Nokia’s BH-905i Bluetooth cans: aural ecstasy
Nokia’s BH-905i headphones have a lot going for them.
They use Bluetooth wireless technology but include a wire for use with non-Bluetooth devices and a converter for almost every audio connection imaginable.
And they come in their own travel-ready hard case but still manage to cost less than a pair of Beats by Dr Dre.
They’re not the best headphone’s we’ve ever used, but they’re on the shortlist. They lose points because of a proprietary Nokia charger of the small sort last seen before the world moved to micro USB. Also, although pairing them to one device was simple, trying to get them to pair to multiple devices (a mobile phone, a tablet and a laptop) took some doing and eventually we had to admit defeat and pull out the manual.
We’re not saying that because we had to use the manual they’re bad headphones, as that’s a fairly minor consideration when trying to decide which headphones to buy, but the pairing process could certainly be simpler, particularly as most people will want to use them with multiple devices.
Beyond these relatively minor gripes, there’s almost nothing bad to be said about Nokia’s BH-905i headphones. Some people may not find the shape and styling sufficiently flashy or sleek but, frankly, when it comes to headphones, function trumps form every time. The real question is: what are they like in use?
The first and most important thing about the headphones is they use Bluetooth. That means wearing them around you neck suddenly makes sense, and doesn’t require figuring out how to get the cable to reach a trouser pocket.
Thanks to a number of built-in noise-cancelling microphones, it’s also entirely possible to place and take calls while wearing them. In call sound quality is great and those we called reported the same on their end.
The padded headband and earphones are comfortable and feel sturdy and hard-wearing, even though the earphones swivel for storage in the supplied case.
The most important aspect of any set of cans, however, is the sound, and here Nokia has really put its Finnish engineers to work. The BH-905i headphones sound incredible. They’re right up there with the best, and the most expensive, headphones on the market.
What’s most surprising is the amount of bass Nokia’s offering can pump out. Whether you’re into hip-hop or death metal, clarity is superb, highs don’t sound tinny at all, and did we mention that bass?
The headphones also include an active noise-cancelling (ANC) switch. Being “active”, this means it’s great for repetitive sounds like aircraft engines. It’s not as good, however, if someone suddenly talks to you or your phone rings, but then, perhaps that’s a good thing.
The ANC switch sits on the side of the left earphone along with an LED indicator and a power port. All the other controls sit on the right side, including power/pairing, volume, track forward/back and play/pause controls.
In the base of the right earphone is a 3,5mm jack and the small leather case that comes inside the larger hard case contains a jack-to-jack cable, along with a variety of adapters — including a 2,5mm, 6,3mm and the double-jack airline variety — meaning you can plug the BH-905i headphones into just about anything.
These aren’t the sort of headphones you use for sport, despite the wireless convenience and microphone integration. Simply, they won’t stay on your head. They’re perfect, however, for the frequent traveler, those who commute, and those who demand high-quality audio.
Estimated music playback time is around 16 hours, with call time rated at 24 hours. For most people, even heavy users, that should be more than enough to get through the day. Sure, you may have to plug them in each night, but that’s a small price to pay for the lack of another cable in your life.
At an estimated R2 500, the Nokia BH-905i headphones aren’t cheap, but they aren’t the most expensive headphones on the market either and yet they manage to stand their ground well against the most expensive cans available. They may not be the best headphones ever, but they may be the best Bluetooth headphones yet. — Craig Wilson, TechCentral