Audio 66’s BTS: My new favorite headset
I am almost never satisfied with a majority of electronics because I’m the type of user that pushes them to their limit. I know what technology is capable of, so I tend to try to leverage it to suit my needs. One of my “needs” is to have a lightweight hassles-free headset. I wanted wireless so I don’t have to deal with getting tangled in cables, and plugging and unplugging it. I want one that can run all day (or a few days) on a single charge. And I want the sound to be good for casual listening—not that over-compressed first or even second generation wireless audio.
Bluetooth headsets have been out for a while. But they’ve been historically overpriced for what you get. IMO, they should be no more than $20 above the fidelity level of a wired headset. So, with Sony’s $100 MDR7 series the “standard” of a good price:fidelity balance, I figure a “sports*” headset like this should be no more than $50. When I found Noisehush NS400, it was exactly what I wanted, & only $35. I was very happy with the audio quality for the price and the sports band (where the band goes behind your neck) is the perfect balance of non-intrusive & convenient — meaning you can put them on and take them off in 2 seconds. But once I got used to them, I found one more “need.” I wanted to be able to connect to my phone, my computer and iPad simultaneously. Until the Bluetooth spec update that added “multipoint,” this desire was wishful thinking. With a street price of $50, Audio 66’s Bluetooth Sport is the first device to meet all my needs, including multipoint.
TL;DR: These Rock. sound great, work well… 5 Stars
A while back I wrote a review of the Kanex AirBlue, and gave it the thumbs up for its sound quality and easy of use. As I mentioned I was burned by Best Buy’s in-house Rocketfish Bluetooth headset, and didn’t want to spend north of $60 for another headset that ended up in the junk drawer. Well, I always keep an eye out for products, new or old that fit the bill: I wanted an (1) easy to connect Bluetooth Headset that had (2) good stereo audio quality for music and a (3) a mic for phone calls where (4) people could hear me clearly on the other end. The Rocketfish only fit the second and third criteria, and I had been using the AirBlue since the Rocketfish broke after 3 or 4 months.
I saw the NoiseHush NS 400 on sale at NewEgg for $35 — well under my $50 limit for a BT headset — about a month and a half ago. I don’t think I should have to pay much more for wireless headset than a tethered headset of the same audio quality. So, given I think decent quality can be found for around $25, if I add the battery, buttons and bluetooth transceiver, it should be less than $45. In case you are wondering, the NoiseHush NS400 meets or exceeds my criteria for what a bluetooth headset should be.
Well 2013 is here and either we are just the holographic debris on an event horizon of a black hole, or reality is relative. I wouldn’t have minded being the Mayan Calendar maker who made the last calendar, because then when finished, and asked …
King: “What happens when we reach the end of thew calendar? This think will not work after that.”
Mayan Calendar Maker: “By then I hope we are using a better system.”
King:“But you said your system was great?”
Mayan Calendar Maker: “There is always room for improvement.”
With that said, (as I actually said when someone asked me about databases I created in the mid 1990s about Mac OS’s Unix calendar running out in 2038) I wanted to write about a few things, but a project has been eating time like the Cookie Monster with a box of chocolate chip cookies. (Cookie & Count were always my favorite.)
So, I will mash up a few things, left and right… Read of to find out about a new Bluetooth audio headset, a product warning, and whatever else comes out in this unedited memory dump:
Bluetooth’s Strangled Promise
When Bluetooth was first introduced, it promised a world of wireless freedom. We, the computing public, were told that Bluetooth would be in everything and replace USB and other connections for low-speed data transfers and other light bandwidth demands. RS 232 connections would fade—replaced by fast, flexible BT connections. Home users would benefit from wireless printing, fast connections and more freedom.
But the computing and mobile phone public has been slow to adopt the technology thanks to the high prices compared to wired equivalents and the added complexity of pairing and connecting devices. Many people have mobile phones but only a small fraction is technically competent enough to pair and use bluetooth. Thus, high prices are as much a reflection of the niche demand as they are device manufacturers pricing devices based on perceived value of the technology. The devices themselves cost little to manufacture, but a lot to develop the software and hardware. This price premium for an “unproven killer technology” has resulted in strangling adoption rates. Who wants to pay $200 for a stereo headset or $99 for a mono-earpiece that delivers unknown benefits when a wired headsets costs only $20? Luckily, the standard has marched on to version 4.0, which offers higher throughput and lower power consumption. Finally, Bluetooth 2.0 A2DP & HFP device prices are coming down to a level that is more in line with the basic functionality of what they do.
Pairing has also been made simpler, in hopes that people will actually use that little “B” instead of bluetooth circuits — which are usually on by default — eating up battery life, and exposing a person to snooping and bluejacking.
I myself, knew the benefits or going wireless decades ago when I got an Amateur Radio License, long before mobile phones went digital. I was just waiting for the prices to come down to a point where I could justify ridding myself of wires. That point finally arrived about 2 years ago, when I found a bluetooth earpiece for less than $70.