Best bluetooth headphones under $300? Help needed. (Lots of details and links inside.)
Feb 10, 2015 at 11:36 AM Thread Starter Post #1 of 16

headcoatman

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The main consideration here is audio quality. Audiophile quality, if that can be obtained in this price range.
The convenience of bluetooth is necessary for my music listening at work, but I know it doesn't compare to wired cans.
  1. I don't necessarily mind if they're bulky; "stylish" is not a concern.
  2. Comfort over long periods of time would be a plus. Also of concern is that the headband and ear cups will not easily slip or move around a lot. I'm doing physical labor at work, moving around a lot, sweating, lifting, bending, etc, which is why I'd previously gone with behind-the-neck style headphones, as they really stay in place. But I haven't seen any high-end BT headphones in that style.
  3. **The more I think about it, being able to keep these headphones securely on my head while moving about at work is really a very important consideration. And whichever headphones I end up buying will be used almost exclusively at work.
  4. Strong battery life of at least 10 hours (if I want to charge them every day), though a longer battery life allowing two or three days between charges would be ideal.
  5. "In-ear" is not an option for me. I have an inner ear condition which prohibits use of that style headphone. So I'm looking for on-ear or over-ear. In fact, if anyone can tell me the pros/cons of on-ear vs over-ear, I'd love to know more. Perhaps it will help me make a more informed decision. And maybe someone can tell me if one or the other styles would be less likely to slip around.
  6. I'm not looking for ridiculously and unnaturally emphasized bass. I certainly want well-represented bass, but hopefully with a more natural, tight delivery. Not booming or muddy, but definitely present.
  7. Powerful volume would also be a plus as I have to combat a fairly noisy work environment at times. But I understand I can also employ EQs for that (though I do tend to get lost when trying to use equalizers), and my current, cheap headphones do get loud enough via the on-ear volume controls.


I wear BT headphones at work 5 or 6 nights a week for 4-6 hours at a stretch. It's mindless work so I'm immersed in the music. I've gotten to the point where I sorely need a true upgrade from my lousy Rocketfish and Motorola S305 headphones, which are now years old and employing outdated bluetooth technology. 

With both headphones, when listening to loud or intense songs or passages, it seems like the bass just cannot be handled at all. And with a lot of current music (even the stuff that isn't mainstream), there seems to be a trend with really pumping the bass. So I end up hearing a lot of distortion, fuzziness, pops and crackling. I've looked at some of these "notorious" tracks with Audacity and, man, all red. So I don't even know if a good set of headphones can combat this inherent issue in the music. 

(BTW, why the heck are they doing that? Is there any scenario/gear where that actually sounds good?)

I will most likely be pairing these with my Samsung Galaxy S3 (new for me), which includes Apt-X technology. But I also have an iPhone 4S (no Apt-X with Apple products of course).

I assume that Bluetooth 4.0 and Apt-X are what I'm looking for. I certainly want to take advantage of the advancements in sound quality (if Apt-X truly is an advancement).

I've been researching headphones for about a month now and have come up with a rather short list of what I believe are the top contenders. However, I am COMPLETELY open to any and all recommendations. My primary source for searching has been Amazon, so I may be unaware of boutique companies offering something in my price range.

If it's at all helpful in choosing the right pair of headphones, the types of music I primarily listen to are classic jazz, modern jazz, indie rock/folk, film music. In other words, a lot of acoustic instruments recorded well (or remastered well). Stuff like John Zorn, Tom Waits, John Lurie, Yo La Tengo, classic Blue Note label, as well as some harder rock music like Pixies, Sleater-Kinney, Ramones, as well as lo-fi such as Billy Childish and Holly Golightly. OK, maybe that's not so helpful. Perhaps simpler to say rap, dance, electronica, etc are not really part of the equation. 

Here's what I've considered so far:

Sennheiser Urbanite XL Wireless

MEElectronics Air-Fi® Matrix2 AF62 Stereo Bluetooth Wireless

Ausdom M05

Plantronics BackBeat PRO

Jabra REVO Wireless No apt-x?

Creative Aurvana Gold Wired/Wireless No apt-x?

JBL Synchros 400BT

This is just what I've come up with so far in the under $300 price range. But as I said, I'm open to all suggestions.

The music I listen to is either in FLAC format or lame-encoded mp3s at 320kbps, and maybe I'll get into AAC, as I see mention of Apt-X supporting it.
I think I'd be happiest with a pair that doesn't rely on equalization apps to get the true benefit. But I won't entirely rule that out. I just feel that equalization is sort of a rabbit hole. There never seems to be one general configuration that applies to all types of music, so you end up spending (to me) an inordinate amount of time tweaking everything you listen to.

I would greatly appreciate any insight and suggestions your forum members may offer.
Thank you for your time!
 
Feb 10, 2015 at 2:40 PM Post #2 of 16

billybob_jcv

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If you bump up to $350, there is the Blue Mo-Fi that Jude reviewed:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=07jEzV4OkH8

Tyll recently did a review of wireless headphones:
http://www.innerfidelity.com/content/innerfidelitys-wall-fame-wireless
 
Feb 15, 2015 at 9:08 PM Post #6 of 16

orion23rigel

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I think the backbeat pros or pendulumic stance s1+ would suit your needs. The stances are a bit more comfortable, but the backbeats have better features imo. Alternately, the Sony mdr-1rbtmk2 are said to be quite good and comfortable, but they didn't sell them in the states, so you won't get any warranty support if something goes wrong, and they're pricier than the others.

The matrix2s are also good for the price, but they aren't very comfortable unless you replace the ear pads, and the others I suggested are in a different class.
 
Feb 16, 2015 at 10:57 AM Post #7 of 16

headcoatman

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I think the backbeat pros or pendulumic stance s1+ would suit your needs. The stances are a bit more comfortable, but the backbeats have better features imo. Alternately, the Sony mdr-1rbtmk2 are said to be quite good and comfortable, but they didn't sell them in the states, so you won't get any warranty support if something goes wrong, and they're pricier than the others.

The matrix2s are also good for the price, but they aren't very comfortable unless you replace the ear pads, and the others I suggested are in a different class.

I took the plunge last night and ordered 3 sets:
 
The Plantronics Backbeat Pro and the Creative Aurvana Gold, for comparison. At least one of those will be going back.
And the Creative WP-380 for use at home, connected to my AVR via the Avantree Priva bluetooth transmitter.
 
Wish me luck.
 
Mar 27, 2015 at 10:40 PM Post #8 of 16

orion23rigel

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I took the plunge last night and ordered 3 sets:

The Plantronics Backbeat Pro and the Creative Aurvana Gold, for comparison. At least one of those will be going back.
And the Creative WP-380 for use at home, connected to my AVR via the Avantree Priva bluetooth transmitter.

Wish me luck.



Out of curiosity, what did you end up keeping? And what were your impressions of the three sets?
 
Apr 2, 2015 at 1:13 PM Post #9 of 16

headcoatman

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Out of curiosity, what did you end up keeping? And what were your impressions of the three sets?


I kept the Plantronics BBP.
I had some issues with them, but I think they can be summed up as "user error". I'm quite happy with the sound, the comfort, and the incredible battery life. They respond very well to EQ (and I do sometimes need to lower the high end just a bit, for it can sound just a little too...brittle or shrill).
Both Creative headphones were unimpressive to me. The bass is extremely boosted on both, both were quite uncomfortable even within just 30 minutes of wearing them, and the Aurvana Gold also suffered from what I consider to be poor control layout. When wearing the Aurvana Gold, the control buttons are nearly at a diagonal--not vertical, not horizontal. Just poor placement. If the sound was great, I would have simply dealt with that issue. The Aurvana were also quite heavy and had my ears sweating in minutes. And even though the other Creative pair (Hitz WP380) were a lighter, on-ear model, they were even more uncomfortable than the Aurvana Gold. Lots of pain from the headband and the ear cups seemed to clamp too tightly.
 
Jul 21, 2016 at 10:26 AM Post #11 of 16

khanikun

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I'm not an audiophile by any means, but I have the Creative Aurvana Platinum, Creative Aurvana Gold, and the Sennheiser Urbanite XL Wireless. The Platinums are definitely better than the Gold. Both are definitely worse than the Urbanite.
 
The build quality of the Creative headphones is also pretty bad. I was wearing the Platinums a lot more than the Golds and eventually the band cushion kept coming off. I kept taking them out and super gluing them back in place. The paint on the band rubbed off. Eventually cracked. My friend just snapped the band, since I gave him the headphones once I replaced them with the Urbanites.
 
The Urbanites sound great, but I do feel they aren't as good as my Audio Technica A700s. They're miles ahead of the Creatives though.
 
Sep 29, 2016 at 5:16 PM Post #12 of 16

Venture Guy

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I just got a pair of the relatively new 1more MK802s and they are fantastic! I have had the Master & Dynamic MW60s on the high-end and the MEE audio Matrix2 on the low-end. The MK802s have a nice flat response curve (I am a maven for flat response curves). If you want bass bloat, you can have that too by flicking a switch. At $129, IMHO these are a no brainer :)
 
Mar 8, 2017 at 4:36 PM Post #15 of 16

Peddler

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To be honest when I first got them I didn't find them very comfortable - they should really be thought of as on ear rather than over ear but after a while I got used to them and could wear them easily for a couple of hours at a time. For me though it's their sound quality that makes then stand out from the others at their price point. They're wonderfully flat but have a good amount of punch and bass. The built in amplifier is excellent - no hiss and plenty of volume. Can't really connect on their Mike's - I have made calls with them but not sure what they're like from the other callers perspective.

I have tried the Bose QC35, Sennheiser's new PXC550 and V-Moda Crossfade Wireless and in my opinion, the 1More 802 wireless sounds more accurate.
 

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