Microsoft Surface Headphones: The surprise noise-canceling contender
Tv & Audio
You probably never thought you'd see a premium noise cancelling headphone from Microsoft, but here is the Microsoft Surface headphone.
It's hitting stores this holiday season for $350 and will be available in just the color you see here.
Microsoft spent three years designing this headphone.
And I found it very comfortable to wear.
The earpads are plush and the headband is nicely tapered to your head.
One of the headphones' key features is an integrated dial in each earcup.
You turn the ring on the right earcup to adjust volume and the one on the left to adjust the amount of noise canceling you want.
The dial turns really smoothly and there are technically thirteen levels of noise canceling.
Additionally, the headphone has touch controls for pausing and playing music and skipping tracks forward and back.
You can max out the noise canceling to muffle the outside world or dial it back to the point of letting sound around you in to the headphones.
Allowing you, say, to talk to a flight attendant on a plane without taking off your headphones.
I thought the noise canceling was quite effective.
Microsoft says the headphone is equipped with eight microphones, including four beam [UNKNOWN] mics that not only help with making your voice sound clear on calls But issuing voice commands using Microsoft's Cortana Digital Voice Assistant.
Cortana is always on, so all you have to do is say, hey, Cortana, issue a voice command, there's no button pressed [UNKNOWN] which is cool.
As you'd expect the Microsoft Surface Headphone is designed to work with Microsoft Surface Notebooks, but it also works just fine with.
Other mobile bluetooth devices including iOS and Android devices.
The headphone is equipped with Bluetooth 4.2.
Not the latest Bluetooth 5.0.
But you can connect multiple devices to it and swap between them easily.
It also charges via USBC which is nice and has a quick charge feature.
I thought the headphones sounded quite good in my limited time with it.
According to Microsoft it's got 40mm load distortion free edge drivers, be able to tweak the sound via a companion app with the default sound signature has a little bit of a boost in the treble along with To create that punchy, exciting sound that's typical of a lot of today's headphones.
I thought the mid range sounded clear and natural.
Battery life is rated at 15 hours, which isn't nearly as impressive as what you get with competing models.
However, the always on Cortana feature does eat in to battery life.
And Microsoft may come up with a way to eke out more battery life with future software upgrades.
Ultimately it'd be better if this headphone cost a little less than competing models from Bose and Sony to make it a better value but Microsoft has created a compelling premium in noise cancelling headphone that has a couple of distinguishing features that make it a contender in this space.
I'm David Carna for cnet.com.
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