- Review Price: £79.98
One thing that has always puzzled me about Bluetooth headphones is that manufacturers insist on hanging all that technology directly off your ears. Those headsets that are simply for making phone calls while driving – not walking around, that just makes you look like an idiot – I’m happy to have hanging from my ear. The Aliph Jawbone being a particularly fine example. However, when I’m walking, or worse still jogging, around I don’t like or want the weight this adds. As a pair of Klipsch Image earphones prove, great audio quality can be produced in a tiny package so why are Bluetooth connected earphones so different?
Even the otherwise excellent Etymotic Research ety8 Bluetooth earphones fell into that trap. I was therefore, understandably interested in taking a look at Sennheiser’s MM200 Bluetooth ‘phones as they eschew the hang-from-ears mentality in favour of hanging the main bulk of the unit from a lanyard, and then running a set of cabled earphones off that. In theory it sounds like the exact wireless device I’ve been looking for.
There are obvious advantages. Foremost, I think there’s a lot to be said for not looking like a fool with lumps of plastic hanging from the sides of my head! That brings with it the ability to use the MM200’s while moving about, unlike the ety8s which have a tendency to shake loose, at least from my ears.
The MM200s have ‘normal’ earphone buds running off the lanyard and the left of these has an in-line microphone, too. Obviously this allows the device to function as a hands free headset but I would have preferred to see a 3.5mm jack allowing any earphones to be connected and benefit from the wireless Bluetooth connectivity. It’s not like putting the microphone in the lanyard would be difficult anyway.
Saying that, the only place I would ever use a hands free kit is in a car and I hope none of us would ever consider driving with earphones in so I hardly see a problem with omitting the microphone entirely, anyway. I guess, it does mean that you don’t need to take your phone out of your pocket to answer it when you’re out and about, listening to music.
The Bluetooth receiver has a clip enabling attachment to a shirt pocket or lapel, which can be removed when not wanted. This is hardly necessary as the unit is so light that when using its lanyard I ended up forgetting I was wearing the thing and spent a good 10 minutes searching my desk before realising that, funnily enough, the music I was hearing wasn’t appearing from thin air.
Connecting the MM200s to a Bluetooth enabled player couldn’t be simpler. I used an HTC Touch HD that I happened to have sitting around, but an MP3 player like the Samsung YP-P2 would do just as well. Press and hold the play/pause button until the status LED flashed red and blue alternately, search for the MM200 on the device, type in the ever-secure 0000 passcode and, on a phone, decide if you want to use the device as a hands free adapter, stereo headset or both.
Thanks to the A2DP Bluetooth profile, audio quality isn’t compromised heavily by the connection (capable of 731Kbps max for the interested), unless you have an iPhone or iPod touch which both bizarrely don’t support A2DP – so bear that in mind if you own such a device. In-call audio is as good as could be hoped for, wandering around the TR office grounds (there are some advantages to working in the middle of nowhere) I was able to talk to and hear Riyad perfectly so there’s no complaints on that front.
Moving to a bit of music, I was pleasantly surprised by the MM200’s audio quality. At £75 I hadn’t expected much, given Sennheiser is charging for the Bluetooth module and a pair of earphones, so I was pleased those preconceptions were wrong. Firing up a 320Kbps MP3 of Placebo’s Running Up That Hill (a cover of the Kate Bush original), I was pleasantly surprised by the clarity and bass produced. The ety8s definitely produced a fuller, warmer sound, but at twice the price I would expect no less.
A quick listen to the wonderful The Darkness track Girlfriend proved an enjoyable experience, with even the highest of Justin Hawkins’ high pitched shrieks (which are a good thing, I assure you) fully reproduced, as were the cracking guitar solos.
The only major criticism with the MM200s is the slightly narrow soundstage produced. Whether that’s a fault with the earphones themselves, or the Bluetooth connection I couldn’t say and it’s not that noticeable anyway.
Plugging in a pair of similarly-priced SE102 earphones, I can definitely say that Sennheiser has sacrificed the quality of the earphones used on the MM200s in order to compensate for the added cost of Bluetooth. If you need, or want, the wireless connectivity, though, that sacrifice is one you’ll just have to make.
If you’re after a set of Bluetooth earphones then the Sennheiser MM200s are definitely worth considering. A great form factor, commendable audio performance and, of course, the convenience that wireless connectivity offers all wrapped up with a decent price.
Score in detail
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