ANC function behind Bose and Sony
Both the volume and the noise canceling can be adjusted in steps, so that the noise suppression can not only be switched on and off, but can also be adjusted in 13 steps. This works well and the difference is noticeable. Surface headphones have good but not very good noise reduction: they don’t filter out high frequencies solidly, but they can handle wind noise well. For me personally, the function made a clean impression, but headphones from Bose or Sony are ahead of Surface headphones.
Warm sound, but not aptX
The sound quality of the Surface headphones was surprisingly good, even without advanced Bluetooth audio codecs. Because you have to know that: The Surface headphones don’t have aptX or AAC and they support Bluetooth 4.2 instead of the latest five. This surprised me a lot and is an absolute minus point if you want to bring high-quality headphones to the market. For the test, the Surface headphones were measured in the sound lab. As you can see on the curves of the measurements, a nice frequency curve looks different. The bass is measured in the front part, followed by the mid-range and finally the treble. Compared to other headphones, the low tones are less powerful and powerful. The upper middle notes sound a bit dull. Some peaks are visible in the treble, which can lead to a rather sharp perception of certain tones. Subjectively, the sound is warm and rounded and sounds very spatial. The Surface Headphones are especially suitable for bass-heavy songs and not for songs with a lot of vocals.
Cortana or Google?
Although Surface Headphones have been on the market for a while, you won’t find a Cortana app on the Google Play Store yet. Since the earliest version, however, a lot has happened with the English APK, which you inevitably have to download if you prefer to use Cortan. Once the application is installed, you can activate the language assistant with the “Hey Cortana” command. For people who work with Microsoft‘s calendar, Outlook and other services, the Cortana support makes sense. Meanwhile, it can process commands well and its announcements no longer sound quite as robotic.
But there is another way, because if you tap on a touch panel for a long time, the standard assistant of the mobile phone is activated. That’s the Google Assistant for me and everything works the way it’s supposed to: I can check my appointments, set alarm clocks and find out about the weather. To make sure that both voice assistants and callers in general understand me well, Microsoft has installed a total of eight microphones in the Surface Headphones. My conversation partners have always understood me wonderfully, both in the quiet apartment and on a noisy street. Only at train stations do the headphones not cope well with the high frequencies of squeaking trains.
Battery life, oh dear…
The Surface Headphones are specified by the manufacturer with a 15 hour battery life, but they can hardly keep their promise. They usually only last 13 to 14 hours and that’s damn little compared to Bose or Sony. However, they recharge pretty quickly with the included USB C cable. Fun fact on the side: Although the app is not yet available in German, Cortana speaks to you in German every time you turn on the headphones. Then it lists the different connected devices and how much battery charge is still available. Unfortunately, this often interrupts the flow of music or podcasts, because if you lose the connection to a device, such as a laptop, it promptly informs you. Unfortunately, the medium does not pause, as so often happens with other headphones. That means you miss about 5 seconds, because Cortana just talks about it. To be honest, that bothers me a lot!