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BlueAnt Embrace Stereo Headphones review: BlueAnt Embrace Stereo Headphones

BlueAnt Embrace Stereo Headphones

David Carnoy
David Carnoy Executive Editor / Reviews

Executive Editor David Carnoy has been a leading member of CNET's Reviews team since 2000. He covers the gamut of gadgets and is a notable reviewer of mobile accessories and portable audio products, including headphones and speakers. He's also an e-reader and e-publishing expert as well as the author of the novels Knife Music, The Big Exit and Lucidity. All the titles are available as Kindle, iBooks, Nook e-books and audiobooks.

Expertise Mobile accessories and portable audio, including headphones, earbuds and speakers Credentials Maggie Award for Best Regularly Featured Web Column/Consumer
3 min read

BlueAnt branches out from its Bluetooth wireless roots with a wired stereo "headset" it calls Embrace. The stylish over-ear headphones include an integrated mic and controls for iOS devices that allow you to make hands-free calls and play, pause, and track-forward audio selections. Although their $200 retail price tag sways toward the higher end of the consumer market, we recommend these over-ear headphones for their robust, well-defined sound and padded comfort.

BlueAnt Embrace Headphones

BlueAnt Embrace Stereo Headphones

The Good

The <b>BlueAnt Embrace</b> headphones are comfortable, sturdy headphones that fold for compact storage in an included carrying case. They feature a detachable cord with microphone and navigation controls for cell phone use, and deliver very good, natural sound.

The Bad

They're little pricey at $200, and their design won't appeal to everyone.

The Bottom Line

While a tad pricey at $200, BlueAnt's Embrace wired stereo headphones are comfortable and offer very good, natural sound along with an integrated mic and volume control for cell phone use.

Design and features
As far as their design, the Embrace headphones seem to have drawn inspiration from Bowers and Wilkins' P5 headphones. They have rectangular earcups that are aptly padded and fold flat for storage in the protective faux-leather case. The package also comes with an OMTP adapter.

The extra padding on the curves of the headband gives the Embrace a distinctive look. Though not as ostentatious as the Monster Beats by Dr. Dre Studio headphones, they still command attention when you wear them in public. You can choose to see that as a positive or a negative, but if we had to make a call, we'd say these are decent but not great looking headphones (the B&W P5s are more stylish, but cost more).

Beyond the aesthetics, we jury-tested the Embrace's fit on a few CNET editors and the consensus is that the headphones feel comfortable and appear well-built for durability, which is what you should expect from headphones that cost $200.

It's also worth mentioning that the 36-inch light-blue cord on the headphones is detachable from the left earcup, and the plug is similar to the design you'll find on some of Monster's headphones. BlueAnt also wraps the wire in a smooth rubber casing for extra protection, and the light wax also helps lower the possibility for tangles. On a side note, we had no issues plugging into an iPhone with a large, protective case thanks to the L-shaped plug that's also reinforced with thick rubber.

While this is an over-ear headphone (as opposed to an around-the-ear model), the plush earcups still isolate the listener from hearing ambient sounds, and in that sense they're very similar to the aforementioned B&W P5s ($300) and Bose's OE headphones ($179.99). Like all over- and on-ear cans, your ears will get steamy if you wear the headphones for long listening sessions, so we recommend giving your ears a break every so often to cool off.

Last but not least, the integrated in-line mic and remote are designed for use with Android and iOS devices (iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch) and the remote allows you to control volume as well as jump tracks forward and back by double- or triple-clicking on the call answer/end button. Note: if you have an older iPhone such as the 3G, you won't be able to skip tracks forward and back.

Overall, we enjoyed the neutral sound profile of the Embrace headphones that allows the production qualities to shine, as opposed to the Monster Beats by Dr. Dre that over-emphasize low frequencies and give off a lopsided bass boost. More eclectic music fans and musicians themselves will prefer the Embrace's balanced, even-sounding tones--and by that, we mean they don't overemphasize specific sonic profile.

The bass is deep and well defined, the midrange is clear, transparent, and dynamic, and the treble is not harsh or too bright. In short, these are natural-sounding headphones that are for people who listen to all kinds of music. We're also impressed at their open-air quality that gives the illusion of three-dimensional sound; in other words, melodies don't sound canned or restricted to inside the head.

Make no mistake, the Embrace headphones have a laid-back profile and therefore aren't for everyone. If you like headphones with a more aggressive sound that emphasize more bass, the Embrace probably isn't going to cut it for you. The Bose OE headphones will sound more in line with your tastes.

Despite their excellent sonic qualities, BlueAnt would probably do better to price the Embrace headphones closer to $150 to get a foothold in this very competitive market. However, the extra padding and built-in microphone with track controls are a boon over the $179 Bose OE model, and if you prefer to hear music the way the mixing engineer intended, you won't be disappointed with the Embrace headphones.

BlueAnt Embrace Headphones

BlueAnt Embrace Stereo Headphones

Score Breakdown

Design 8Features 7Performance 8
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