Business Technology

Sunday 4 December 2016

No headphone port? No problem - Wireless headphones for every budget

Published 07/09/2016 | 13:26

With 3.5mm headphone ports starting to look like an endangered species on phones, it's time to start looking at what the best wireless headphone sets are.

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Under €100

Groov-e Fusion Bluetooth (€45 from Amazon.co.uk)

Many people won’t have heard of Groov-e, but they’ve been putting out pretty decent no-frills, inexpensive gear for a while.

The Fusion headphones are pretty comfortable, simple to operate, easy to pair with your phone (or any Bluetooth music source) and have a small number of on-set controls. These are volume and track-control (forward, back and pause).

But the main thing is the sound quality.

These headphones won’t quite compete with upper-tier Sennheisers, Beats or Bose for audio finesse, but the sound they have is really quite good, especially for the price you’re paying here. As a companion with Spotify or Apple Music, they’re genuinely good.

As is now the norm with bluetooth headphones, they double as a very effective hands-free set to make and take phone calls.

As such, there’s a small microphone at the bottom of the right speaker that acts as your mouthpiece.

The earcups fold into toward the main band for a little more portability. The model I tested came in gold, although silver and black versions are also available.

Under €200

Plantronics Backbeat Sense (€140 from Amazon.co.uk)

This is a high-tech, elegant set of headphones for what you’re paying, although the portability means you’ll sacrifice some audio quality compared to bigger sets.

The headphones’ design is modern and handsome.

My set came in brown leather earphones, black brushed plastic casing and a partially exposed aluminium band on top. That leather, which adorns the earpieces and a cranial resting band, makes them feel light and unobtrusive.

There are oodles of controls for a mid-range headset. With a microphone on each earcup for making and taking phone calls, there are play, pause, forward and rewind buttons, as well as a volume control and a mute button (for phone calls).

The right earcup has a call-answering button and a 3.5mm jack in case you want to use this with a non-wireless machine.

A handy feature is that they stop playback whenever they’re removed from your ears, saving battery life for both the headphones and your phone.

The audio quality from these headphones is good, but they deliver in more limited circumstances than some bigger headphones.

These headphones sit ‘on’ your ears and not around them. That means that they don’t block out external noise. This is a bit of an issue when wearing them on a noisy street.

They come with a nice grey padded carry bag.

Over €200

Sennheiser Momentum Wireless 2.0 (€319 from HifiHut.ie)

I love these headphones for a variety of reasons. They have very good audio quality, are comfortable, look good and have active noise-cancelling technology on board.

This latter feature means that they cut out a great deal of the external clattering and chattering around you to let you focus on whatever your Bluetooth audio source is.

Indeed, you don’t even need to have something playing -- you can simply turn the headphones on and you’ll get the advantage of the noise-cancellation.

The quality of the playback is very good for wireless headphones.

There are some useful physical controls on the headphones, including a volume button and track controls.

As you'd expect, they also have a built-in hands-free microphone that lets you make and take calls without holding your phone up to your mouth.

Battery life is about the same as any other pair of Bluetooth wireless cans I use -- you’ll get a week from a single charge if you listen for around an hour a day. It’s rechargeable using a standard Micro USB cable. Their physical styling is about the best on the market, with just the right amount of understated fashion and design.

Finally, the headphones fold up so you can bring them around in a bag (they come with their own molded carrying case).

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