Bluetooth used to be a thing that only cellphones had and stereo Bluetooth was even more exclusive. Now you get this on basically any phone out there and the technology has begun to be more present in MP3 players as well. Samsung can be said to be the pioneer in this area with by far the most Bluetooth equipped players, but other brands like Insignia, Sony, Cowon and others have started to incorporate this as well.
With my recent work related fallout with wired headphones (don’t ask) and the purchase of a Sony A828 for it’s Bluetooth capabilities, I needed a pair of Bluetooth headphones to go with it. After some research I ended up with the Jabra BT620s. The big question on my mind was how this would hold up to wired headphones both in stability and sound quality. Read on for the full review.
- Quick Look
- Headband type: Behind the neck
- Battery life (music): 14 Hours
- Battery life (standby): 240 Hours
- Weight: 100g
- Bluetooth version: 1.2
- Supported Profiles: A2DP, AVRCP, Headset, Handsfree
The included accessories are pretty decent. You get the standard manuals and USB cable but also an AC adapter and spare headphone pads. The BT620s charges through the USB mini B port and such devices don’t always come with AC adapters. Jabra also offers standalone Bluetooth transmitters that work with the BT620s if you want wireless headphones but don’t have a Bluetooth capable MP3 player.
For some reason Bluetooth headphones are usually behind the neck style. I don’t particularly like that style of headphones as sometimes the neckband is too short and won’t fit big heads. They are also often uncomfortable to wear for prolonged periods of time. I was however pleasantly surprised with the BT620s, they sit on very well and only after 4+ hours of wearing them did I start to feel the effect of having them on and that happens with over the head headphones as well.
Hoodies is another story. Wearing the headphones with a hoodie on was very annoying as the hood kept getting in the way of the neckband when the hood was down. If you lay down or sit laid back in a chair you’ll also run into problems as this will push the headphones off your ears and turn them into chinphones rather than earphones. This happens with most neckband headphones though, but still annoying – especially if you are commuting on the bus or train where you do sit down.
I’ve had other Bluetooth headphones which have had rather big cups to fit all the tech needed for them to work. This tend to get heavy and annoying. Luckily this isn’t the case with the BT620s and they don’t make you look like princess Leia by wearing them. Build quality is good and it doesn’t feel like it’s going to fall apart even if it’s all plastic.
Both cups have three buttons; a big middle one and two on the top of the cup. The left side middle button answers and ends calls along with turning the headphones on and off. The middle button on the right side is the play/pause button. It’s nice to have this button being as big as it is (approx. 3 cm in diameter) as it makes it easy to quickly pause the music. Anyone who’s been in the situation with people talking to you even though you have headphones on know how annoying it can be to have to fiddle around to pause.
The two top buttons on the left side controls volume and the corresponding buttons on the right side changes track. They are small-ish, but i was still able to operate them with gloves on so they are acceptable.
The USB port is located at the bottom of the right cup. It doesn’t really matter where it’s placed for charging, but it’s worth noting that according to the manual you can attach a USB cord and use the headset through USB on a computer. I haven’t tested this nor have I tested the headphones as a handsfree headset as it isn’t related to using the headphones with MP3 players.
Pairing with my Sony was easy, you just hold down the left middle button until the light is solid blue and search for Bluetooth devices with your player. Connecting the headphones after pairing is also easy, but in this area I did experience one annoyance. I have a lot of Bluetooth equipment, including two A2DP receivers, and when I turn these on they turn on in a sort of standby mode waiting for a player/device to connect to them. A second tap on the on button makes them search for saved devices themselves and connect to the first one they find. The BT620s however doesn’t have this middle step with standby and goes directly to searching for devices it’s been paired with (if set to auto connect on those devices), which in turn makes it connect to my cellphone which always has Bluetooth on before the Sony even has a chance to connect to it. I’ve had to turn off Bluetooth on my cellphone as a result of this and if you have multiple A2DP devices this is a problem you might face as well. If you only have one device however it’s nice to not have to do that second tap on the on button to make it connect. You can of course just not set it to auto connect within your phone menu, but I like that feature as long as it requires an extra tap on the headphones to do so.
Connection stability is something I’ve had trouble with on some Bluetooth receivers, with random stuttering and dropouts. This is often caused by the user’s body being in the way as the signal has trouble transmitting through water. The weaker the receiver and/or transmitter, the more dropouts and trouble. The BT620s is very good at keeping it’s connection and it doesn’t stutter at all, but I have had dropouts caused by my own body. The sound usually comes back after 2-3 seconds but it’s an annoyance even so. I have to note that I’m using the highest quality setting for Bluetooth audio on my Sony, which means it prioritizes quality over connection stability and is more likely to drop out. I haven’t had any dropouts at all with the connection priority setting, but that sounds very bad and tinny in comparison.
Bluetooth profiles is something a lot of people don’t understand, as proven by our forum where people tend to expect Bluetooth players to be able to use GPS receivers, keyboards, Internet and whatnot over Bluetooth just because they can use Bluetooth headphones. Bluetooth profiles determine whether or not a device can do a certain thing. There’s a load of different ones, but the important ones for listening to music over Bluetooth are A2DP and AVRCP. A2DP stands for Advanced Audio Distribution Profile which basically means stereo audio. AVRCP stands for Audio/Video Remote Control Profile and let’s your headset control the volume, play/pause and track
skipping on your player. If your device lacks any of these, you won’t be able to use the features that goes with that profile. If you have an old phone without A2DP, you won’t be able to get stereo out of it and most likely not be able to play back music through the BT620s at all so check compatibility with these profiles before buying.
Battery life is rated at 14 hours for music. Depending on everything from quality settings to volume and how much you tinker with the controls this will vary, but you should still be able to get a full working day out of it and still have some juice left. Note that Bluetooth also drains whatever you use as a player a lot faster than wired headphones so you got two battery indicators to worry about. Still, the BT620s should be more then adequate in the battery department as a lot of Bluetooth headphones don’t even get 8 hours before dieing.
The rings on either side of the headphones have LEDs in them that lights up to tell you all sorts of stuff about the status of the headphones. Basically various blinking patterns of blue indicates running status, red indicates low battery and charging and green indicates fully charged. The rings will blink blue every second or so when in use but you can turn this off by holding both middle buttons for 5 seconds to avoid looking like R2D2. I really recommend reading the manual carefully with regards to status LEDs as they aren’t as useless as on other devices.
This is of course the most important thing on any headphones and Bluetooth tend to get a bad reputation in this area. There are several reasons why this is; First of all, very few well known headphone manufacturers make Bluetooth headphones. Nokia might know how to make cellphones, but they don’t know anything about making good sounding headphones – trust me on this one. Secondly, a lot of headphones have bad Bluetooth abilities. A lot of people think that Bluetooth is Bluetooth since it’s a digital stream, but that’s not the case. My Nokia E51 for instance sounds like an injured cat over Bluetooth and tend to drop out more often and sound like AM radio with music playback. The Sony sounds much better, but there’s a big difference between normal quality and high quality mode.
That being said I am very happy with the sound of the BT620s. With the Sony as source I have had no pitch bends which is often a problem with Bluetooth audio. Bass is where it should be and most instruments sound natural enough for non-audiophiles. Cymbals is one thing that all Bluetooth equipment seem to have extreme trouble with as they always sound way too pronounced. I don’t know what’s causing it but this happens on the BT620s too – but only on very cymbal heavy tracks. Other than that the sound quality is very good and I have no problem with dropping wired headphones altogether for portable use. The sound signature isn’t far off my PX100, at least as far as you can compare wired headphones and Bluetooth ones. If you’re one of those that use sub-$80 headphones for portable use you’re going to be satisfied with the BT620s and I’ve yet to test Bluetooth headphones that can match these. If you’re one of those that run around with fifteen headphone amps connected to your MP3 player however, stick with wired headphones. Wireless audio is still for the common user and not for audiophiles. Also remember that the source has much more to say about the sound quality with Bluetooth headphones than with regular wired headphones.
Bluetooth certainly has it’s flaws, but if you’re looking to go wireless the BT620s is an excellent choice. The sound quality is very good for a Bluetooth headphone and decent design and battery life is what’s made this 2 year old model a best seller. The fact that it costs about $35 on Amazon doesn’t exactly hurt either, so if you have a A2DP capable player and don’t require audiophile grade sound quality there’s little reason not to get a pair. What I’d really like is a over the head version of this as a lot of people (me included) prefer this style of headphones and currently there are way to few such Bluetooth headphones out there.