We get to cover a lot of headsets here at Digitally Downloaded, but not a lot of good headphones just for listening to music on the go. Generally they are of the beefier, boom microphone, around the ear variety. Here we have a set of headphones that are light, smaller than expected, but still carry some quality sound while providing a wireless experience.
Related reading: All of our headset reviews can be found here.
Wireless is really the key here. Most headsets have a 3.5mm port for plugging in an audio cable. These headphones do no such thing. They are strictly meant to be used with Bluetooth devices and paired with devices like tablets and phones. To that end these work great and hold a really solid charge that lasts several hours. This is charged through a provided cable (that also comes in a nice black and red carry pouch). The pouch itself helps to accentuate the notion that these guys are meant for portability, and this is reinforced by the collapsing nature of the headband.
Collapsing headbands have been a fickle affair for me over the years. I have had some headphones that hold up beautiful to that folding design, and others that seem to crack around those hinges far too easily. I will say that the iB85 seems to be of sturdy build. I did plenty of testing and folding and yes even some dropping (just to see if there was any wear and tear along the headband, of course), but the flexible yet sturdy plastic design looks no worse for wear as a result.
For those concerned about the aesthetics, these headphones are primarily black with red accents that match the cloth bag. Seeing as that is my favourite colour combination, I think they look pretty nice. Another note on the physical design is that these are on-ear and not around the ear in design. The foam padding is comfortable, and actually kind of perfect for being on the go in that they will not make your head and ears overly warm because they have an opportunity to ‘breathe’. That being said, these are not airtight in terms of sound either, so there was no noise cancelling aspects to speak of and my music did leak out in a way that others could hear what I was listening to. Great for a walk or doing work around the house, but perhaps less effective for those sitting on a crowded bus with people crowding in from all sides.
The range on the headphones is really solid. The marketing materials say thirty feet, but I honestly feel like I got closer to forty before there was any distortion when wearing them around the house. I could set my iPhone up in the living room and go work two or three rooms away on something and they transmitted perfectly – even when I was down in my basement working. A couple of additional features worth mentioning are the built-in microphone and the remote controls on the one cup that helps you play/stop, advance tracks, answer/end calls and volume controls that can feed into compatible devices. I have a Blackberry tablet that did not play nice with these features, but my iPhone worked flawlessly.
Setting the headphones up was as easy as any other Bluetooth device. Put both items in paring mode, wait for the blinking to change and then use them – simple as that. The padded cups are soft enough to be comfortable for long periods of time, and the adjustable headband keeps the set from being too tight. The cups themselves are about two and a half inches wide and have just the smallest amount of wiggle to them to help facilitate them resting comfortably on the ears.
Last but hardly least is the audio. These guys are relatively small, but can pack a pretty loud punch. That being said, the sound does lean towards bass. If that is your thing, these headphones will be perfect for you. For my money these are as good if not better than more expensive brands like Beats, though some of the higher ranges are a little bit less clear for those who prefer treble over bass. I did enjoy these somewhat more for music than movies, but they work well for both types of media.
Portable, durable, quality sound for a wire free experience, the iB85 headphones outperform many more expensive options out there while proving some notable extras. The carry pouch and on-ear controls are a nice touch that add just a bit of convenience to the overall package. They are lightweight and remain in place better than earbuds which have a tendency to wriggle loose on a walk or a jog. This is an easy recommendation for those on the go looking for a way to cut the cord.
– Nick H.
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