Microsoft Surface Headphones 2 review
- Spectacular Omnisonic sound wraps you in your favorite music, shows, and more.
- On-ear dials let you adjust volume or keep it quiet with 13 levels of active noise cancellation.
- Soft, over-ear pads are breathable, lightweight and comfortable.
|Price history for NEW Microsoft Surface Headphones 2 - Light Gray|
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The Microsoft Surface Headphones 2 review
The Surface Headphones were a successful debut for Microsoft, and the all-new Surface Headphones 2 is a remarkable upgrade that surpasses its predecessor. These wireless headphones retain the sleek look and dynamic sound of the original, while welcoming modest enhancements that keep the series in the best noise canceling headphone call. However, not every upgrade is the right one. The longer battery life (from 15 to 20 hours) is still considered low in its class. Microsoft’s new companion app is making popular features that improve productivity and sound quality, but also lack some unique features features (eg Cortana, Spotify integration) which some of us enjoyed in the previous version.
But if you want cool looking wireless headphones with very intuitive controls, great sound, and reliable ANC, and at a lower price than the Bose 700 and Sony WH-1000xM3, read our Microsoft Surface Headphones 2 review below to find out why this makes for a tempting purchase. This is our Microsoft Surface Headphones 2 Review.
Microsoft Surface Headphones 2 review: design
No radical changes have been made to the design as Microsoft sticks to the same details, materials and silhouette as the original. Durable, soft-touch plastic combined with soft padding and sturdy aluminum; the Surface Headphones 2 has a sleek aesthetic that matches the Surface brand. The black version is definitely an eye-grabber and something you will admire when unpacking the headphones. The construction is adaptive and sturdy. Each ear cup can now be rotated 180 degrees, a small but noticeable change that makes it easy to store the headphones in the accompanying case or prop around your neck. My only complaint is they don’t fold upOverall, these cans are solidly built and look like something you’d find in first class alongside other luxury models.
Some signature details remain, including the company logo beautifully embossed on the distinctive arch above the ear cup. Microsoft also made sure to keep the design uniform so that it looks like every part has been molded together. You will notice that there are no visible screws or even seams on the headband. It’s a move that Bose clearly took into account when creating its state-of-the-art-looking 700 headphones. Accessories haven’t changed much either. Inside the beautiful woven travel case is an aux cable, a USB Type-C charging cable and a command sheet on the inside of the case that breaks how to use the headphones. The latter is greatly appreciated and is a better alternative to the standard quick start guide bundled with all other headphones. Microsoft does a great job of displaying and packaging everything.
Microsoft Surface Headphones 2 Review: Features
There is no difference with the previous model in terms of fit and feel. The Surface Headphones 2 weigh the same at 10.2 grams, which is heavier than competitors such as the Bose 700 (9 grams) and WH-1000xM3 (9.7 grams). Despite this, the headphones rest gently on both the skull and the ears for longer listening periods.
I played them up up to 4 hours a day, and it wasn’t until halfway through that I felt a slight pain. That’s pretty good and should speak to the level of comfort these headphones provide. The memory foam padding on both earcups is soft and provides great cushioning. Another thing that has remained untouched are the large, round cutouts, which can accommodate larger ears but have little ventilation. Your ears may feel a little clammy after an hour or two, but this is only possible if you wear the headphones in warm environments.
The headband does not offer much space for larger heads due to the limited length of the extender; I would say it is about 2 to 3 notches shorter than other wireless over-ear headphones. Others will be happy with the on-ear stability of the Surface Headphone 2. Setting the headphones to the shortest length puts pressure on the head, so I recommend going 1 or 2 notches higher to get a To get a good and good fit.
Microsoft Surface Headphones 2 review: audio quality
Here’s another category where very little has changed. Microsoft’s 40mm Free Edge drivers are the driving force behind the Surface Headphones 2, giving the headphones vibrant and spacious audio performance. Qualcomm aptX support has also been added for enjoying High-Resolution sound on compatible devices and music streaming services.
Microsoft has tuned the default signature to be flat, which means that the frequency response is uniform to produce an accurate sound, without dips. What you get are impressive lows that leave room for mids and highs to shine. While enjoying the relaxed, funky vibes of EPMD’s “It’s My Thing,” my head immediately pounded to the song’s infectious bass line, which beats loud and clear. What surprised me most was how the headphones recognized subtle nuances that I had never noticed after two decades of bumping into this song; the high tambourine was striking and stable throughout the production.
As much as I love the Surface Headphones 2, it’s not perfect. Bass levels are still aggressive and produce unflattering sounds (eg, distortion, fuzz) boom-Heavy plates. Have a look at some of the joints on Kanye West’s 808s and Heartbreak to see what I’m talking about. The electric synths on “See You In My Nightmares” felt like they had been turned around up until 11, masking Lil Wayne’s singing and pounding my eardrums to the point of exhaustion. You may also notice on intentionally distorted tracks such as Muse’s “Hysteria” that the effect is too strong, resulting in unpleasant results.
This is where the Bose 700 and WH-1000xM3 have an advantage, especially Sony’s noise cancellers, which don’t hold back boom and maintain a well-balanced sound image in all music genres. Another thing that hampers audio performance is the aux cable. Bass and volume drop sharply in wired mode. The other problem I have with the accessory is that the cable is fragile and very thin, so be careful not to pull it too hard.
Microsoft Surface Headphones 2 review: active noise cancellation
I was impressed with the active noise cancellation on the first generation Surface Headphones. And while I am still satisfied with the results on these cans, I hardly noticed a difference between the two models. They are programmed with 13 adjustable levels of noise canceling, which is higher than the Bose 700 (10 levels), and you can scroll through them effortlessly via rotary controls. However, Microsoft’s technology is not as powerful as Bose or Sony’s, and is most effective when maxing out and listening at high volume.
On medium, the headphones blocked out some background noise, like my dishwasher and TV, but high-frequency sounds like car horns and doorbells were very loud. When increasing ANC levels, common distractions like cat meows and my fiancé’s Zoom calls were completely silent. Other noises, such as my door buzzer, were not heard from a distance, although at times I could hear the audio from my fiancé’s iPhone speaker from just a few feet away. The Bose 700 has shown that it is the most capable of keeping loud ambient noise to a minimum.
Bringing ANC to its lowest level turns on Ambient Listening Mode, which lets in sound to hear what’s going on around you. It doesn’t work well on the Surface Headphones 2 and one feature best suited for sports headphones. The hissing problem in the background that many reviewers complained about on the original model is still there and there is an echo effect when people speak.
Microsoft Surface Headphones 2 review: battery life
Microsoft increased the battery life from 15 to 20 hours. This is the same playtime as the Bose 700 (with ANC on) and is 10 hours less than the WH-1000xM3. More importantly, the headphones don’t last as long as advertised and consume a lot of power. Constant streaming, high volume and maximizing the ANC levels play a big part in the playing time. During my test drive, the headphones lasted for about 15 to 16 hours when fully charged. One day I saw the battery percentage drop from 70% to 40% after about 2 hours of listening.
The only advantage is that the Surface Headphones 2 can generate an hour of playtime after 5 minutes of charging, which is reasonable if you want to hear a full album or have a conference call. It also means that the headphones are fully charged at an insanely fast speed; I was at 100% in less than an hour after the battery ran out.
Microsoft Surface Headphones 2 Review: Final Words
The Microsoft Surface Headphones 2 is a worthy successor that combines dynamic audio and smart features into a functional, aesthetically pleasing design. Music sometimes sounds warm, although the flat signature balances it well to enjoy vague details in recordings. Innovative controls such as the dials and Microsoft 365 integration improve ease of use and provide different ways to interact with the headphones. Wireless performance is another highlight, maintaining strong connectivity between different devices at once regardless of the platform.
Unfortunately, the few upgrades that Microsoft has implemented are not alive up to their promises. It’s nice to see the boost in playtime, but the headphones consume a lot of energy and give you about 4 hours less than advertised. Some of the Cortana app’s removed options would also have improved functionality and give the Surface Audio app more to work with, especially when compared to more feature-loaded options such as Jabra Sound + and Sony Headphones Connect. If you’re looking for the absolute best noise canceling experience for a comparable price, the Sony WH-1000xM3 is a great alternative, along with the expensive Bose 700. Otherwise, the Surface Headphones 2 can be a worthwhile purchase for users of multiple platforms.
The Verdict about Microsoft Surface Headphones 2 review
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