Audio equipment is tricky to understand. We can all tell when a set of headphones is terrible but what makes a good set of headphones, good, is often only known to sound engineers or audio buffs.
For a while you’ve had two options. You can either cough up for a set of studio grade of headphones and a decent professional microphone, or you can buy a headset that is packed with features but lacks in the aural experience department. Thankfully this trend has changed and Mionix has created something for the fussy listener.
Mionix is a Swedish company that made its name while trying to create the best ergonomic mouse peripherals ever made. It then applied the principles of practical design and solid engineering to other types of peripherals.
At first glance, the Mionix Nash 20, the company’s latest creation, doesn’t look too flashy. The headset arrives in a sleek black box with very little fluff other than a pamphlet guiding you through basic setup and operation of the headset. But its packaging is indicative of its the pragmatic approach Mionix has applied to the headset’s creation. It has everything you need and nothing that you don’t.
Mionix Nash 20 headphones review: Comfort
The Mionix Nash 20 (henceforth referred to as Nash) is fitted with memory foam on the ear cups as well as the headband. The memory foam moulds to the shape of your ear and your head while you wear it, but springs back to its natural shape when removed.
This is good news for people who spend a large amount of time wearing a headset. It’s possible to wear the headset for hours without any irritation. The headset is also very well ventilated, despite the fact that it boasts leather covering on the earcups, so you never feel stuffy or hot wearing it.
This ventilation and comfort is achieved with the semi-closed back design of the earcups. This design allows for air to flow between the speakers and the ear creating a more natural sound while not allowing much, if any, sound to escape. The end result is a comfortable headset that has great airflow without sacrificing audio quality.
The headset is, however, easily smudged; the rubberised exterior coating on the headset is prone to having finger prints cling to it so cleaning the headset can be quite a pain.
Mionix Nash 20 headphones review: Sound quality
People who play videogames know that owning a great set of headphones is an essential part of the experience. Given the production values of modern gaming soundtracks – from the game’s score, to the dialogue, to the sound effects – any headphones players use while playing will receive quite a work out.
The audio factors pile up and on a low quality headset they can sound like a terrible mess The Nash however, has sound so clear, you can actually pinpoint audio aspects and background effect in games you might have missed in earlier play-throughs.
This is thanks, in part, to the Neodymium magnets in the speakers. Neodymium magnets are a very small but very powerful magnet that were made famous by the magnetic toy, Bucky Balls in late 2009. Here’s how they help the Nash deliver high sound quality:
As you may, or may not know a speaker has two different magnets, a permanent magnet and an electromagnet. When the electromagnet is powered on it switches its negative and positive pole to interact with the permanent magnet depending on the sound signal it is receiving.
Working together these magnets create a piston like motion that moves the membrane around the speaker which in turn moves the air that creates sound waves. A more powerful permanent magnet, like the ones in the Nash, means that the base power required for the electromagnet is less but more power can be pulled to the electromagnet, should it be needed. The result is that the Nash can use the same power that every other headset uses from an audio player and get better results.
You’ll notice only Low and High frequencies are included in this test and that’s because these are the frequencies that most headsets overlook. The mid frequencies are easy enough to account for but getting the low and high frequencies out of a speaker is tricky.
Low frequency – 30Hz – 200Hz
High frequency – 8kHz – 18kHz
Mionix has done well here, missing only the very low bass frequencies usually found at 20Hz. The Nash also misses the high frequencies at the 20-22kHz range, though it should be noted most humans have trouble hearing these very high frequencies.
We also tested the Nash with a 192kbps MP3 file, a 320kbps MP3 file and a lossless audio FLAC file. The low fidelity file showed the kinks in the Nash’s armour. While the headset copes well in instances of dynamic range and racing between thunderous lows and piercing highs it falls flat with low fidelity files.
The FLAC file however, did demonstrate just how much care and work went into creating the speakers in this headset. The high quality audio brought every low tone to the forefront and every high note was like listening to a well versed choir.
At low quality this headset leaves much to be desired and you would probably be better off buying a headset with less dynamic range. However, if you want to enjoy games such as Skyrim and The Witcher 3 which feature rich audio design, the Nash will serve you very well.
Mionix Nash 20 headphones review: Microphone
There is no microphone mute button on the cable or a button on the side of the headset to toggle the mic on and off. To mute the microphone on the Nash you tilt it up until it rests against the left ear cup.
The audio the Nash mic captures is good, albeit it quiet; you’ may find you have to increase the gain on the microphone by 10 dB before it picks up your voice, which means, unfortunately you’ll hear an eve-present hum whenever you use the mic.
It’s a pity the mic can’t be better positioned to get rid of this. The mic arm is flexible and you can bend it to put the mic closer to your mouth without snapping it off the headset, but it always snaps back to its original position.
It’s not a deal-breaker, but with the attention to detail that went into the making of the rest of the headset, you have to wonder why the microphone feels like an after thought.
Mionix Nash 20 headphones review: Value
The Nash carries a price tag of R1699 which is a large amount of money for a headset. When you look at the build quality of the microphone and the overall lack of features in the headset you start to think that Mionix is trying to make a grab at your money.
The Mionix Nash 20 however, is about delivering incredible sound and it does just that.
Mionix Nash 20 headphones review: Verdict
The Nash seems targeted at gamers that want quality sound and comfort. While Mionix offers that in the Nash 20 it does come at a price that may put your average user off. If you’re an audiophile however, the Nash 20 is worth considering.
[Bucky Balls Image – By CC 2.0 Dave Ginsberg]