Microsoft Surface Headphones 2 Impressions
May 26, 2020 at 5:17 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 5

Odin412

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Microsoft introduced their original Surface Headphones a couple of years back, and they just introduced their new model, creatively called Surface Headphones 2. I tried the first model at a Microsoft Store but didn’t like it – the treble sounded too harsh and strident for me. However, my company supplied me with a Version 2 as part of the teleworking effort during the current Covid pandemic, so I got a chance to try it.
The headphone arrives in a very nice box, which contains a case for transporting the headphones, which in turn fold flat in the case. The headphones are very comfortable and have a quality feel to them. There is a dedicated Surface Audio app that you can download on Windows 10 that lets you use different equalizer settings if you so prefer. I just use the neutral (flat) setting.
The headphones pair quickly and without issues via Bluetooth. They can pair with multiple devices so they’re easy to use with multiple computers. I’ve used them with my Windows 10 work laptop, my Surface Pro 7 tablet and my Sony ES home theater receiver.
An interesting feature of these headphones is their adjustable noise canceling. By turning the left earcup (the outside is a knob) you can vary the noise canceling from max to zero and you can even amplify ambient noise if you wish. The amplify function prioritizes speech, which can be handy. I found the noise canceling worked well, although my Sony WH-1000XM3 works even better. The right earcup knob controls the volume.
The sound quality is pretty good – they’re not audiophile headphones by any means but the sound is pleasant and enjoyable to my ears. The bass is good and goes deeper than I expected, the midrange is good (especially for voices) and the treble is smooth and non-fatiguing, although maybe on the darker side, which I tend to prefer. Interestingly, I thought the sound quality was better when listening via my Sony receiver than from a laptop. I’m not sure why – maybe the Sony tries to use the best codec that it can find. I will say that although I found the sound quality to be enjoyable, my Sony WH-1000XM3 and Audeze Mobius sound noticeably better.
I’ve used these headphones during multiple Teams and Skype meetings and the sound quality is very good – it’s easy to hear what other people are saying and other participants have had no problems hearing what I’m saying even though the microphones are mounted in the earcups instead of on a boom microphone.
If you're using Microsoft Office 2016 you can also use the ‘dictate’ function which allows you to speak by pressing the Dictate toolbar button and having your speech translated to text. The voice recognition worked very well during my use.
In conclusion, I think it’s important to consider what these headphones are designed for. This isn’t a pure audiophile headphone designed to listen intently to ‘Take Five’ for the 257th time to try to discern new microdetails. These headphones are designed for an office environment where they can help filter out the yapping of your more or less annoying coworkers while participating in conference calls – and as a bonus they let you listen to music while working or during your downtime. Looking at these headphones through that lens I would say that they work pretty darn well. The headphones look good (especially in matte black IMHO), have a nice feel to them and are very comfortable. Good job, Microsoft!
 
May 26, 2020 at 5:46 PM Post #2 of 5

davesa

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I have the Surface Headphones v1, and agree with a lot of your comments - I like to pop them on when I want to go wireless / bluetooth - I like the noise canceling on my older Sony MDR-1000X a bit better - I found the bass to be a bit to much on the V1's but they have a nice EQ hidden in the settings which allows you to adjust them and the setting sticks regardless of which bluetooth device is driving them. Have not had a chance to try the V2 yet but look forward to sampling them.
 
Jun 8, 2020 at 6:43 PM Post #3 of 5

Odin412

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Interesting observation using the Surface Headphones 2 to watch streaming video: When I use them with my Sony home theater receiver the sound and video are slightly out of sync. When I use them with my Surface Pro 7 there are no issues. I'm not sure what it is about the signal path through my receiver that introduces the delay, but something is definitely going on.
 
Jun 8, 2020 at 7:06 PM Post #4 of 5

HipHopScribe

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Interesting observation using the Surface Headphones 2 to watch streaming video: When I use them with my Sony home theater receiver the sound and video are slightly out of sync. When I use them with my Surface Pro 7 there are no issues. I'm not sure what it is about the signal path through my receiver that introduces the delay, but something is definitely going on.

Bluetooth can introduce latency, some codecs more than others. Some sending devices will compensate by delaying video as well, so your surface pro might be using a different codec or compensating for latency while your receiver isn't
 
Jul 27, 2020 at 11:21 AM Post #5 of 5

hifi80sman

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These have been out of stock for some time, but now they're back at Best Buy (looks like each store near me only has 1). Out of the box, they sound a little on the warm side, but after adjusting to my taste via App, they sound quite addictive to me.

Just tested them last night and currently listening now, but so far, really liking them for music, calls, and multipoint pairing (very seamless). Comfort is also surprisingly good. I wish they had AAC, but thankfully I have an Android phone and an iPhone that I can pair simultaneously.

Great job, Microsoft! (Wow, never thought I'd say that!)
 

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