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BlueAnt EMBRACE Stereo Headphones

September 25th, 2011 Leave a comment Go to comments

4 Stars- techdad
EMBRACE Headset

BlueAnt Wireless, the purveyor of high-end Bluetooth headsets and speakerphones, has decided to get into the high-end wired headphone business.  Why would a wireless company throw their hats in the ring with industry stalwarts like Sennheiser, Shure, Grado and others?  Well, if Dr. Dre can do it, why not BlueAnt, right?  Right?
 

PROS

  • Oozes high-end quality
  • Gorgeous looks
  • Good overall sound quality
  • Great bass
  • Responds well to EQ adjustments
  • Detachable audio cables
  • Folds flat for travel/storage
  • Great for portable music players and laptops
  • Good quality carrying case

CONS

  • Long listening sessions can be  uncomfortable
  • A little pricey

I’m a huge fan of headphones, which is evident by the fact that I own 12 pairs of headphones.  The listening experience, in my opinion, is much better with a pair of headphones than speakers.  Unfortunately, I haven’t found just one headphone I like for every purpose, hence the large collection.  The EMBRACE headphones fit into the high-end portable category with iPhone support.  If you’re looking for a pair of headphones to use with your portable music player, phone, or laptop, keep reading for my thoughts on the BlueAnt EMBRACE stereo headphones.

 

IN THE BOX

 

BlueAnt EMBRACE contents

The EMBRACE box includes the headphone, a blue headphone cable with Apple remote, a normal black headphone cable, an OMTP adapter, User Guide and a carrying case.

 

SOUND QUALITY

 

BlueAnt EMBRACE with cable

 

The EMBRACE has a nicely balanced sound with some added punch in the low end and responds very well to EQ adjustments.  Sound quality was solid across every device I plugged it into, including desktop and laptop computers, an HTC Incredible 2 Android smartphone, Samsung Galaxy 10.1 tablet and a Sansa SanDisk Clip+ portable music player.

I tested the Embrace with lossless FLAC encoded music files and high quality music streams from Spotify. I think most people will find the sound quality to be very pleasing, right out of the box.  However, adjusting the equalizer slightly to reduce the low end, improved the overall sound quality for a wider genre of music.  Rock classics from Stevie Wonder, Queen, and Journey sounded great and modern tracks from Katy Perry, Maroon 5, and Rhianna were fun to listen to with the EMBRACE.  The EMBRACE doesn’t have quite the clarity of the Etymotic ER-4PT ($299) or the Sennheiser HD555 ($109), but they’re a different breed of headphones.  The ER-4PTs are legendary IEMs that are priced well beyond the EMBRACE.  The Sennheiser HD555s are more of a studio/home headphone with a 10 foot cord.  Considering that the EMBRACE are geared toward portable use, they probably shouldn’t be compared with the above-mentioned headphones, but I wanted to provide at least some point of reference.

 

COMFORT

 

The soft leather earpads and cushioned headband are very comfortable when you initially put them on.  During long listening sessions however, my ears did get a little achy.  For optimum comfort, I gave my ears a break every hour or so of listening.  There are portable headphones that are more comfortable, like the Koss PortaPro’s, but I doubt a young listener would be caught dead wearing the style-challenged PortaPro’s.

 

DESIGN

 

BlueAnt EMBRACE earcup viewBlueAnt EMBRACE earpad view

 

The EMBRACE headphones are beautiful and stylish.  The black leather materials, combined with black metal, give the EMBRACE, distinctive good looks.  Plug in the included blue headphone cable, and you’ve got a sharp looking pair of headphones.

 

BlueAnt EMBRACE cable jack

 

The 36-inch headphone cable is detachable and BlueAnt provides two of them–one blue with a wired remote/mic and one black straight cable.  You can use either cable with any standard 3.5mm jack; you just won’t be able to use the remote with the black cable.  Should you lose or damage the cables, you can order replacement parts from BlueAnt.

 

MISCELLANEOUS

 

The EMBRACE aren’t considered noise canceling headphones, but do a decent job of blocking out outside sound.  Though the EMBRACE are closed-back, on-ear headphones, they do leak sound, depending on how much of the earpad is covered by your ears.  If you like to turn up the volume, you might want to keep this in mind when you’re listening to them at the office or on an airplane.

The case is one of the nicest I’ve seen included with a pair of headphones.  Even companies like Sennheiser, typically only include a pouch, if that, with their headphones.  Since the EMBRACE fold flat, they slide easily into the case.  The outside is made out of a black faux leather and the inside is lined with blue felt.  The fastener is magnetic, which can be a little cumbersome to use, but hopefully your EMBRACE will spend more time on your head than in the case.

Even though the EMBRACE feel like $200 headphones, they’d probably do better at $150 or $175.  There are a lot of competitors in the $200 and over range.  At $150, the EMBRACE would undercut competitors while providing a better value.

 

SPECS

 

Frequency Range 20 Hz to 20 kHz
Sensitivity 103 dB SPL at 1kHz
Impedance 24 Ω
Max Power 15mW
Driver Diameter 40mm
Warranty 1 Year

 

CONCLUSION

 

BlueAnt Wireless has a winner with the EMBRACE stereo headphones.  Beautifully styled, the EMBRACE matches its good looks with good sound quality.  The EMBRACE has features and accessories found normally in high-end headphones because the fact is, the EMBRACE are high-end headphones–and darn good ones too.  I highly recommend them for use with iPhones, iPods, laptops and other portable multimedia devices.

Available from BlueAnt direct and J&R Electronics.

Review unit provided by BlueAnt Wireless

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