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Insignia Bluetooth Wireless Behind-the-Head Headphones review: Insignia Bluetooth Wireless Behind-the-Head Headphones

Insignia Bluetooth Wireless Behind-the-Head Headphones

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
David Carnoy
3 min read

With Bluetooth finally becoming the de facto standard for wireless audio, it seems as if nearly every manufacturer is releasing some sort of Bluetooth-compatible speaker system or headphones. Add Best Buy's Insignia brand to the latter list. The product is officially known as the "Insignia Bluetooth Wireless Behind-the-Head Headphones," and comes in two nearly identical versions: The $70 NS-BTHDST includes a USB Bluetooth dongle (for using as a PC headset), and the $50 NS-BTHDP omits it from the package. The Insignia headphones don't do much to distinguish themselves from the rest of the pack, but they're fairly affordable and offer reasonable sound and comfort quality.


Insignia Bluetooth Wireless Behind-the-Head Headphones

The Good

Wireless stereo Bluetooth headphones offer compatibility with a variety of cell phones, MP3 players, and computers that offer Bluetooth connectivity; comfortable, wraparound design; built-in battery recharges via standard USB; built-in mic allows you to use the headphones as a wireless headset with your cell phone.

The Bad

Buttons are a little stiff; nonadjustable headband.

The Bottom Line

While the Insignia wireless Bluetooth headphones may not excel in the design and performance departments, they offer a reasonable deal at this price point.

One of the more common forms these types of headphones take is an around-the-back-of-the neck design. This Insignia goes with padded earpieces that completely cover your ears and make you look pretty dorky. You can't fine-tune the fit (the neckband is a fixed length and nonadjustable), but they do fit pretty snuggly and securely.

The headphones' rechargeable battery, which gives you about 10 hours of usage, is housed in the right earpiece. You juice up the battery with a standard mini-USB cable. The right earpiece also houses buttons that control volume and the track up/down functions. A single button on the same earpiece activates the headphones and puts them into pairing mode. That same button is also used to answer and end calls--yes, these headphones also double as a headset for your Bluetooth cell phone--shut off the headphones' power, and toggle play and pause when listening to music. One small gripe we had was that the buttons were a little stiff and just not all that tactile.

As far Bluetooth compatibility goes, these headphones boast Bluetooth 2.0 with the A2DP profile. We didn't have any trouble pairing them with any device that claimed to be stereo Bluetooth-enabled. (Older Bluetooth 1.0 and 1.1 phones should still be able to use the Insignia as monaural phone headsets, but only A2DP-enabled devices will stream higher quality stereo audio.)

When we first used the Insignias as a Bluetooth headset paired with the Sprint Mogul, we didn't think the call quality when receiving calls was quite up to snuff--callers complained that our voice sounded pretty canned and they couldn't hear us all that well. The typical feedback we got was, "You sound like you're on a headset." However, when we switched to an iPhone, things improved dramatically--our voice sounded noticeably better to callers, and the worst thing we noticed was a bit of a hiss (a common side effect heard on most Bluetooth headsets). Given the Mogul's finicky Bluetooth implementation, we think the initial problems we encountered were a result of the phone, not the Insignia headset.

Things went more smoothly when using the Insignia as stereo headphones for music and movie soundtracks that we streamed from a Samsung YP-P2 media player and a Nokia N95. We won't go so far to say that the sound was rich and refined, but the headphones have enough bass and detail to make you feel OK about listening to them for extended periods. That's more or less a compliment, considering you do lose something when your compressed digital music gets further compressed when transmitted via Bluetooth.

All in all, we liked the NS-BTHDP/NS-BTHDST headphones. Their design isn't anything to rave about, but they fit fine and sounded decent enough. We've seen this genre of Bluetooth headphones discounted occasionally for less, but Insignia is considered more of a budget brand, so at around $50 ($70, if you need the Bluetooth adapter for your PC), these do tend to fall toward the cheaper end of the spectrum. We expect Bluetooth headphones to come down further in price with time, but at the moment anyway, these Insignia headphones are pretty well priced for what they offer.


Insignia Bluetooth Wireless Behind-the-Head Headphones

Score Breakdown

Design 6Features 7Performance 7