The Mi Dual Driver In-ear Earphones are among the most descriptively named products around. They are a pair of in-ear earphones with dual drivers in each. Like other Xiaomi earphones, the Mi Dual Driver are extremely affordable and at INR799, or just under $11, you could pick one of these up without a second thought. So the question then is, should you, especially if these are going to be your main earphones?
The Mi Dual Driver have fairly standard earphone design with a Y-shaped cable. The cable is 1.25m long with a braided design from the L-shaped connector to the splitter and then a rubber cord leading up to each of the buds. The earbuds are machined out of anodized aluminum with rubber ear tips.
The braided cable is good for rigidity and prevents the cable from kinking or tangling. It also doesn’t maintain any bends and straightens with ease. The downside of a braided cable, at least in this case, is the increased microphonics; every time the cable rubs against something (like your clothes), you can hear it clearly in your ears as the sound travels through the cable. It’s harder to hear when music is playing but can be annoying during the quieter parts.
The cable switches to rubber coating past the splitter. The splitter is fairly close to your neck so I didn’t feel the need for an adjuster, which was absent here. The rubber bit did annoyingly maintain bends that it picked up in the packaging but thankfully these bits are not too long.
The right speaker cable houses the remote and microphone assembly. The remote falls within easy reach and all the buttons are reasonably easy to use. The volume buttons only work on Android devices, and not on iOS. You can use the middle click button on all devices, along with the microphone.
The ear buds have a fairly compact design with rubberized stems. The anodized aluminum body feel smooth and sturdy to the touch. The front of the earbuds are glossy plastic with markings for right and left earbuds.
The earbuds have magnetic backs, which lets you attach the two of them together. We see this often on wireless earphones that hang from the neck; it helps them stay together and in some cases also automatically turns them off when attached. However, on the Mi Dual Driver we didn’t see any point to this feature. The cable isn’t asymmetrical, so they don’t hang from your neck and there aren’t any active features that get disabled by snapping them together. You could snap them behind your neck when you are not using them to keep them in place but it’s not particularly secure and it also looks like you are wearing a stethoscope.
Lastly, the ear tips are just cheap, thin rubber. They have a grille on the front to prevent ear wax and debris from going in but apart from that there’s nothing special about them. You get three pairs of them in three different sizes, with the middle size being applied by default.
The Mi Dual Driver are fairly mediocre sounding earbuds, even for the price. They have a dark, bassy sound signature that can be good for those who prefer a leaned back sound. The earbuds have a dual driver design, although we don’t know for sure how the frequencies are split among them. If I had to guess, I’d say one driver handles the low frequencies while the other takes care of the mids and the highs.
The bass is strong and consistently exaggerated across the lower end of the spectrum. It tends to get a bit bloated at times, especially on tracks with a heavy bass line, such as Outta My Head by Khalid but other times can be quite enjoyable on tracks like Borderline by Tame Impala.
The mids are unfortunately also affected by the bass boost as it spills over to the lower mid-range. This causes the vocals, typically male ones, to be quite upfront and bit unpleasant with a nasal tone. It also puts undue focus on percussion instruments and makes bass drums sound loud and hollow. The upside to this mid focus is that vocal only content such as podcasts and audio books are generally easier to hear, even when you’re outdoors.
The high-end is where the sound completely fizzles out. The Mi Dual Driver has no appreciable high-end to speak of, which causes everything to sound veiled and muddy. People who are sensitive to treble or just want a laid back sound for quiet listening may prefer it this way and it may also improve poorly recorded tracks with overly bright treble or sibilance but without a distinct high-end, the sound feels incomplete and dark.
The dull high-end also affects the imaging and soundstage and causes music to sound one dimensional and focused in the center of the listening sphere. There isn’t much depth to the instruments in tracks like Chocolate Chip Drip by TOOL and the cymbal crashes sound distant and fuzzy.
Just for the sake of comparison, we compared the Mi Dual Driver to the Mi Neckband Bluetooth Earphones, which we reviewed recently and found to be decent. The Mi Neckband cost 1600 Indian Rupees (about $22), so about twice as much as the Mi Dual Driver but are also wireless.
As we suspected, the Mi Neckband sounded much better. The frequency response is much more balanced with good emphasis on all parts of the audio spectrum. It made more genres of music enjoyable than the Mi Dual Driver, which only really worked well with certain types of content.
Overall, the Mi Dual Driver sound is fine for undemanding users or those who deliberately want a softer, more laid-back sound that de-emphasizes higher frequencies for a more relaxed listening experience. You can, however, get some decent results out of it if you are willing to use the EQ. We set the frequency curve as seen above in the Spotify app and were quite pleased with the results. It’s possible the dual drivers just aren’t tuned correctly and need EQing to get the most out of them.
In other aspects of performance, the Mi Dual Driver earphones were quite comfortable and also offer passable noise isolation. The microphone performance is also quite good for a pair of budget earphones. It’s certainly a lot better than what you’d get out of most Bluetooth earphones.
The Mi Dual Driver In-ear Earphones are a really affordable pair of earphones. They are also not very good in terms of sound out of the box. If you are willing to spend some time using the EQ in every music player app, you can get some good sound out of it.
Otherwise, we would actually recommend you look at the Mi Neckband Bluetooth Earphones. Sure, you have to charge them and the microphone performance will be worse due to Bluetooth inadequacies but they sound a lot better out of the box and more importantly are just a lot more convenient to wear and carry around. For just a small premium over their wired stablemates, we know which ones we’d pick for ourselves.