By Don Lindich
Week 33, 2017
Q. I am looking for Bluetooth headphones to use when playing games on my iPad while in bed late at night, so the sound doesn’t disturb my wife. Are there any affordable models you would specifically recommend for this purpose?
-J.D., Bethel Park, PA
A. I tested two new models recently that would be well suited to your needs. They will work fine with music, too.
Starting at a mere $35 are the BlueVIBE AirBAND headphones from GoGroove. They are aptly named as they closely resemble a hairband, but with small rectangular earpads affixed to each end. They are comfortable and easy to pair with any device, and as long as you get the earpads properly placed they sound quite good. The small earpads do not isolate you as completely as most over-ear designs, so if you want to let in some outside noise or be aware of your surroundings these are a good choice.
I’ve always been an Mpow fan, with a special fondness for their in-ear sports earphones. The Mpow Bluetooth over-ear headphones are one of the best buys on Amazon, racking up a stellar 4.6 star rating from over 3,300 reviews. They are extremely comfortable and sound quality was typical Mpow, warm and rich with crisp detail. They list for $79.99, but sell for only $35, which has to be one of the best deals in audio today. Even at list they are well worth the price, but at $35 street price they are extremely hard to beat. The 12-month warranty and money-back satisfaction guarantee make them a safe buy, too.
Both of these inexpensive headphones should be fine for your intended use of iPad gaming. I have one final set of headphones to recommend to the music-loving crowd who wants the best. At $299 they are a massive leap up in price, but are a massive leap up in quality, as well.
Audio-Technica’s new ATH-DSR7BT Pure Digital Drive headphones use unique technology that allows the digital signal from the portable device to stay digital all the way until it reaches the headphone driver, where it is converted to sound. This keeps the sound as pure and clean as possible, and I was not quite prepared for how impressive they would be when I first put them on. The sound is reminiscent of the best planar-magnetic headphones I have heard, despite the ATH-DSR7BT actually costing significantly less. Instruments and voices are separated effortlessly and with complete clarity and perfect reproduction, with tremendous dynamic range from the softest note to an orchestral crescendo.
I can’t describe them as sounding warm, cold, crisp, rich, or any other word usually used to describe sound quality. The word that comes to mind for the ATH-DSR7BT is “true,” which is the highest compliment any audiophile can pay to a piece of equipment. What they reproduce is true to the original recording, which means that high-quality tracks will sound fantastic, and old or poorly mastered ones are going to show their limitations. If you try them, make sure you have recent recordings to go along with your oldies so you can see what these fantastic headphones can really do. They are wireless-only, so be sure to keep them charged.