For someone who really enjoys music and a good quality set of headphones, I’ve been like a kid in a candy store of late with the Bose Soundlink Bluetooth on ear headphone being the
second set of Bose headphones I’ve reviewed in a very short time. The first was the Quiet Comfort 25 – a high end set of Noise cancelling headphones – and I was a little worried that this pair wouldn’t live up to that high standard.
The pairing process is as easy as you’d expect, turn the headset on; go to your phone, find the headphones and tap “pair”. The same stands if you’re connecting to a tablet, PC or any other Bluetooth enabled device. Now, lets see what these things are like…
The SoundLink Bluetooth headphones are designed to be a daily use item. They work with tablets, phones and other bluetooth devices like laptops. They’re lightweight, visually quite attractive (although the colour of the review unit isn’t quite my colour) and the battery lasts quite a long time when streaming audio to it.
Bose claims that the playback time is up to 15 hours, but this seems to well and truly be a conservative estimate – I had over 22 hours of active use from a single charge, and the battery indicator was still at 40% remaining. It’s astounding how good the battery is on these headphones.
There’s a few things that really struck me about the headset. Firstly, I was amazed at the build quality – the headphones are light while not feeling flimsy. Secondly, the range I got on the Bluetooth connection – around 10 meters indoors and through multiple walls. Finally, I have no idea how on earth they manage to work so well as a bluetooth headset for your phone without having a microphone arm to capture voice.
The quality of the hardware is quite evident when you inspect the headphones closely.
You’ll find that the hinges are made of metal, ensuring longevity of the headphones for daily use and the sliding switch to turn the headphones on and off has a really nice movement to it with definitive; almost mechanical click when you turn on or off.
The padding on the headband and earpieces is surprisingly comfortable – having had some good quality on-ear headphones in the past that after an hour or two become almost painful to wear, these strike an excellent balance between keeping out noise (which puts higher pressure on your ears to “seal” the ear pieces) and comfort.
Having only just finished reviewing the Quiet Comfort 25 headphones, I held high hopes for the sound quality that the SoundLink would offer. The brand is known for a “no compromise” approach and “Good enough is merely a starting point” is their slogan, so I started where I always do with playback devices – my music collection.
The sound range wasn’t quite the balance that I’m personally used to, but it’s certainly not wrong by any stretch. In fact, the SoundLink Headphones come out of the box with a sound balance that’s well-suited to most popular, mainstream music allowing good vocal reproduction and letting the power of instruments like guitars and the punch of a bass drum shine through.
It’s not until you wind up the volume a touch and listen to something a bit more mellow that the true nature of these really versatile headphones shines through. The bass has power, the midrange has clarity and the high range still can make its presence felt. At times it can come across a little bit imbalanced, but that can be influenced by your personal taste in sound.
If the high level of comfort and sound quality aren’t enough to win you over, Bose has added in a really neat feature I mentioned earlier… When these are paired to your phone, they double as a Bluetooth headset for calls as well. I hadn’t realised this, and the first call I took on this headset was a very pleasant surprise.
I’d forgotten that I had paired with my phone as well as my laptop and when the phone rang, my laptop paused the video I was watching and the call became available to answer via the headset. I found myself almost yelling down the phone at my poor Mum until she asked me why I was yelling. I can’t figure out how they get such good voice quality back to the other party without having a microphone near your mouth, but it works well.
As you’d expect with a device that’s supposed to be a music streaming receiver, the quality of audio you receive on phone calls is as good as you’ll get on a Bluetooth headset. Even at extended range from your phone, you’ll find very little distortion. Be warned though, there’s a very fine line between getting a little distortion and losing connectivity to your phone completely.
All of this technical wizardry needs to be controlled from somewhere. Bose has done a great job of making the controls very simple. On the right ear – where your thumb sits naturally (great design by Bose for this positioning) when you put your hand up to the earpiece there are three buttons – a “+”, a “-” and a larger button with three dots on it. Clearly, the + and – buttons are for the volume but the third button does a little more.
The third button controls your music on compatible applications – a single press will either pause or play the music (depending on your current state) while a double tap will advance forward a track and a triple tap goes back a track. That same button also has control over answering and disconnecting phone calls and while in a call, the volume controls remain the same as for music streaming.
The controls are a really well thought-out design for a really nice set of headphones.
Bose’s SoundLink on-ear Bluetooth Headphones aren’t just about the sound you get – they’re also about the experience you get while wearing them. For the money, there are a few competitors out there but I’ve not yet found one that can match the comfort, sound and convenience offered by these headphones. You’re without a doubt getting a premium product and a top shelf product, but that does come at a premium price.
The bottom line is AU$329.00 RRP but that’s not to say that if you look around at some of the major retailers around the Christmas sales or some of the bargain hunter websites you won’t find them cheaper. I can assure you of one thing though, if you’re looking for the convenience of wireless, combined with good quality sound these babies should most certainly be very high on your list to road test.
What do you think of the Bose Soundlink headphones? Will you be picking up a pair? Tell us in the comments.