Microsoft Surface Headphones Wireless Noise Canceling Headphones Review

Contents of delivery

  • Headphones
  • Hard carrying case
  • USB charging cable
  • Audio cable
  • Instructions

Microsoft Surface Headphones Wireless Noise Canceling Headphones Review

TECH SPECS

  • Dimensions – 204x195x48 mm, weight – 290 grams
  • Color – light gray
  • Frequency 20 to 20 Hz
  • Noise reduction up to 30 dB
  • 40mm speaker, Free Edge driver
  • Cable length 1.2 meters
  • 3.5 jack mm
  • USB Type C for charging
  • Runtime – Up to 15 hours with noise canceling on and Cortana off, full charge time approx. 2 hours
  • Bluetooth 4.2
  • Simultaneous connection to two devices

Microsoft Surface Headphones Wireless Noise Canceling Headphones Review

Each manufacturer has tried their hand at making noise canceling headphones in recent years, and Sony set the tone for the industry with the WH-1000XM2. In 2017, they became a breakthrough in every sense, there was no better implementation of noise reduction at that time anywhere. The next version 1000XM3 only improved the strengths of these headphones and also left all the competitors behind. Many companies have attempted to create analogs.

Microsoft Surface Headphones Wireless Noise Canceling Headphones Review

Microsoft decided not just to create another wireless headphones, it was based on the successful experience of Sony, borrowed the form factor, the technical component. Also in Redmond, they decided that their own headphones should be ideal for working with the voice assistant Cortana, plus be as integrated as possible into the Windows ecosystem. With this approach, taking into account the cost of headphones at the Sony level (in the US it is $ 350), one could assume the best hardware solutions.

My first acquaintance with these headphones took place in New York, in the Microsoft store on Fifth Avenue. Well put together, okay, but the sound quality was surprising. Then he chalked it up to the fact that he was listening to unfamiliar compositions and could not fully compare, and he left his Sony at the hotel.

Microsoft Surface Headphones Wireless Noise Canceling Headphones ReviewMicrosoft Surface Headphones Wireless Noise Canceling Headphones Review

Officially, these headphones are not in Russia, but they are present on the gray market. Therefore, when the opportunity arose to test them for several weeks, I did it with pleasure. Since their cost is the same with Sony WH-1000XM3, they are classmates, I will compare them in the review. This is also logical, because the majority chooses Sony, this is the preferred purchase in this segment.

The headphone box is large, but that doesn’t surprise us. Manufacturers so emphasize the premium nature of their offer.

Microsoft Surface Headphones Wireless Noise Canceling Headphones ReviewMicrosoft Surface Headphones Wireless Noise Canceling Headphones Review

The first surprise was the hard case in which the headphones are kept. It is huge, however, see for yourself in comparison with that from Sony.

Microsoft Surface Headphones Wireless Noise Canceling Headphones ReviewMicrosoft Surface Headphones Wireless Noise Canceling Headphones Review

Of course, there is room in my backpack for such a case, but I would like it to be smaller. And the thoughtfulness of the design is relative, inside there are no compartments for accessories, outside there is no net for storing documents. The Sony case is much better thought out. I was also surprised that they did not put the plug to connect to the information system of the aircraft, in Sony it is on by default.

Microsoft Surface Headphones Wireless Noise Canceling Headphones ReviewMicrosoft Surface Headphones Wireless Noise Canceling Headphones Review

The next unpleasant moment for me is that the headphones cannot be folded compactly. You can call it a nitpicking, but Sony is used to the fact that even without a case, the headphones fold down and they take up a minimum of space, it’s impossible here.

Microsoft Surface Headphones Wireless Noise Canceling Headphones ReviewMicrosoft Surface Headphones Wireless Noise Canceling Headphones ReviewMicrosoft Surface Headphones Wireless Noise Canceling Headphones Review

The workmanship of the headphones is good, it’s impossible to complain. Aluminum, nice plastic, soft ear pads. The downside is that the design is rigid, the headband presses heavily on the head. I was not too lazy and compared these headphones with previous Sony, as well as heaven and earth, Surface Headphones are uncomfortable. Compared with Bose, again the comparison is not in favor of Microsoft. Ergonomics is a weak point, it is very difficult to wear headphones for a long time, you start to experience pressure every minute. I managed to fly back and forth in these headphones once, the flights were short, three hours each. An hour and a half later, the ears were wet, the bow pressed down so that the head began to buzz a little. These headphones are not intended for long listening to music.

Microsoft Surface Headphones Wireless Noise Canceling Headphones ReviewMicrosoft Surface Headphones Wireless Noise Canceling Headphones ReviewMicrosoft Surface Headphones Wireless Noise Canceling Headphones Review

The controls are quite simple and straightforward, both headphones have touch panels. On the right earpiece, you adjust the volume (in Windows, the volume step is 7%), on the left one, you adjust the noise reduction level, from the smallest to the maximum (this is just over a dozen positions). The first thing that upset me was the lack of any companion app, there is none for Windows, Android or iOS. And here we come across the first flaw in the design of these headphones: it is impossible to find out at what level the noise cancellation works, every time you need to twist the left earphone, crawl with your finger. It is clear that the headphones remember the level, but this is clearly not enough. And here we come across the fact that noise cancellation works much worse than in Sony, this is the level of Bose and other products. Which is probably not bad, but these are clearly not the best headphones for travel and noisy places.

Microsoft Surface Headphones Wireless Noise Canceling Headphones ReviewMicrosoft Surface Headphones Wireless Noise Canceling Headphones Review

The headphones have an automatic pause when you take them off (it doesn’t always work on the neck, you need to take them off). Put the headphones back on and the music starts playing again or the video on your computer plays.

All the control keys and connectors are located on the right earphone, so there is a USB Type C connector and 3.5 mm.

Microsoft Surface Headphones Wireless Noise Canceling Headphones ReviewMicrosoft Surface Headphones Wireless Noise Canceling Headphones ReviewMicrosoft Surface Headphones Wireless Noise Canceling Headphones Review

The earbuds have a small LED that comes in handy when pairing with another device. The process itself is very simple: hold down the on / off button, the indicator flashes, and you see that you can pair the headphones. There are also voice prompts, they are in English. In theory, the headphones should understand the language of your smartphone or Windows, for example, in Germany they will speak German. But headphones cannot speak Russian, alas and ah.

The touch controls are very simple and similar to other headphones. Pressing the panel on any headphone once – playback starts (or, conversely, it is a stop), twice – this is a transition to the next track, three times – a jump back. With calls, everything is also more or less clear, here all controls are familiar, there is no need to learn anything.

The headphones have eight microphones, four on each. Two microphones on the ear cup for noise canceling, two for working as a headset. An important point, when connecting the audio cable, a microphone on the wire will be used, so the quality may be better or worse, it all depends on the working conditions.

As a headset, these headphones work plus or minus normally. You can be heard well, you can also hear the interlocutor quite well. In a strong wind, the microphones blow out, this is a flaw in the design. In such little things, one feels that Microsoft engineers have no experience in such products, these are childish mistakes that could have been avoided.

Microsoft Surface Headphones Wireless Noise Canceling Headphones Review

The work of the voice assistant is not bad here, the integration is simple: hold your finger on the cup for a couple of seconds – a voice prompt appears immediately (in my case, this is an assistant from Google, since Cortana is also not needed in Russia). There are no special features here, everything is standard.

My friends, who are breathing unevenly towards Microsoft, admired how these headphones work correctly with a computer and a smartphone. I didn’t listen to them with my mouth open, but I was amazed by their admiration – not only do they keep a connection with two devices at the same time (who can be surprised by this today?), But they understand that they need to pause the video on the computer, since the call came to the phone … And after the call, continue playback. Little things? Probably. But from such little things, the perception of the whole is formed, and this is probably convenient.

I took out a Windows laptop that was in store for tests of all kinds of peripherals, tried to pair the headphones (this happens almost instantly, here in Windows they did a good job of supporting their accessory). And then the problems began. Opened Chrome, launched YouTube – as for me, this is the usual scenario for using a laptop for many. I called my smartphone, the sound in the video was interrupted, but for some reason it continued to play. As usual, it was not without proprietary logic from Microsoft engineers, they firmly believe that people use standard Windows applications (browser, player, and so on), and do not look at the side at all. I have bad news for them, people usually use what they are used to, and this is the reason for such a long popularity of Windows, people do not run around looking for alternatives. But for headphones, this means that their integration with Windows is a nice thing for those people who only use standard applications. Step aside and you start having problems.

Microsoft Surface Headphones Wireless Noise Canceling Headphones Review

I have not forgotten about the sound quality, I just saved it for dessert. Noise canceling headphones are always a compromise, they are designed to work in noisy environments, and there is no time for individual semitones of sound. Sony is ideal in this respect: good sound image, no external noise. Microsoft did not work that way, the sound in the headphones is very distorted. Low frequencies are not pronounced, bass is present, but it is not very natural, soft and sagging. The middle ones are well developed, but the high ones are also expressionless. In their class, these headphones do not sound very good, if not even stronger – they sound so-so.

Should you buy such headphones from Microsoft today? I’m afraid the obvious answer will be overly categorical – no. There is no zest in them, they are worse than the same Sony WH-1000XM3, and worse in almost everything. Do you know what codecs these headphones support? Only SBC, nothing else! And if in basic headphones or compact models it is easy to understand and forgive, after all, there is no more needed there, then this is puzzling. In the same Sony there is support for the LDAC codec, that is, it is a high-definition codec. And here this is nothing.

Microsoft Surface Headphones Wireless Noise Canceling Headphones Review

Bluetooth version 4.2, here at Microsoft they were not chasing modernity, it seems that the headphones were developed long before the announcement. But there is also a positive moment – they keep the connection with most PCs very well, you can wander around the office, go to other rooms, and the headphones will not lose connection. The same Sony in this aspect is slightly worse.

The working time directly follows from this – a maximum of 15 hours of work, this is the declared time. I had an average of 9-10 hours of work with noise reduction (God knows what level it was). Almost half the size of Sony. And I already spoke about the lack of an application and some settings. At Sony, this is a fancy spaceship, a bunch of equalizers, automatic pressure tracking and much more. There is asceticism, which apparently follows from the impossibility of writing similar software.

The bottom line is that Microsoft’s first pancake came out lumpy. But the company will clearly from year to year gradually improve the quality of such headphones, correct children’s mistakes. It is possible that in ten years they will be able to catch up with Sony or whoever will then make the best noise canceling headphones.

Thank you for the provided device Surface-Pro.ru.

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