REVIEW – Mu6. See what they did with that brand name? Could this set be your new music listening device? The Mu6 open ear headphones have a unique design but how do they sound compared to in-ear and over the ear designs?
What is it
The Mu6 Ring is open-ear, Bluetooth audio, behind the head, mic equipped, band-style headphones that fit above the neck. Band-style as in configuration, not as in Dave Matthews, Led Zeppelin, or Aerosmith. The band holds the small speakers in front of the ears which makes this device unique.
What’s in the box
- One Mu6 ring open ear headphone
- Charging cable
- Reflective strip
- Carry bag
- Instruction sheet
- Impedance: 20 ohms
- Sensitivity: 112 +-3db
- Frequency response: 20-20,000Hz
- Bluetooth: 5.0
- Bluetooth range: ~10 meters
- Power input: 5.0V
- Battery capacity: 200mAH
- Talk time: 9 hours
- Audio playback: 9 hours
- Standby time: 200 hours
- Charging port: Micro-USB
- Weight: 1.2 oz
- Color: Dark blue
- Water resistant (website says ‘waterproof’ but no IP rating is stated)
Design and features
These lightweight, band style headphones intrigued me as they are the first I’ve seen that put the sound source in front of the ear. Notice there are small, rectangular ports which I assumed were speakers, but they face forward, in front of the ear. And as best as I can discern those ports are not where most of the sound comes from, so I’m trusting the engineers with their purpose. These headphones work best if worn as pictured on the box.
Here’s the cool package guy showing how this headset is worn. The sound modules / speakers ratchet from a range straight out from the band to just beyond 90 degrees towards the ear.
There is one multi-function control switch on the right side of the band just before the sound module. The forward part of the rocker does up volume or advance to next track, and the back half is for down volume or previous track.
I quickly discovered that if I pressed the dash mark too hard to pair or turn the device on or off, nothing happened. A gentle press is needed but no more than that.
I found on and off even easier than described in the directions. ‘On’ is achieved by a gentle press on the dash mark until a voice says ‘Power on’. It next says ‘Connected’ if the device was previously paired. To turn off, hold the dash mark until the voice says ‘Power off’. Simple.
To answer a phone call, single press the dash mark. And a single press ends a phone call.
Installation and Setup
Pairing mode is initiated with a long hold on the center dash-mark on the control rocker on the right side of the headphones. The dash does not mean ‘minus’. My phone sensed the Mu6 quickly and pairing was fast and easy.
Testing and observations
Those ports in front of the sound modules triggered my curiosity. So I tried the headphones upside down with the sound modules extended straight, so the ports would aim down at my ear passages. The sound was not as good as when worn as directed.
Some sound definitely comes through the module itself although these are not ‘bone conduction’ headsets. The company describes this technology as ‘air conduction’. Love that marketing lingo. Most headphones are probably ‘air conduction’ unless they are in-ear style.
The Mu6 Ring open ear headphones did great for news, talk radio, podcasts and listening to music casually when walking around, doing chores or working out. But to really appreciate your music, I think you’d need to consider in-ear or over the ear audio devices.
When I’m working out I don’t care as much about the super high fidelity of my sound source. I’m mostly focused on the workout and listen more for enjoyment than would a strict audiophile. So I enjoyed using this headset during much of my daily activity including phone calls. But when it was time to really focus on music, such as rehearsing at home (I play drums), hearing a piece of music in preparation for a performance, etc., I reached for a set that majored on good music reproduction.
People around you are likely to hear what you are listening to. My wife could hear the lyrics to some Fleetwood Mac tunes I was using for testing and the volume level was not set dangerously high.
Mu6 advertises this set almost exclusively as a workout headphone. Among the website pics there is a man and woman practicing boxing while wearing the Rings. Don’t use the Ring in the boxing ring or during MMA workouts but otherwise, go to it.
This was a very comfortable set for me during exercise. As the Ring ‘settles’ during movement it seemed to make my ears stick out just a bit, but no one ever snickered or pointed. The Ring is very visible so hopefully it got the blame. This was not a big problem and if I ratcheted the sound modules one click forward it helped alleviate the ear bend.
I would rate the Mu6 Ring set as ‘good’ for casual listening of classical music as an example, but only ‘ok’ for rock, latin and other genres in which you’d like to hear full deep bass and/or clear, high, highs (cymbals, shaker, tambourine, etc.). I know, classical has bass tones too, so I confess, the low end in that genre would not be optimized with the Mu6 Ring.
What I like
The Mu6 Ring is extremely comfortable and given the way I listen to workout audio (music and news/talk) the set is suitably good. I’m more used to over the ear headphones with the band over the top of the head, and in-ear wired or wireless styles. But once I got used to the slightly different feel, the Ring was almost unnoticeable. Several times people hesitated speaking to me when they saw me wearing this headphone that I had forgotten was on my head.
During my testing I trended towards using the Mu6 during workouts, listening to podcasts and news, and for Zoom conferences and phone calls. If I wanted to listen to music, and really focus on the music, I used other devices instead.
What I’d change
- Perfect sound across the spectrum of low to high would be optimal, but the price would reflect that performance.
- The micro-USB port rubber seal plug is sometimes difficult to open.
- The reflective strip could be omitted. It’s too small for real night time safety.
- The Mu6 website says “No mobile phone needed, preset three operation schemes. Easy commands such as play, pause, volume, and voice assistant.” A phone, tablet or laptop for a source of audio is definitely needed. The website script should focus on the onboard controls.
If you need a comfortable headphone & mic combination that gives suitable music and voice reproduction when you’re active, but also allows for unimpeded environmental sound during use, the Mu6 Ring could move to the top of your list.
Where to buy: Amazon
Source: The sample for this review was provided by Mu6.