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Pendulumic Stance S1+ review: A winning Bluetooth headphone that focuses on features

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MSRP: $199.00

The Good The reasonably priced Pendulumic Stance S1+ offers good performance for a Bluetooth headphone, it seems well-built and is comfortable to wear. Rechargeable battery life is strong, and you also get a AAA backup battery option not found on other Bluetooth headphones. A nice carrying case is included.

The Bad The design won't appeal to everyone; sound quality, while good, exhibits some treble push; fairly heavy with backup AAA batteries installed.

The Bottom Line While it doesn't quite fulfill its promise as an audiophile Bluetooth headphone, the Pendulumic Stance S1+ is a comfortable wireless headphone that sounds good for the money and offers strong battery life.

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7.7 Overall
  • Design 7
  • Features 8
  • Sound 7
  • Value 8

There are a lot of so-called premium Bluetooth headphones in the $250-$500 range, but what if you don't want to spend that much for a top-notch wireless headphone?

Enter Pendulumic, a headphone company you've probably never heard of, that's billing its Stance S1+ as an affordable audiophile wireless headphone that's a better value than the Sony MDR-1RBT, Beats Studio Wireless , Parrot Zik 2.0 , Beats Solo 2.0 Wireless , and the Philips Fidelio M1BT, among others.

At $200 USD, in many ways it is.

If you purchase the Stance S1+ on Pendulumic's website, the company will ship it to many locations around the world with the shipping charges included in the purchase price. That's $269 for UK and European customers (about £181) and $239 for those in Australia and New Zealand (about AU$313).

Note, too, that this is a slight upgrade to the original Pendulumic S1. Make sure you're getting the newer, better S1+ reviewed here.

The full-size, over-ear headphone is comfortable to wear and seems well built, with a sturdy metal headband and plush, memory-foam-equipped earpads. I can't say its design is going to turn heads, which is a polite way of saying it's not the most stylish-looking headphone. But it's not ugly and its straightforward, utilitarian aesthetic may be appealing to some.

On another positive note, it has some extra interesting features. Those include a backup AAA battery option that kicks in if the built-in rechargeable battery dies and an analog knob to adjust volume. The two AAA batteries do add some weight to the package, and at 11.2 ounces (318 grams), it's a fairly heavy headphone, weighing about what the original Parrot Zik did. Of course, if you want to lighten things up, you can take out the backup batteries or just carry them in your bag.

The Pendulumic Stance S1 is equipped with several buttons and includes a backup battery option. Sarah Tew/CNET

I like that analog knob -- the design works well to adjust the volume blindly (by feel alone) -- but it is a moving part and if you do something clumsy, like drop the headphone and it hits the floor, knob first, it might break off. I would never do that, but it happens to the best of us.

That knob is also used to pause playback and advance tracks forward and back, as well as answer and make calls. Yes, there's a built-in microphone -- it works well for making cell phone calls, but headphones like the Beats Studio Wireless and Zik 2.0 have a couple of mics that help keep out ambient noise while allowing you to hear your own voice as you speak (as a result, you end up speaking normally instead of too loudly).

You can also listen to the headphone in wired mode, with or without amplification, and it's equipped with Bluetooth 4.0 and AptX support for compatible devices. (AptX is supposed to improve the sound quality of Bluetooth streaming, but it's unclear how much of a difference it makes.) There is no active noise-cancellation.

What you get in the box. Sarah Tew/CNET

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