Review: Mitchell Johnson MJ1 – Shimmer

Disclaimer: Mitchell & Johnson sent the MJ1 my way for the purposes of this review. I will be reviewing most of their headphone line. The MJ1 goes for 399,99£. You can find out more about them here: MJ1 stereo headphones.

After reviewing Verisonix’s N500 and N501, Electrostatz Technology left a deep impression on me. Such clarity, such precise z-axis 3D detail, and so little weight and drive requirement. Mitchell & Johnson’s Electrostatz versions follow similar signatures to their Verisonix OEM, but are a bit more bitey around and above the vocals. Bass lines are tauter, hardening the entire sound. The differences aren’t huge, but I think anyone with ear time on both versions will get them.

Electrostatz is one of the most interesting hybrid technologies out there. It ties a 40mm dynamic driver to a portable electrostatic driver in a passive crossover. No special amp need, and Electrostatz headphones get right loud even from portable sources. Ostensibly, it hitches together the benefits of both driver types.

Not sound

Mitchell & Johnson’s headphones come in standard white boxes, emblazoned with two icons, one beautiful, one cheap. The beautiful one is the Union Jack; the cheap one is that eye sore that reads: Hi-Res Audio. At least to these eyes, it is better suited to market cheap headphones for people that know nothing about headphones.

This box is easier to open, close, and get around in than Verisonix’s box. MJ1 is fast: it neither folds, nor bends. Nor does it come with the zippered case the MJ2 and JP1 come with. In its stead is is a subtly-branded, soft, velvet-lined tote pouch. Inside that are three cables: a curlicue DJ-style cable, a textile clad mic’d remote cable, and a no-fills textile clad cable. Further, there are a 3,5mm to 6,3mm stereo phono step-up adapter and an old-school airplane dual-mono-to-stereo adapter. If you’ve forgotten that airplanes used to pump audio via air pressure from the armrests through bare rubber tubes, you might just remember that what came after was a dual-mono output. But it’s been yonks. And in general, those outputs sound like mud. There is real reason to include a 3,5 to 6,3 step up adapter, but – especially for high-end headphones – little reason to still include an airplane adapter.

While I use each cable, my favourite is the regular textile cable. The reason is that whilst on the go, I don’t always listen through my iPhone and the mic’d cable doesn’t work on the amazing Onkyo DP-S1. That, and the regular textile cable is more svelte.

The MJ1 is solidly built. The metal butt of each arm is fastened by two metal bolts. Its shiny, swivelling metal fulcrums attach to shiny metal hangars. Generally, the fulcrums are well anchored, playing only just so on their hinges. And the dark walnut cups are handsome. The MJ1 is also the first Electrostatz headphone I’ve used that fits my head – albeit barely – out of the box. For my head-room-less head, the smallest setting sags to just a bit below my ears, but only just. Otherwise, driver positioning is good.

If your ears are angled outward, you may have trouble. The drivers are fixed on parallel hinges. They can’t be swivelled along the z-axis. The headband doesn’t clamp like MyST’s OrtoPhones, or older HiFiman and Audeze headphones, but it isn’t as light or comfy as the amazingly comfy HiFiman Susvara.

Among Mitchell & Johnson’s higher end Electrostatz series, the MJ1 is, at least for me, the best-fit. My somewhat misshapen head gets on with it well enough. Better lateral adjustment would be great.

Sound and more after the jump: