Following the Mi Neckband Bluetooth earphone launched at Rs 1,599 in 2019, Mi has now launched the Pro version of this affordable device with the alluring Active Noise Cancellation feature. Priced at Rs 1,799, the Mi Neckband Bluetooth Earphones Pro is one of the cheapest wireless earphones to offer this feature, which has democratized the ANC to the public. In a price-conscious market like India, this is a great move to price devices that go the extra mile to provide attractive features without the need to break bank. The Mi Neckband earphones are ready to compete with the Realme Buds Wireless Pro that comes with the ANC, although they are high priced earphones, and of course you will see the part. Nevertheless, the Mi Neckband Bluetooth Earphones Pro will arouse the interest of users to use the ANC at an affordable price. But are they any better? Let’s delve into our review to find out.
Construction and comfort
As we’ve touched before, the Mi Neckband Bluetooth Earphones Pro competes with the Realme Buds Wireless Pro, as they are both relatively inexpensive wireless ANC-enabled earphones. Now, they certainly don’t look or feel as premium and well-built as Realme Buds Wireless Pro. Although both earphones are primarily made of plastic, the Realme Bud has a smooth matte texture throughout the body. In contrast, Mi earphones feel significantly more plastic and cheaper. The cables are very strong and do not feel premium. But since the price of Mi earphones is below 2K, the low premium build quality gets a pass from us.
The neckband is made of rubber which looks like the most well-made part of the earphone. The top has a textured finish and the bottom that touches your neck is smooth rubber. The weighted modules on both sides have a dual glossy and matte finish The finish of the earphone is within this price range. Buttons, on the other hand, are beautiful and clicky, with good responsiveness. Below the module is a multifunction button, volume + and – buttons and an ANC button.
The right module has all the buttons as well as a micro-USB charging port that is hooked to the bottom of a rubber flap. It is a shame to see the implementation of micro-USB charging for Mi 2021. To get USB-C charging only, we would not mind raising the price by 500 rupees, which allows us to get rid of the extra micro-USB cable. We had to carry, which is annoying because most devices today use USB-C cable.
The earbuds have a matte and glossy finish like the weighted modules and the nozzles of the buds are angled to allow them to fit better. Mi box provides a total of 3 pairs of silicone ear tips. Ear tips have an anti-blockage speaker net design that prevents small particles from entering the device through the speaker net. The back panel of the buds has a round textured appearance and they are also magnetic which allows the two buds to be attached to each other while inactive in the chest.
In terms of comfort, the MI Neckband Bluetooth Earphone Pro is quite good, even in long listening sessions. Fits nice, for the most part. We were able to do light activities and jog around with these buds and they didn’t get loose, which is admirable. When using these buds, there were very few instances where we needed to re-adjust them in our ears. If you find right-sized ear tips, you can be sure that the earphones will be snug and comfortable for a long time.
Unfortunately, though, we found a lack of passive isolation. Although we’ve got a very snug fit with medium-sized tips, environmental noise easily enters when the ANC is off. This has caused some issues with the functionality of the ANC on the device. We can find it in the Performance section of this review.
Priced at Rs 1,799, the Mi Neckband Bluetooth Earphones Pro is a featureless pair of wireless earphones. You get Active Noise Cancellation which suppresses environmental noise and you get ENC (Environmental Noise Cancellation) which restricts the sounds around you being sent to the people you are talking to on the call. Although there is no enclosure or transparency mode, which is available in Realme Buds Wireless Pro.
The earphones come with IPX5 certification, so the earphones can stop sweating and light splashing. Earphones can be used in the gym (unless you sweat a lot) or in light rain without worrying about fluid loss. Mi further stated that the latency of the earphones is low. In our use, we’ve seen minimal delays when streaming content on OTT platforms like Netflix and YouTube.
The earphones come with voice assistant support. You can double-click the multifunction button on the right weighted module to activate the voice assistant on your device. The buttons allow users to perform other functions such as pause / music play, call answering / rejection, volume control, track search, and cycling through ANC and general mode.
Pause / play music once the multi-function button is pressed. Long press on the Volume Plus button moves you to the next track, while long pressing the Volume Minus button takes you back to the previous track. The ANC button at the bottom of the right module switches between ANC and normal mode with a single push. There are no accompanying apps, so you can’t customize these controls. Nevertheless, the controls are fairly intuitive and work quite well.
For connectivity, the earphone comes with Bluetooth v5.0 and supports SBC and AAC codecs. There is no aptX here, but at this price point it is understandable. The wireless connection was strong throughout our test period, with no interruptions or delays.
The 150mAh battery in the earphones is rated for 20 hours of play, according to the company, the volume is set to 50 percent and the ANC is off. We turned on the ANC, tested the earphones, and set the volume to about 60 percent. The earphones lasted a good 16 hours on a single charge, which is quite impressive, especially for the price. If you listen to music without turning on the ANC, you will be able to reach the quoted 20-hour mark before charging the device. It takes about an hour and a half to fully charge the earphones and sadly, there is no fast charging on board.
The Mi Neckband Bluetooth Earphones Pro is powered by a 10mm driver, and the sound signature must be base forward. Earphones have been noticed especially in the bassheds found in drawers in India While being shallow, prickly and lively, our experiments were somewhat overwhelming. Listening to the track Captive By Miley Cyrus ft Dua Lipa, The base beats that begin at the beginning of the track drown out the details in Dua and Miley’s voices. The word is too colorful for low quality, and we hope m showed some restraint here.
Uncompensated Frequency Response Graph – Mi Neckband Bluetooth Earphones Pro (Green) vs. Reference IEM (Orange)
With no beat or low-end instrument presence on vocal-centric tracks, the Mi Neckband Bluetooth Earphones Pro shows a decent amount of detail and presence. Inside Hello By Adele, His voice flies, but the notes below sound a bit cloudy due to the bold expression below. The height is decently presented, although the detail is slightly covered due to the highs and lows and the middle. In Hysteria by Muse, for example, the clapping sounds dull and almost hides in a mix influenced by drums and guitar.
In terms of ANC performance, these are entry-level ANC earphones, so we set our expectations from going straight because they obviously won’t deliver the quality that premium Sony and Bose earphones do. For the price, the Mi Neckband Bluetooth Earphones Pro works as a medium. When the ANC is turned on, it suppresses low-frequency, constant sounds, but they are still audible, with a slight decrease in their intensity. Among other things, high-range sounds such as mechanical keyboard typing, high-speed fan and human voice are not diminished. In fact, they sounded almost as loud as they did when the ANC stopped.
While it’s great to see the Mi bring the ANC to the public at this competitive price point, we hope that the repetition of their next wireless ANC earphones will change something more to calm the surroundings more effectively. Part of the problem may be ineffective passive isolation which reduces the effectiveness of ANC by allowing more noise to enter.
When it comes to microphones, the Mi Neckband Bluetooth Earphones Pro is surprisingly decent for phone calls. We expected hollow or distant sounds in this price range, as we usually witness, but Mi earphones relay our voices very well in phone calls. The voice was clear and the microphone did not receive much ambient sound.
The Mi Neckband Bluetooth Earphones Pro makes Active Noise Cancellation accessible to the public as it is priced at Rs 1,799 competitively. While the ANC isn’t great on these earphones, it’s affordable. The bus response is a bit muddy and irresistible, so if you’re not a fan of bus-forward earphones, these earphones are definitely not for you. If you’re a base lover, the Mi Neckband Bluetooth Earphones Pro is a decent purchase because it comes with great battery life, a comfortable fit, IPX4 rating and voice assistant support. You get all this and ANC for Rs 1,799, which is a pretty good deal.