Surface Headphones Review
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This week we are reviewing Microsoft's Surface Headphones
Hey everyone! We have a great product for the person on your list who loves music or travels as much as we do.
Michael and I are music lovers. We attend a lot of concerts each year and there is music playing in our house most of the day. But sometimes we need to take our music and go. But we also wanted something with noise-canceling abilities and to work with our phones so we could also answer calls. That's when we discovered the Surface Headphones.
These are considered “high-end headphones” and their cost reflects that, but also the features as well.
|Dimensions||Length: 8.03” (204 mm) Width: 7.68” (195 mm) Depth: 1.89” (48 mm)|
|Exterior||Color: Light Gray|
|Frequency response||20 – 20kHz|
|Noise cancellation||Up to 30 dB for active noise cancellation Up to 40 dB for passive noise cancellation|
|Speaker||40 mm Free Edge driver|
|Sound pressure level output||Up to 115 dB (1kHz, 1Vrms via cable connector with power on) Up to 115 dB (1kHz, 0dBFS over Bluetooth connection)|
|Charging||Full charge in less than 2 hours|
|Battery life||Up to 15 hours (with music playback over Bluetooth, ANC on, hands-free Cortana² enabled)¹ Up to 18 hours of battery life by disabling Cortana voice-activation²|
|USB cord length||1.5 m|
|Audio cable length||1.2 m|
|Inputs||USB-C connector 3.5 mm audio connector|
|Compatibility||Windows 10, iOS, Android, MacOS|
|Buttons/controls||Power button, Mute button, Volume dial (right ear), Noise Cancellation dial (left ear)|
|What’s in the box||Surface Headphones Carrying case USB cable Audio cable Quick start guide Safety and warranty documents|
|Warranty||1-year limited hardware warranty|
When we first got them, I was a little apprehensive about how much I would like them. I've always had little earbuds and I liked how slim they are. You don't notice them and I like that discreet feature. But I know I give up sound quality with them.
So when I first put on the Surface Headphones, instantly I noticed that even without turning them on, it felt like I had started to drown out the sounds around me. Then I turned on just the noise-canceling and it felt like a “Cone of Silence” went up around me. To be honest, it takes some time to get used to that feeling!
Last year, while we were building our house. Michael and I had to share office space. He takes a lot of calls and truthfully, he's an annoying co-worker. He makes all of these really annoying noises. When I'm trying to write, I hate distractions. So every call he was on was a huge distraction for me. That's when I first started putting on the Surface Headphones and I discovered that I could transport to a cool musical place where my co-worker wasn't snapping his pen or snacking on chips. So much better!!
Special note: We did NOT receive any compensation for this review.
What we liked:
- You can adjust the noise cancellation levels.
- You can adjust the noise-canceling and music tune levels right on the on-ear dial.
- The hard case is great for keeping them safe and tossing in your backpack.
- The AUX cable is a standard cable and cheap to replace with another one.
Here are a few things that I appreciate:
The weight and feel of these headphones are nice. They don't feel cheap and my first impression is that they are quality made. The headband is reinforced metal, not plastic. They are very flexible, so this works with different head sizes.
Also, their metal vs. plastic keeps them from being broken easily by small children. ( But I wouldn't hand mine over to one, because kids are really good at breaking things in unexpected ways.
Overall, the sound quality is fantastic on the Surface headphones. They are a great value and I really enjoy them.
What is the setup like?
Setup is pretty fast. You do need to get the app for your phone and it walks you through easily.
How do the Surface Headphones feel?
The headphones are nicely cushioned, they embrace the ears well and are adjustable. I do notice that after wearing them for a while, they do head up. So I take them off for a few minutes, and it's just fine.
Also, I personally have to adjust the noise-canceling to a comfortable level because it gives me a bit of ear pressure discomfort.
Because of the ear cup design, they are some of the least sound leaking headphones on the market. This also means that you need to take caution while wearing them. Look around, be aware of your surroundings, and don't use while driving.
How far does the Bluetooth connect?
I've been able to keep my headphones on while walking around the house with no issues. I do see a little bit of a disturbance when leaving my phone inside and go outside. But between floors hasn't been a problem.
You can BlueTooth connect your headphones to other devices.
You can use this on your laptop. You can also plug in the Aux cable and use it on your Switch.
And as expected, it works great on the Surface machines.
Are the Surface Headphones “Always On” and what does that mean?
Yes, Cortana is always listening and ready to help you out. This means that the Surface headphones stay in a “always-on” state so the AI feature can assist you.
For some, this can be a little weird, but once you get used to having a voice assistant, like Siri or Alexa, you realize the ease of AI helpers like Cortana.
Other devices require a button push to activate, these wake up with their wake word “Cortana” and off you go. However, there doesn't seem to be a way to turn off this feature.
If you don't want to voice activate “Cortana” you can press the microphone button on the side and off you go.
Also, you can use SIRI with your headphones.
What does Cortana do?
This voice assistant gives you the hands-free ability to play your favorite music, make calls, search the web, join meetings and answer questions.
I like that you can ask Cortana to set reminders and it will tell you through the speakers when it's time to leave or do a task.
How is the battery life on the Surface Headphones?
I've used my headphones often on cross-country flights. On continuous use, not charging when I get to the hotel, I've gotten about 12-13 hours of battery. That time is altered by the fact that I use them only in Bluetooth mode, I keep them on noise-canceling, and at 40% volume.
You can use the wired option to extend your battery life. But most people, like myself, prefer not to. However, I've been able to use the included wire adapter to plug-in for in-flight entertainment devices.
Charging the device takes around 2-3 hours. Although I haven't timed them from dead to full charge.
You can check the battery life on the app. You can also get updates and adjust the sound quality on the app.
How are the controls on the Surface Headphones?
The pause and play are simple side tap controls. It takes a little bit of learning to remember that forward and rewind are double or triple taps. You can even answer calls with a double-tap while the call is ringing.
Can you answer calls with the Surface Headphones?
Yes, you can. The calls are clear and if you need to take calls where you need to hear without distraction. These are a great option.
When a call comes in, the music will mute and you can answer directly.
You can also microphone mute with the button on the side.
How is the noise-canceling quality?
For everyday sounds, it's great. Most of the simple noises are gone. I do a lot of work from Starbucks, so I like that I can put them on and get my work done without distraction. However, I can hear if someone is talking directly to me, it's just a little more muted.
When I'm flying, most crying baby and talking is dulled. This is a great feature, but I've been on flights where that kid wouldn't stop screaming for hours and there isn't much you can do about that.
What I wish Surface Headphones did better:
I love the headphones, but they are bulky. They don't break-down smaller for travel. This means I do carry the case when I travel and this adds extra weight.
The Surface Headphones weigh in at 290 grams, which is a little heavier than other high-end headphones like Sony or Bose. Yet it is only heavier by a few grams. Can you really tell the difference?
- Pro #1 -Sound Quality
- Pro #2 - Noise-Cancelling
- Pro #3 - Ease of use
- Con #1 -Bulky
- Con #2 - Tiny Off and On button
The On-Off button is just a little too small.
While most of the other controls are done with light taps on the surface of the earphones. The On/Off button is on the side and it is actually a little too small and flat. So it's hard to press and make sure you are getting them turned off properly.
The battery life isn't easy to see without wearing them.
The 15-hour battery life is a bit low. So it would be nice to see what battery life you had visibly on the device.
Final Thoughts: The headphones are great. Honestly, I love them and the tiny button isn't an issue. You won't go wrong with these headphones. They are big, and that's the trade-off for superior sound and function. Anything smaller wouldn't give you the same performance.