Back when I first started selling home theater equipment, I quickly learned expectations did not match reality and a big name didn’t instantly mean high quality. As a result, a lot of people flock to high price or lower quality models just because it has a familiar name on it. This is especially true for companies like Mu6 that start on Kickstarter or Indiegogo. The driving force behind the headphones that would end up being Mu6 Space was delivering the high end feature of ANC at a price most consumers could afford. It manages to do that, it just did so by making a number of compromises and choices that delivered on the promise in a way that was hard to recommend. Now that Mu6 is a bit more established, their new headphones, simply called Space 2, hope to build on the mistakes from the past. With a higher price point but better ideas, is it enough to sell them or are you better off sticking with the now cheaper ANC headphones?
Right off the bat the Mu6 Space 2 headphones make a much better statement than the original. Honestly, I don’t forget I’ll ever forget getting the dilapidated cardboard box with a stand and headphone case hastily thrown in there and shipped overseas. This was fine for what was, most likely, a production, beta or early sample of the final product, though it doesn’t project the same level of quality consumers or at least those who ended up with the Mu6 Space headphones saw. With the new model you have features communicated, a couple fun designs and a much better look when you open the box to find them inside their very own case.
Unlike the previous case, which was just a generic hardshell case that used elastic to hold the headphones down and in place, you’re given a more compact container that is designed to house Mu6 Space 2 in a more compact form. It’s very similar to what Sony offers with the WH-1000XM3, in honesty probably is the same case with different colorings, complete with the same little holder designed to hold whatever cords you might need. In this case you get USB-C and 3.5mm, which is good but anyone looking for the airplane adapter will need to pick it up elsewhere.
Similar to presentation, the design of the headphones has also been vastly improved. The most notable improvement are the buttons, which went from bulky, wide, cheap looking things to a sleeker and nice feeling set on Mu6 Space 2. Thanks to complaints of weight, these headphones no longer have the ability to work with the charging stand, making them lighter and allowing them to change the top of head support from rubber to a leather feeling material similar to the earpads. Finally, the sides were toned down, giving them a more modern appearance allowing them to better resemble what their competition looks like, in a package that seems far more durable.
As far as actual function, they’re better but not massively so. In tests with a variety of sources and devices, such as my amazing FiiO M11 Pro DAP, they performed fairly well. Good enough where I could see these being the go to headphones I expected the original ones to be. Easily not on par with Meze’s 99 Classics but better than your average Bluetooth headphones.
In testing they delivered a sound that was a bit heavy on the lows but still had decent mids and okay highs. As a result, you’ll feel the base more than anything else but most other things still have a presence and contribute in a way that is satisfactory. I found voices a little easier to hear, but in terms of straight use, you’ll likely be happy with the presentation. And, if not, you can always change the equalization to better match the sound experience you’re looking for.
That being said, even when I was using them as gaming headphones, via my televisions Bluetooth connection, it delivered surprisingly well. Most notable example was actually DOOM Eternal, which allowed the heavy metal sounds to shine in a world dominated by violence and gore. I’d still stick with something designed to deliver a wider sound stage or enhance immersion like WavesNx but they’d do the job if you ANC is more advantageous to you.
What makes the Mu6 Space 2 stand out isn’t the sound range or quality, as much as the overall quality of ANC. Previously I was disappointed with the original struggling to isolate even basic background sounds, such as my Dyson fan. With the revised ANC found on these headphones, it still isn’t noise isolation but it turns a strong gust of wind to the dull hum of a computer fan going to work. But, much like the original, it is meant to be used with some kind of sound. And, to be perfectly honest, if I was playing something I had issues hearing the outside world.
Another welcome change was giving Mu6 Space 2 a wired connection. It might be a dated concept, given smart phones are moving away from it and the average device people are using supports Bluetooth anyway, it gives them more versatility. Now they can easily connect to a wider range of devices, older MP3 players, a Nintendo Switch, built in airplane systems and more. It might not mean much for most but it does help them replace existing headphones than being a new option for modern equipment.
With all the positives, some negatives persist for these headphones. Similar to the original, these support auto pause and play functionality, a feature that causes music to start or stop based off perceived positioning of the headphones. This was actually a feature that worked so poorly I had to disable it on the original model and still find myself doing it on these. Thankfully, the feature works better, I noticed less random starting and stopping but it failed to deliver a consistent experience. Most notable was location on my head. If I placed them in a spot that would be considered normal they would work perfectly but if the headband was tilted towards my forehead they would stop, even if they were still on my ears. Likewise, it wasn’t uncommon for them to continue to play, even if I had physically taken them off my head. I actually had to tilt my body for them to stop, not to mention there were a few times they would glitch, causing my program to start and stop regardless of moving them or not. It remains more frustrating than it’s worth and, while I hope they fix it in the future, is something I strongly suggest disabling.
The App, somehow, manages to take a step forward in design and back in presentation. After running into a fair number of complications connecting them via the app, the only options I get on the Mu6 Space 2 side are two types of ANC (strong and normal), auto power off and the ability to disable the pause and play function, boilerplate, with the Android version offering updates (iOS did not). I could not find a way to access the personal hearing curve, equalization and other features. Even if you can, the app is extremely hit and miss, resulting in more failures during testing than was worth it. I would honestly stick to equalizing the device over the headphones.
3D touch is another increasingly common feature that makes headphones look nicer but can also be fairly frustrating. Images show you moving from the center out in a variety of directions for basic commands like volume control or which track to play but they actually require, in my experience, going from one side to another. If done incorrectly, they will register as a different command and potentially do something you don’t want. With enough determination you can master it but it simply isn’t as functional as buttons.
Mu6 Space 2 Verdict
In so many ways Mu6 Space 2 is an improvement. They look and sound better, not to mention the key feature, ANC, manages to deliver an impressive experience. Making them more portable, with a wired connection, increases their value and easier to see using in a wide variety of ways. Useful features like transparency mode allows you to use them in a wider range of settings and they’ll likely perform extremely well for the $220 asking price. It’s just the finer points they fall short on. 3D touch being a bit dodgy, the app working half the time, pause and play working often enough to say it doesn’t work and things of the like. Most of these things can be overcame a variety of different ways, so they’re not deal breakers, they just prevent these good headphones from being great. Still, if you want ANC, I don’t think there is a better set or value than Mu6 Space 2.
[Editor’s Note: Mu6 Space 2 was provided to us for review purposes.]