Review: Samsung wireless headphones help keep the noise down
I remember when wireless headphones were a big deal.
Now they are commonplace, but wireless headphones with active noise canceling are not so common.
I've worn good wireless headphones and good noise-canceling headphones, but I have yet to find a pair that does both things well - until now.
I've been testing a pair of Samsung Level On Wireless headphones ($249 at samsung.com) that sound very good and really keep out the stray noise.
These headphones have a little something for everyone.
They can connect to your music source wirelessly, with Bluetooth, or wired with a 3.5 mm cable. You can also listen with or without the active noise canceling.
The Level On headphones are pretty plain-looking, but they are comfortable to wear and easy to adjust. They're available in red, white, blue or black.
Underneath the foam-covered earpieces you'll find 40 mm dual-layered speakers that offer faithful sound reproduction from the highs, through the midtones and down to the lows.
The only physical controls are switches to turn the headphones on and off and to engage the active noise canceling.
The outside of the right ear cup is a touchpad that allows you to swipe up or down to increase or decrease volume. Swiping forward or backward skips to the next song or goes back to the previous song on an album or playlist.
Paired with my iPhone 5S, the Level On Wireless was plenty loud, and the sound holds together well at maximum volume.
ACTIVE MEANS POWERED
First thing you'll want to do is plug in the included USB cable and charge up the internal battery.
The battery will last for up to 23 hours of Bluetooth listening or 20 hours of wired listening with active noise canceling.
If you want to listen wirelessly while using active noise canceling, you'll enjoy about 11 hours of music.
The Level On's active noise canceling uses six microphones (three on each side) constantly listening to your surroundings so the headphones can reduce that ambient exterior sound.
You can flip the noise canceling on or off even if there is no music playing, so it's pretty easy to demonstrate how well the system works.
I've used Bose noise-canceling headphones, which are beloved by many business travelers, and these Samsungs are every bit as good at keeping the noise out.
ON THE PHONE
An added benefit is the ability to make and receive phone calls, both wired or wirelessly. The sound you hear is quite clear, but unfortunately the Level On Wireless' built-in microphone doesn't extend toward your mouth.
The calls I made with the headphones made me sound like I was speaking with a cloth over the microphone. My voice was not crisp (on the voicemail I left for myself), and I had to concentrate to make out what I was saying.
The Samsung Level On Wireless headphones sound really good to my middle-age ears. I've listened to a few headphones recently with a heavy emphasis on bass, and while the Level On has a nice bass tone, it's not overwhelming.
The headphones have a nice finish and are lined with thick foam where they touch your head and ears. They're not too heavy, and I can see being able to wear them comfortably for many hours, like on an overseas flight.
The noise canceling works well, and it's great that you can turn off the Bluetooth and noise canceling and just use them as a regular wired headset.
I wish the phone call voice quality were clearer.
Pros: Clear sound, good noise suppression.
Cons: Voice on outgoing calls was not clear.
Bottom line: Wireless listening and noise canceling is a great combination.
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