Mifo S ANC review: Comfy sport buds held back by missing features

Mifo S ANC review: “If you’ve got smaller ears, the Mifo S ANC might be for you. If not, you’ve got other options.”

Pros

  • Slick design
  • Super comfortable fit
  • Good sound quality
  • OK battery life
  • Great for runs and workouts

Cons

  • No app support at all
  • No aptX support
  • No voice assistant access
  • No wireless charging

When wireless earbuds fit right, it’s hard to part with them. Ask anyone about priorities when it comes to their earbuds and the odds are good that a comfortable, secure fit will be close to the top of their list. Mifo got that memo and designed its Mifo S ANC to fit like a glove for pretty much anyone who decides to wear them.

Overview look at the Mifo S ANC earbuds.
Mifo S ANC review

They’re small and nimble, yet packed tight enough to include a nice set of features like ANC and transparency. It’s a good mix to start things off, but can these earbuds do more than just fit in? We refrained from taking them off to find out.

What’s in the box

What's in the box for Mifo S ANC.
Ted Kritsonis /

Mifo includes four pairs of ear tips in the box, ranging from small to extra large. You get a nice flat USB-C charging cable, along with a manual, which you will need to read carefully to learn all the controls available. My black review unit didn’t match the image depicted on the packaging, which was of the green and black variant emblazoned with text all over both the case and earbuds. There are also blue, green, and white variants, rounding out the total of five options.

Design

The Mifo S ANC earbuds loose in front of the case.
Ted Kritsonis /

Mifo calls it a “horn-shaped design”, which is not altogether different from what a wing is in other wireless earbuds. The difference is that most of those come with silicone wings you can remove or swap out for another size. The Mifo S ANC were crafted with the horn (or wing) as part of the chassis. Those horns flow well into the rest of the earbuds, playing a role in how they anchor into the inner ear.

A rigid, unmoving horn, along with the feathery weight, only adds to the stability and natural comfort.

Such a design choice would potentially work against the Mifo S ANC if they were bigger, but their more diminutive size makes them feel like they just slot in. A rigid, unmoving horn, along with the feathery weight, only adds to the stability and natural comfort. I know it’s a subjective point, but if you have smaller ears and feel betrayed by other pairs, these may be closer to what you’ve been looking for. Even if you consider your ears “bigger,” you could still get the same feeling using the ear tip that fits best. I know I did.

“Sport and outdo” is a mantra Mifo communicates through these earbuds, signifying that they’re ready to go in active situations. The IP67 rating certainly gives them that, letting you dunk them down to 1 meter for up to 30 minutes. If you were looking for workout — or especially — running earbuds that won’t fall out, the S ANC deliver that. I rode my bike and wore them in other active situations, coming away impressed at how neatly they stayed in.

Close-up view of Mifo S ANC in ear.
Ted Kritsonis /

The outer shell sporting the Sport and Outdo logo is where you’ll find the touch controls. Taping once on the left lowers the volume, whereas the right raises it. Triple-tap on the left to repeat a track, and on the right to skip one. Double-tap either side to play/pause (or answer/end calls). Hold for one second on either side to cycle through transparency, mild ANC, and strong ANC. Tap five times to toggle low latency mode on/off.

You can’t adjust these because Mifo doesn’t have a dedicated app to support these earbuds. That also means you can’t fully turn them off if you don’t want them. I found mixed results, especially early on when I had to sort of “feel” for the touch surface so as to avoid accidentally lowering or raising the volume. That smaller surface can be too sensitive in some cases, and not enough in others. I also found no way to access my phone’s voice assistant, and even the manual doesn’t mention it.

Another missing feature that has become fairly standard on earbuds at this price is wear sensors, so there’s no way to auto-pause your tunes when you remove an earbud (or resume when you replace it).

One thing that is slick is the case. Mifo put the S ANC earbuds in a nice clamshell case that closes with a satisfying click and opens through the button on the front to release the latch. That button also serves another purpose, which is to factory reset the buds when you press it three times in succession.

No app, no control

These days, I come down harder on earbuds that don’t offer any app support, particularly if they sell for over $100. It’s just too common now to see an app with an EQ or control adjustments, among other features. It’s a real shame the Mifo S ANC lose out on all that, simply because it limits what the earbuds could do, especially when it comes to the sound signature.

Apps are also good for firmware updates, which sometimes open up new or improved features. Yet another thing not possible here. Speaking for myself, I find apps have an ability to help build personalization for earbuds I’m using, but with Mifo’s pair, I was left lamenting the things I couldn’t control when faced with situations where a tweak or adjustment could’ve made a difference.

It’s an even tougher thing to accept when Jabra’s excellent Elite 4 Active cost less and come with one of the best companion apps, period.

Sport and sleep?

Wondering why Mifo mentions sleep on the S ANC’s box? No, these buds don’t possess any fancy features like sleep monitoring or even a set of built-in soundscapes to help you get some z’s. Instead, this is simply a reference to their size — they’re so small, you could, if you wanted, sleep on your side and still be comfortable with them in your ears.

If you do plan to sleep with these on while listening to some gentle tunes, keep in mind, you’ll have a dead battery when you wake up because there’s no self-timing feature. Just another thing an app could’ve taken care of.

Sound quality

Wearing the Mifo S ANC earbuds.
Ted Kritsonis /

Mifo is a little cryptic on specs and details, but what is obvious is that it tuned the S ANC to a more neutral sound signature. You will get some decent bass out of them, especially when you use the right ear tips to seal it in, though the highs get some of the preferential treatment. Mids aren’t bad, and I liked how they came through with some of the classic rock tunes I played. By now, it’s a familiar theme in this review, but I do wish I had the chance to tune them myself for different genres to suit my own tastes — the Jaybird Vista 2, for instance, are a set of sports earbuds that nail this requirement.

There is good clarity to the sound, so I can’t knock what the default profile provides too much. If you like various genres, you may find they handle them with relative equality. Not there aren’t some inconsistencies, like how male vocals on a rock track resonate differently than on an R&B or jazz one.

You will notice that the difference between the “mild” and “strong” ANC modes isn’t all that striking.

Things also start to get challenging when you add variables to a given situation. For example, in a louder gym or walking with street noise, you will notice that the difference between the “mild” and “strong” ANC modes isn’t all that striking. I noticed better blockage for low-frequency sounds when I toggled strong on, but otherwise, it wasn’t always easy to tell. That’s why a really good seal is crucial, as the passive isolation helps to at least drown some of that ambient sound while the ANC is doing its thing.

I do think it’s worth trying these earbuds with foam tips to see if you can block out even more since they deform to create an even tighter seal. I didn’t have any that fit the anchors on these earbuds, so couldn’t test it out to gauge any contrasts.

Transparency mode is fine for talking to someone or hearing your surroundings while out on a run in a concrete jungle, though there’s nothing too remarkable about it.

You only get AAC and SBC codecs, so no aptX, unfortunately. The low latency mode is pretty good when it comes time to watch a movie or show, or to start a gaming session. I didn’t notice much of a problem at all with syncing issues once I engaged it.

Mifo plays up the six-mic array between the two earbuds, and they do an adequate job with phone calls. While I didn’t notice anything off-putting, and callers didn’t complain or generally make me repeat myself, I also didn’t find them to be as good as others when talking in more crowded situations. The tighter fit made it easier for me to hear the caller, but they did ask me to raise my voice to overpower the ambient noise.

While Mifo doesn’t list this feature, you can use one bud at a time. I found success doing it by taking both out to connect, and then putting the one I didn’t want back into the case. The makeshift mono mode worked fine for me.

Battery life

The Mifo S ANC case.
Ted Kritsonis /

Mifo rates battery life at up to seven hours per charge. It doesn’t say explicitly, but that’s without ANC. Leave it on, and you’re at six hours. Raise the volume, which you will probably have to do regularly, and you’re now closer to five hours or less. It’s a sliding scale you may not care about if you’re thinking of these more as workout or running earbuds, but if they’re going to be your “everything” earbuds, keep it in mind.

The case will give you another three charges, though it doesn’t support wireless charging. You’ll need to use the USB-C cable for that. I did like the three LEDs inside the case when opening it, as they gave me an indication of the battery status. Basically, each light represents 30-33% of the case’s total charge, so you know where you stand.

Our take

 

Mifo chose comfort, durability, and aesthetics as the main pillars here, perhaps with the assumption that its own tuning would come through brilliantly because of the excellent fit. The parts make a decent sum, yet it’s hard to shake the fact a dedicated app with EQ and control customizations would have made them even better. It’s a missed opportunity that does more to set the S ANC aside from the competition, rather than above it.

Is there a better alternative?

Sporty and durable earbuds aren’t hard to find — especially those with an app to play with. The Jabra Elite 4 Active may come in cheaper, only with excellent sound quality, solid ANC, good durability, and worthy comfort. The Jaybird Vista 2 are a tad bigger in size, but are very rugged, and have one of the deepest EQ experiences you can ask for in a supporting app. An entire community of users create and share EQ presets you can save and apply to your pair anytime you want.

Not to be outdone, the Bose Sport Earbuds may come in at a similar price, and while not the best choice for those with smaller ears, they can be great for those who don’t. Excellent ANC, solid call quality, and vibrant audio playback make them well worth a look.

All three of these products have a lower regular price than the Mifo S, making them very attractive alternatives, especially if you don’t usually struggle to get a good fit.

How long will they last?

While they may look swanky, Mifo did build these to take some punishment. You just can’t go and assume they can withstand everything. Rinse off any salt or sweat and dry them right away before putting them back in the case, and you should be fine. Mifo offers a one-year standard warranty to cover malfunction issues, but not water or sweat damage.

Should you buy them?

No, unless you think they will fit you perfectly. The Mifo S ANC are priced at a level that’s highly competitive, where choices are both abundant and superb. Apart from fit and comfort, there’s not much else to show these stand out from the pack.

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