personally involved with the music industry as well as with the gear that people use to play that music. Unlike some reviewers who go into minute detail about the many aspects of sound the customer is likely to experience with their new headphone, I stick to the things I can explain - the things that anyone can hear on their music player, computer, or portable headphone amp etc. Besides having a bass response that's solid and detailed (given the things I noted above), and a midrange that's just right (neither forward nor recessed), the Mixr's treble is also ideal - just strong enough with enough detail for reproducing the fine upper harmonic detail in voices and instruments, but not so strong as to make sibilants or other treble irritations from lower-quality music tracks bothersome.
The Mixr's soundstage seems at least average, which is good for a closed-back headphone. Isolation also seems average for a closed headphone, and the leakage is very low - low enough that playing the Mixr at a decent volume level in a cubicle next to other cubicles in a quiet office should not be a problem. The music track examples listed below will tell my impressions of the Mixr's sound with that particular music. If you should happen to read other reviews on the Mixr that describe either the mids or treble as recessed, consider that those reviewers are playing the Mixr with the bass full up and that I'm using bass reduction. The reason I'm not reviewing the sound of the Mixr played flat (no EQ) is because many other reviewers have already done that, and I want to provide an alternative for customers who'd like to have a headphone like the Beats Mixr, but wouldn't like extra-strong bass.
The Beats Mixr comes in several colors, and my video review shows the green color version I purchased. The Mixr seems to be mostly metal, but some of the outer earcup or headband parts may be plastic. The fact that I can't tell which means it's pretty well made. The earpads are round, and the holes in the center over the drivers are 1.5 inches in diameter. So the earpads are on-ear, not around-ear. The headband clamp is pretty strong, but I got used to that the first day. The earpads push on the outer ear parts because of the clamping pressure, and some people may find them uncomfortable at first. I think most people who are used to headphones will adjust to the Mixr eventually and find it comfortable enough. The 4-ft. straight cable is detachable and single-side entry, but it can be plugged into either earcup. The other end for the computer or music player is an Apple-style right-angle miniplug. A second cable that's partly coiled is also provided, along with a very nice very small hard-shell carrycase.
The Mixr cable has a one-button control with mic about 6 inches down from the earcup, and with my iPhone4 it does stop, start, and skip to next track. In case of cable failure, any generic miniplug to miniplug cable could be used, which is very convenient.
In other reviews I've done I've included the following music examples with comments about how the headphones sound with each track. My suggestion is instead of reading each one as an absolute unto itself, you could compare my notes here to other reviews and see how the Mixr compares with each individual track.
Animotion - Obsession (1980's New Wave/Techno): The upper bass synth should have good detail and tone, and both male and female vocals should sound natural, without favoring either. The Mixr plays this perfectly.
Ben Heit Quartet - Suite-Magnet and Iron (Jazz with a Bebop flavor): The piano that leads off should sound realistic, and the sax should sound soft. The Mixr plays this music extremely well.
Cath Carroll - Moves Like You (1980's New Wave/Techno): This track's percussion and voice should be crisp and well-balanced, and there should be a good sense of space or soundstage around the voices and instruments. The Mixr reproduces the space and detail very well.
Chromatics - I'm On Fire (Synth-Pop, female lead): Another track with plenty of space around the voice and instruments, making for a very pleasant stereo image. The voice sounds good and the tambourine in the background is clearly identifiable.
Crystal Castles - Wrath of God (Electro-Pop): The moderate level of bass in this track should reproduce with good detail, and the ambient electronic effects should maintain their separation and never congeal into a glassy, hard, or "ringy" sound as some headphones might produce if they have uncorrected resonances. The Mixr does this one just right.
DJ Shadow - Building Steam With a Grain of Salt (Electronic/DJ): This track opens with what sounds like very high and very low piano notes, and those high notes particularly might ring a few resonances in lesser headphones. The Mixr handles those notes well, and reproduces the ambient voices with good tone and balance.
Franz Ferdinand - Ulysses (Pop-Rock): The moderate level of bass in this track should reproduce with good detail, and the percussion and voice should be crisp and well-balanced. The Mixr makes this sound like what I imagine the original producers heard when they mixed it.
Halie Loren - Sway (Jazz vocal): Bass instrument( here may sound boomy with some headphones, but the Mixr handles this perfectly. The trumpet should sound natural but soft, and the voice should have the right presence without sounding recessed or too forward. The Mixr does a great job in both respects.
Hans Zimmer - Dark Knight-Aggressive Expansion (Soundtrack): The percussion hits hard here, and the Mixr handles it well. The bass tones beginning around 0:45 into the track are the ultra-deep "shuddery" kind that require good deep bass response from a headphone, and the Mixr reproduces those deep notes even with bass reduction enabled as described above.
Kaskade - 4am (Electro-House): The bass that kicks in around 1:01 into the track is subtle, but the Mixr gets it right. The percussion and female voice should balance well with neither overwriting the other, and the Mixr aces this.
Katy B - Perfect Stranger (R&B-House-Garage): The heavy bass that begins at 0:27 into this track is played very well by the Mixr. The voice is slightly forward, but it doesn't overpower the instruments or get lost in the mix. The Mixr balances the different elements in this music extremely well.
Machine Gun Kelly - All We Have (Rap/Hip-Hop): The heavy bass beats that begin at 0:23 into the track should sound like drum impacts, although they're not sharp impacts. The male and female voices should have a good balance and not overpower the music or sound recessed. The Mixr plays this as good as can be expected given the limited quality of the recording.
Massive Attack - Angel (Trip-Hop): This track begins with a steady low-frequency sound and some solid deep-bass impacts. The voices should blend well with the music and have just the right presence, although the recorded quality of the instruments isn't great. The Mixr plays this as good as can be expected given the limited quality of the recording.
Morcheeba - Bullet Proof (Trip-Hop): Bright percussion and medium-strength bass impacts make up most of this, with some dance-club spoken intonations thrown in. The Mixr renders the percussion treble correctly (not too bright, not harsh), and the voices sound just right.
Peter Tosh - Get Up Stand Up (Reggae): The bass here has a decent but moderate impact, and the lead and backup voices have good separation that's not too narrow or wide. The Mixr renders the bass with good detail and the voices sound very natural.
Porcupine Tree - Trains (Pop-Rock): This track opens with some detailed string sounds and a forward-sounding male voice with a higher-than-average register. There are also some "clip-clop" effects starting at 3:19 that should sound like they were made with wooden blocks of some kind. The Mixr reproduces all of these sounds faithfully.
Rachmaninoff - Prelude in C-Sharp Minor Op3 No2 (Classical, Piano): Grand piano played mechanically from an original recording by the master himself. The bass is light here, but the piano tone is good quality, and the Mixr plays these notes very well.
Scarlatti-Kipnis - Sonata in E Major K381 (Classical, Harpsichord): The harpsichord here is fairly bright and highly detailed, and the Mixr renders the tones and transients superbly.
Trombone Shorty - Backatown (Jazz-Funk): The deep bass impacts here are unusually strong, and work very well with the horns and other instruments. The Mixr delivers the impacts with proper weight, and makes the horns sound real.
William Orbit - Optical Illusion (Billy Buttons Mix) (Electronic): This is about as close as I want to get to easy-listening music. The string(?) tones beginning at 0:18 are subtle, but clearly reproduced by the Mixr. The bass isn't very strong, but still adds a good underpinning to the music. The short poetic rap at 4:14, preceded by an etherial female voice, sounds so perfect that this track could easily have been mixed using the Mixr headphone.