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The Hunt for the Ultimate Bluetooth Headphones

I'm obsessed with bluetooth.  So much so that I've been hunting for heaven's own pair of bluetooth headphones for my Tokyo subway commutes.  I'm already on my 5th pair (thank God for Yahoo Auctions), so here's a summary of my bluetooth headphone adventures so far:

Sony DR-BT150NC

Good
* Great sound
* Noise cancelling feature is awesome
* Solid bluetooth performance
* Great fit
* Standard micro USB charging

Bad
* The break-out box design defeats the purpose of bluetooth.  I found myself having to deal with cables, which is not what I want with "wireless" headphones.

Summary
These fit and sounded great, but I just couldn't deal with the tangle of cables and break-out box.  I wanted something more "wireless."

Sony XBA-BT75

Good
* Top-class sound
* Solid bluetooth performance
* Fit is pretty good once you get used to it

Bad
* The fit took a very long time to get used to.  I had to tie the cable up a bit to improve it.
* The up-and-around your neck design is not for everyone.
* The design & flashing bluetooth LED make you look like you just got off an alien spaceship.
* Annoying proprietary charging base

Summary
These sounded incredible, and they worked pretty well for me after getting used to the fit.  But after I got the Jaybird buds, I sold these because the Jaybirds pack almost twice the battery life and don't have an annoying battery charger.

Jabra Halo2

Good
* No cables.  None.
* Great battery life
* Slick touch controls
* Nice portability--I love how they fold up
* Pretty good sound when I could hear it (see below)
* Charged with standard micro USB cable

Bad
* Poor sound isolation coupled with low volume (they don't get very loud) made it very difficult to use these on the train
* The foamy pads took some getting used to
* Not the best bluetooth performance--the sound would chop up sometimes

Summary
Being 100% wire-free, I had high hopes for these.  But I just couldn't hear them when walking through the noisy train station.  The sound was great, but the sound isolation/volume was poor.

Audio Technica ATH-BT07

Good
* Great fit.  I really bonded with these fit-wise
* Water proof, so no worries about walking around in heavy rain

Bad
* Poor sound--tinny with almost no bass
* Charged with nano(?) USB cable.  I wish it used the more common micro USB.

Summary
I was so bummed about these because the fit was fantastic, but the sound was terrible compared to the Sonys I had tried.  I just couldn't deal with the tinny sound they put out.

JayBird Bluebuds X

Good
* Top-class sound
* Solid bluetooth performance
* Out-of-this-world battery life.  I think there's a nuclear reactor hidden in them.
* Slick and subtle design doesn't make you look like a space alien
* I love how they tell you that the battery is low 15 minutes before dying on you.
* Charged with standard micro USB cable

Bad
* Pricey
* The fit took me a while to get used to.  I had to experiment with the various sizes, and I often find myself trying to shove them in farther than necessary (they stick out more than non-bluetooth buds).

Summary
After selling off the other 4 headphones, I graduated to these.  They're the most feature-rich bluetooth buds I've ever used, and I'm quite happy with them.  While I do wish the fit was a bit more comfortable, I'm impressed with how much is packed into their diminutive size.

Here's a link to them on Amazon Japan:

UPDATE

Jabra Revo Wireless

Good
* Incredible sound quality
* Very comfortable fit
* Headphone form factor means no wires
* Fantastic battery life
* Excellent bluetooth performance
* Solid build--even my 2 year-old daughter can't destroy them.
* Charged with standard micro USB cable
* Foldable

Bad
* Expensive
* Sensitive touch controls take some getting used to
* Headphone form factor makes me look a bit like a DJ

Summary
I just couldn't resist when these came out.  They looked like they would be the answer to my bluetooth prayers, and they were.  Although pricey, Jabra really nailed it on these.  Everything I didn't like about the Jabra Halo2 headphones was addressed on these, and the build quality asserts I got my yen's worth.  I'm holding on to my Jaybird buds for now since those are nice for exercise and rainy days, but the Revos are just what the doctor ordered for my day-to-day Tokyo subway commutes.  My only reservation is that the touch controls aren't as cool as I had expected.  I sometimes skip a track when I was trying to adjust the volume.  But this is forgivable considering I finally found my bluetooth holy grail!

I got them from Amazon Japan.  Here's the link:

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  • Guest - Sula

    Hi,

    I'm tossing up between the Jabra's and Jaybirds at the moment - can you say why you prefer the Jabras?

    How does the sound quality compare between the two? I've heard the Revo sound quality isn't great.

    At the moment, the versatility of the Revo is keeping me interested, but the portability of the Jaybirds are winning.

    Thanks!

  • Guest - shervin

    thank you my friend . v ery complete information source for me . i am in tokyo and i want to buy one of bluetooth headphones in the market