Headphones, as soon as a product primarily for music followers or audio engineers, are actually a day by day sight within the workplace and on the road. Not only for listening anymore, they not solely allow you to take telephone calls however enable you hold your focus within the noisy open workplaces so beloved by many corporations.
I attempted out two lately launched Bluetooth headphones by well-known audio distributors: the Sennheiser MB 660 UC, which prices $445 (Amazon price) and the Plantronics BackBeat Professional 2, priced at $200 (Amazon price). Each supply all of the options that immediately’s enterprise customers are in search of — wi-fi connectivity, portability, good sound and energetic noise cancellation (ANC). Nonetheless, they differ in a wide range of methods, not least of their method to the way you management the options and the way a lot you pay for them.
Sennheiser is well-known by audiophiles for the standard of its merchandise. The Sennheiser MB 660 UC headphones embrace a wealth of choices for many who need to have the ability to take heed to their music — or take their calls — with out interruption from the skin world.
It is apparent from the outset that the Sennheiser headphones imply enterprise — each figuratively and actually. They arrive in a tough case, which will definitely hold them secure (however can even add to the load once you’re touring). Contained in the case, moreover the headphones themselves, are an audio cable; a micro-USB energy cable; and a USB dongle for communication with laptops that are not outfitted with Bluetooth.
The headphones had been fairly snug (though a bit cosy) on my head, with padding on each the ear cups and on the steel headband. All controls are on the fitting ear cup, consisting of a contact pad (which is used for many energetic sound controls), and two tiny management switches, one which offers with completely different sound modes and one which handles Sennheiser’s NoiseGard energetic noise cancellation (extra on each of these later).
You flip the headphones on and off by twisting the ear cups from a flat place to at least one wherein they’re going through one another (in different phrases, from storage place to sporting place). A pleasing feminine voice lets you understand that the system is powered on or off, and alerts you to different adjustments you make (reminiscent of altering the sound mode). Not like another headphones on this worth vary, the Senheisers do not routinely pause or play once you take them off your head.
The headphones use a contact floor on the fitting ear cup to allow you to modify the amount, quick ahead or return, pause or resume. Whereas I discovered the usage of a featureless contact floor attention-grabbing, I are inclined to desire controls that I can instantly determine by really feel (reminiscent of buttons or raised symbols) slightly than a touchpad-like interface.
The noise cancellation characteristic makes use of 4 microphones, two with openings to the skin of the headset and two contained in the headset. You possibly can select to show it on or off, or you’ll be able to put it in adaptive mode, which routinely adjusts the noise cancellation relying on how loud issues get round you. (You can too manually modify it utilizing Sennheiser’s CapTune app.) Since I do not work in an open workplace state of affairs, II tried it by enjoying a information feed whereas utilizing the headphones to take heed to quiet music; to let you know the reality, I used to be unable to inform the distinction between the three modes.
The CapTune app additionally means that you can modify its sound modes (which it calls Impact Modes) for several types of audio: Membership, Film, Speech or Off. (When you desire, you’ll be able to cycle by way of them through a button on the fitting ear cup, which is quite a bit slower.) You can too modify the audio prompts — you’ll be able to change the language, or go for tones solely, or flip them off altogether.
And you’ll modify the equalization (EQ) utilizing both of a number of pre-programmed specs (Pop, Rock, Hip Hop, Classical, Voice, and so on.) or by creating your personal customized setting. The SoundCheck characteristic additionally enables you to modify for issues like enhance, spatial or reverb or DLC, both by utilizing (once more) preprogrammed specs (Membership, Film or Speech) or by utilizing the Director mode, which begins with all these results turned off and provides you choices to regulate every.
What with the sound modes and the NoiseGard noise cancellation settings, it took me a little bit of experimentation to seek out the settings that had been most acceptable. And even then, issues might be a bit complicated; for instance, I discovered that having the headphones switched to Speech mode improved the sound throughout a telephone name — however the Results Modes button does not work throughout a name, so it’s actually solely sensible when you can also make the change earlier than an outgoing name.
The Sennheiser MB 660 UC sells for about $445.
Plantronics, one other well-known audio model, tends to go for the middle-level audio followers — those that could also be much less educated about sound, however who nonetheless need a good pair of earphones for the workplace or house.
The Plantronics BackBeat Professional 2, the most recent model within the firm’s BackBeat line of headphones and earbuds, are a nice-looking, with snug padded earpieces and a padded headband; they’re barely smaller and lighter than the earlier mannequin.
One factor I’ve observed about Plantronics merchandise is that they have an inclination to emphasise ease of use, and the BackBeat Professional 2 isn’t any completely different — beginning with the massive “R” and “L” lettering contained in the ear cups so you understand which works over what ear.
The left ear cup has the audio controls on the skin; a button within the heart pauses and performs, buttons to the left and proper of that allow you to quick ahead or rewind. A rotating ring on the sting of the cup controls the amount. A small three-way change units the energetic noise cancellation management to on, off, or pass-through (permitting audio from outdoors to move by way of the cups).
The suitable ear cup has the micro-USB port for energy and an audio port if you wish to join the headset bodily (cables are included for each), the ability change and a mute change. A collection of LEDs lets you understand the battery energy (once you begin up, a voice can even let you understand the battery energy and connection standing).
The suitable cup can be used to reply/finish calls by a single press to the skin — since many headphones use the identical button for play/pause and to reply calls, I discovered this a bit complicated at first, however bought used to it fairly shortly.
Not like the Sennheisers, the BackBeat Professional 2 will pause your music for those who take the headphones off; calls can even transfer again to your telephone, which is absolutely handy. You do, nonetheless, have to make use of the ability change if you wish to shut the headphones utterly off.
Plantronics’ app is named the Plantronics Hub; in contrast to Sennheiser’s CapTune, the emphasis right here is on data slightly than sound. The Hub tells you the way a lot discuss time you’ve left and whether or not the headphones are on or off your ear; in any other case, you’ll be able to entry assistance on use the headphones and even make them problem a sound so you could find them.
Plantronics features a delicate fabric bag for storage; a separate pocket within the bag holds the cables and instruction booklet.
The Plantronics BackBeat Professional 2 sells for about $200.
Sennheiser vs. Plantronics: Sound
Except you are an audiophile, you are not going to seek out all that a lot distinction between the 2 headphones — though in case you are one, there’s a distinction. I used each to take heed to a wide range of music, together with a lightweight pop feminine vocal, a people/jazz instrumental set, an orchestral overture to a Broadway musical, a classical choral piece and a rock music.
On the entire, the Sennheisers had been cleaner and had a fuller bass — a minimum of a part of which was, I am certain, as a consequence of the truth that I used to be in a position to tweak the highs and lows through the CapTune app. That being stated, the Plantronics had been positively not unhealthy in any respect, and for day-to-day use, most customers needs to be happy with them.
So far as telephone calls had been involved, after I tried the Sennheisers, the voice of my caller sounded a bit tinny, however there have been no breaks or any of the distortions that you just get on lesser headsets. My caller reported that, on her finish, the Sennheisers sounded a bit gravelly and digital (however, once more, with no glitches or distortions).
After I examined the Plantronics headphones, the sound at my finish was about the identical because the Sennheisers, however my caller reported that my voice got here by way of fairly clearly and had brighter, extra lifelike sound.
To be trustworthy, I’ve but to discover a pair of full over-the-ear headsets that do not really feel heavy to me after a comparatively brief time; I desire lighter-weight on-the-ear models reminiscent of Plantronics’ BackBeat Sense, which prices somewhat over $150 (Amazon price). Nonetheless, that will not be useful for many who want to dam out a loud atmosphere — in that case, over-the-ear units are virtually a necessity. I discovered the Sennheisers somewhat lighter to put on within the lengthy haul, though once more, this was a delicate distinction and each headphones had been fairly snug.
Neither of those shone so far as the energetic noise cancellation is anxious; whereas the expertise did muffle outdoors noises to a substantial extent, it wasn’t fairly the soundproofing that I anticipated. The digital pass-through sounds slightly, nicely, digital; fairly frankly, I believe that merely slipping one of many ear cups off your ear to listen to what is going on on can be simply as straightforward and far more efficient.
That being stated, for many who work in an open workplace state of affairs or different distracting atmosphere, or spend a whole lot of time on airplanes, both of those units might make issues quite a bit pleasanter.
In case your music is essential to you, and you’ll afford the roughly $445 worth, I might go for the Sennheiser MB 660 UC headphones; they’re snug to put on, have a terrific many good enterprise options (together with a tough case and a dongle for non-Bluetooth computer systems) and supply wonderful sound.
Alternatively, for those who spend a whole lot of time on the telephone or just need a good pair of moderately priced headphones for day-to-day use, the Plantronics BackBeat Professional 2 ought to swimsuit simply high-quality for lower than half the worth.