June 23, 2007 Two sets of headphones we thought rated a mention: Motorola has released a set of Bluetooth wireless "DJ" headphones which pair with either music devices, games consoles or mobile phones, using a built-in microphone, and JBL have come out with an affordable headset that incorporates an ambient noise cancellation system.
Motorola S805 Bluetooth DJ Headphones
Motorola's S805 is a Bluetooth multipurpose headset delivering solid sound quality and featuring a built-in microphone for talking on a Bluetooth mobile phone or chatting to other players when using an online gaming system. The "DJ" part of the title would appear to refer to the way the headphones swivel outwards - it's debatable how popular they'd be with professional turntable artists.
Fitting snugly over the ear, they deliver good external sound isolation and back it up with rich bass and a clear top end, according to our friends at Blue Tomorrow. Within the Bluetooth range of 30 feet there's no static or drop in sound quality - but outside that range they simply drop out to no signal at all. It's worth noting that best results with these headphones require a low source volume and the headphones themselves turned way up.
Twisting a rubber dial on the right ear handles track control, and a similar dial on the left ear sorts your volume out. Play/pause, stop and "switch to phone" buttons are recessed into the earpieces. The inbuilt microphone has built-in echo- and noise-reduction gadgets and works quite well.
The S805 unit needs to be charged for 3 hours before use, but this delivers approximately 17 hours of playback so it's not such a burden on your time. Comfort is rated as excellent. The S805 is available now from around US$130.
JBL Reference 510 Noise-Cancelling Headphones
Since Bose released their exceptionally popular QuietComfort noise-cancelling headphones, several other companies have tried to get into the market with competing products. The simple theory behind these headphones is that an external microphone "listens" to ambient noise, and then subtracts what it hears from the signal that's delivered to your ear.
JBL's Reference 510s come in at under a third of the cost of the Bose units, so frankly they'd have to perform very poorly not to be excellent value. They don't - sound is fantastic as you'd expect from JBL, and the noise reduction unit works quite effectively, even if it generates a small level of "hiss." It's not very noticeable when music's playing, and the noise cancellation can be turned off at any time to completely eliminate it.
The corded Reference 510s sit ON the ear rather than OVER the ear, a curious choice given their sound isolation focus, and they're not the most comfortable headphones around, but volume, bass and treble clarity are exceptional for units in this price range. JBL's Reference 510s are priced from around US$100.