Japanese consumer electronics brand Onkyo (meaning “sound harmony”) released its new wireless H500BT headphones in the summer. After charging them for an hour via the short USB cable provided, clicking both the “on” and “Bluetooth” switches, I was able to quickly sync them with my iPhone via and play music through Spotify.
It’s great not to have the restrictions of a wire trailing down your body to your device – it feels very freeing so great for the gym, running or the crowded commute. (You can pair up to two devices so could also sync with your iPad at home if you wanted to. They have ten metres of range.)
That said, to fully appreciate the 40kHz high-res audio the H500BTs are capable of delivering, you do actually need to plug them in using the light-weight twisted copper and black tangle-free lead provided (1.2 metres). When using Bluetooth, sound is delivered wirelessly at 23.5kHz. This isn’t bad – in fact it sounded rich and clear to me.
I usually use in-ear buds but was impressed by how comfortable these over-ear headphones are – the aluminium frame is wrapped in soft leather, as are the ear cushions – and the cans are designed rotate 90 degrees to adjust to the dimensions of your head. This also enables them to be packed flat.
The H500BTs are relatively light, at 217g, and didn’t feel like they would crush my ears when wearing them for an extended amount of time on a long flight. Once fully charged, they have up to 16 hours of wireless music playback/talk time (350 hours standby).
The downside for flyers is that although you can use them with the in-flight entertainment systems via the lead, they are not noise-cancelling, so you may get some background sound from the engines. That said, the way the ear shells are designed means that an “acoustic seal” is created, which will block out the worst of it.
One of my favourite features of these headphones is the touch-sensitive controls for pause, play and skip. A single tap on the flat exterior of the right-hand can will pause and play, while a swipe forwards or backwards will skip tracks. Up or down will increase or decrease the volume, while a two-second touch will hang up a call.
It works well, and adds to the feeling of liberation they give you, however I did find they had a tendency to start playing music when I wasn’t using them.
A built-in mic means you can easily switch between listening to music or podcasts, and accepting calls. The H500BTs are available in both black and white.
PROS Touch sensitive controls, wireless, high-res audio.
CONS You need to use the cable for high-res audio, not noise-cancelling.