This is the new Microsoft Surface Headphone. Its Microsoft’s new active noise cancelling headphone and its set at the same price as the top premium active noise cancelling headphones like the Bose QC 35 II and the Sony 1000X M3. Being a direct rival means it will be compared to both the Sony and Bose headphones in our review.
Build & Design
This headphone exudes quality, Microsoft really did not cut any corners when it comes to the build quality of this headphone. It’s well put together. It’s built mainly out of plastic but the headband is reinforced metal so it’s extremely flexible and durable. The earcups have very nice soft padding that provides excellent comfort and its perfectly fine to wear for long hours. Despite that, the Bose and Sony Headphones still feels a bit more premium and more justified for the price.
Microsoft has done a really good job of matching the design of this headphone with the rest of the surface products. So if you put it next to a Surface Book or Surface Studio, it’s not hard to see how much they go together.
On the right earcup, you will find the power, pairing, and mute buttons along with the latest USB-C connection. There’s also a 3.5mm port for wired connection.
Both earcups have touch-sensitive controls. So a single tap will pause or play music, a double-tap or triple tap will skip or go back to your music respectively.
Double tapping will also answer phone calls and a long hold while the phone is ringing will decline a call. Holding an earcup will active the voice assistant.
But really makes this headphone really special and unique are the dials on both earcups. On the right earcup, you have a dial that you use to control your volume levels.
On the left earcup is where these headphones really set itself apart from all the competition with a dial for controlling your active noise cancelling. You have 13 levels of active noise cancelling that you can adjust from high to low.
Always On Voice Assistant
With this feature, the headphone is always listening and waiting for you to say a command to the onboard Cortana voice assistant. If you don’t want to use your voice you can hold down the side of the earcup to activate her.
With the Bose and Sony, your phone must be near you in order to hear your command to activate the voice assistants, so it’s the phone that’s listening and not the headphone.
Microsoft claims up to 15-hours of battery life with ANC on. This might sound a little low but remember this headphone has Microsoft’s Always On Voice Assistant Cortana.
In real-world use at 50% volume, you will be able to get 13-hours of use. If you decide to use in wired mode with ANC on you can get up to 50 hours of use. It also has a quick charge feature built-in so just 5 minutes of charge will give you an hour of playtime.
The headphone is running Bluetooth 4.2 instead of the latest Bluetooth 5.0 technology. Despite that, the wireless connection is one of the best around, offering up to 100-feet in wireless range even with a few walls in-between.
It also has Microsoft’s Swift Pair technology so if you already own a Surface device this headphone will be extremely easy to pair, it works similar to Apple’s W1 Chip. The Surface headphone can pair with up to 10 different headphones. This pretty impressive because most headphones can only pair with two.
Active Noise Cancelling ( ANC )
You can adjust the ANC levels with the super cool dial on the left earcup. I personally prefer the fact that you’re able to adjust the ANC levels to your liking by simply twisting the dial to find your sweet spot. Neither the Bose or Sony offer the same levels of ANC adjustment that you get on the Surface headphone.
Turning the dial all the way down will magnify outside noise allowing you to hear conversations without removing headphones.
The active noise cancelling is very impressive, it even beats out the Bose making it the second-best to the Sony. The Surface headphone blocks out a very good amount of background noise while suppressing a lot of the vocals and chatter around you.
Using at around 70% volume offers a very comfortable and enjoyable listening experience. The audio characteristics of this headphone is a little similar to the Sony 1000x m3‘s. You get that similar bassy sound signature and loud performance.
The midrange is clear but it’s missing some clarity with not much separation from the bass. This won’t be an issue for the average consumers. The highs are not very bright, but it does provide good clarity without being ear-piercing or overpowering. The surface headphones are suitable for all consumers and not only those who particularly prefer bass.
With this being Microsoft’s first attempt at active noise cancelling headphones, they did a great job. The Surface Headphone is impressive and unique, it really does stand out from the competition.
When it comes to active noise cancelling this headphone fall right in between the Sony and the Bose respectively. If you’re big into using Windows and Surface devices you will love the Surface headphone.
But for me, even though it has great ANC performance and outstanding features, the Sony 1000x M3 and Bose QC 35II are just better options, they are more refined, comfortable, weigh less and have longer battery life. Read Now: Best Active Noise Cancelling Headphones