Bose SoundLink On Ear Bluetooth Headphones

Headphones. I must have had dozens of the things over the years. Big ones, small ones, wired ones, wireless ones, comfortable ones, uncomfortable ones, well-made ones and completely rubbish ones. But for reasons that don’t really make a lot of sense, I keep trying to get the elusive Perfect Pair.

Ten years ago, I got my first Bluetooth phones, which turned out to be carefully designed to crack in such a way as to stop them working. I’ve had quite nice in-ear ones, but I’ve been finding those increasingly uncomfortable to use – no matter what kind of material is used, the bits that go in my ears either don’t fit very well or are irritating. So, after trying all manner of things, I’ve reverted to on-ear phones. That’s the moderately large kind rather than the enormous over ear kind that cover your whole ear. I tried a Sennheiser wireless set, but found they had two problems: one was that even at maximum extension, they weren’t a good fit for my admittedly large head, and the other was a distinct lack of volume – OK when pottering around at home, but not so good when out and about. And it’s not that I listen to music at extreme levels – I like it loud enough to hear clearly, but not so loud as to drown out my surroundings completely. I then got a much better pair of Sennhesier (see, no hard feelings about the wireless ones) on-ear phones, which were pretty good, if a bit bulky.

But then I got this watch thing, which I still haven’t posted about. And that lets me control the music playing on the iPhone (and yeah, I’ve got one of those to talk about, too), so the previous need for controls on a cable, and indeed a cable at all, seemed to have gone away. So I started looking at wireless phones again. I saw these in a shop, and tried them out. Ooooh. Comfortable. And Oooooh, loud enough.

So after Much Dithering[1] and muttering[2] I bought them from Amazon.

So, what do we get for the slightly expensive price?[3] Well, you get a well-built pair of headphones which expand enough to fit my head comfortably. There’s a nice bit of padding on the headband and the earcups (removable and replaceable covers). The ear bits fold nicely inwards for storage, making them a lot more travel-friendly, as does the supplied soft zip-equipped case (nicely designed for an exact fit, with a nice little piece to separate the ear cups. There’s a cable you can use to connect to your devices in the event that the battery dies or the device doesn’t have Bluetooth and a standard mini-USB cable for charging (no mains plug, which seems sensible enough, as it wouldn’t fir in the pouch and most people have computers or chargers already.

They arrived with more than enough charge  to get me home, which was nice. Pairing is simply a matter of sliding the on-off switch all the way up. The phones can remember multiple devices and some variety of jiggery-pokery[4] lets you switch between them. There are the usual volume and control buttons for managing music and phone calls, but I find it easier to use the phone or watch to do that.

The sound quality, as you might expect from Bose, is excellent[5], and capable of being much louder than I want or need it to.

Now the other thing about wireless headphones that’s often a cause of weeping, wailing and quite likely gnashing of teeth, is battery life. In most cases it’s basically useless. These, perhaps partly because they’re on the larger size, are different. For a start, when you switch them on, a little voice in your ear announces the current battery level as a percentage before reminding you what device they’re paired with. During the first week, they kept insisting the level was 100%. I assumed they were lying, as battery powered devices often do. But four weeks later, without a recharge, and with around an hour’s use on each working day, the level is down to 40%. So it’ll probably be another couple of weeks before I need to connect that USB lead. To be honest, I’d have been happy enough with a week’s use on a single charge, so a month or more is really very good.

So, count this as a medium-term report. No annoyances so far, and lots to like. The only negative point is the slightly unfriendly price…

[1] A village in Suffolk, I think
[2] Much of which was about whether I wanted the black (discrete but boring) or white (vivid by matching my phone) ones
[3] Bose appear to have an Apple-like degree of control over prices – I looked around a fair bit, and didn’t find any variation in retail prices…
[4] I’d have to RTFM
[5] For my music and my ears, anyway.