One of the most useful gadget for me is a pair of headsets. Whether commuting to and from work or traveling overseas, my headset let’s me listen to music or watch a video.

But when you commute or travel it doesn’t take very long to realize that wires are a nuisance because tangles are part of the penalty of good sound. The thinner the cable the greater the tangles and the frustrations that come with it.

Then there is the noise when traveling on subway trains, buses, trams, ferry boats and cars. Let’s not forget that people create just as much noise – on trains, in elevators, in the office, etc.

My first answer to this was the BOSE Quietcomfort headset. Very nice noise reduction feature, comfortable over the ear headset. Despite the rather thin cable, it was reasonably compact for travel. Only things I didn’t like were the cable and the synthetic leatherette covered earmuffs which crumble over time. Replacements were darn expensive when you consider what these are made of.

Then I opted for a Plantronics Backbeat wireless headset because I realized quickly that I wanted to wear a headset for when I am in the gym or at the sports grounds. The freedom of no wires came with a sacrifice: the design of the in-ear headset was such that noise was barely reduced. At subways and buses I often have to cup an ear to hear the music. In-ears are marketed with noise isolation features but for my purpose and daily situations this feature is all but useless.

I spent the better half of a year searching for s suitable wireless headset with active noise canceling. Had a look at models from Beats by Dre, Sony, Panasonic, Sennheiser, BOSE, and B&O to name a few.

Then I saw a pair of Parrot headsets.

The metal frame was wrapped in synthetic leather, the ear muffs covered my ears entirely, it came with wireless (BlueTooth) and active noise-canceling feature. I had a choice of colors (tired of black and afraid of white). The stainless steel frame gave the impression it would last long enough. Did I mention that it had a removable battery pack and, perhaps the coolest feature of all is touch sensitive controls for play, pause, stop, skip forward, and skip backwards. It detects incoming calls and pauses music to allow for the call to take place.

It uses a standard micro USB port for charging, takes about 2-3 hours to fully charge. When charging a light above the power switch blinks a slow pale red color. When fully charged it turns white.The Parrot headset comes with a cable to connect the headset to the audio output of any device for when Bluetooth is not allowed, like inside an airplane.Some oddities in the design. The power button is on the right ear piece. It is facing the back so when the headset is worn you use your thumb to power it on and off.

There is also a sensor on the right ear piece which detects when the headset is removed and pauses the music. When worn it resumes the music automatically.Perhaps the biggest deviation in the design of the Parrot headset is its dependence on software. This is likely the first in a generation of headphones that depend on software for its operation.

The Parrot Pik 2.0 software let’s you customize the noise canceling feature from zero to maximum, change the equalizer setting to one of 6 preset settings or to your specific liking, and also controls the surround sound effect. It also comes with 5 presets based on the preferences of 5 artists: Clara Moto, Rone, Andrew Watt, La Roux and The Magnificent.

My 2 biggest gripes about the Parrot is battery and short arms. The manufacturer rates battery life at 6 hours but in my experience it’s more around 4 hours of continuous play. I suspect it also has to do with the volume, equalizer settings and whether you have it on maximum noise cancellation.

The arms are short making this very tight fit for people like me with big round heads.

As I said this is likely the first generation of headsets to software to enhance the listening experience. I have no complaints there. The headset that I bought is second generation already and I have seen ads for the third generation.

Would I recommend it? Absolutely. Just be warned. It can be expensive unless you are used to buying brands like Sennheiser, Shure, etc.

 

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