I’ve been an avid music listener on mobile devices ever since they were available, even going all the way back to the original Sony Walkman with tapes, and having a good set of headphones with that is key. I never considered myself a true audiophile, but I do have my pretty high standards since owning a Nokia BH-940 Purity Pro headset by Monster; and that one was due for replacement…
The Nokia BH-940 Purity Pro by Monster
That’s quite a mouth full for naming a headphone, but it’s the best headphone I have owned so far I think. I got my first one when I was still developing some Windows phone apps, and this Purity Pro headphone was one of the items available in the rewards store of the DVLUP incentive program for developers. Back then it had a retail price of € 349,00 and was well out of my reach budget-wise, but thanks to scoring looooots of points on the DVLUP program, I could call it mine :p
It offered high quality (appX) audio over Bluetooth as well as a perfectly working active noise cancelling system that wasn’t at all too susceptible to wind noise. It was very comfortable to wear (easily for hours on end) and it came in gorgeous but hefty colour yellow. One of the details that made it so easy and nice to use was the switches in the headband that would turn on the headphone when unfolded and would turn it off again when you folded the headphone (I haven’t seen this feature since).
But like I said: that was my first one. In the end I owned four of these, which might indicate that the build quality could be better. The first one stopped responding to button presses and was exchanged by Nokia for another on (in white this time). Since I hated white, I got myself a yellow one out of China through eBay and gave away the white one. Then I dropped this yellow one on the sidewalk after just three months, so I had to get me another one (since the ear-cup got ripped of completely). As it turned out, this Chinese stock was actually the old Nokia service centre stock they sold to Chinese e-tailers, which meant the batteries had been in storage for so long without being charged that this last one lasted me only half a year, the batteries now being completely dead…
- Incredibly good sound quality
- Very good noise cancelling, virtually insusceptible to wind noise
- Windows phone app for control included
- Controls (mainly the folding/unfolding to turn off and on)
- Build quality
- Price (not counting that I got some nice deals)
The Sony MDR-X770
So…. I had to start looking for something else since I didn’t want to get me another BH-940 from China that would last me just another six months (and no warranty). Since I didn’t want to spend too much on this, I settled on this Sony MDR-X770 which features noise cancelling as well, for a retail price of only € 109,00.
Considering the price, this is not a bad choice. The sound quality is OK, the battery lasts a long time and the controls are very convenient: you can easily operate them with gloves on, and that’s a scenario that was very common in recent months while commuting by bike. However, the noise cancelling had no extra modes to control it, and it went crazy when biking outside in the wind (the Netherlands are ALWAYS windy). It seemed like the outside microphones, responsible also for measuring the outside noise and thus producing the counter-sound to the noise, were instead amplifying the wind noise in some way.
And since I use it mainly while being outside, that was totally unacceptable… So I had to start looking for an upgrade again.
- Very low price for the package
- Comfortable to wear (very lightweight)
- Easy to control
- The horribly bad noise cancelling
- Sound quality lacked quite some low/ass tones
- Can’t be folded
And the winner is: the Sony h.ear WH-H900n
So, disappointed with the previous Sony, I still didn’t want to break the bank on a set of headphones (these f***ers can range up to over 500 euros), but I did realise I had to spend a bit more. After some researching a found a deal on these Sony h.ear headphones for € 219.00 which I deemed an acceptable price (for hopefully my last headphone purchase for quite some time to come). The main reason for choosing this headset was the availability of a companion app on Android to control the headphone and set it’s many different modes, one being a true “wind noise cancelling” mode.
These Sony headphones are foldable again, so I can put them away in a bag more easily, but sadly the folding doesn’t operate on/off. The controls are very innovative and work very well; the right ear-cup has a touch surface on the outside to make swipe gestures and tap gestures for play/pause, take a call, volume up and down and previous/next. So you swipe forward for next and swipe up for louder for instance, and make a double-tap to play or pause the music. Contrary to what I expected this even works with gloves on! 😀
The sound quality is simply amazing, with a much wider frequency range than the cheap Sony, support for appX and more advanced Bluetooth audio codecs, and the noise cancelling with wind noise mode simply blew me away! Even with the music on quite a low volume, I am totally isolated from outside noises and can enjoy my music in it’s full frequency range.
The only downside I experienced so far is the size and pressure of the ear-cups, which make a little uncomfortable when you’d wear it for hours on end. The (over-ear) cups are too small for big ears, because even from my small ears a small part of the earlobes gets covered and thus pressured. Another downside is the fact that the noise cancelling settings don’t remember the last chosen setting (and the default ain’t the Wind Noise setting!).
But other than these little snags, I’m totally in love with this headset, and I’m pretty sure the much higher prices for Beats Audio gear are totally unjustified compared to these headphones!
- Great audio quality with an insane frequency range, and lots of equalizer settings
- Insanely good (Wind) Noise cancelling!
- Innovative controls
- Does not remember last chosen noise cancelling setting
- Folding does not operate on/off
Speaking of controls: get your act together OnePlus!
And then there’s one little final rant I have to get out of my system: the AVRCP (Audio Video Remote Control Profile) that OnePlus has implemented in it’s phones sucks balls big time! It gets initiated only 20% of the time maybe, which leaves you without controls on the headphones, except for the volume control which the headphones themselves will respond to (so you’re then actually controlling the headset volume, not the phone audio-stream volume). When it fails again, I have to somehow trigger BT in restarting, or I have to completely reboot my phone… which is very annoying, and will hopefully get fixed with the Oreo 8.1 update…