Moto Pulse and Moto Surround: Hands-on with Motorola's new wireless headphones

As part of its new Moto X and Moto G launch event, Motorola also introduced two new affordable Bluetooth headphones. So, how do they sound?

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.
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David Carnoy
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The Moto Surround (left) and Moto Pulse (right) are available now. Sarah Tew/CNET

While Motorola was busy introducing new Moto X and Moto G smartphones it managed to slip in a couple of new accessories at the end of its launch event: The Moto Pulse and the Moto Surround wireless Bluetooth headphones, both of which feature built-in microphones for hands-free calling, of course. They're available now for $59.99 and $69.99, respectively. They don't appear to be on sale in the UK and Australia just yet, but that's roughly equivalent to £38 and £45 in the UK and AU$82 and AU$95 in Australia.

The Moto Pulse, which comes in white and black, is a lightweight on-ear model that folds flat, has a reasonably attractive design, and is comfortable enough for an on-ear headphone, but it definitely feels like like a modestly priced headphone. It also sounds like one. By that I mean it sounds OK, but it's a little short on clarity (the Creative SoundBlaster Jam sounds better for the money and is more comfortable). Battery life is rated at an ample 18 hours.

I preferred the Moto Surround, which has the same around-the-neck design of LG's Tone "collar" headphones but has a touch more style than some of the entry-level Tone models. It also sounds better than the Pulse, with improved clarity (it's right there with LG's similarly priced Tone Ultra).

Like with LG's headphones, when you're not listening to the headphones, the earbuds adhere magnetically to the collar to keep them from flopping about. It's also worth noting that the Surround is sweatproof and water-resistant and you get AptX support for compatible smartphones (AptX is supposed to make Bluetooth streaming sound better, but there's some debate whether it really has a significant impact on sound quality, particularly when it comes to more modestly priced Bluetooth headphones).

The Surround claims an extended line-of-sight range of up to 150 feet or around 45m, but don't expect to get anywhere near that in a typical indoor environment with walls and other obstacles. Battery life is rated at a decent 12 hours.

While neither headphone breaks any new ground in the headphone market or is a particularly great deal, at least they're well-priced and with time you may see them dip to around $50 in certain online stores.

In case you're wondering, they work with any Bluetooth-enabled smartphone, not just Moto phones.