Thursday, March 10, 2011

    Nokia BH-905i Blog Review

    As Breaking Benjamin's "Fade Away" came roaring out of the BH-905i's for the first time, I realized that I was in possession of a very slick set of headphones.  Listening to the clockwork strains of "Fade Away", I was pleased with how full the sound was, and how awesome the lows sounded.  Turns out that Breaking Benjamin is an ideal band to listen to on the BH-905i's, but more on that later.  First off, let's get into the what the BH-905i's are, and what they come with.

    The BH in BH-905i stands for bluetooth headset, but as you can probably ascertain from this picture here, they come chock-full with wiring capabilities.  The "i" indicates that they are specifically engineered to work with an iOS device.  They have active noise cancellation, as well, and it does a good job of blocking out any persistent background sounds.

    The BH-905i's come with a very nice foam padded leather case that zips up.  Inside is a place to nest your headphones, along with a smaller bag to hold all of the various cables and plugs that come with the headphones.  On the back is a small pouch for carrying any additional gear you may not be able to stow inside.  All in all, it's a handy way to transport your headphones, keeping them safe and secure the whole time.

    Inside, you'll find a cable for iPhone connectivity, a cable for "Nokia AV" 3-prong connectivity and a cable for slotting into a regular headphone jack.  You'll also find multiple tips for 6.35mm, 3.5mm and 2.5mm.  As well, there is an airline jack.  There is also a splitter which splits the 3-prong "Nokia AV" cable into it's component headphone and mic jacks, allowing one to plug the BH-905i's into a computer.  No one has actually sighted the kitchen sink, but rumor has that it may be present as well.

    Bluetooth Performance
    I tested the bluetooth functionality with my iPhone 4 running a jailbroken version of iOS 4.2.1.  Sound over bluetooth was surprisingly good.  The performance of the headphones left me feeling more like I was listening plugged in than over bluetooth.  As a means of comparison, over bluetooth the BH-905i's sound much better than the cheap earbuds that Apple ships with all of their iDevices.

    There are  a set of buttons on the right earphone which control playback, allowing you to play/pause the music, skip forward and back, and turn your volume up and down.  All of these worked just fine and were easy to get accustomed to without having to see the headphone.  All of the controls are on the right-hand side, which makes sense if you're a righty, but I don't believe lefties will have any major problems manipulating the controls.

    Over bluetooth calls, the BH-905i's do a respectable job of transmitting the sound from the person on the other end of the line.  However, I found that I would have rather taken the call directly on my iPhone than on the headphones.  Two things contributed to this.  First, peoples voices tend to sound thin over the headphones.  Second, since the headphones cover both of my ears entirely, I found that I was having a hard time hearing myself when I talked.  I ended up thinking I needed to talk louder than necessary.  It would be nice if some of my side of the audio was piped back into the headphones so that I could feel like I only needed to talk at a normal volume.

    On the other end, the callers that I spoke with all said that I sounded great.  They didn't have a hard time hearing me at all.  The sound was so clear, in fact, that when I started whistling on one call, the person I was speaking with asked me to stop, as they said it was too loud.  When I talked at a normal volume, though, everyone said I was coming in loud and clear.

    Wired Performance
    Bluetooth performance was good, but wired performance is much better (as it should be).  When you plug these headphones in, you are really in for a treat...  Depending on the type of music you're listening to.  This is where I started to notice that the audio performance was not the same across the board.

    Let's start with the (slightly) negative:  mids are a bit muddy, and highs aren't quite as crisp as I would have liked them to be.  In practice, though, this can be overcome with a little judicious use of a graphic equalizer.  By bumping up the mids a tad and the highs a bit more, I found that I could correct for this performance issue.  It's also only a problem that shows up in certain types of music.

    For instance, as I mentioned above, Breaking Benjamin sounded outstanding on the BH-905i's.  Nickel Creek and the Civil Wars, though, needed some adjustment.  But as the latter two bands are folk and not dependent on rumbling bass and rely instead on mids and highs to convey their sound, you start to notice the sound difference.  Bumping up the mids and highs took care of the problem and ultimately listening to these bands was a treat on the BH-905i's.

    And that leads me to where the BH-905i's really shine:  in the lows.  Listening to any kind of music that relies on good lows (even low-mids) conveys a sound that is outstanding.  Breaking Benjamin, Metallica, Red, all these bands sounded absolutely magical on these headphones.  I found myself going to this music over and over while in possession of these beasts, hearing things in the music I had never heard before.  It was truly an ear-opening experience, hearing nuances of the music I had never heard before.

    In the end, I have to say that I'm going to be sad to part with these headphones.  I have thoroughly enjoyed listening to music on them.  I have heard things in the music that I've never heard before.  The bluetooth connectivity is nice, but ultimately you'll probably want to be listening to these plugged in as it's the preferred way to get the best sound.  Just keep in mind, though, that these are premium headphones.  While the sound is outstanding, for a retail of $299 I think I would want to get more.

    With that said, you can have these on Amazon for $179 new.  At that price point, I feel like these may be worth it.  The extra utility that is represented by doubling as a very decent communications headset is nice, doing more than just allowing you to listen to music.

    Edit:  Added tags
    Edit 5/25/11: Added some missing words to a sentence


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