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iPhone owners, suffer no more!
Jun 29, 2009
a Very Helpful Review
by the Epinions community
Pros:Comfortable, sounds good, affordable
Cons:Some signal insensitivity to typically located devices
The Bottom Line:
Does everything you'd expect quite well. I love mine.
Recommend this product?
Until the iPhone 3.0 software update, iPhone owners did not have enabled bluetooth stereo. So, you had the choice of a wireless headset with mono sound in one ear, or the wired headset with all its tangly little wires. I, for one, could never tolerate the standard iPhone headset. Apple's headset ear pieces would not stay in my ears, and while they were in the sound would change if they shifted position. Frustrated, I paid the Apple Store almost $100 for a Mad Catz headset with over the ear hangars. Their loose fit pretty well wiped out the bass and well, they just weren't very good but they stayed in place. When Apple offered the 3.0 software update that enabled bluetooth wireless stereo, I looked for a new solution. The S9.
I immediately noticed the design of the S9 because as a one piece design it squeezes the earpieces against your ears and also goes over the ear. So the S9 looked very likely to stay in position. And it does.
You get 3 pair different sized rubber earpiece doughnuts with the headset. I found the intermediate size sufficiently comfortable, with just enough squeeze against the ear to contain a pleasing amount of bass. I'm sure others have deeper bass but that can also lead to listening fatigue. Over several hours there's very little discomfort and minimal fatigue--like with a pair of shoes that fits well. The instructions say you can bend the earpieces apart if they are too tight, but there's no mention whether you can bend them back again. For me the fit is good enough that I'm in no mood to experiment.
But being "on" rather than "in" your ear means outside sounds are not blocked. Better for safe driving, but your not going to escape into your own solitude when they're blasting bad music at the gym.
It's pretty good. On music, the tonal balance is quite natural even though the frequency extremes are absent. I find it very pleasing. I never feel like there's something I'm not hearing because of insufficient bass or treble. Complex music is resolved to a good degree, and there's plenty of decibels available without distortion for fairly loud passages. The S9s won't make you want to give up the quartet of 15 inch subwoofers that have taken over your back seat, if that's your thing.
The sound you send out in phone conversations is plenty intelligible, but with the microphone way around by your ear, your calling partners will hear outside noise more than with boom mikes that reach around to the front. So far this has not been a big problem but I do seek quiet places to carry on a conversation.
The bluetooth send/receive ports on the S9 are located in back of your head. Unfortunately bluetooth signals don't penetrate mass very well, so you actually get fewer signal drop outs if your signal source is in back of you! If I set my iPhone on a table and walk away the sound is fine until I turn around to return.
For folks with excessive cranial corpulence this is a problem. My own corpulence is located a little further south, so sometimes when I'm walking with my phone in a thigh pocket I get dropouts (momentary signal loss). But seated while driving I have no such problem. The instructions mention you may have a problem receiving from a phone in a front shirt pocket.
I did experience a problem with loss of the musical signal when my iPhone screen went into energy saving mode (dark). A reboot of the phone eliminated the problem.
At first I was put off by the cheesy rubber flap that covered the charging port. Unless I carefully worked the little rubber plug into the closed position, the flap wrinkled like a loose band-aid. But then I thought it better to have soft parts near my head rather than finely machined but impressive looking metal. Then the design made more sense. No hard or pointy parts.
The controls take a little getting used to. There's the on/power button on the back and 6 push points, 3 on the short vertical area in front of each ear (where the bluetooth antenna wanted to be). You locate these push points by feeling for tiny nodules which are sometimes hard to find. When you push the control, tactile activation feedback is minimal but you do get one of an assortment of many beeps that tell you you did something. After a while you get the hang of it.
With 4-5 hours (I've never run mine all the way to empty) of battery power you may find yourself limiting your music listening to make it through to where you can recharge. Probably the easiest solution is to buy 2 pair. When the first runs out, swap to the other. That should take you through an entire day so you can recharge while you sleep. After all, at current prices (I paid $45) two S9s cost less than my old wired headset.
The set-up process with my iPhone was straight forward. I thought about also connecting to my MacBook Pro. But I always keep it in front of me, and with the antenna in the back......well, let me know if it works for you.
Other than increasing the forward signal sensitivity, I wouldn't change a thing about the S9. It's few flaws are too minor to merit complaint.
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