Bluetooth headphones w/best call quality? Lost Sony SBH80 and looking for updated replacement.

Discussion in 'iPhone Accessories' started by sjcaguy, Mar 23, 2017.

  1. sjcaguy macrumors regular

    Nov 24, 2003
    • I used a pair of Sony SBH80 Bluetooth headphones for 2 years. There were a few issues with them: relatively modest sound quality (could've been better) and trouble negotiating pairings to both my laptop and my iPhone.
    • I lost the Sonys yesterday.
    • I use Bluetooth headphones for calls multiple times per day (I work from home) as well as the gym. I do not run/jump much at the gym. The SBH80 were not sweatproof but I never had a problem. They worked fine until I lost them.
    • Call quality, in terms of how people hear my voice using the headphones, matters a lot.
    • Sound quality matters as much-- they're equally important to me.
    • The SBH80s had a dual microphone setup and I think that helped the call quality considerably. I'd like something that sounded as good for the people on the other end of the line even if it only has a single mic.

    Here are a few I'm considering but would be grateful for recommendations:
    • Beats Solo3 (much bigger than SBH80, but good sound quality and dual beam-forming mics)
    • BeatsX (single mic, easy to carry, apparently poor call quality)
    • PowerBeats (same issues as BeatsX)
    • AirPods (not at all excited by sound quality, since my EarPods are a "desperation" use and I can't stand the sound out of them)
    What other options should I be considering?

  2. OETorrez, Mar 23, 2017
    Last edited: Mar 23, 2017

    OETorrez macrumors newbie

    Mar 9, 2005
    I recently had an opportunity to test drive Beats X, Jaybird X3, and Bose Soundsport Wireless headphones. I spend about a week or more with each, testing each for sound quality and comfort during daily use in 6+ hour listening sessions.

    Here are my rankings for a few data points.

    Sound Quality
    1. Bose Soundsport Wireless (10/10)
    2. Beats X (8/10)
    3. Jaybird X3 (7/10)

    Call Quality
    1. Bose Soundsport Wireless (9/10)
    2. Jaybird X3 (8/10)
    3. Beats X (5/10)

    1. Beats X (10/10)
    2. Bose Soundsport Wireless (9/10)
    3. Jaybird X3 (7/10)

    Specifically regarding call quality, this was a data point I didn't consider at first until I started getting complaints from friends and family about excessive background noise or unintelligible speech when using the Beats X. I then specifically tested each set in indoors, outdoors, and driving situations by making recordings of myself reciting a script. The Bose Soundsport Wireless offered the best call quality of the three sets. My recordings were clear with background noises sufficiently suppressed to make most of my speech perfectly clear. The Jaybirds seemed to let a little more of the background stand out but not enough to detract from my speech. The Beats X were utterly awful when used outdoors or while driving. Background noise frequently overpowered my voice to the point of making words unintelligible.

    In terms of the sound quality, the Bose while not having a totally neutral profile, have a warmth and richness that made listening to my favorite music very refreshing. The Beats X sound very good, very clean, but lack the richness seen in the Bose set. The Jaybird X3s sounded good but not particularly special in any way, despite trying numerous profiles in their MySound app. I simply couldn't find or create a profile I liked enough to keep set full time. I found myself trying to replicate the Bose sound and being disappointed with every attempt.

    Regarding comfort, the Beats X with their medium tips (without wings) fit me perfectly and managed to stay in without any discomfort. The Bose Soundsport Wireless are also very comfortable using the medium tips but after long listening sessions I find the need to pull the headphones out of my ears to relieve a very minor discomfort. Personally, I think the issue lies with my technique for inserting their unique ear tips in my ear. After using less rotation to lock them in and simply using my finger to set the wing in place, I've experienced almost no discomfort after hours of having them in. The Jaybird X3s didn't fit my ears comfortably AND securely using the silicone tips. I tried the Jaybirds with and without their wings. The wings made the fit very secure but the wings are too ridged for my liking and I was constantly aware of them when in use. The medium silicone tips alone were comfortable but would not stay in place, breaking their seal every time I turned my head too far left or right. I didn't try any Comply tips as I frequently use my headphones in situations that require that I maintain situational awareness.
  3. DGGoingUphill macrumors member

    Jul 11, 2015
    BeatsX are my favorite all around, but the call quality is poor if there's noise around me. The AirPods are superb for call quality to the point where I can have conference calls while walking on the street or while there is jackhammering outside my window (a new building is going up next door, so this has been a lifesaver). It doesn't cancel all the background noise but folks say they can hear my voice very well above it, even in situations where my voice is being drowned out in the real world. This has left me with a tough choice in noisy situations: let others hear me well with the AirPods but have to jack the volume up where I am concerned about longterm exposure, or use the BeatsX, which have excellent isolation, but others can't hear me at all. I usually go with the AirPods for calls.
  4. sjcaguy thread starter macrumors regular

    Nov 24, 2003
    I got the AirPods today and will be returning them tomorrow. The sound quality is appalling for music. Since I don't talk on the street much at all I may just get some over the ear high quality cans (Parrot Zik 3, Sony MDR-1000X) and deal with them being huge at the gym. The AirPods are also shockingly bad when it comes to touch receptivity...I have to try multiple times to get them to pause or play. Just a huge disappointment.

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3 March 23, 2017