Sony DR-BT22 Bluetooth Headphone Review

dr bt22 avatar Sony DR BT22 Bluetooth Headphone Review

Bluetooth is technically a rather old technology and wireless headphones have really never taken off, yet they’re becoming an increasingly popular topic on our forum. A lot of the reason for that is that it’s becoming integrated into players, with the Samsung P3 and the Cowon S9 among the newest, most popular models to have this capability.

Most Bluetooth headphones are behind-the-neck style for some reason and there aren’t many normal type Bluetooth headphones. The Sony DR-BT22 is an exception, with a form factor and size that really doesn’t look like it’s Bluetooth at first glance. The DR-BT22 are on their way out, which has dropped the price from a MSRP of $99 to a sales price of under $30 on Amazon, which means these are perfect for people who want to go wireless. But are they any good?

  • Quick Look
  • Headband type: Over the head
  • Battery life (music): 11 Hours
  • Battery life (standby): 100 Hours
  • Weight: 33g
  • Bluetooth version: 1.2
  • Supported Profiles: A2DP, AVRCP, Headset, Handsfree
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Design

I have, have had or have tried a LOT of Bluetooth headphones and they are generally too big (if they have actual earpads and not plugs) and makes you look like a cross between Princess Leia and a robot with screws sticking out of your head. Because of this, my single biggest surprise with the DR-BT22 was how small they are! They really don’t look any bigger than my PX100, which has the same size earpad, and it amazes me that they’ve managed to cram a decent battery in there (about 10 hours real time use per charge). Compared to the BT620s for instance, these are 1/3 the weight – which is very noticeable.

The over-the-head design is a nice change from all those neckband style Bluetooth headphones I’ve tried, like the Jabra BT620s. The headband is adjustable as well as fordable, which makes them easy to fit and easy to carry. They are very comfortable, but they don’t really press against your skull that hard, which means they will easily fall off if you lean forward too much, run around or….dance.

The controls are placed on one side of the headphones, which is really nice. A problem with a lot of Bluetooth headphones is that the controls are so generic that you can’t feel your way to which control does what. With the DR-BT22, theres a 2-way joystick for pause, next and previous track while the volume controls are normal buttons. On for instance the BT620s I constantly found myself doing the wrong thing because the volume and playback controls were the same kind of buttons, placed the same way but on each of the earpads.

One design annoyance I did find was that they went with some proprietary charging port for charging the headphones instead of just USB, which means you need to have the charger with you to charge them. To make it worse, the charger is only compatible with 110V, which means that Europeans- like me- need to use a step down converter to charge it if they get it from the US. The low price is pretty much US-only, so don’t expect these to go for such a low price anywhere else.

Connection

With Bluetooth headphones, the connection you get depends on both the transmitter and the receiver. Weak receiver or weak transmitter means weak signal. Unfortunately, the DR-BT22 can be said to have a rather weak transmitter. No matter what device I tried, integrated Bluetooth or adapter, it lost the signal if the transmitting device was in my pocket when I was outside. If I carry the transmitting device in the front pouch of my hoodie, it’s OK. I specify “outside” because Bluetooth devices work a lot better when there are walls to bounce the signals off, in fact I could pretty much move through the entire apartment with the transmitting device in a room in the middle without trouble, but the problem comes when you lose walls to bounce the signal off and when the mass in between the receiver and the transmitter becomes human flesh which isn’t very signal friendly.

Pairing has gone smoothly each time but they do have a tendency to forget what they’ve been paired to and needed a repairing at times. Bluetooth really isn’t as standardized as people think and this hugely depends on your transmitting device. Some Bluetooth devices do passive reconnects, meaning it waits for the headphones to show up and then connects to them, but the DR-BT22 doesn’t seem to poke the other device when it turns on which means you need to actively reconnect them, which not all transmitting devices can do- especially Bluetooth transmitters (that plug into the 3.5mm jack). Again, different devices do different things, so your mileage might vary. Update: Jack4L informs me that the DR-BT22 does do a poke, but only manually – by pressing the play button (not the on/off button briefly as most devices use, or automated).

Soung Quality

The sound quality on these is very good. I must remind you about my Bluetooth audio roundup and the difference between Bluetooth headphones with good sound and normal headphones with good sound. Bluetooth has limitations which nothing can really overcome, but as far as Bluetooth headphones go, these are very good. There is actually bass, which a lot of Bluetooth headphones lack (or artificially create) but I noticed the highs being a bit overwhelming at times, bordering on annoying sibilance. This only really happened on songs with high pitched instruments like flutes, but when it did happen it close to broke my ears. Still, if you can live with Bluetooth audio at all, you can probably live with the sound quality of these.

Conclusion

For $99, these might be worth it for a few people. For $30, everyone should have a pair. These are really good headphones that unfortunately suffer from a rather poor receiver, so be prepared to use a lanyard, armband or something else if your device has a poor transmitter. Some devices, like the Sony A820, have settings for whether to prioritize sound quality or connection which would be a life saver when using the DR-BT22, but unfortunately most Bluetooth devices seem to prioritize sound quality. If you’re not scared by a weak connection, there isn’t much bad to say about these, and again the price is really an important factor here.

14 Comments

Phil on June 29, 2009 5:18 PM

Great review.You gonna test the Sony DR-BT101 too?

Soader03 on June 29, 2009 5:38 PM

I recently bought the DR-BT21G and I am really satisfied with them.They are a little more expensive but the reception is better (outside and inside too) and the battery is the same. They are attached in the neck, witch I like more.

Chris on June 29, 2009 7:01 PM

I got the DR-BT21G with my NWZ-A828 player and they are excellent when paired with the Sony player and good with other devices. Andreas doesn’t mention this, but you can pair with a phone and a player at the same time. The mic is a little insensitive, so not great for phone calls, but worth putting up with for not having to take off your phones to answer the phone. (With AVRCP capable players) Music pauses when you answer phone, tell them you are busy and hang up for more jams. :) One other nice thing compared to some BT headphones is that the phone audio is in both ears, which is good if you favor one ear. Murphy’s law says if you get phones that only send phone audio to one ear it will be the one you don’t like. I’m not talking about deafness either, my speech comprehension is significantly better in my left ear. Must be a left brain, right brain thing.

Jack4L on June 29, 2009 7:10 PM

Hey, about your device connection problems, have you tried pressing the play button after turning them on? I have to do this every time I want to start using them, weather its on my phone, PS3 or computer. Have to turn them on, wait about 5ish seconds then press play, could this be the “Poke” your refering to, only it being a manual poke instead of an automatic one? ;) Also, the charger for the BT22′s I found was a standard AC plug, although the tiny size makes it somewhat uncommon. Still I found a working charger from a Clas Ohlson store in Finland.

micknkeef on June 29, 2009 11:22 PM

Does anyone know if I can pair these w/ my ps3 and listen to dvds and blu-rays with them?

Scooter on June 30, 2009 9:30 AM

You mention the Cowon S9 and the Samsung P3, which is interesting because I’m currently trying to decide which of these two devices to buy.Have you tried the headphones with both of these devices? If so, which device works best with the phones?

Marcus on June 30, 2009 1:59 PM

I haven’t tried bluetooth on my iPod Touch, but would these work?

Andreas Ødegård on July 1, 2009 4:16 PM

@Phil: doubful. Those things are seriousely ugly xD@Chris: yeah i try to leave the cell phone stuff out of the reviews for several reasons – first off it’s not really related to DAPs, and secondly cell phone BT implementations vary even more than DAP bt implementations and I only have a couple of phone to test with.@Jack4L: Thank you, that worked! So used to this being an automated thing I didnt really think of a button doing it :s@micknkeef: if it supports a2dp, yes@Scooter: I havent tried those two players myself. Both will work, but I’m not sure which has the best bluetooth implementation. Samsung’s bluetooth used to be buggy as hell with the P2, hopefully they’ve changed it. Check the forums and I’m sure there will be some info on bluetooth with the two players, it doesnt have to be for these headphones specifically.@Marcus: Yes, but AVRCP will not work as with 90% of bluetooth headphones used with iphone/ipod touch. Apples BT implementation is piss porr and you will have audio but playback controls will not work.

JeniSkunk on July 1, 2009 8:13 PM

Andreas, the way your review reads, you make it seem as though the Sony you review is the sole traditional headphones style bluetooth headset.It isn’t.Another example of traditional headphones styling in bluetooth headsets is the Plantronics Pulsar 590, that as far as I can find is a model that dates to mid 2006, and is still available.There are likely others with traditional headphones styling.Jenifur Charne

Andreas Ødegård on July 2, 2009 8:33 AM

@JeniSkunk: nowhere dos it say anything of the kind. What it says, literally, is “there aren’t many normal type Bluetooth headphones”. It’s true, there arent many. There are some, but not many. Sony has some other, nokia has some, etc etc

JeniSkunk on July 2, 2009 6:59 PM

Andreas, your exact words, currently still in your review are:”Most Bluetooth headphones are behind-the-neck style for some reason and there aren’t many normal type Bluetooth headphones. The Sony DR-BT22 is the exception, with a form factor and size that really doesn’t look like it’s Bluetooth at first glance.”One sentence claims there’s more than one classic headphone style Bluetooth headsets. The next claims there’s only classic headphone style Bluetooth headset..Jenifur Charne

Andreas Ødegård on July 2, 2009 10:51 PM

@JeniSkunk: Changed “the” to “an”. Now go nitpick on something else

Frank Chuah on January 26, 2010 1:45 AM

May I know if this product is only available in the States? Or is it a global product? I’m from Malaysia, and as far as I observe, it’s still not here in Malaysia. And one more question, may I know the list of the phones that it is compatible with? say Nokias and Andriod phones? Thanks.

Elm on May 25, 2010 4:33 AM

I bought these as a package with a NWZ-A828 MP3 player.Quickly reverted to using the wired in the ear phones instead though as the connection problems were just too annoying to bother putting up with.

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