Who has experiences or suggestions for good apt-x Bluetooth Headphones (InEar/OverEar)?
Oct 9, 2013 at 11:37 AM Thread Starter Post #1 of 26

Schwarzer Riese

New Head-Fier
Sep 27, 2008
Hello Everyone,

I'd like to know if some of you already made experiences with Bluetooth Apt-X Headphones?

At the Moment I have an iPod 5.5 G Classic with Rockbox and SennheiserIE8 over the LineOut, but since I like to have a little "lighter" Setup for on the Go, and don't want to stick with cables I'd like a pair of Bluetoth Headphones with nearly no Cables.

Herefor I have heard of the apt-x Codec and have read a bit round the web, and came to the conclusion to give this better Bluetooth Technology a try.
(I tested many "normal" Bluetooth Headphones but the bad quality of bluetooth always annoyed me)

So has anyone a suggestion what to buy in terms of apt-x?
Since I like InEars mostly I would be very pleased by a suggestion of good InEars.

(But shouldn't be some with a separate cabled "Receiver-Box", since I could use normal headphones than)

I'm looking for real good apt-x InEars with only the two "Ear-Parts" connected by a necklace or cable,

Of course I you know very good Over-the-Ear Headphones (closed!) which are small, and you say it's definitely worth the extra weight: .....I'm happy to hear about!

The price range should be something between 50 and 100 bucks, but can be also exceeded if worth the money.

Thank you for any help,
best regards from Germany,
Oct 21, 2013 at 3:12 AM Post #7 of 26
Hey sparkyflea, ok thanks for your answer!

@tomartinaz: Yeah, I know there are quite a few an Amazon and other sites...
But this was not the question, since I was searching for real experiences from HeadFi users, and not any Amazon-Customer-Comments which I do not trust in...

So since, no one from here tested yet, ...yes, I HAVE TO try myself.
It was just my hope to find someone trustworthy wo tested already!

Best regards, Schwarzer Riese
Oct 22, 2013 at 7:57 PM Post #10 of 26
I will say I get very good results from my Jaybird Bluebuds X with Comply tips using HTC One as DAP and Neutron player. Source files are all FLAC CD rips. It is not Apt-X but it sounds dang good. I don't know if it has anything to do with their proprietary Bluetooth codec but I'm impressed.The ability to hear bass lines and instrument separation very good and especially considering the external environment. I use primarily on long walks with a little running mixed in often next to traffic. I can barely hear external noise with the Comply tips and music sounds good. Love it. 
Feb 3, 2014 at 6:41 AM Post #11 of 26
I'm also looking for a pair of apt-x cans for portable use although I'd prefer something other than IEM's. Sennheiser seem to make the best but it's difficult finding them in stock anywhere.
Feb 28, 2014 at 11:09 AM Post #13 of 26
Sony and Parrot have some good offerings in apt-x cans.. The Parrot Zik, Can't spell that name, but 550 X, and the Sony MDR 1RBT/MK2, Sony MDR 10RBT, all have apt-x, and the lower Sony is the one I have (10RBT), and the sound it great.
Apr 3, 2014 at 12:17 AM Post #14 of 26
Thread is a little stale but totally relevant to my mission which has been to find a decent set of BT cans that preferably features aptX and are comfortable. My profile is middle-aged man, not an audiophile but do have reasonably keen hearing. Music taste lately has been centered around Contemporary Christian (Chris Tomlin, Matt Redman, Hillsong, etc) but I do enjoy a wide variety of music from classical to hip hop. I've created a dedicated playlist to test headphones with and the material can range anywhere from 160K to 4608K but with most encoded at 320K AAC via iTunes. Music is usually played off my PC (with Orico BT adapter featuring CSR chipset and aptX) or off my iPad Air or iPod 4G (not as good sounding compared to iPad or PC).
I'd like to work on reviews for these as time allows but to date here are my brief impressions on the BT can's I've tested (ones with * denotes aptX support):
Klipsch Image One* - microphonics from buttons are one of the worst I've experienced on a headphone to date, overall sound was a little honky/puffy for me (see definition here). It's on-ear and created discomfort after a period of wear. Gifted these to my sis-in-law so can't really recall much more about them.
Bose Ae2w - I'll disclose right up front that I'm a fan of Bose products but have never owned any of their headphones. I recall trying a set (forgot which) at Target and they sounded absolutely phenomenal. However, I wasn't particularly impressed with the Ae2w. It is the most lightweight and likely the most comfortable in this group but it's particularly sensitive to positioning (especially the bass). The cups are super large so really shouldn't have any problems accommodating anyone not named Dumbo (sorry, no offense intended to anyone who actually can't fit these) but therein lies the problem in that the clamping force isn't particularly strong and couples with the extra large ear pads, it's prone to shifting. The overall sound profile is a bit honky/puffy (I really dislike headphones that emphasize the 500-700 range) and the bass is just a tad bit on the light side (greatly exacerbated if not positioned correctly). The first set also suffered from BT issues (on occasions, even with the physical switch in off position, the LED indicators lights remained on). No prob, Bose sent out another set and replaced it under warranty. A nice touch is that it can pair with both your phone and an audio source and will automatically pause the music for an incoming call. Ultimately though and in consideration of the price, the sound was a bit of a let down and not what I was expecting from a Bose product. 
ME Electronics Air-Fi Venture AF52 - one of the better sounding BT cans in this group and very similar to its big brother the AF62. The major achilles heel for this set was that there was radio freq. noise in the left driver. Ironically, I was offered an upgrade (difference paid out of pocket) for these after I complained about the same exact problem with their now discontinued AF71 IEM's). It wasn't as bad as the AF71's but definitely noticeable during quiet transitions (in between songs) and especially during video editing. Also, strangely there was this weird noise not unlike an air siren that started low and increased in pitch. It's very faint but definitely noticeable. I gifted these to my sis-in-law thinking she wouldn't pick this up but she did so back they went for an upgrade to...
ME Electronics Air-Fi Matrix2 AF62* - the absolute best sounding headphones I've experienced to date (includes NAD VISO HP50). Very similar to ATH-M50 which I think says A LOT. The BT module used is one of the best as well and connects very quickly and is the most resistant to interference. There are a few blocks from Port Authority where it creates interference for just about every BT cans on this list. Only experienced minor hiccups with this set. Sound might be a little bright but again, I honestly feel these are the most "neutral" (to me) headphones which as mentioned includes the venerable HP50's (which hangs on InnerFidelity's Wall of Fame). Noise isolation is very poor though, needed to bump up the volume to compete with traffic and city noise while walking to work but once in the office (or at home), the sound profile and soundstage is simply sublime. I can listen to these straight up without any need for EQ be it on my PC, iPad or iPod. The ear pads use regular foam and would benefit from thicker memory foam for added comfort.
Photive PH-BTX6 - really wanted to like these, they feel very solidly built and comes with a nice hard case but ultimately the sound was a bit too honky/puffy and dark. I had to drop 2 ticks (eq. to -6db) on 500 range in iTunes EQ but whatever other tweaks I made, I just couldn't quite get these to sound right. I know they have great ratings on Amazon and to be honest, if these were the only headphones I've ever experienced, I might be inclined to agree with the nearly 5 star rating but alas, these only get 3.5 from me due to the sound. Oh, I also didn't like the BT module constantly "screaming" at me every time it powered on/off and connected (come on BT mfg's! Really? You couldn't have set these announcements to the same volume the headphone is set to? geez...). These didn't perform particularly well as a phone headset, while I can hear the other party reasonably well, I found I had to speak louder than normal in order for them to hear me.
Nakamichi BT304/HP01 - I have fond memories of this brand from my youth and namely that was that they made quality high-end components (Dragon anyone?) that were way out of my reach. Well, fast forward a bunch of years and alas, I think they are suffering an identify crisis (post exiting bankruptcy and being acquired) much like this particular headphone. They are officially sold as BT304 but even certain marketing materials and the ID that comes up after pairing identifies these as HP01. Regardless, these are nearly identical to the AF52's with the major exception being that there is no headphone jack so you can't use these in passive mode. That's a shame as these are really amazing sounding headphones, however, like the AF52's it also suffers from the same radio freq. noise (likely using the same exact BT module) but unlike the AF52's one particular unit (I purchased two and gifted one away) suffered from very poor BT connection. It kept receiving interference so I ultimately had to return it. Otherwise, these really are one of the best sounding BT can's in this group. However, overall build quality while not bad is not up to par based on what I recall plus some of their most recent offerings really brings in to question how Nakamichi is currently positioned (not particularly high-end).
FSL 360* - aptX? check! BT4.0? Not mandatory but check! Striking good looks (yeah I know, subjective) - check! Nice hard shell case? That's a bonus!  All this for under $70, sah-weet!  I was really hoping these would be THE BT cans I was looking for. Alas, the sound and the ultimately too small (for me) ear pads killed it. It's somewhat similar to the Photive in sound profile except perhaps not as dark and unlike the Photive, I can get a reasonable sound with EQ tweaking. I like the idea of the one knob control but ultimately the whole headphone feels a little flimsy. The headband will tilt along with your head and there is a rattle in the left ear piece despite not featuring any buttons (the control is on the right). It's as loud passive as it is active.
JBL Synchros S400BT* - bass heads, look no further, this headphone is for you! Passive mode is underwhelming, really needs to be in BT mode to truly appreciate sound. Fun headphone (think EDM or Electronic) but hardly neutral and not totally accurate. Bass is still somewhat overwhelming even with Bass Reducer EQ set in iTunes. Very solidly built but the touch control is a bit flaky. I find that I often pause the music when I inadvertently brush the touch panel while adjusting the headset. I would've preferred a physical button that I need to depress for the play/pause but the swipe for tracks and volume worked OK (note, one volume swipe is equivalent to one button depress, unlike the Zik's where swiping up and down will gradually increase/decrease the volume like on a touchscreen phone). The ear pads are very comfy; despite being on-ear's I only experience pain after a very extended listening session. Boo on the proprietary charging cable! Speaking of which, I was a little concerned about shorts while plugging this in/out for charging but they have cleverly routed the positive path to the "last" rung of the jack (most furthest away from the tip). However, the possibility for shorts still remains (the negative path is right next to the positive one) so best to unplug cable after charging. Its dome shape does protrude out a bit and may cause one to be mistaken for Princess Leia... (just saying...)
Parrot Zik - (@cehowardNote3 - these do not feature aptX). Got these refurb but they came in seemingly brand new condition (with sealed tape on box). Upon pairing and installing the app on my iPod, it automatically updated the F/W to v1.09 (from v1.06) over bluetooth. Reasonably comfortable but ultimately very heavy causing the headband to push down and create undue pressure. A little bass heavy and I'm unsure of the standard codec used (SBC I think) but it just doesn't seem to sound as clean as the other BT cans in this list. Even with all the "modes" (surround, EQ, ANC, Lou Reed) turned off, I can't help but feel there is some digital gimmickry going on with the sound and it's just not very realistic. The ANC does work VERY well and I found it less annoying than Bose's QC15. On bus ride in morning, I can barely hear the motor roaring with ANC on. It's a bit bulky so does suffer from air noise from mild breezes while walking. App is pretty neat but ultimately other than ANC, I tend to leave all the setting off. These are however great for watching movies with (especially action flix). Poor battery life. Also at this price point and despite the features, they really should've included a case... (cloth sack for a nearly $400 headphone... really?). As with the S400BT, I find that I inadvertently pause the music since I touched the surface, however, the volume control works in direct relation to your swipe (it'll gradually increase/decrease volume as long as you continue to swipe). I also love the feature where it'll automatically pause when you remove the headphone.
Harman Kardon BT* - head band keeps pushing down on my head and eventually is painful, otherwise the ear pads are actually quite comfortable. As with the JBL, it uses proprietary charging cable (however it's interchangeable with each other). Just got these in (and at a great price since they're refurb'd) so my initial impression of the overall sound profile is that it's also slightly honky/puffy (emphatic 500-700 range) but at least can be EQ'd to be quite decent. I'm not sure why but this sound profile generated a particular ambiance that greatly enhanced the creepiness factor while watching Hannibal. Been having BT connection problems though in that for some reason, it seems to refuse to connect via aptX profile (no aptX connection message). Only the first time I pair it will it show the message otherwise let's say if I power it off and then back on, I'll get a connection message but not the aptX one. Haven't figured it out yet and not sure if it's really not connecting via aptX or merely just not displaying the message.
So bottom line, out of all of these, the AF62's get my vote as the best sounding BT cans with great connection and reasonably comfortable (for me) and I actually prefer them over the HP50's (a bit too emphatic in 500-700 range for my tastes).
Hope that helps anyone else looking at BT cans.

Apr 4, 2014 at 2:42 PM Post #15 of 26
Turbobb, awesome post/response/feedback!!!

I didn't know that Parrot Zik didn't have aptx!! From my point of view, the Harman Kardon BT would be my choice over the Parrot, not only for the aptx but price too.
The Harman Kardon at the $97 refurbished price with free shipping, IMO, trumps all the others.. Between the Sony MDR 1RBTMK2 and the Sony MDR 10RBT, the Harman Kardon was close to the 10RBT, but the Sony MK2, IMO, just outclassed the other two on all counts.. The two Sony and the HK BT, all have aptx too.

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