Monday, March 18, 2019
It took a long time, but now Microsoft’s first headphones with active noise cancellation are also available in Germany. n-tv.de has tried out, whether the Surface Headphones can compete with the best of their guild. They do, but they have some idiosyncrasies that you have to like.
Why Microsoft has until now waited to sell the already presented last October surface headphones in Germany, is not very clear. It could be because the headphones in this country does not yet support their own language assistant Cortana, but only Apple’s Siri or the Google Assistant. No matter, now they are here and n-tv.de has tried, if they are worth their high price of 380 Euro.
The first thing you notice is the successful design of the headphones. He can be recognized at first glance as a member of the Surface family with his shades of gray and silver Windows logos. And like other Microsoft devices, the ergonomics are very good. The headphones sit comfortably and safely on the head, although they weigh almost 300 grams. In addition, the bow is a side by a kink on the shells also tight, making them look better on the head than most other over-ear headphones.
The workmanship is excellent. Although the surface headphones are mostly made of plastic, no joint creaks and they look extremely robust. But you can only screw in for the transport but the shells, whereby the – also attractive – transport cover is quite large.
Equalizers and updates only over Windows 10
The fact that the headphones are a little different, you already notice if you set it up. Because if you want to install the associated app, as requested in the quick guide, you will find in Germany so far neither Android app nor iOS or macOS app. You do not need them to pair the Surface Headphones with a smartphone or Mac, it works just fine. But only with the Windows 10 app is the user an equalizer available and only about them you can update the firmware of the headphones. The lack of other apps is somewhat peculiar given Microsoft’s platform openness.
The control is also very special, but succeeded. To adjust the volume continuously, by turning the outer ring of the right shell. To start, pause or skip, you tap on the right or left outer surface, as well as take over Tipper calls, terminates or rejects them. If you press longer on one of the touch surfaces, start Siri or Google Assistant. There is also a power button and a mute call button on the right side. Practical: If you remove the headphones, the playback stops automatically.
The ring on the left shell sets the level of active noise cancellation (ANC) over 13 levels. In principle, this is convenient because theoretically the filter can be adapted very precisely to situations. In practice, however, one hardly hears the transitions between the individual levels and ends up either using the filter completely or not at all, or at best choosing a medium level.
ANC and sound good
Basically ANC works quite well with the Surface Headphones. The noise in the plane or other permanent noise filters it very effectively. Rattling keyboards or conversations of colleagues in the office are also well suppressed, but not as strong as the Bose Quiet Comfort 35 II or even Sony’s WH-1000X . In addition, the ANC noise floor is a bit more noticeable in Microsoft headphones.
The Surface Headphones also play in the upper league when it comes to sound. They offer powerful bass, wide mids and clear highs. By default, the sound is a bit dull and rather unspectacular. With the equalizer you can give the sound significantly more pep, adapt to different music styles or your own taste. Then the Surface Headphones are almost on par with the top devices from Bose or Sony. Blöd only that one can do in this country so far only on a Windows 10 computer.
The mileage indicates Microsoft with activated ANC and a Bluetooth connection with 15 hours, in the test was about 14 hours in it. That’s okay, but the top competition comes in 20 to 25 hours. Because the surface headphones have a USB-C port, however, empty devices are charged quickly. After 5 minutes on the power supply you can hear about an hour of music again.
Great, but it’s better and cheaper
All in all, Microsoft has managed a really good first ANC headphone. The noise cancellation is effective and the sound he can play at the top, if you go through the Windows 10 app. The design of the Surface Headphones is very successful, but you have to like the style. The controls are great, comfortable and easy. 380 euros are a heftier price. Since you have to be a surface fan, not to grab more of the Quiet Comfort II, which is available online from 250 euros. Even the currently best ANC headphones Sony WH-1000XM3 costs 40 euros less.