Surface Headphones 2 uses all-day comfort and intuitive controls to stand out from the crowd. Considering that the company has never made noise-canceling headphones before, Microsoft’s original Surface headphones are very good.
They bring a solid noise reduction effect, considerable sound quality, and are very comfortable. Besides, their intuitive controls are top-notch.
However, they are hampered by poor battery life, lack of high-quality Bluetooth codecs, and the inability to adjust settings like EQ. They are also expensive. They are perfectly combined with Sony’s excellent WH-1000XM3 for $350. Microsoft has little hope of winning this battle.
Microsoft’s second attempt, Surface Headphones 2, does not look like a new version, but more like admitting it charged too much for the first Surface Headphones. Surface Headphones 2 is priced at $250 and has undergone some minor improvements, so it is seeking their position.
- Great sound.
- Excellent controls.
- Good noise cancellation.
- Distortion at higher volumes.
- Disappointing battery life.
It seems strange to start a headphone review by talking about money, but in this case, it makes sense. The biggest change Microsoft made to the Surface Headphones 2 is the price.
They cost $250, which is $100 cheaper than the original Surface headphones. That is very different. Not only are they affordable, but they also have a higher value because they also pack some extra items.
Surface Headphone 2 Design
By placing Microsoft Surface Headphones and Surface Headphones 2 side by side, you will have a hard time finding any difference unless you choose the matte black option, this option will be combined with the previous light gray.
The new model has the same design and the same simple aesthetics. The seamless headband, one-sided earmuff pivot arm, and the subtle Windows logo are all imitation copies of the first generation.
Thankfully, particularly comfortable ear cushions and unique earmuff-type turntable controls also eliminate the volume and active noise reduction.
The large touchpad on each ear cup is easy to use and very sensitive to tapping. One of the small changes is that each ear cup can be rotated 180 degrees freely so that it can be worn around the neck more comfortably when not using the Surface Headset 2. When using an analog cable, you can also perform DJ-type monaural monitoring.
Microsoft made a wise decision to retain all the physical features that helped the first generation products stand out.
Battery Life and Cortana
The battery life of the original Surface headphones was very short. Only 15 hours between each charge (or 18 hours if you disable Cortana’s voice activation feature), they are far behind noise-canceling headphones at the same price, and many of them can double the lifespan. We are accustomed to using high-quality noise-canceling headphones to watch for 25 to 30 hours or more.
Microsoft has made some achievements in this department, but frankly, not as much as I want. Now, turning on ANC can achieve a battery life of 20 hours, which is a better choice, but it is still a far cry from cheap ANC headphones like Taotronics.
The hands-free voice assistant brings you great convenience. This is one of my favorite products such as Apple AirPods Pro, Google Pixel Pixel 2, and Amazon Echo Buds.
Although Cortana didn’t win as much attention as Siri, Google Assistant, or Alexa, talking to her without pressing a button was a cool feature of the first-generation Surface headphones.
Sadly, Cortana almost gave up the second-generation Surface can. You can still access her voice commands, but for this, you need Microsoft applications such as Outlook Mobile.
After the setting is completed (complex process), you can call hands-free Cortana to read e-mail and other operations. Only certain types of email accounts are supported, and you can only use them within the United States.
Microsoft advocates the fact that both Surface Headphones 2 and the new Surface Earbuds can run real-time subtitles and translations in Microsoft applications such as PowerPoint.
Surface Headphone 2 produces the same powerful sound as the previous headphones. Microsoft calls it Omnisonic Voice, but you can classify it as a marketing term. These headphones can provide rich, full sound, and can be widely adjusted through the new Surface Audio app for iOS and Android.
With factory settings, you will hear a very flat response, and audio purists will look for something in their speakers and headphones. There is a good balance between high, low, and midrange, and the bass response is also obvious enough to make your favorite audio track realistic.
These jars cannot provide the same accuracy, clarity, and depth of field as high-end headphones, but given their lower price and lower price, it is no longer a disruptive transaction.
Jump to the EQ settings of the app, you can push the bass from benign to exaggerated with just one swipe. Did you find a combination of settings you like?
You can save them with your tags-a a big improvement compared to the first round. You can find that the app’s built-in presets for rock, jazz, classical and popular music do enhance these genres, but some presets are not always correct.
Although the overall sound quality has not changed since the first version, Microsoft has added support for the aptX Bluetooth codec, which should improve sound quality when used with devices that support the device.
Microsoft Surface Headphones 2 has excellent call quality. There are moderate traffic sounds and a peaceful interior, the calls are clear and the noise is minimized.
The only minor problem is the ANC function. Normally, you can use the left ear cup dial to choose between 13 noise cancellation levels and choose two pass-through modes: normal pass-through and ambient magnification.
For calls, pass-through is ideal, because it allows you to hear your voice naturally. However, during a call (sometimes at other times), the passthrough mode will switch back to the lowest ANC setting, usually accompanied by a click.
I have to say that after using many different ANC headphones, I like Microsoft’s noise reduction system the most. But this is not to say that the Surface Headphone 2 is better than the Sony WH-1000XM3 or Bose Noise Cancelling 700 in ANC, but this is not the case. However, their turntable control is great and intuitive.
It hasn’t changed since the first generation of cans, but it’s still worth mentioning – it’s a better way to adjust the amount of external sound to be introduced than using application-based presets, which is usually processing the way.
The Microsoft Surface headset, priced at $350, outperforms competitors. Now, the price of the Surface Headphones 2 is $250, and the battery life has also increased slightly, which deserves serious consideration.