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Huge Comparison of [almost] all the Best Bluetooth Headphones - post your own comparisons here

Discussion in 'Headphones (full-size)' started by giogio, Dec 15, 2014.
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  1. Giogio

    If you do, I would love to hear your opinions.
    This Thread is, after all, for that.
    I looked for them but in EU they are not available.
  2. Kelleytoons
    Yeah, I'm Giogio's crazy old internet friend <g> (not just a *bit* older, but he's being nice).  The real reason that is relevant here (not to scare any of you kids off) is that your ears keep growing your entire life (look it up -- didn't you ever wonder why old people have such big ears?  And it's not just better to hear you with, my dear!).  And those big ears make finding the right headphones, or even ear-buds, a much more difficult proposition than otherwise.
    There have been at least four or five BT headphones I tried recently that would have been ideal if my ears had been, say, the same size they were at 30.  So now I have to either find over-the-ear models that have huge cups, or get something on-ear that is soft enough not to press too hard (because they've gotten more sensitive over the years as well.  
    And while I've been auditioning nearly as many phones as Giogio has, right now my go-to BT ones are both earbuds: the Powerbeats and the Jaybirds.  I used to kind of hate earbuds, but with the Comply foam tips they are comfortable for many hours of wearing and actually have quite decent sound.  They can't measure up to over-the-ear ones, but I would say they certainly can hold their own with any on-ear models, particularly with some EQ (nearly all my music listening is mp3s at the insane preset, over BT on my iPhone 6 Plus, using the Equalizer app).
    Tomorrow the Pendulumic's are coming, and they are my *last* attempt at finding something until a few months from now (at that point they will be releasing the ones that Giogio likes so much here in the U.S., the Philips).  Just for grins, here is my quick recap (and, as I've said, I think I've tried nearly all the ones he has tested):
    Best Comfort: Samsung Over -- big enough and solid pads that rested comfortably around my ears.  Great controls as well, but horrible sound, much worse than even phones hundreds of dollars cheaper.  Runner up: Bose On-Ear, but I have the music "skipping" problem so they are off the table for me. Without that problem I would probably use them as, while they aren't *great* sonically, they are acceptable.
    Best Sound: Plantronics Back-Beat Pro.  Also fantastic controls, not quite as good as the Samsung, but really, really nice. Too small and uncomfortable for me to wear, though.  Second place for me would be a tie between the Beats Studio and Beats Solo2.  Both surprisingly good sound for Beats phones, and not overpowering bass (as they have adjusted to the times).  Both *terrible* fit for me.  I kept the Studio's the longest trying to get used to them, with no luck.
    I realize this thread is mostly about AptX and not bluetooth per se, but my at-home solution is (I think) going to be to pair a great pair of wired headphones (right now the Beyerdynamic Custom One Pros) with a tiny portable bluetooth receiver (with the Beyerdynamic having a removable cord you just put a male-to-male stereo adapter plugged in and then plug in the tiny receiver and, presto, you have a wireless set).  It's not really a travel solution, although those phones are very light, but it's the best I can find for fit and sound.  But no AptX for those of you who want it (I'm not sure any portable BT receiver has that, but you could look).
    The good news is wireless is the hottest place right now in the market.  Love it or hate them, Beats kind of rules headphone sales and for them to introduce not one but three wireless models (over the ear, on ear and in ear) this year in a line that had none says volumes about where the industry is going.  My guess is that we will see at least a few dozen new wireless sets released this spring and summer to compete for our $$$.
    I'll post my experiences with the Pendulumic's this weekend if anyone's interested.
    p4s2p0 likes this.
  3. Giogio
    Just to make things clearer, when Kelleytoons speak of a "music skipping problem" with the Bose, he is talking only about the iOS, = Apple products.
    This does not happen to me, ever, with Windows or Android.
    Nice would be if other iOS users could give their feedback on this subject, so that people could see if statistically this happens ALWAYS or just sometimes, and maybe so we find what is really causing this incompatibility.
    About what you could try, Kelleytoons, I think you are forgetting the Phiaton.
    Yes, they do NOT sound particularly good. But they sound more or less like the Bose and their Comfort is also similar to the Bose, so considering you do not really have many alternatives left, if the Pendulumic fail you, well... you have something else to try.
    The Fidelio, I am afraid, will not be good for you. They are perfectly comfortable for me (and the new M2BT have softer pads now) but they are not as soft as the Bose...
    Anyway, yes, you should try them because if they ever happen to be comfortable enough for the big sensitive ears of a grandpa like you, their wonderful warm vibrant bass will make you fall in love.
    About the Plantronics we agree on the sound, even if I do find them very comfortable. But I am younger and my ears are relatively small.
    The Beats Studio Wireless are where we really disagree. Which is also ok, tastes are tastes :)
    I do not like them at all. They do not have good detail, do not have good soundstage, and can sound just "acceptable" to me only after a quite strong EQ to decrease lot of upper bass and low mid in order to make them sound less dark and dull, increasing some sub-bass to give them some punch, plus increasing some mid and upper mid to give them at least a tiny bit of harmony and warmth, and decreasing some highs to compensate their harshness.
    And even so I do not like their sound.
    The Plantronics are much better in everything (but the look).
    Well, the Beats are more portable than the Plantronics and have more BT Range (for if you really have a very big house with lot of walls).
    But the Plantronics have a real ANC which is quite ok, have Open Mic to increase the sounds around you and let you hear what people say to you, and pause the music automatically when you wear them off. Plus, they have multipoint and can be connected to your phone AND your PC simultaneously.
    So, unless people really want to look like Dr Dree wants, I would never possibly suggest them to buy the Beats over the Plantronics.
    Looking forward to your opinions on the Pendulumic!
  4. david8613
    Kellytoons, I have longish ears, and tend to like to use oval shaped headphones because they cover my ears better than round cans. I loved the fit of my vmoda m100 with xl pads but they are not Bluetooth. My current set the logitech ue 9000 an oldie but goodie also have a nicely shaped pads for bigger ears, with a very nice sound sig, you ever tried those? I'm looking at getting the plantronics bb pro, but a little hesitant since they are round but they look pretty big so I might be ok.
  5. Giogio
    Almost 5.5cm.
    This is the inner diameter of the pads of the Backbeat Pro. My ears go there perfectly.
    The outer diameter is 10cm.
    The pads are of soft Memory Foam, not so soft like the Bose, but soft.
    I wonder if once one find the headphones he likes, is it possible to customize the pads with a softer foam, eventually even with larger pads.
    I cannot believe that no online shop yet offers such a feature.
    David, did you try the Skullcandy Hesh 2.0 Wireless? I read Skullcandy among your past headphones, and a woman just suggested them to me on a comment to my review of the Beats Studio Wireless in Amazon.
    I doubt they can have the overall SQ of the Fidelio but they seem to potentially be good ones for Bass lovers.
  6. dieselvrr
    Also looking forward to initial reviews of the Stance S1+
  7. david8613
    I had tried the skull candy aviators, very energetic, high energy sound, very clear, good bass reminded me of my vmoda m100 but my vmoda were a little less bright, smoother which I perfer.
  8. Giogio
    And how would you compare the Sony mdr-10rbt with the sony mdr-xb950bt?
    I was not impressed by the 10RBT, feeling that its bass was dull and dark and intrusive (like the Studio Wireless, but with less quantity), and that its good soundstage was ruined by the fact that somehow the sound was coming from behind. Yes, the whole soundstage was like behind my head, which was very disturbing to me.
    I was also disappointed by the MDR-1RBT (old one), so I think it makes not much sense I try the xb950bt.
    Same goes for the Skullcandy Hesh 2.0 Wireless. I doubt they can ever possibly get close to Fidelio M2BT and Plantronics Backbeat Pro.
  9. Kelleytoons
    A couple of things:
    1) You can replace the ear cups on many earphones, but not all.  There are some that are designed for replacement (no BT phones that I know of but many wired sets), and those are obviously pretty easy.  Ones that are not designed *can* be replaced but it requires some work and the results may or may not be satisfactory (depending on whether they fit the phones and how well your skills with dissembling/assembling are).  I've done it and in the case of those not designed for it it's a PITA, IMHO.
    2) As I said, the Plantonics don't fit my ears.  Anyone under 30 should have no problem, and even older folks may be okay, but if you have a large head and/or ears you aren't going to find them adequate.  Note that the general trend is for smaller cups for even over-the-ear phones, most likely because the typical audience is for the under 30 set, for whom portability is more of a concern.  If you look, for example, at any classic over-the-ear cans of even 20 years ago you'll see ENORMOUS cups.  I don't see such size on any BT phones.
    3) I'm auditioning the Pendulumic even as I type this.  So far my impressions are that the sound is adequate -- nothing special, decent bass, decent highs, soundstage is okay but not impressive.  I've already decided they are too small for me, though (about the same size as the Plantronics, so if you are okay with those you'll be okay with these.  However, not only are they too small for me, as the cup presses in it's also not padded very well, so my ears hit the back.  They are going back.
    4) I'm going to list all the phones I've tested this year.  They are all BT, and I've arranged them by category.
    Note that you can't really compare apples to oranges.  Just like you can't compare wired to wireless.  If I put my $2K Sennheister wired phones hooked up to my headroom preamp and listen to my music (all my stuff is mp3 at insane preset) there is nothing that sounds better, not even being at the concert.  But that pretty well confines me to the living room and isn't what I like to do anymore.  So I need a more portable solution and have to use BT because iPhones don't support AptX.  
    Now, some folks will be misled by wiring up their BT phones and testing them and saying they can't hear a difference and assuming BT can sound just as good as wired but most BT makers tune their phones for that, so their wired results aren't better (and sometimes not as good).  But a good wired set will always beat a good wireless set, it's just the nature of the beast.  That's not to say that you can get a BT set that can beat a more expensive wired set, it's just a general principle.
    By that same token, in general an around-the-ear set will always be better than an on-ear, and an on-ear better than an in-ear.  Again, you can always find exceptions but it's best not to try and compare the experience.  They all do best what they are designed to do.  When I look for something outside the house I am far more interested in portability, which is why earbuds will always beat an on-ear or over-the-ear set for me.
    Also a note that, given what I say above about design, most "around-the-ear" sets aren't such for me.  So when I list them here I will put an asterisk next to those (few) that are actually around the ear and don't sit on my (obviously Dumbo-like, although you wouldn't know it) ears.
    Finally, I can't wear any in-ear phones without using Comply Foam Comfort tips.  They make all the difference in the world to me -- anything else is just too uncomfortable (with them I can leave them in all day).
    Plantronics Backbeat Pro
    House of Marley Liberate XLBT
    MEElectronics Matrix2 AF62
    Harmon Kardon Premium BT *
    Samsung Level *
    Sony MDR-1RBTMK2
    Beats Studio Wireless
    Bose Soundlink Around-the-Ear
    Bluedio R+ Legend
    JBL Synchros 400BT
    Beats Solo 2
    Neojdx Aktiv Sports
    Sennheiser PX210BT
    Jabra Revo
    Jabra Move
    Bose Soundlink On-Ear
    Jaybird BlueBuds X
    Beats Powerbeats
    I've decided at this point I'm not going to order any more BT phones.  I have what I want for portable (the Powerbeats) and at home I'm going to experiment with using a wired set converted to BT.  Wired I *can* get large cups to surround my ears in comfort, as well as get replaceable cups.  Next spring we'll see what is on the market.
  10. Giogio
    I think you forgot the Tuis and the Pendulumic. Probably because you're old.
    With those you have tested more than I :)
    I think Amazon hates us.
    But we are like Robin Hood, with take from the Rich to give to the poor :D
    Testing Headphones for the benefit of the Community.
    I even had a week where I had no more money, waiting for the refund of some headphones I had returned :D
    Well, I copy your list (with the addition of the other two) in the first post.
    Thanks for joining.
  11. david8613
    Kellytoons great information there, thanks! I was looking at getting either the sony mdr1r bt mk2 or the plantronics back beat pro, I ended up ordering the backbeat pro because of the very cool features and very positive reviews. I have not found many reviews for the sony mk2. I would like to hear your thoughts on how they compare since you own both.
  12. Kelleytoons
    Sorry, forgot about the Tuis somehow (I was working off my Amazon order list and must have missed that page :>).  And, of course, the Pendulumics just arrived today.
    Yes, Amazon kind of hates me right now but I DID point out to them that I order thousands of dollars of stuff from them each year that I do NOT return, so they basically said "Okay" but I get the impression it's just "...for now."   I'm going to return the last four pair I bought but I will space them out over the course of a few weeks now and then take a break.  Hopefully they won't send me any more somewhat nasty notes (in fairness to them, it was a very "gentle" sort of "well, we are a bit concerned about all these returns.  Is there something WE are doing wrong?".  Still I could read between the lines).
    David, as for the MK2 -- it was definitely a decent phone, but the Plantronics is far superior in terms of both controls and sound.  Comfort is about the same for both (again, for me not so good because of my ears, but for someone with smaller ears or less sensitive ones both might be fine).  Of all the phones I sent back the two I was most reluctant to let go were the Samsung and the Plantronics, but for different reasons (I loved the fit of the Samsung and the way the controls worked, but hated the sound, and the Plantronics I loved the sound and controls but hated the fit.  If only there were a way to "Frankenstein" the two phones together <bg>.).  The MK2 might have a touch more bass than the Plantronics but it was not a dramatic difference.  I can't imagine ordering the Sony if the Plantronics works for you -- and I can't imagine a scenerio where it wouldn't work for you but the Sony would.
  13. Giogio
    Wow, I was sure that the Sony were better (I did not try them though, and the old not MK2 did not impress me).
    What were your impressions of the Harman Kardon?
    I have just found a pair for 99 Euro!!! I absolutely have to try them. I remember you had concerns about their fit and their construction, but I do not remember your opinions on their sound.
    And, which exact model of Comply tips are you using? Did you try other ones of this Brand? I see they make many different ones. I would have no idea how to choose.
    Well I am not interested in In-Ear but maybe other people are :)
    What about the Matrix2?
    And how is it going with the Pendulumic? Don't you want to give them more time to see how they evolve with the use?
    And, didn't you also try the new extra bass from Sony?
    I am waiting for the replacement of the Fidelio and so in the while I compare the only 4 left.
    The Plantronics are clearly the best, no discussion possible.
    Although I do need to EQ them increasing the Sub-Bass and some Bass, and also the Mids.
    So they have a bit more consistency, presence, warmth, punch.
    The House of Marley are impossible without EQ, but with some Sub-Bass more and quite a lot more Highs and some upper Mids they are very very sexy. I really like their warm signature a lot, they give a magic touch to voices and to some instruments.
    They have their limits, but, nobody is perfect.
    The Bose are reconquering my admiration. It is a wonder how amazing they sound, being so little and with no Aptx.
    They are almost perfect, they are balanced but not neutrally boring like the AKG.
    Once again, I do EQ them, bass, sub bass, highs and upper mids.
    I even listened to Dubstep with them today and while of course they cannot compete with basshead Headphones they do surprisingly well.
    They are wonderful on vocals, with more presence than the Plantronics, even if with less soundstage.
    And while being not as warm as the super warm House of Marley, they are still warm (warmed than the Plantronics) but also fresh. Really amazing.
    I am curious to see what I will think of the Fidelio now after a while of not using them.
    I remember them as a mix of the best parts of Plantronics and Bose (even if with not as much soundstage as the Plantronics) plus a warm vibrant punchy bass.
    We'll see.
  14. Kelleytoons
    The HK were such a mess I never got to listen to them much -- their construction left a LOT to be desired (they literally fell apart on me -- they are designed so you can switch out the headpiece, but the design is such that it's a PITA to try and do it and when they came both ear pieces were off and I never could get them seated properly).  They were large pads, though.  I just couldn't see them holding up for even slight usage.
    The Matrix sounded fine, not outstanding but certainly acceptable.  Again, not comfortable at all and the controls were *really* poor (it was hard to turn them on even, and you could never be quite sure they were off unless you checked to make sure your phone wasn't attached).
    Because I can't wear the Pendulumic for even 20 minutes there's not a lot of point in continuing to listen, but I'm pretty sure my first impressions were correct.  As a rule the first time I listen to something is the best, because my ears (like everyone else's) adapt to what you have over time.  IOW, if you listen to a certain set of phones they will start sounding better and better to you until you listen to something better (or worse) because you lose perspective.  Think of it like wine tasting -- if you don't cleanse your palette it's hard to tell what's good and what isn't.
    I did have the extra bass Sonys ordered, but after Amazon sent me that email I decided I wouldn't end up keeping them anyway (since they weren't any bigger than the MK2) so why bother testing them?
    I use the Comply Comfort tips -- they are super soft.  The other models are harder (for more sound isolation, but I actually prefer NOT to have total sound isolation when I'm out and about).  TS I believe is the model designation.
    I think the Bose in general are fine -- again, it's only my issue with the skipping that keeps them off my list.  I AM going to try again when iOS 8.2 comes out, just in case (in that situation I'm going direct to the local Bose store and try them there, so no problem with returning).
    And I know this is strictly a BT thread, but you might be interested in knowing I ordered a wired set of Fidelio X1/28s coming Sunday.  I'm going to try these with my bluetooth solution to see if they will be a good at-home wireless set (and I also note that they make portable BT receivers that do AptX as well, just in case anyone else here wants to give this a shot).
  15. dieselvrr
    Kelleytoons, any initial comments on sound quality on the s1+ even though you couldn't wear them for a long time?
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