Review Sound Magic Bluetooth BT20 Headphones or PC Headset?

Headphones, Headsets, Earbuds, Canalphones - stuff that goes on, around or in your ears.
Nic
Lurker
Posts: 5
Joined: Fri Dec 04, 2015 3:21 pm

Review Sound Magic Bluetooth BT20 Headphones or PC Headset?

Postby Nic » Wed Dec 09, 2015 2:03 pm

Headphones or PC Headset? - Sound Magic Bluetooth BT 20’s
This is the fifth attempt at writing this review. It is hard to classify the new Sound Magic’s BT 20’s. Are they just a pair of wireless nheadphones or a PC headset?
Background
I own, sorry share house, with a rare Shinx cat. “Gerry” has chewed through a list of cables attached to expensive audio headphones made by B&O, B&W, and Sennheiser (3), to name but a few. Gerry indirectly introduced me to Headphonic. But with the BT 20’s has Gerry finally met his headphone cable chewing end?
These are my fourth pair of Bluetooth headphones. First were the Sennheisers that charged on a combined signal charging dock and weighed a ton. Great for Xbox but sound quality was pretty average, but then again that was good for then.
The second set were Logitech headset for PC dictation and did a good job, albeit Bluetooth required the proprietary dongle. They have served me well as dictation headphones but not much else. Audio output from them was okay for the price and the vintage (circa 2011).
The third pair were Harmon Kardon over ear headphones. These are best described as a pair of RM William blood brown boots with a metal/leather strap threaded through the front pull strap to hold them in place. They weren’t on display, I bought them based on the box and had them back with a refund in my hand in less than 5 hours. Rotten.
And so I come to the BT 20 review, with a tiny bit of Bluetooth headphone experience
Design
On ear with 40mm drivers.
Thick pads that are comfortable and generally Okay at sound isolation goes so long as something is playing. Nothing playing and sound will leach in.
SES (Sweaty Ear Score) 7.5/10 (lower the better) The pads tend to get a bit sweaty with prolonged use, but hey it’s summer.
Band is a plastic and metal strip config and reminds me of the Beyer Dynamic on ears I have. The metal band has scalloped grooves for adjusting to the right fit with a finish that shows a good attention to detail for the price.
Volume is controlled by two buttons – one at 12 and the other at 6 o’clock on the left ear cup.
Tracking is controlled by a forward and back button at 9 and 3 o’clock on the left pad also.
A centre multi-function button delivers a variety of actions and rounds off the BT 20s controls.
The right ear cup is devoted entirely to the NFC chipset. I have NFC enabled devices but haven’t bothered to use it so long as Bluetooth pairing goes ok. Others may appreciate this more than me.
Playback is rated to 14 hours, given that, the batteries are remarkably light making the overall package not much different to a wired set factoring the weight of the cable in.
Chairing is via a USB 1.0 micro charge connection (what the??) which is pretty old school and one wonders why the newer micro usb standard wasn’t used. These boxy connectors will get harder to find in time so buying a spare if you get the BT 20s is a good idea.
Charge time is hard to say, out of the box they were fully charged in 1 hour. I haven’t flat lined the battery yet so can’t say how quick it is from 0 to 100%
Optional jack. If the battery gets too low you can attached a supplied 3.5mm cable to keep listening, but the microphone is not included when using this mode. It needs the battery power to function. It’s good to know if they run flat there’s still the audio output for listening to tunes.
Headphones
The BT 20s are an on ear headphone with a fixed microphone boom on the left side. The mic is about the size of an adult small finger. For the fashion conscious this might be an issue. For someone wanting a price to sound quality ratio that’s top notch and with no wires, then ignore the mic. Wait, embrace the mic, who cares these babies are a cracking pair of wire tangle free audio delight. So if you’re not fashion conscious to the extreme read on.
The sound characteristics are typical Sound Magic performance. If you have any of their other products, such as the award winning in-ear buds then you will know what I mean. The bass is solid and forward, mids are clear and the upper end is crisp. I like balanced sound with all three ranges present. Sound Magic’s sound signature fits my taste and are only trumped by the recently acquired Fidue A65’s based on a recommendation for trance listening headphone buds at Headphonic. (That’s you Marcus).
I tested the BT 20’s with my collection of trance and progressive trance music, using a Surface Pro 3 (BT 4.0) and a Blackberry Passport as the players. To get the best out of these headphones requires a device with Apt-X on board. The Blackberry has the full monty as inards go so I had high expectations from these headphones straight out of the box; partly because I like Sound Magic, and because the Blackberry has the kit needed to maximize the BT 20 capabilities. I wasn’t disappointed.
To throw these in the deep end and see if the bass distorted I launched “Don” (Radio Edit) by Orjan Nielsen – find it on Soundcloud if you’re interested. It has a thump to it and the BT 20s relished the opportunity to perform. Yep, these little beauties had me at one track straight out of the box.
Connecting to the Blackberry was a breeze. Just switched on Bluetooth and they paired instantly. As I said, there was a NFC option but I don’t use it. Connection has remained solid and only dropped briefly once because I hadn’t ticked an option to use the BT 20s for calls. Box ticked and I now have headphones that are ideal for a smart phone.
I got the BT 20s the same week when the interwebs panicked that iThings would no longer have a 3.5mm supporting socket and would connect via the dock port. Erm who cares, with wireless now approaching CD quality, affordable and portable too, there’s no reason to worry; unless you want high end earphones, but they will always have their place.
Mic
The call quality I am told is excellent, probably due to the powered mic. I have had no troubles using this to make and receive calls.
Dictation – or now for the bad news of sorts
I bought these to use with my Surface Pro 3 running Dragon Dictate Professional 14. I am a lousy typist. Voice dictation software is my productivity tool of choice. Using the BT 20’s for this purpose was a lesson in utter frustration. There is a known issue with audio drivers and Bluetooth with SP3 Windows 10.
Dictation has proven okay when it worked but the trouble so far is just getting the device to connect, and then getting the microphone in the headset to be the default input. Windows 10 engineers are aware of this, but it has continued with SP 4 released mid-last month so I am not expecting a solution anytime soon.
Undaunted I tried Dragon Dictate 5.0 for Mac. Worse. Worse. Worse. Yosemite also has a known Bluetooth connection problem. I couldn’t get the mic to function even though it was selected as default input device. At least Windows 10 worked, mostly, and after tinkering. Yosemite did nothing. And for the Mac Fan Boy Set – No I am not upgrading to El Capitan, it has other issues I am not interested in dealing with. Let face it Bluetooth has been around for nearly a decade and a half. No excuse.
Summing up
The BT 20’s are the future of audio listening for portable device users that aren’t audiophiles. It has NEAR CD playback from Apt-X capable devices producing a high quality sound (Sound Magic signature), for the price. The option to keep listening without charge is big tick, and the included case is a nice touch to the matt black plastic finished product.
Are the BT 20's Headphones or a PC Headset? Ideally they would be both, but two of the primary OS’s in the market, Windows 10 and Mac OS, seem to want to limit them to just headphones. That’s a pity, if the connection issue with the OS manufacturers gets sorted, then the BT 20 would find a wide range of customer applications. Have no doubt, these are a quality piece of technology, and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend them as headphones or smart phone headphones. For now, they are only recommended as a Headset for PC if you really want to go to the altar of connection frustration and worship, hard.
Priced at $140 from the good folk at Headphonic.
Thanks to the girls for recommending these to me. :thumbsup:
Viva la cable free revolution; Gerry you’re gonna have to find something else to snack on.
PS this review was manually typed, for obvious reasons.

User avatar
Marcus
I Recommend It!
Posts: 15780
Joined: Mon Nov 15, 2004 5:59 pm
Location: Perth
Contact:

Re: Review Sound Magic Bluetooth BT20 Headphones or PC Heads

Postby Marcus » Wed Dec 09, 2015 7:22 pm

Thanks for your feedback, I'm glad they're going well for you :)
I find so much bluetooth stuff really overpriced but I think these are pretty much spot on!
Headphonic
http://www.headphones.com.au
Ph: (08) 9207 3666
Don't forget to Like us on Facebook!

Nic
Lurker
Posts: 5
Joined: Fri Dec 04, 2015 3:21 pm

Re: Review Sound Magic Bluetooth BT20 Headphones or PC Heads

Postby Nic » Thu Dec 10, 2015 10:08 am

HI Marcus,
Agreed. The pricing on these for what you get is excellent. Some of the other headsets I looked at where way out there price wise, and huge in size.
Windows 10 hates them, but that's a windows issue, not the device.
Nic

Nic
Lurker
Posts: 5
Joined: Fri Dec 04, 2015 3:21 pm

Re: Review Sound Magic Bluetooth BT20 Headphones or PC Heads

Postby Nic » Thu Dec 10, 2015 4:17 pm

Update to Windows 10 connection issues

It appears there is a solution to the Windows 10 connection issues for Bluetooth for audio devices, specifically the Realtek audio driver.

http://kb.stonegroup.co.uk/index.php?Vi ... ntryID=289

After changing the time timeout for driver installation per the above link, and updating the drivers, all seems to work well. there are a couple of other steps but I won't bore you with the details.

For anyone interested in more detail, please message me.

Cheers

Nic

User avatar
cloughie
Post-a-holic
Posts: 2297
Joined: Sat Oct 29, 2005 7:24 am
Location: Sydney

Re: Review Sound Magic Bluetooth BT20 Headphones or PC Headset?

Postby cloughie » Thu May 05, 2016 5:38 pm

Bought a pair for my son and the only time they are off his head is when he's asleep or using his Beyer headset for games. Sound good, great on the train and easy to use at work.

Worth the wait.
MSPro, DT250, T90, KEF, SM64
O2+ODAC, DX50

User avatar
cloughie
Post-a-holic
Posts: 2297
Joined: Sat Oct 29, 2005 7:24 am
Location: Sydney

Re: Review Sound Magic Bluetooth BT20 Headphones or PC Headset?

Postby cloughie » Mon Nov 07, 2016 4:39 pm

The headband has broken on the BT20 and my son needs a replacement.
He really liked these headphones and I wondered if he should just get another pair or is there anything better?
MSPro, DT250, T90, KEF, SM64
O2+ODAC, DX50

User avatar
Marcus
I Recommend It!
Posts: 15780
Joined: Mon Nov 15, 2004 5:59 pm
Location: Perth
Contact:

Re: Review Sound Magic Bluetooth BT20 Headphones or PC Headset?

Postby Marcus » Tue Nov 08, 2016 9:49 am

In a similar format? Nothing I can think of for around the same price and performance.
I've got some higher end stuff I can get hold of (Sennheiser) but it's double the price :)
Headphonic
http://www.headphones.com.au
Ph: (08) 9207 3666
Don't forget to Like us on Facebook!

User avatar
cloughie
Post-a-holic
Posts: 2297
Joined: Sat Oct 29, 2005 7:24 am
Location: Sydney

Re: Review Sound Magic Bluetooth BT20 Headphones or PC Headset?

Postby cloughie » Tue Nov 08, 2016 12:36 pm

Thanks. Il just get another pair.
MSPro, DT250, T90, KEF, SM64
O2+ODAC, DX50

RicoSky
Lurker
Posts: 3
Joined: Thu Dec 08, 2016 7:34 pm

Re: Review Sound Magic Bluetooth BT20 Headphones or PC Headset?

Postby RicoSky » Thu Dec 08, 2016 7:39 pm

Hi!
I have problems with telephone conversations with BT20 connected via Bluetooth to iPhone 6. All people that I'm talking to claim that my voice is very quiet. This requires me to put left side of the headphones on my chin in order to get the microphone closer to my mouth. That's not comfortable and looks very strange. Is it the problem with my unique BT20 or something else?

User avatar
Marcus
I Recommend It!
Posts: 15780
Joined: Mon Nov 15, 2004 5:59 pm
Location: Perth
Contact:

Re: Review Sound Magic Bluetooth BT20 Headphones or PC Headset?

Postby Marcus » Fri Dec 09, 2016 9:21 am

Hm that's not one I've encountered.
Have you tried them from a different phone?
Is it always quiet to people on the other end, even if you're in a quiet environment for example?
Headphonic
http://www.headphones.com.au
Ph: (08) 9207 3666
Don't forget to Like us on Facebook!

RicoSky
Lurker
Posts: 3
Joined: Thu Dec 08, 2016 7:34 pm

Re: Review Sound Magic Bluetooth BT20 Headphones or PC Headset?

Postby RicoSky » Mon Dec 12, 2016 7:17 pm

In general I use it in the silent environment (my home office) for telephone conversations. Using this set with my computer - for Skype conversations - it works well.

But I have more problems with this head set. It's related to the music. And the situation looks totally different. BT20 work perfect for playing the music from my iPhone. But the sound from my MacBook Pro is bad. It's OK when I play the music on low level. But trying to go louder, the bass is awful - it's not possible to listen to the music. On my iPhone is perfect, both loud and silent. I installed Bluetooth Explorer on Mac and forced to use AptX. It didn't help.

Crazy!

User avatar
Marcus
I Recommend It!
Posts: 15780
Joined: Mon Nov 15, 2004 5:59 pm
Location: Perth
Contact:

Re: Review Sound Magic Bluetooth BT20 Headphones or PC Headset?

Postby Marcus » Tue Dec 13, 2016 9:00 am

eeeeh yeah you're starting to encounter some of the things I don't like about bluetooth - especially the inconsistency from different devices.
If they sound good from one source but not another I'd say it's not the headphones in that case, but I'm not sure about the mic sensitivity issue you're having.
Headphonic
http://www.headphones.com.au
Ph: (08) 9207 3666
Don't forget to Like us on Facebook!

RicoSky
Lurker
Posts: 3
Joined: Thu Dec 08, 2016 7:34 pm

Re: Review Sound Magic Bluetooth BT20 Headphones or PC Headset?

Postby RicoSky » Tue Dec 13, 2016 10:12 pm

Thanks Marcus! so I have to get used to it :(

User avatar
cloughie
Post-a-holic
Posts: 2297
Joined: Sat Oct 29, 2005 7:24 am
Location: Sydney

Re: Review Sound Magic Bluetooth BT20 Headphones or PC Headset?

Postby cloughie » Mon Aug 07, 2017 8:57 am

The headband is breaking on my son's second pair of BT20s.
Wondering if you have anything new since my last post that might be a bit sturdier.
MSPro, DT250, T90, KEF, SM64
O2+ODAC, DX50

User avatar
Marcus
I Recommend It!
Posts: 15780
Joined: Mon Nov 15, 2004 5:59 pm
Location: Perth
Contact:

Re: Review Sound Magic Bluetooth BT20 Headphones or PC Headset?

Postby Marcus » Tue Aug 08, 2017 9:11 am

Not in that format/style :(
Headphonic
http://www.headphones.com.au
Ph: (08) 9207 3666
Don't forget to Like us on Facebook!


Return to “Headphones etc”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Baidu [Spider] and 14 guests