Cutting the Leash With Wireless Headphones: Top Shopping Factors
Wireless headphones are all the rage for cordless freedom, whether you're relaxing at home or listening to beats on the sidewalk. Most models rely on Bluetooth technology to transmit audio, making them compatible with computers and smartphones as well as Bluetooth-enabled televisions, stereos and game consoles. Before you shell out the big bucks to liberate yourself from the leash of corded headsets, consider what you want from your new setup. Wireless headphones run the gamut in terms of price, portability, sound quality, battery life and range.
By design, wireless Bluetooth headphones are made for movement, which makes weight and portability key concerns. For urban commutes or plane trips, Beats studio wireless headphones, which clock in at just over 1/2 pound and fold up for safe traveling are a top choice. Though they're more expensive, the Sennheiser Momentum headphones also win high marks, with a foldable stainless steel and leather design that's surprisingly light and easy on the ears. Frequent travelers looking to spend less money can check out the Mad Catz F.R.E.Q. M, which folds up, or the BackBeat GO 2, a wireless earbud design that weighs in at under 1 ounce for light-as-a-feather performance.
Because Bluetooth technology compresses the audio signal, manufacturers have to work extra hard to make wireless headphones sound as good as their traditional corded cousins. Audiophiles who want the best sound possible should look to industry leaders, such as Sennheiser and Definitive, which use high-definition patented codecs to achieve the clear sound, full range and smooth playback.
The Sennheiser Momentum headphones have a massive soundstage and an effective NoiseGard Hybrid noise-cancellation feature. The top-of-the-line set plays richly detailed quiet sounds as accurately as rumbling bass notes, making it a great choice for music, catching up on podcasts or watching films.
Fans of heavy bass should check out Beats Studio Wireless Headphones. The bottom-heavy sound shines for hip-hop and bass-centric genres, though the raw feel can overwhelm subtler soundscapes such as podcasts or television. For big bass on a smaller budget, check out Jabra Move Wireless, a PC magazine editor's pick that balances sound quality with price.
Nothing quite puts a damper on your overseas trip or marathon gaming session as running out of juice, and battery life remains a major consideration for wireless headphones. Leading the pack is the Mad Catz F.R.E.Q. M, which claims a whopping 24-hour play time if you keep the volume down low and approximately 12 hours at regular levels. Among high end headphones, Bang & Olufsen H8 headphones offer up play times of up to 16 hours, but it's the removable battery that really comes in handy, letting you swap out during long trips if a battery runs dry.
If you want to use headphones to Skype while you're walking around the house, or you want to listen to your stereo while you're relaxing in the yard, the standard Bluetooth range of 30 feet just isn't enough. Some manufacturers have paired their wireless headphones with a base station to extend that distance much further. The Sennheiser RS 175 operates on a 2.4-gigahertz band to let you travel an impressive 330 feet from your device, while the affordably priced JVC HA-W600RF lets you go up 164 feet.
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