Top critical review
Pretty good, with a few disappointments that ultimately led to a return.
November 25, 2018
I bought these because after 2 sets of the Sony MDRXB950BT/B breaking due to their poor construction, I was tired of dealing with it. I also wanted to try out some noise-cancelling and see what the fuss was about. I bought these when they were at $150, they're even cheaper now so a pretty good way to try out the ANC features.
- The noise-cancelling is pretty nice. It's not industry-leading, but it works. I underestimated how important it was. I'm an engineer and I work in a production environment. There is a lot of noise, particularly a lot of low rumbling sounds. If you're not listening to anything and just turn on the ANC, it makes a noticeable reduction but of course you can still hear plenty of mid to high frequency noise. So you may think (as I did) "Eh, there's still noise. Whatever." When you're listening to something however, like a podcast or music, it makes a huge difference. You're no longer subconsciously struggling to hear through the noise. After experiencing this I'm a firm convert to ANC for headphones I'll wear out of the house.
- The sound is pretty good. Coming from the super-bassy Sony headphones (a feature I loved), these seemed a little more flat on the low end. However, I used the EQ settings on my phone to bump up the low end and get them to a place I was happy with. No real complaints here, I was a happy camper for the price.
- The price. These are significantly cheaper than some of the usual contestants for ANC headphones. If $300 for a set of Bose QC35s seems crazy to you, then paying 1/3 the price for 3/4 of the performance is a pretty good deal.
- Durability. I owned these for less than a few weeks. Never dropped them, sat on them, threw them around, etc. Kept them in the case when not in use. So far the headband adjustment mechanism on the right side has stopped working. It's just loose now with the detents having disappeared into Narnia. It will fall all the way down if you just let the headphones hang. I have a big head so it sort of works out but it's not a great sign. The adjustment on the left side has now become super stiff and is difficult to adjust without feeling like I'm going to break the headband.
- Battery life. With my old Sonys, I felt as though I had to charge them maybe every 2 days. I'm usually at work between 10-12 hours every day and wearing the headphones the whole time. I charge these every night, and start using them around 10am. By around 5-6pm the battery starts dying. This wouldn't be the end of the world except that for the last 15% or so of the battery life (at least an hour's worth) whatever you're listening to is constantly interrupted by a voice saying "BATTERY LOW" every minute or two. And it doesn't just overlay the voice, it stops whatever you're listening to, says "BATTERY LOW," then resumes playing. It's incredibly jarring, annoying, and totally unnecessary. Say it ONCE and then please shutup. It feels like you're constantly in a race against time before the battery dies.
- ANC on/off. This is more trivial, but still annoying. The ANC is turned on and off separately from the actual audio/bluetooth portion. This means that if you don't remember to turn off the headphones AND flip the switch to turn off ANC, then ANC will stay on and drain the battery. It's a minor nitpick but I would forget this all the time and just put them back in the case thinking they were off, only to put on dead headphones later. Fortunately though, you can listen to them while charging.
- Comfort. They're comfortable when you put them on, but if you're using these at work for 8+ hours a day you're gonna notice them.
- Weight. They aren't too heavy for me, in that I notice the weight but don't mind it. Where it's annoying is if you look down or up, they may try to fall off your head. I wear headphones at the gym, and anytime I would lay down on a bench they'd slip backwards off my head. The Sonys were lighter and never did that unless I shook my head. For most people this probably doesn't matter but if you plan to workout or run in these, you'll probably have this issue.
- No forward/back buttons. You can pause and play by pressing the power button, but you can't go to the next or previous track as far as I'm aware.
All in all they're not bad for general use. The $150 I paid isn't enough to demand perfection, but it's too much to accept these flaws, so these are going back.