Pretty much comprising the only viable option for anyone seeking comfortable, high-quality, well performing and neatly designed bluetooth headphones, the BH-905i from Nokia has been high on my list of dream accessories since I first heard about the BH-905's existence sometime last year. Unfortunately, those had a +$100USD price and unavailability for testing before purchase put them out of budget and out of serious consideration. With the release of the BH-905i, what was once a to-lust-for accessory became the stuff of overly optimistic dreams. A comfortable design coupled with noise cancellation technology and the ability to remotely control playback control (and a microphone for calls, just in case) is the kind of thing I would love to have more of in my life.
Unpacking the BH-905i was a very simple affair, since mine were actually a review unit which had probably seen many other pairs of ears besides just my own. If there was a box involved, it was nowhere to be seen here... but that's not really such a bad thing from where I'm sitting. The headphones come with a very nice leather-like carrying case which is molded to cradle the headphones safely inside. This same sort of headphone treatment has been followed by Bose for years, and is a welcome addition for such a premium-priced accessory. Inside is also a molded area to hold a small leather cable/adapter-plug case. Inside I found a 3.5mm Stereo extender (something which users of the first iPhone might need), a reasonable length 2.5mm male-to-male 3.5mm cable and lastly another sizeable male-to-female 3.5mm cable. (There is also an AC adapter with the older mini-barrel style of plug on it... the only supported charging plug for the headphones.) The reason for these last two cables is simple, really: the headphones can also be used in a non-wireless mode, if the internal battery should die, for example. Overall, the kit is quite complete as one should likely expect when purchasing any pair of headphones in this price bracket.
It seems Nokia wanted to give users a choice of which color headset they wanted... black with silver buttons, or white with silver buttons and a couple of blue accents. The latter, while much sharper and fresh, also appears a bit cheap when compared to the more standard black. Ultimately it is up to the buyer, however, and I can't say I would make fun of anyone for purchasing the white variety.
Whichever color variation one purchases, the hardware design is the same. Extending-lengths on both sides of the headband, well-cushioned on-ear cans with playback controls on the right and noise-cancellation toggle on the left is the simplest description there is. The headband exhibits a fair amount of cushioning as well as a decent amount of flex to best facilitate fitment while maximizing comfort.
The cans are very tastefully decorated with a slice of brushed aluminum on each side with "Nokia" etched in 'em. On the right-side can this piece also functions as the power/end-call and answer keys. The back- and next-track keys are made of plastic nearby in a layout that is understandable.
To begin this section, I'll start out with the one usage flaw that perhaps applies almost exclusively to myself: the headphones did not have a very secure fit on my head. This might be explained because of my rather large head size, or because the headphones simply didn't grip my head very tightly. It might even be the result of the designer's intent: perhaps these were not the type of headphones meant to be worn while strolling down the street or whipping one's head around when a super-catchy tune begins to play. Either way, I have a feeling that this flaw is more of a personal problem I have with most headphones I come across.
Turning on and pairing the headphones with the Nokia N8 that I have been loaned was an absolute piece of cake. Hold the power button till the LED indicator (hidden on the bottom of the right-side can) begins to rapidly blink blue. Search for the headset using the mobile phone, select the headset (and by headset I mean headphones here) and voila, done. Allow the set to make automatic connections to the phone if you would like the most hands-free connection in the future, and there's really nothing else to be done.
Playing music was a very simple and straightforward process. The only odd thing I noticed was that the left-side can seemed to "seal" better than the right-side... probably related to my head-size again. However, if I turned on the noise cancellation feature, I definitely noticed more ambient-covering-white-noise (aka the "silent" sound") coming from the left. To be fair, this could be the result of my left ear being a bit more sensitive (it is... but I've never noticed this with other headphones before) or the fact that this unit has passed through many hands.
Quality of the music itself was outstanding. Bass was pleasurably present yet not overbearing, treble was clean and crisp, and mid-range wasn't muddy like a lot of headphones, both wired and wireless. In fact, if these headphones were around-ear instead of on-ear, I could've easily been convinced that I was wearing professional studio cans or, had I closed my eyes, would have believed to be standing in the vicinity of an expensive home stereo system. The latter would've been convinced with the distance I could walk before ever noticing a decline in audio quality: to test, I set the N8 (playing music) on the desk in my room and then began to walk down the end of my hallway. My room is located at the end of the hall, in a building with solid concrete walls, with 8 rooms on either side of the hallway. I was able to get into the elevator at the far end of the hall and only when the elevator began to descend did the headset beep at me and disconnect from the N8, thereby pausing auto playback. As soon as the doors opened again on my floor it only took a press of the play/pause button (also the answer key) to resume my tunes. Absolutely amazing.
Sennheiser makes high-end wireless headphones which are known for their exceptional audio reproduction. These headphones carry price tags that are above and beyond a decent laptop these days, yet audiophiles need no excuse to pick up a pair for themselves. How is this related? Because a friend of mine is researching the Sennheiser cans since he wishes to pick some up for himself. However he has only just recently realized that he cannot take such a set with him on roadtrips or airplanes, because of the large base-station. Neither can he afford the upper-end headphones. And to that end, something like the Nokia BH-905i might be the answer to his search. Great audio quality coupled with excellent wireless coverage. As a gamer, which he is, the added benefit of a wireless microphone would undoubtedly be a welcome one.
For myself... the BH-905i was an absolute joy to use, but I can't say I'll be quite as sad to see them go as I will the N8 which came with them. They are, without a doubt, the best bluetooth stereo headset that money can (reasonably) buy, but their price tag puts them out of my reach. Some day I might pick up a pair if I ever find them at an impulse-buy price, but for now that looks unlikely. I know now many things about them which I didn't before: the completeness of the package which is bundled with them, thereby justifying the price tag, and the stunningly good ability to which they accomplish their purpose. Thing is, I don't need all of that myself. All I need, or rather want, is a headset which sounds great within 10 feet of their bluetooth-source and doesn't force me to pay extra for a case and cables, lastly costing under $50USD. The BH-905i is like slicing an apple with a chainsaw in my case. It's complete overkill... albeit really cool overkill.
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