BlueAnt, a company know for its bluetooth headsets, has taken a stab at full on over-the-ear stereo headphones with the BlueAnt Embrace. Surprisingly, for a company with “Blue” in its name, the headphones are wired-only–a sacrifice I don’t mind making in the name of better audio quality. So how did BlueAnt do on its maiden voyage? follow the link and find out !
Noise Isolation: My favorite feature about the Embrace headphones is the squishy soft leather padding on each earphone that blocks out external sound as it is pressed against the ear. The padding is big enough to cover most of the ear and is squishy enough to mold into the crevices of the ear, creating a perfect muffling mechanism for any external sound. But most impressive is that the Embrace doesn’t put a large amount of pressure on the ear in order to block external sound. Usually, when testing other over-the-ear headphones, the upper ear cartilage and skull area behind the ear would hurt after a few hours of listening due to the focused pressure exerted by the earphones. However, the padding on the Embrace headphones exerts the perfect amount of pressure, staying comfortable even after hours of testing. In terms of noise isolation and comfort, the Embrace is what other over-the-ear headphones should strive to be like.
Sound Quality: A review of headphones–an audio peripheral–should always focus on the audio. BlueAnt PR materials promise that the Embrace delivers what it calls “True-To-Life” sound–“sound that is not artificially manipulated.” But, to be honest, I have no idea what the PR team is talking about. What part of the reproduction of digital music isn’t an artificial manipulation of sound? We are turning a lengthy string of 0s and 1s into music.
Putting BlueAnt PR aside, I did test the Embrace headphones while listening to a wide array of music genres. The drivers perform well for the casual listener by converging a full spectrum of audio into a limited but warm range of mid-tones. However, the more demanding listener will notice that high tones and vocals are deepened, while the deepest bass tones are blunted.
The difference is most noticeable when listening to songs with clear and high vocals and deep bass. For instance, listening to “Rolling in the deep” using the Embrace, Adele’s voice doesn’t hit the highest notes nor do the bass-drums thump during the chorus.
Build Quality: The Embrace is a mix of black leather padding and brushed metal. The upper portion of the Embrace and the inner portions of the headphones are padding and covered with black leather, while the arms that extend to the headphones are a brushed metal. Although the same color, the contrasting textures give the Embrace the subtle but refined feel of a high end device. In addition, the single audio port and lack of any physical buttons give the Embrace a minimalist feel and look. On looks, the Embrace will not dissapoint.
Final Word: The Embrace headphones are uber-comfortable and have a high-end design. For some, that may be enough to justify their purchase. However, at $199.99 on Amazon, I imagine that many would agree that a pair of headphones should deliver better than average sound quality, a claim I can not verify after conducting this review. This is definitely a promising start into the field by BlueAnt, but it may pay to wait for Gen2.
Disclaimer: BerryReview received a demo unit for this review.