Group test: Wireless Headphones
Cable-free listening is a liberating experience and here we’ve got four headphone candidates to whet your appetite. All support Bluetooth apt-X, so the sonics should be good, and all include telephone and regular wired functionality
1 Nuraphones use a rather novel combined over ear and in ear design. This is coupled with an app-based (iOS and Android) set-up process that profiles and tailors the headphone response to your hearing. You can choose between said profile or a generic sound, and also enhance your profile using Immersion mode, which controls the amount of bass sent to the over ear driver. The Nuraphones’ minimalist design provides just two touch-sensitive buttons (the Nura logo on each side), and setting functionality for these (start/stop, track advance and so on) is again within the app. Although we’re not convinced by the over reliance on an app we can’t fault the Nuraphones for isolation and sound quality, which in profile mode is awesome. www.nuraphone.com VERDICT 9.1 2 The Flares are the only ear bud design in our four, but what a design it is. Flare Audio have gone back to fundamentals, designing a titanium earpiece module that’s coupled with one of three user-selected and fitted ear foams. Each ear foam design (audiophile, universal and everyday) offers slightly different sonics, durability and comfort, and comes in three sizes for a snug fit. Bluetooth use requires you to plug up the clip-on mini module, and this includes three multi function buttons to access the typical start/stop, volume and track advance options.
Sonically the Flares are the most precise of our four and, although they are a bit bright for those who like to crank up the volume, it’s obvious why they’ve picked up endorsements from top producers. www.flareaudio.com VERDICT 8.7 3 Available in six colour options, the MW60s ooze class from the headphones themselves right through to the branded carry case, cable box and bespoke cables. Quality construction materials, including leather, steel and aluminium, make them rugged and reasonably weighty, and the lambskin and memory foam ear pads are up there with the most comfortable we’ve tried. A number of functions, including play/pause and volume, are achieved using the three on body buttons. Plus Bluetooth pairing is straightforward.
The snug fit provides excellent isolation and, although the quoted battery life isn’t amazing (16 hours), reliability at distance is very good. The sound of the MW60 is best described as warm and, although we found the high frequencies a little edgy at times (specifically via Bluetooth), the overall imaging and instrument separation is wonderful. www.masterdynamic.co.uk VERDICT 8.5 4 Noontec’s Hammo Wireless is the cheapest headphone in our test, but these are very decent cans irrespective of price. Bluetooth set-up is simple, as is getting to grips with the three multifunction buttons. The bundle includes a semi rigid carry case and there are also cables for USB charging and wired use.
In terms of comfort, these are the least invasive of our four and, although this means isolation isn’t the best, the light design is very comfortable – great for extended listening, as is the 50 hour battery life. Sonically, the Hammo is reasonably upfront with well-tamed bass and excellent high frequencies. www.noontec.com VERDICT 8.9