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Lifewire / Jason Schneider
Affordable price point
Light, sporty design
Loud, powerful audio
Muddy sound quality
Slightly cheap build
Slow charging speed
The Mpow 059 are great headphones that punch way above their price point, but they lack a bit of clarity in their sound profile.
The Mpow 059 Bluetooth Headphones are making waves in the market on one fact alone—they don’t cost hundreds of dollars. Plenty of tech reviewers find these to be perfectly serviceable Bluetooth headphones for a stunningly low price. To a point, we agree with this sentiment. These headphones sport a beautiful build, comfortable fit, and solid connectivity. Where we find them suspect is in the sound quality—while they are loud and powerful, there were some trade-offs with clarity during testing. This could be fine for you, depending on your music genre of choice. But read on for the full rundown.
The design is one of the best reasons to buy the Mpow 059s. They lean in the Beats by Dre direction with oval ear cups that sit inside a separate headband ending in teardrop-shaped plates on either end. We ordered a pair with a red and black color scheme, further underscoring the Beats influence.
The inside of the band is red, while the ear cups and outside of the band are mostly a glossy black. There are some silver accents (further accentuating that teardrop shape we mentioned), which all amounts to a flashy aesthetic. If you’re going for the Beats look, these do a good job of getting there.
What’s more, even though most of the construction consists of plastic, the stress points on the headphones are all bolstered with metal bracing or metal screws.
Plus, there are a whopping 8 different colors to choose from, including a stealthy all-black, a black and green, silver, an all-pink, rose gold, and more. It’s nice to see Mpow giving you a lot of options because many of the top-tier manufacturers skimp on design choices. One thing to note is that the glossy finish of the 059 makes them look a little less premium than the matte, rubbery finishes of more top-dollar brands, so you won’t exactly be hiding that you have a cheaper set of headphones. But, in our opinion, this doesn’t take away from the look too much.
These headphones are surprisingly comfortable to wear. The earcups are made of a faux-leather covering a pseudo-memory foam. The emphasis here is on the “faux” and the “pseudo” because neither of these two materials seem quite as premium as something from Bose or Sony. But, even though the foam isn’t quite as soft as memory foam, we were pleased with how they felt. Because they are big cups with an oblong oval shape, they fit our ears well, and the foam formed nicely.
The snug fit seems to affect the sound quality (we’ll get to that next) and also has the side effect of closing your ears off from airflow. This leads to a bit of heat, and some stuffiness, so working out with these might be a bit uncomfortable. But for casual, day-to-day listening, you can easily forget they’re on. That’s also probably owed to the fact that they weigh just under 11 ounces—impressive considering how big they are.
Plus, the soft, matte rubber interior of the headband with its strip of matching leather/foam makes these really nice around the top of your head, too. The 059 get above-average marks in the comfort category.
The build quality of the Mpow 059 is middle-of-the-road. On one hand, they don’t feel premium, as most of the construction is plastic with a glossy finish. But, on the other hand, they don’t have a lot of give, so we’re confident that they’ll survive a long time. They come with a thin velvet bag, which won’t provide anything beyond scratch protection, but because they fold into a compact shape, you can easily cart them around in your day bag. The leather covering of the pads isn’t the most premium we’ve seen, lacking resilience to dirt and grime.
What’s more, even though most of the construction consists of plastic, the stress points on the headphones are all bolstered with metal bracing or metal screws. In fact, the entire adjustable headband is built of a rigid-feeling, steel-like material. Mpow has made sure the foldable hinge—a point at which lots of budget headphones start to break—is reinforced with hard metal. The buttons seem a little cheap, which is in line with the rest of the plane plastic build, but they do offer a clear clickiness, which leads us into the next point about functionality.
On their surface, the Mpow 059s work the same way most simple Bluetooth headphones work. A long press of the main button powers them on and another long press puts them in pairing mode. An extra-long press will turn them off, though we found that it took almost 5 seconds, which is a minor annoyance. In addition to the multi-function button that plays/pauses and answers phone calls, there’s a four-way button pad that lets you adjust volume and skip tracks. This setup provides more control than you get from some premium headphones, so it’s great to see Mpow giving a full package here.
Connectivity was also a pleasant surprise. Because they offer the modern 4.1 Bluetooth protocol, you’ll get about 30 feet of range and a stable connection. It’s a shame that Mpow has opted to only include SBC compression support here, meaning that you won’t get AptX levels of sound quality. We also found a bit of connection dropout when walking amongst a lot of people also using Bluetooth devices. But, in average conditions, call and music quality were both stellar on the 059s, a fact that’s even more impressive when you remember just how affordable these headphones are.
When it comes to sound quality, the Mpow 059s are passable, but not mind-blowing. The 40mm drivers offer plenty of volume; in fact, we tended to leave these at two-thirds max volume, whereas most other headphones require three-fourths volume. This is a fact made more impressive when you consider that we took them out onto the noisy stress of NYC and on the subway.
The 40mm drivers offer plenty of volume; in fact, we tended to leave these at two-thirds max volume, whereas most other headphones require three-fourths volume.
Where you find some shortcomings on the sound quality front is the muddiness of the frequency profile. This choice seems to be in keeping with the 059s’ inspiration: Beats by Dre. Those headphones offer disproportionate levels of bass, sacrificing clarity and sparkle. To be fair, when we were out and about, listening to top 40 and rock-based music, the sound quality was perfectly fine. It’s when you bring movies, video, and podcasts into the picture that you lose some luster.
Movie trailers, in particular, because they’re so full and compressed, sounded extra muffled on these headphones. At $35, it’s hard to hate on the sound quality too much, because compared to other budget headphones, these are good. But if you want something with a lot of high-end punch, we recommend stepping up in price point.
Mpow clocks the 420 mAh battery life of these headphones at about 20 hours with average media consumption. That tracks closely to what we experienced and is fairly impressive for the price. While some top-tier headphones tend to give you closer to 30 hours with much better sound performance, it’s nice to see Mpow has emphasized battery life. One additional thing to note is that it took a couple hours to get a full charge via the micro-USB charger, even with a high-powered charging brick.
That’s not awful, but in a world where headphone brands give you quick charging capabilities to juice up a few hours of listening in a pinch, it’s disappointing the 059 charges so slowly. We’ll get into connectivity in a later section, but one last note: if you’re connecting and disconnecting these headphones to a lot of different devices repeatedly, you’ll see a definite negative effect on battery life. We’re still giving these a thumbs up on longevity, but it’s important to keep in mind that your mileage may vary based on your lifestyle.
Obviously, price point will be the main consideration for budget-level headphones, and at a $35 price level, the Mpow 059s don’t disappoint. So many of the features (the comfortable feel, the solid connectivity, and the attention to detail) make them punch far above their weight compared to rivals. As an overseas brand, you will find that the price will fluctuate, and if you want a different color, you might have to shell out an extra few bucks. But you’ll rarely see these headphones go for more than $50, which is leaps and bounds more affordable that counterparts from Sony, Sennheiser, and Bose.
You’ll rarely see these headphones go for more than $50, which is leaps and bounds more affordable that counterparts from Sony, Sennheiser, and Bose.
Mpow H5: The H5s offer much of what the 059s do, but they also bring you noise-canceling technology for a little extra expenditure.
COWIN E7: These are some of the most popular budget headphones around, giving you a lot of bang for your buck. But on looks alone, we recommend the Mpows.
Skullcandy Hesh 3: The slightly better-known Skullcandy brand name brings a little value here, but for almost double the price, we think you should go for the Mpows.
Great bang for the buck.
The Mpow 059 are great for the price, provided you’re okay with a sound profile that lacks treble and clarity. The build quality and comfort level alone will make you satisfied with your purchase. Fold in excellent connectivity, some great on-board controls, and a decent design, and these headphones are a great deal.
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