Jan. 29th, 2010

New Cans

Jan. 29th, 2010 04:55 pm
tugrik: (Default)
Well, okay, I can't call them 'cans'. They're the first set of actual just headphones I've had in a while. My other audio implements are either in-ear plugs or around-the-ear DJ cans.

These arrived in the mail this week as Jaybird finally started shipping:



JayBird Gear's "Sportsband" A2DP Headphones


Remember those huge Nokia BH-604 cans I use at work? I've written about them before. They help me survive the long conference calls while providing glorious levels of sound/music isolation at work. Their only real drawback was their raw size. Not only were they somewhat socially awkward at the office... they were just heavy/odd-fitting enough to want to slide off my ears if I did anything too active. Therefore they've been moved to use at the shop, where their over-the-ear sound isolation status has been a godsend while doing lasering work (loud exhaust fans and the compressor's occasional running-fit).

The JayBirds interested me as they were lighter with a slightly tighter fit while professing to do good bass. Unlike the Nokia BH-905s I want to try sometime (at a whopping $300), these are an affordable $79. I put in a pre-order on Amazon, and after a few false starts they finally shipped out and showed up at my office desk.

Most important result: They snugly fit my charlie-brown-sized head without putting too much pressure on the ears. There is enough pressure that I don't like them for more than 3-4 hours at a stretch, but that's fine for daily office work. Overall fitment is nice. They have decently long extensions for band size, a gently-rubberized inside edge that clings to the head without pulling hair, and they're extremely slim/close fitting.

photo.jpg


(and wow, shaving my beard makes my face totally break out in freckles as normally the skin doesn't get that much sun. Utter case of gingervitis goin' on there.)

Second most important thing: They have decent sound quality. After a few more hours of listening I think the 604s have a little better bass response but the Jaybirds have a slightly quieter amp. So while the big cans would thump nicely, these are good at doing very quiet passages and low volumes without any noise or RF hiss in the way. Compared to the other 'headphone' style I used to have (the Plantronics Pulsar series) they're a huge improvement in both bluetooth behavior and audio quality.

Phone-use-wise they're just fine, if about 3-4dB softer on the microphone. This is both good and bad. I have to speak up more, like normal phone use (my 604s let me almost whisper and be heard on conf calls, which fits my in-office demeanor better). On the good side, they don't pick up nearly as much environmental sound. People talking in the cubes next to me aren't heard as much on the calls.

The controls are vastly better than the Nokias' ones. Easier to figure out by touch, better 'grippiness' and almost impossible to hit by accident. The actual use of the controls is the same as all the other major bluetooth headphones I've tried; nothing unusual there. But these are nicely rubberized/tactile while remaining flush. The only possible issue is that the ends are almost too symmetrical. If you put them on backwards it takes a moment to realize that the buttons don't work or feel quite right to the touch. A moment of feeling silly and you remember to swap them back around frontwards.

~~~~


For me and my uses, they're just fine. However, as the name "sportsband" shows, these are meant for / marketed to a different audience: gym rats. The close fit and clingy coating are to keep them on the head while running. More importantly they're rain-proof and sweat-proof. Jaybird gives a lifetime guarantee against sweat damage, encouraging their use in gyms or on the track. Keep in mind, they're not waterproof; you can't dunk them. Just that their coatings and pads won't break down if you're a sweat-by-the-bucket type. Nor should they fall off your melon while you're riding that exercise bike or huffing it around the gym.

The big plus for bluetooth A2DP headphones in the gym is the lack of wires. With the 30+ foot range you can leave your music player in your gym bag near your workout machines if you want, and not have to worry about wires going up your arm or back from a strapped-on player. Since my gym experience exists in the swimming pool, I'm going to lend them to Reveille for such testing when he gets a chance. I'll update this later with his thoughts if he doesn't post them himself.

For $79, I'm happy with the purchase. Now I have a good set of wireless headphones at work and at the shop. Eventually -- when they drop by half or more -- I'll get the super-top-end Nokia BH-905s for office use. With their crazy levels of noise rejection they should be the ultimate conference-call tool. Then these sports-band ones will be the ones I go walking with and use at home.

If there's any interest I'll gladly start bringing things like this to the local Thursday meetups for others to try; just let me know.

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