Nokia BH-905iThis is the first of two slightly unusual reviews, both of Nokia kit kindly lent to me by WOMWorld/Nokia. Nokia is usually¬†associated¬†with mobile phones, and yet here I’m reviewing a pair of headphones. They are bluetooth headphones and they will operate as a wireless headset when paired with a phone, so it does make some sense. The most interesting thing about them, though, is that they have active noise cancellation. I’ve never tried noise cancelling headphones before so I was very curious to see how well the technology worked.

Before we get to the exciting stuff, though, some of the details. These are bluetooth headphones, and have all the usual play/pause, track skip and volume controls. They also come with a collection of cables and adaptors so that they can be used with non-bluetooth audio sources too. They have a rechargeable battery inside which last a decent amount of time – 25 hours playing music (15 hours with noise cancelling turned on). The cups sit on the ears rather than completely enclosing them, but the pads are very soft and comfortable. They do get a bit warm, though. Overall, nicely designed.

So, noise cancelling. How does that work? There are microphones on the outside of the headphones that capture the external ambient noise and the headphones then invert that and play the result through the headphones, effectively cancelling out the external noise. And it works surprisingly well. Whether by design or limitation of the technology it is more effective against low frequencies than high frequencies, but that is enough to cancel out the vast majority of external noise. In the office the headphones completely eliminate the drone of the air conditioning. While walking along a busy road the noise of passing traffic was reduced to a small amount of tyre noise. Although I haven’t tried it, I imagine on a bus, train or aeroplane they would cancel out the bulk of the ambient noise. If you like to listen to music while travelling, these would make an enormous difference.

What about sound quality? Compared to my usual earbuds these are in a completely different league. There’s so much more bass, and the frequencies seem evenly balanced across the range. I usually have to tweak the EQ settings on my iPod to account for the deficiencies of the various earphones I’ve used. These were almost perfect with the EQ flat. If I have to pick faults, maybe there are two. There’s plenty of bass, but maybe the lowest frequencies could be just just a tiny bit tighter. And in the mid-range, when things get very busy the sound can be a bit muddled. But really, I’m picking nits here. Turning on noise cancelling made no difference to the sound quality that I could detect, and the sound over bluetooth was pretty much the same as the sound with a wired connection.

I had the opportunity to compare these Nokia headphones to some similarly priced Sony noise cancelling headphones (wired only, though, not bluetooth). These was little difference to my ears. These may be made by a mobile phone company, but they are proper, hi-fi quality headphones.

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4 comments

  1. [...] soft and comfortable” are those BH-905i bluetooth headsets says, Steve Rumsby. Well how would he know? Bah, yes of course… he’s been popping them on his ears and [...]

  2. Even I am waiting for the review of BH-905i

  3. How does these compare to something like the Bose qc 15 I read about here: Bose Quietcomfort 15 review

  4. Steve Rumsby @ 2011-08-15 10:12

    I’ve not heard the Bose headphones so I can’t really comment. If somebody would like to send me a pair for review, I’ll gladly write it up…:-)

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