Fly, Penguin!

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Bluetooth Headsets

4 minute read #gadgets #review

I’ve had a few now. Still do. Here’s a review.

Bose QuietComfort QC 35 II

The best one, hands down. I still try to move away. Why? Several reasons.

  • Bluetooth Connectivity. I had situations where I could barely move 2m away from the laptop until people started complaining. Line-of-sight, that is. Not 2m of concrete wall or something stupid.
  • I had 3 replacements in 2 years of usage, because the connectivity got worse over time.
  • ANC works perfectly - for me. If I fill my coffee maker in my kitchen is next to my home office workplace people hear the Niagra Falls.

The good parts:

  • ANC. Just fucking awesome.
  • Super comfy earpads.

Bose 700

I assume the ANC is just as good. Those are the reasons I brought them back after 3 days:

  • Same Bluetooth issues.
  • They changed the headphone design, which is just annoying. The size adjustment is continuous, which to me is a big step back because the one from the QC worked flawlessly.
  • The touch controls suck - if you use them the earframe basically acts as a drum and produces very annoying and loud sounds from your fingers.
  • Same issues with surrounding noise in calls as well - it’s good for me, but not for my communication partners.

Sennheiser Momentum 3 Wireless

Ugh. I am disappointed. Solidly more expensive than the Boses, and a lot of disadvantages (firmware version 3.5.1):

  • Very base-heavy sound. You have to like that. The punch is cool, but can be annoying. Overall sound is great, though.
  • Heavy!! 304g, which is about 55g heavier than Bose 700, and you feel it. It really makes a difference!!
  • Uncomfortable. The grip is very, very strong and it hurts your head. I solved that by bending up the metal arc which forms the headphone. Also the earpads are much less soft than the Bose ones, which is also uncomfortable after a short while.
  • Bluetooth connectivity is good, but Bluetooth in general is awful. After taking a call I have to restart Spotify because it just won’t play any more. Connecting can also take a long time, sometimes. Also sometimes it’s “connected”, but sound is not played back from the device, and then the connection drops again.
  • It’s “Phone 1 connected”, “Phone 2 connected”, etc. where Bose actually reads the names of your devices so you know precisely which device you’re connected to.
  • The app is just awful.
  • Firmware updates take ages (about 15-20 minutes), and the app needs at least one restart and maybe a re-pairing to pick up the change.
  • No on/off button. You switch them off by folding them (if they accidentally unfold the battery will drain), and if you want to use them as passive headphones you have to unfold them while holding the control button. Very intuitive.
  • The ANC is just not good.
  • The head size adjustment is also continuous, basicalls the over-ear-part is sliding in a metal rail, which makes them always feel slightly wrong-fitted, especially if you reduced the grip-pressure before.
  • And the aforementioned issue with the noise for the other parties in the call.

Jabra Elite 65t

Jabra is starting to make a lot of things right. The only issues I have are:

  • My ears are tiny. The things are a bit big and uncomfortable (those are in-ear headphones).
  • And of course the issue with the ambient noise and the communication partners.

The good points?

  • OK ANC.

Apple AirPods Pro

An incredible piece of hardware, absolutely stunning. Yet:

  • Comparatively short battery time (yes, this can be an issue in long and subsequent calls).
  • I quote: “Oh I can always tell if you use your AirPods - all the ambient noise is getting so much louder then”. (I kid you not)
  • If you want to hold them while talking on speaker, you have to be very careful. If just one of them thinks it’s “in your ear” because you block one of the “ear sensors” they will grab the call. Yes this is intended behavior, still I have found this annoying at enough occasions to remember.

The good points?

  • Amazing sound for that size.
  • Amazing ANC for that size.

Compared to the over-ears they lose of course. That is to be expected, or I would assume an even heavier price tag.

Now what?

I have isolated the Jabra Evolve2 85 to try. Why?

  • Made for conferencing - it has a hardware microphone in front of your mouth. It seems tech still needs this. Also if you pull it up you go mute, which is perfect.
  • Bluetooth.
    • I wanted a mic, and so I read up on gaming headsets. Unfortunately all of them are extremely specialized for gaming, so most come with additional hardware (e.g. a dongle) and use separate connections (Bluetooth vs. custom 2.4GHz dongle) for sound vs. speech. Also they are sometimes tied to a single hardware platform, so the risk of buying an expensive good one to use on the iPhone is substantial.
  • Apparently a whole apparatus of 11 (!) microphones for speech vs. noise computation.
  • Supposedly very good sound quality.
  • ANC is supposed to be good.
  • They come in beige, enough with boring black tech gear. (all right this is by no means a technical feature …)

If those suck as well … I’m currently out of options.