Headphones like the Nokia Purity Pro Stereo Headset by Monster don't come along every day. At $349.99, this advanced pair of headphones is expensive but nets a long list of advanced mobile audio technologies. The result of a partnership between mobile phone maker Nokia and sound equipment company Monster Cable, the Purity Pro's impressive skill set includes wireless Bluetooth and active noise canceling. The device even relies on NFC hardware for effortless pairing, unique for a stereo headset. More compelling, the Purity Pro also serves up these capabilities for $50 less than the $400 Parrot Zik, another outstanding Bluetooth option. If you have the funds to splurge, the Nokia Purity Pro makes an excellent cell phone or even laptop companion.
Design and features
Though not crafted from luxurious metal as is the Parrot Zik, the Nokia Purity Pro's glossy plastic surfaces create a premium and attractive appearance. Its wide, flat headband and rectangular earcups also help to give the Purity a sleek and futuristic style. That said, on the durability scale metallic materials typically trump even high-end polycarbonates in my book.
At just under 10 ounces (0.62 pound), the headset is relatively light compared to the Zik's heavier frame (0.72 pound). The headphones do creak alarmingly when twisted plus its reflective skin acts as a fingerprint magnet.
Thanks to its feather-light weight and premium earcups coated covered in faux-leather cushions, I found the headphones comfortable and easy to wear for hours. You'll find handy physical controls on the Purity Pro as well. The spine next to the left earcup features shuttle keys for play/pause and track forward and back. On the right sits a volume rocker to adjust headset loudness.
Sporting Nokia logos on the left and right insides of the headband, it's clear that the Purity Pro was built to link with smartphones first and foremost. It accomplishes this via a wireless Bluetooth connection. That means you can stream and enjoy music in stereo from your phone without the hassle of wires.
Much like the Denon Globe Cruiser, and the Parrot Zik, the Purity Pro also boasts active noise cancellation technology to analyze background din and damp it. The point of this is to create a more isolating and pleasing music listening experience. As it's equipped with an onboard microphone, you can use the Nokia Purity Pro to answer or place phone calls hands-free.
I have to say it's still a rare find when a pair of wireless Bluetooth stereo headphones also offers active noise cancellation. That puts the Nokia Purity Pro within an elite group of mobile accessories. But this device hasn't run out of tricks.
The Purity Pro folds up neatly like a Transformer into a very compact package. Even cooler, when you unfold it, two buttons in each hinge cause the headphones to automatically switch on their Bluetooth radio and connect to the last paired device in range. The opposite occurs when you fold up the product for storage.
If the Purity Pro doesn't recognize any devices nearby, it kicks itself into Bluetooth pairing mode and provides voice prompts to help with setup. Noise canceling operates automatically, too; the headphones activate this feature when capacitive sensors detect the presence of both your ears inside the earcups.
Monster says that all this automation helps the device's rechargeable battery achieve a long audio playback time of 24 hours. When the juice runs out, though, or for say, when you're traveling on airplanes, the Purity Pro comes with a standard 3.5mm headphone cable for a wired connection.
Still not impressed? The Purity Pro can pair in seconds with compatible smartphones using its embedded NFC chip, just by tapping the two devices together. I don't know about you, but I find this application of NFC pretty slick.
Testing the Nokia Purity Pro went well from the moment I picked them up. With the device fully charged via its Micro-USB port, I was able to pair the headset with my LG Nexus 4 test smartphone in no time. I held the phone against the Purity Pro's NFC logo, located outside on the left earcup, and tapped "yes" when prompted with an invitation to pair handset and headphones.
The Purity Pro supports both the AAC and Aptec high-definition audio standards for the best possible audio quality over a wireless or corded connection. Listening to music through Bluetooth was enjoyable; the headset produced a sizable helping of bass, a clear midrange, plus crisp highs. I also experienced wide and satisfying spatial effects and plenty of volume.
The Purity Pro's active noise canceling is strong, too, quieting a great deal of ambient distraction in my tests, whether that consisted of street sounds or subway car clatter. For instance, I found the Purity's dampening prowess much better than the Denon Globe Cruisers'. That said, the Parrot Zik does a better job of blocking outside noise thanks to a tighter physical seal and closer fit.
I do prefer the Purity Pro's aggressive though well-balanced audio quality compared with the Parrot Zik's flatter and more conservative sound reproduction. Of course, true audiophiles might rather have the latter. Audio experts will likely appreciate the ability to deactivate the Purity Pro's noise canceling. You do so by simultaneously pressing the volume down and previous track buttons.
Another skill in the Zik's wheelhouse is the ability to control device settings though a companion app, including toggling noise canceling on or off, adjusting the custom equalizer, and viewing current battery levels. With no such software feature, the Purity lacks similar abilities.
Don't expect pristine call quality when chatting through the headphones, either. Calls I conducted with the Purity Pro sounded fine on my end, thanks to great noise cancellation, but callers could immediately tell I that was speaking to them from a headset. Worse, they complained of the muffled sound of my voice; consequently, I suggest using the Purity Pro for voice communication sparingly.
A big bright spot in the Nokia Purity Pro's performance is its lengthy battery life. Rated to provide a continuous audio playback time of 24 hours, I managed to make it through a full work week on a single charge.
In many ways, the $349.99 Nokia Purity Pro stereo headset by Monster is a superb smartphone accessory. It produces pleasing and well-balanced audio with plenty of bass, too, and it's bristling with hi-tech features. Able to fold up into a compact shape, it's easy to pack, lasts very long between charges, and is easy to use thanks to its automatic operation and NFC pairing as well. The headphones' few flaws, the biggest being the lack of a companion phone application for greater control, will likely only matter to serious audiophiles. If its shortcomings are a sticking point, I suggest spending $50 more for the $399.99 Parrot Zik. The Zik has similar audio performance, a premium metal design, and even features fancy touch controls.