Azoychka modelling the headphones

Azoychka modelling the headphones

Earlier this year, and after about five years, I've had to accept that my beloved AKG K451 fold-able headphones have finally died, despite the best efforts of a friendly colleague in the Newcastle Red Hat office, who had replaced and re-soldered all the wiring through the headband, and disassembled the left ear-cup to remove a stray metal ring that got jammed in the jack, most likely snapped from one of several headphone wires I'd gone through.

The K451's were really good phones. They didn't sound quite as good as my much larger, much less portable Sennheisers, but the difference was close, and the portability aspect gave them fantastic utility. They remained comfortable to wear and listen to for hours on end, and were surprisingly low-leaking. I became convinced that on-ear was a good form factor for portable headphones.

To replace them, I decided to finally give wireless headphones a try. There are not a lot of on-ear, smaller form-factor wireless headphone models. I really wanted to like the Sony WH-H800s, which (I thought) looked stylish, and reviews for their bigger brother (the 1000 series over-ear) are fantastic. The 800s proved very hard to audition. I could only find one vendor in Newcastle with a pair for evaluation, Currys PC World, but the circumstances were very poor: a noisy store, the headphones tethered to a security frame on a very short leash, so I had to stoop to put them on; no ability to try my own music through the headset. The headset in actuality seemed poorly constructed, with the hard plastic seeming to be ill-fitting such that the headset rattled when I picked it up.

I therefore ended up buying the Bose on-ear wireless headphones. I was able to audition them in several different environments, using my own music, both over Bluetooth and via a cable. They are very comfortable, which is important for the use-case. I was a little nervous about reports on Bose sound quality, which is described as more sculpted than true to the source material, but I was happy with what I could hear in my demonstrations. What clinched it was a few other circumstances (that I won't elaborate on here) which brought the price down to comparable to what I paid for the AKG K451s.

A few months in, and the only criticism I have of the Bose headphones is I can get some mild discomfort on my helix if I have positioned them poorly. This has not turned out to be a big problem. One consequence of having wireless headphones, asides from increased convenience in the same listening circumstances I used wired headphones, is all the situations that I can use them that I wouldn't have bothered before, including a far wider range of house work chores, going up and down ladders, DIY jobs, etc. I'm finding myself consuming a lot more podcasts and programmes from BBC Radio, and experimenting more with streaming music.