As more and more mobile phones choose to cut off the 3.5 mm headphone jack, wireless Bluetooth headset from a niche product in the past few years has quickly become many users' needs. Microsoft's first noise canceling headphones, the Surface Headphones, is a wireless model that supports 13 levels of noise cancellation.
Users can freely adjust the noise level and volume a unique knob design that will enable users to freely adjust the noise level and volume. Concurrently, to make the headsets even more intuitive and modern, the headphones also have a built-in Cortana voice assistant.
Microsoft Surface Noise Canceling Headphones Review
Type: Closed-back Over-ear Noise Canceling Headphones | Bluetooth: 4.2 | Latency: 200 ms (average) | Battery: 15 Hours | Charging Time: 2 Hours | Quick-Charge: 5 Hours in 10 mins | Drivers: Dynamic | Frequency Response: 20 Hz – 20,000 Hz | Drivers-Size: 40 mm | Weight: 290g
Sony’s new WH-1000XM4 active noise cancellation headphones have continued the perfect design of the previous generation of products, sound quality, and active noise cancellation performance to maintain a high-performance level. It features various visible improvements regarding user experience, such as the new “Smart Listening” wear detection sensors, and “Adaptive Sound Control,” which automatically adapts to your surroundings and actions, and Sony’s proprietary audio technology DSEE Extreme. Everything to provide a smooth and intuitive user experience.
In the package are the headphones, charging cable, and a 3.5mm audio cable. A storage bag with the same color as the headset is also included; under it lay two manuals and a QR code to download Cortana. The headset design looks modern and clean-cut. Its light gray is aesthetically pleasurable, whereas the earcups are enveloped with a comfortable foam material.
The headphone materials are well made, and in addition to the metal of the headphone shell, the headband is made of high-quality plastic and steel, ensuring reliability and sturdiness. Even though the ear cups of the headphones don’t use too much clamping force on your ears, the Microsoft Surface noise canceling headphones aren’t the most comfortable headsets we’ve worn. And if not worn correctly, the experience of the headphones will be a terrible one.
The headphones feature a knob on each of the left and right earcups, with 13 noise cancellation control levels on the left and volume control on the right. Concerning the knob design, it’s probably the most natural and best adjustment mechanism. Also, there’s a smart touch sensor on the Surface of the headset. The touchpad allows the user to play or pause music, double-tap to answer an incoming call, and long press to call out Cortana.
Microsoft integrates eight microphones on the Surface Headphones – two left and right microphones for recording and a pair of two noise-canceling microphones. To benefit from the two recording microphones, you can call out the voice assistant with a long press inside the headset, and perform any voice queries.
Microsoft has used the best connectivity solution on this product and has also optimized audio sources’ switching. No matter where you are in your home, the headphones maintain a stable connection to the sound source. You can even watch a video while being in another room.
Most importantly, the headphones allow a multipoint connection; thus, you can pair the headphones with multiple devices – computer and phone – with an almost seamless transition. Switching between devices is quick and smooth with Surface Headphones. Listen to music on PC with the headset on, and then when you receive a call, the pairing to the phone is done immediately to answer the call. And right after the conversation is tone, you can connect the headset back to the sound source to continue enjoying your music.
The headset is using sensors inside the earcups to identify when the user is wearing the headset. However, the sensor recognition isn’t too smart, since you can hand the headsets around your neck, and the system will occasionally misjudge the situation, resulting in involuntary music playback.
Quite unfortunate, the Surface Headphones are equipped with Bluetooth 4.2 instead of Bluetooth 5.0, so the headphones do not have more advanced wireless transmission protocols. The lack of AptX and AAC compatibility in these headphones make the Microsoft Surface an unreliable headphone for watching movies.
In terms of the design and interaction that the Surface team excels at, the Surface Headphones put up a pretty amazing performance. But when it comes to the noise cancellation experience, the Surface Headphones are pretty close to the industry’s top.
The noise reduction system is good, but it doesn’t sport as much of an advantage over comparable noise-canceling headphones. When using wireless noise-canceling headphones, one would want the best noise cancellation. Microsoft Surface headphones certainly have its perks, but without a doubt, it cannot be used as an alternative to Bose, Sony, or Bowers & Wilkins for raw noise-canceling power.
The Surface Headphone’s sound is fashionably bass-oriented, regardless of the music genre, the headphones will offer a very full, energetic sound. If Sony’s WH-1000XM3 bass didn’t appear too strong or qualitative, Surface would inspire and treat you better, as the lower frequencies are better reproduced, with much more force and detail.
Even better is the sound result of the Surface Headphone. It has excellent control over ambient sounds, whereas the audio output doesn’t suffer from interferences between the vocals and the background scene. The low-frequency tones add thickness to the music yet maintains a brilliant vocal performance without blurring the scene—an overall great feeling.
The Surface Headphones need to continue to improve their sound quality, as its overall performance is simply satisfactory, though not top-notch.
As Microsoft’s first noise canceling headphones, the Surface Headphones have a decent design and noise cancellation, with a moderate overall quality. Their first noise-canceling headphones also suffer from issues such as weak range performance and lack of high-quality transmission, which are things Microsoft needs to improve on in its next generation.
Nevertheless, Microsoft has already established itself in the headphone space with its Surface Headphones. The next generation of products will likely deliver a performance comparable to that of mainstream audio manufacturers.
In terms of music genre, the Surface Headphone is better suited for music with a more pronounced beat and more prominent low frequencies, which brings out its energetic bass characteristics. For those who require the conveniences of Microsoft Surface and enjoy music with bass beats, this is your best choice.