Who says advancement in cell phones can't benefit MP3 players as well? As stereo Bluetooth (otherwise known as A2DP) becomes the standard variety on more and more handsets, we continue to see an influx of stereo Bluetooth headsets. The latest from Sony is the DR-BT22, a portable set with a collapsing headband. It comes in two versions, one without any sort of Bluetooth transmitter ($129) and the IK model, which comes with an iPod-ready adapter ($149). The headset doesn't offer wired quality audio, and it doesn't seem particularly durable, but it has redeeming features.
To picture the Sony DR-BT22 headset, imagine the old Sony cassette Walkman and the plastic, over-the-ear headphones that came with it. Then, take away the wire. Truly, the construction of the unit feels pretty cheap and seems as though it won't hold up in the long run. This may be partially because of the completely collapsible headband, which gives the headphones a rickety feel. The band terminates in two foam-covered earphones that measure 1.7-inches in diameter. The left side has a DC power input for charging via the included adapter. The IK model also includes an iPod-ready power adapter; if you want to use the headset with a different MP3 player that doesn't offer built-in A2DP capability, you'll need to provide a Bluetooth transmitter.
The DR-BT22's right earphone packs in all the headset's notable features. On the outer side, there's a mic, a multifunction call button, and a power key. Around the edges, you'll find rockers for volume and track shuttling, as well as dual LEDs that indicate the headset's current mode. Volume works with anything and is controlled only on the headset itself, rather than on the device. The track shuttle buttons should work with any device that is A2DP-compatible, which includes many cell phones and select MP3 players such as the Insignia Pilot.
Pairing the Sony DR-BT22 with our Insignia Pilot could not be easier. From the off position, you hold down the power key on the headset for seven seconds until the two LEDs flash, then put your device in pairing mode. The Pilot picked up on the DR-BT22 within a few seconds, and we began hearing music through the headphones instantly. Audio quality is definitely passable, though it doesn't really come close to what you would get from wired headphones. Bass is not all that present, and music has a sort of muffled quality for some songs. Still, a reasonable amount of detail can be heard and mids sound warm. The wireless range is also very impressive--we tested it at 50 feet away and didn't suffer any drop-outs. While the headphones are plenty comfortable, it is a bit of a challenge to keep the earpieces positioned optimally over the ear while moving around.