Welcome back to the blog for a new review of the gadgets I recently purchased some weeks ago. To start with, I should first of all explain the reason behind the purchase. Some parents with kids will most probably agree that noise is usually kept to a minimum whenever the kid is sleeping. And noise includes keeping the television volume so low that you can barely enjoy watching anything. That’s why I started looking for a set of headphone which could be connected to the television.
Making a choice
While at first, I was rather reading about dedicated headphones connected to their base station using radio frequencies (RF) , I later turned to bluetooth headsets as they could be used not only for tv sets but also, laptops and mobiles (especially if yours doesn’t have a 3.5mm jack). Thanks to the internet, there’s a large variety of products, ranging from $10 up to $400. I have been actively reading reviews and comparing prices on eBay and Amazon but sadly, purchasing on Amazon costs more for Mauritians because of the high shipping rates.
However, you need to take several aspects into consideration before taking a decision : For example, is your tv set equipped with bluetooth, battery / power source, number of headphones you might want to connect simultaneously, earphones or headphone and of course, quality of sound which will directly reflect on the price of the product. Another additional point which is critical when choosing such a device is the latency. To quickly understand, I am sure that you would not want to watch a movie with a thunder-lightening like delay. Low latency devices ensure that there’s a minimum delay in processing and transmitting sound so that there’s good lip-synchronization.
And to be able to connect it to a non-bluetooth enabled television set, I needed an additional device : A bluetooth transmitter. Connected to an audio source (or tv set) through the headphone jack, the bluetooth transmitter processes the input and sends it over to any other bluetooth device connected to it. Again, a few things to take into consideration : battery / power source, number of devices which can be simultaneously connected, and again, very important, the latency.
Important to note that in order to achieve a low-latency situation, both headphones and transmitter should be able to operate with very low-latency and also, make sure that both devices are compatible.
Miccus SR-71 Stealth Headphones
After several weeks looking at different products, I finally opted for a rather new brand named Miccus on sale for a fair price of $60. I was quite amazed by the specs on their web site but there were actually very little customer reviews. Nevertheless, I decided to go for it for various reasons. Just summarizing a few of the features displayed in their product description :
- Leather ear-pads
- A very useful hard case to store the headphone and cables.
- Dual link, meaning you can connect two devices simultaneously and switch in-between them.
- Bluetooth mode as well as using it with a standard cable, just like any other headphone/earphone.
- Up to 15 hours of battery
- Low latency of 32 milliseconds achieved using connected to a device transmitting in aptX Low latency codec. Else, the headphone will operate using standard aptX or SBC codec
Miccus Mini-jack RTX
Since the same brand produces their own bluetooth transmitters, I automatically chose one of their devices, the Miccus Mini-Jack RTX for around $35. Again, some of the features displayed on their web site:
- It can both be used as a transmitter and receiver
- Supports aptX LOW LATENCY codec, so it works along very well with the SR-71 headphones.
- Up to 2 devices can simultaneously be connected to it to receive audio but however, no low-latency mode in dual-link operation. Instead, it will operate on standard aptX or SBC codec
- Up to 10 hours when running on battery and automatic powering off when not receiving audio in input
- Automatic power on when connected to a power source
The total cost
Enough said about product specifications written on web site. As I mentioned at the beginning, one should know how much he / she is willing to spend. With a total of $95 for these 2 Miccus devices, shipping to Mauritius costs an additional of $22 using USPS first class international delivery. However, advertised as a bundle, the purchase of the headphone and transmitter along with shipping has cost me a combined total of $102, roughly amounting to Rs3,700, thus offering a saving of $15.
No Vat or other postal charges as the item was directly delivered to the post office of my village.
The actual review
Overall, the wireless solution to watch television is a good one, with nice battery life, easy to use and practical. I can use it when connected to the tv set, on my laptop and my mobile. However, since I switch among the 3 devices quite often, I usually need to pair the headphone depending on the usage pattern.
Coming to the build quality, both devices look sturdy and of good quality, except for the leather earpads (I will come to that later on). The headphone has only 3 buttons, the main Multi-function button and 2 volume buttons. Depending on modes and presses, these 3 buttons allow you to switch on/off, change volume, change music tracks and take/reject phone calls. Placed on the right side of the headphone, the 3 buttons look like they will last for long. If you wear a pair of earings, you might need to reconsider the usage of over-the-ear headphones as they might not be the most suitable ones. However, if you wear only a small earing (yes, like me), the headphones will be just ok. The earing might prick you but you will get used to it with time. Or just remove them 🙂
The hard case is really a plus as it allows you to safely store the headphone (and even the transmitter) securely. The detachable pocket inside the hard case is very useful too for storing the cables if you are moving around. I will advise to keep them to a minimum, meaning, carry only the transmitter audio cable and a usb cable as both devices can be charged with the same usb cable (The one used for most mobile phones too). In general, you won’t be needing the 3.5 mm stereo audio cable and other extra cables bundled along.
The sound output is nice and decent if you are not expecting Bose-like experiences. In that case, you should invest some $200 more bucks. With the volume buttons on the headset, you can easily operate it without having to reach your remote control of your tv set. Also, since the headset can delivery quite high volume, you should be careful when using it other than in your tv room.
Cables are provided for both devices for charging and connecting purposes, so no worry about that. A double sided sticker is also available for the bluetooth transmitter so that you can stick it neatly around your television set but personally, I will advise you to put it somewhere in front.
Important to note that the Miccus products are labelled “Made in China” but nevertheless, they are not cheap-looking quality products. A special mention about this has been made in the user manual and even on the box.
Operating the devices
Powering on :
- Headphone : Press and hold the main button until a beep sound is heard and the led lights start to blink
- Transmitter : Press and hold the button until the led lights start to blink
Powering off :
- Headphone : Press and hold the main button until the led turns red and a beep sound is heard.
- Transmitter : No switching off required. It turns off after 30 minutes if no sound is received from the input. For example, after your tv is switched off.
Paring process :
Pairing is fast and simple. The pairing process in between the headphone and transmitter is straight-forward but for other devices, you need to key in the default PIN code.
- Headphone and transmitter : Press the main button for a few seconds until the led lights turn red and blue repeatedly. Then, choose the device on your laptop or mobile phone in order to pair both of them. Led lights flash blue when pairing is successful
My concerns :
The Miccus Mini-Jack RTX works nearly flawlessly I should say, so not much to complain. Unfortunately, there are a few points which has to be improved on the SR-71 Stealth Bluetooth headphone.
Still remember that I previously advised you to place the transmitter in the front of your tv-set? Despite operating on Bluetooth 3.0 which has a theoritical working range of 10 meters (or 33 feet), there has been a few times whereby the sound delivered to the headphone is not continuous (with those annoying noise for the ears) even if I am only a 3-4 meters from the transmitter.
Layout of buttons
With the 3 buttons packed very closely, it takes time to get used to them. Personally, I would have preferred that the volume buttons and main multi-function button were either placed separately, each on one side of the headset or of different sizes in order to be able to differentiate them easily with a finger press. However, I guess that this placement will definitely increase the manufacturing price.
Being over-the-ear headphone, the ear-pads cover your ears completely, limiting the amount of external noise that can travel to the ear-drums. Unfortunately, this causes quite an inconvenience as air cannot circulate freely. Over a few couple of hours, I can easily feel my ears warming up, forcing me to take off the headphone for some seconds. Alternatively, I usually place the ear-pads in such a way that it does not cover my ears completely so that I can feel more comfortable for longer hours of usage.
As per past experiences with leather products, I know that many of them (especially low quality ones) have the tendency to wear over time and peel off. For these earpads, only time will tell if they are of good quality. Keeping fingers crossed.
Personally, I have been very deceived by the performance of the built-in microphone found on the right side of the headset. When I first used the headphone paired with my iPhone, the person at the other end could not hear me properly. After several tests, I found out that the microphone was not able to perform up to an acceptable level. Making phone calls or doing Skype Calls is nearly impossible, so be careful if you plan to use the headset for these purposes exclusively.
I think that I have covered various aspects and user experience in regards to the Miccus products without going into any technical details.Also, I made it a must to include a maximum of pictures so that people can have a better look at the products without having to rely on the official pictures. Overall, both SR-71 Stealth Headphones and the Mini-jack RTX Bluetooth transmitter are a good investment if you want to enjoy watching your movies whether on your traditional television set or even on your laptop. One of the best advantages of having a bluetooth headphone as compared to RF (Radio Frequencies) operated headphones is mobility. You can carry your headphone everywhere, even to listen to music in the bus or while jogging.
However, as mentioned, be careful if you are planning to use it for taking phone or Skype calls. Not much recommended for this use. I hope that this post might be useful for anyone planning to purchase these Miccus products.
Keep tuned for the next post.