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Bluedio Air A Wireless

  1. Peddler
    Excellent sound quality. Requires a degree of 'burn in' to really shine.
    Written by Peddler
    Published Aug 9, 2016
    Pros - Really good sound - both wired and wireless. Goes Loud!!! Good Price.
    Cons - Can be a little uncomfortable after long periods. Don't like the writing pattern very much. Flexible headband makes it hard to put on one-handed.
    Bluedio kindly sent me a pair of their Air ‘A’ Series bluetooth headphones for review free of charge.  Here’s what I think to them.
    The packaging supplied with these headphones is simply superb. You really get the impression you are purchasing a high quality item with these. After removing the outer sleeve you’re presented with a very stiff box (with a magnetic closure) containing the headphones and related peripherals. This makes a nice change to the sometimes minimal packaging that you seem to find these days with some of the better known brands such as Sony and the like.
    The headphones come supplied with a USB cable for charging and a cable for connecting directly to your smartphone should you wish to use them in non-powered mode. The cable comes with a basic remote which allows you to play and pause your music and there’s a microphone fitted so you can still use them to make calls when in non-wireless mode.  There’s also an additional cable for connecting to computer systems which feature separate microphone and headphone sockets. I tried this on my Mac and it didn’t appear to work properly so I suspect it’s for tablet pc’s. Not a problem for me because I won’t be using them on the Mac.  All in all though a really nice unboxing experience and these would definitely make an excellent gift for someone.

    Physical Properties
    The headphones have a stylish look to them which I personally don’t like but to be honest I’m only really interested in their sound quality (and perhaps comfort) rather than looks. They are lightweight and have a fair amount of padding around the earcups and headband. Speaking of the headband, it’s extremely flexible and can be twisted and bent pretty much to your heart’s content without fear of it snapping. Even though I have a fairly large head, I had no problems in getting these headphones to fully encapsulate my ears which makes them far more comfortable than basic on-ear headphones. Construction is plastic and metal where it matters. Whilst they may not be quite as solid feeling as their T3’s (they really are built like a tank) I’m fairly confident that the ‘A’s will last a good long time and stand up to the kind of abuse that teenagers tend to put everything through. There’s a standard ‘headphone’ socket for wired listening and a standard micro USB port for charging - this is always welcome and definitely preferable to some of the proprietary charging interfaces some manufacturers use (cough …. Sony).
    The padding doesn’t appear to be memory foam but is comfortable nonetheless. There is sufficient depth for my ears to fit inside them comfortably. They are not too tight on the head which aids in their comfort but does perhaps limit their use to walking/jogging rather than running/sky diving/full contact origami. They remind me of some of the Sennheiser headphones in their feel (and sound quality) which is high praise indeed because comfort it definitely one of Sennheiser’s strong points. The earcups are gimballed so they have a limited amount of swivel in all directions - well done Bluedio - this was something definitely missing from the T2 and T3 models.
    The headphones feature a 57mm driver. Wow - that’s some size and the same size as used in their T2 and T3 models. You should note though that their sound characteristics are absolutely nothing like those models. More to follow in the Sound Quality heading.  Whilst I suspect that most of the electronics are contained in the right earcup, they both appear to have a similar weight - so the headphones sit nicely balanced on your head.

    Controls and Bluetooth Performance
    The ‘A’s have minimal controls. Three buttons control volume, track skipping, pairing, play, pause, call answer, call hangup and power on/off. They have definitely thought it through though - simply tap the top and bottom buttons for volume up/down and hold for a second or so for track skip forward/backwards. Tap middle button to pause/play and hold to power on/off and pair. Easy peasy lemon squeezy. The buttons don’t particularly feel ‘premium’ but are nicely positive in their action and very easy to find by feel. I personally prefer this over fancy touch interfaces because you have to be so careful when adjusting the fit around your head that you don’t accidentally activate a control. There’s no danger of doing that with these.

    I briefly tried the telephone function out and the call came through clearly and the caller reported that they could hear me ok. That’s about all I can really say about that because I’m Billy No-Mates and not many people ring me (they probably do but I’ve always got my headphones on and I can’t hear the phone ringing). Music performance via bluetooth is excellent. The noise floor generated by these headphones is not really much more than you would get from your electronics and certainly once music is playing it’s really not an issue. Range is excellent and the headphone’s don’t appear to suffer from drop-outs at all - nicely done Bluedio! I personally couldn’t hear any differences between wired and bluetooth mode so, if there are any, they should be pretty subtle.
    Sound Quality
    This is what it’s all about as far as I’m concerned. Comfort is also important - the good news is that Bluedio meets both criteria with flying colours. The sound to me is very reminiscent of some of the Sennheiser models. There is a degree of width to the stereo soundfield (this is with their 3D effect switched off - I’m a bit of a purist) and the sound is nicely neutral - all the way through the frequencies. That is something I didn’t expect and is most welcome.
    The bass is there but it’s not overblown - in fact I would go as far to say that it’s fairly lean compared to other headphones out there - and definitely when compared to their T2 and T3 models. The bass is detailed and deep but perhaps a little softer than some. Again, this is definitely not a bad thing - far from it. The bass is where is should be in the soundscape and doesn’t bleed into the other frequencies at all. Brilliantly done.
    Balanced. Not even slightly ‘shouty’. Has detail and some sense of directionality. Non-fatiguing and, again, doesn’t favour any particular genre of music.
    Pretty sweet. Perhaps slightly recessed but still has detail. I’m very sensitive to harsh treble - no problems with these. Definitely a ‘Sennheiser’ sound - allows for long listening sessions.
    In case you haven’t noticed, I really like these. I feel that they have the potential to sound even better after some break-in. I suspect drivers this large might benefit from a little exercise. They sound ‘airy’ like your music has some room to breathe. The amplifier in the ‘A’s is doing it’s job nicely and they can go loud enough to hurt. It’s fair to say they are considerably louder when used in bluetooth mode than your portable player would be able to generate in wired mode. The sound remains clean and clear at higher volumes with no noticeable distortion - they just go bloody loud. Be aware that they do leak sound out - especially when listening at high volumes and they also let some sound in - perhaps a little more than most ‘closed’ headphones do.

    One very welcome thing I noticed about these is that they are low-latency which means that your YouTube videos will play in-sync - works great with a bluetooth transmitter connected to my TV and Xbox games sound really nice through them. Their comfort definitely helps here when playing long sessions of Elite Dangerous.
    I can’t comment of battery life because I’ve yet to run them down. They did charge pretty quickly (took about an hour and a half out of the box).
    With the exception of their bizarre artwork (which I truly don’t really care about) I wholeheartedly endorse these. Had I have purchased them I wouldn’t have been disappointed at all. Top marks Bluedio - make a pair using premium materials and do away with the garish artwork and use the same drivers and sound character and you could compete with the top end headphone manufacturers - no problem.  A definite 5 Stars although I knocked half a point off for long term comfort and the style.
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