The iPhone added stereo Bluetooth capability some time ago, but I have yet to try it. Finding quality with affordable prices is sometimes difficult so I never looked very far. There are times when wireless stereo headphones can come in pretty handy so I was excited to test out the P311 headphones from Arctic Sounds. Most mornings I workout early in the morning long before the rest of the family wakes up. Speakers are not really an option to avoid waking the crew so I always use headphones. Some of the exercises allow me to hold my iPhone in my pocket or hand while others require a careful juggling act of placing the phone on the floor without damaging but not pulling the wires. Now I have a wireless option giving me freedom to move during my workouts. The question is, How do the P311 headphones stack up to wired headphones?
The P311 headphones come packaged with a USB charging cable and travel case. The travel case is a hard case with a zipper and provides excellent protection for the headphones. The headphones are one-size-fits all with a plastic band that sits behind the head and curves just over the ear to help hold them in place. The P311 features cup style earphones with a soft padding which are quite comfortable. To make the unit more compact, the behind the head-piece folds to allow them to fit in the case. The headphones only weigh 71g and I never felt any fatigue while wearing them for extended periods. Despite the appearance that these are music headphones, a hidden microphone is included to make them usable for phone calls.
Five control buttons are found on the right ear piece for all actions. The center, multifunction button, will act the main control. To turn the unit on and off, hold the button for 3 second. Hold this button for 7 seconds to pair and connect the bluetooth device. An LED light surrounding this button will blink blue and red while pairing. I will cover the other functions later in the review. The other buttons are volume and skip and are pretty self-explanatory. After a quick memorization of button placement, I was able to control my phone and iPod functions easily from the included buttons.
I was not sure what to expect in terms of audio quality when using bluetooth headphones. I have several bluetooth speaker devices that sound ok and one phone headset that sounds awful. Being in a relaxed, chilled mood tonight, I chose a fitting song. I decided to have some nice slow guitar music as my test track. The song I used is Dan’l Boone’s Room by Bob Schneider and Mitch Watkins from the album, “Underneath The Onion Trees.” The song is a beautiful folk/classical guitar duet worth checking out (as is the entire album). Guitar music usually covers a wide spectrum of musical ranges. To my amazement, the headphones began belting out crisp, full range audio. Actually, I was honestly blown away by the audio quality. Deep bass coupled with crisp yet clean highs provide a wonderful listening experience. Vocals are also clean and the mid range levels are perfect. All genres of music sound fantastic over the P311 headphones. My one complaint is the inability to skip or reverse songs using my iPod app from the iPhone 4. This is not a deal breaker for me though as I rarely use any remote buttons to skip on my phone. I still like the visual of seeing the song come on and the album art. I had my wife try them with the same song and a few hours later my brother. Both of them put on the headphones and looked at me with wide eyes and said “Wow!” It was funny that both of them had the same reaction. So as audio headphones I give the Arctic Sound P311s a big WOW.
Yes, these headphones have dual functionality and can be used as a phone headset. Without a microphone to be seen, I was not sure how they would work despite the amazing audio quality. While listening to music, an incoming call will fade the music and play the selected ringtone from the phone. To answer, click the center multifunction button one time. My first test call to my wife I asked if she can hear me good and her reply was, “I’m amazed at how clear you sound without a microphone near your mouth.” Call quality on the receiving end was also above average and clear. To end the call, tap the same button again and the music comes back on where you left off. If you press and hold the multifunction button, the phone will call the previous caller. If your phone includes voice dialing just double click the button and wait for the prompt from your phone and say the name. All of the phone functions have worked well for me every call I have made or received using the headphones. For calls, I give the unit another WOW.
If you own a device that supports A2DP stereo bluetooth, I can highly recommend the Arctic Sound P311 headphones. The audio quality is probably now my best headphone option now and call quality is great without having to mess with a microphone. The most amazing part of this unit is the price for all of the quality. The P311 headphones retail for $37.95. If they only worked as headphones with a wife and did not include phone functionality I would pay this price for them. These things are a steal! I try many products and most of them are good and enjoyable but I am giving these a highly recommended personal stamp of approval.
What I like: Amazing audio quality coupled with great phone functionality. No wires ftw!
What could be improved: I am not able to use the skip and reverse buttons on the iPod app of my iPhone 4.