Frequent readers of this space will recall that I am on a never-ending quest to acquire the perfect Bluetooth stereo headphones. Several aspiring candidates have come and gone (Motorola’s S9-HD, Jabra’s BT3030, et al); all have left room for improvement, none have completely won me over.
And so the saga continues with another offering from Motorola, the MOTOROKR S7-HD. Not one to be constrained by standard naming conventions (where later models will have progressively higher numbers), the S7-HD is a successor to the S9/S9-HD headphones. While the S9 series is a designed as a single piece that goes behind the head and over each ear, the $69.95 S7-HD’s are of the over-the-ear variety with only a wire connecting the two earpieces.
All of the minutiae regarding the S7-HD headphones are on the other side of the break.
Let’s get the routine stuff out of the way first. The S7-HD supports A2DP as well as AVRCP. The headphones feature 30mm drivers and SRS WOW for improved audio quality. Charging is accomplished through a miniUSB port; a miniUSB cable is included, but a wall charger is not.
Since the S7-HD’s fully support AVRCP, you can control your music playback without touching your phone. An outer ring located on each earpiece controls volume (left ear) and track selection (right ear). Play and pause control is handled with a more familiar button located on the right earpiece. The left ear also features your call button, in the case that you actually use these to perform phone calls.
Pairing a Windows Phone with a Bluetooth device just keeps getting easier. Not really anything to comment on here except that pairing was easy and everything worked as it should to get the headphones working with my phone. Both the Hands Free and Wireless Stereo profiles are supported.
Over all, the controls are easy enough to use. Motorola decided to forgo the common multifunction button and actually gives you a power switch with which to turn your headphones on and off. The play and call buttons could have been a little bit bigger and there isn’t much feedback when the buttons are depressed, but they are usable enough that you don’t notice after a while. The rotation controls for volume and track selection are a cool idea, but can be a little awkward to use as these headphones do go over your ears. I found myself actually rotating an earpiece off of my ear every once in a while when trying to skip to the next track or turning up the volume.
I really (really, really) like the form factor that Motorola came up with for the S7-HD. My biggest complaint for the S9-HD’s was the fact that most of the weight resided at the back of your head, causing bouncing and fit issues (particularly when running or participating in other high impact exercises). There is no such worry here, as the only link between the two earpieces is a wire connecting the two.
Unfortunately, the wearability factor is where Motorola really dropped the ball in my opinion. The ear clips that go over and behind your ears in order to hold the earpieces in place are made of flexible plastic, which isn’t an issue by itself. My real problem is that there is no hinge or slide mechanism other than the flexibility of the plastic to customize the way that the ear hooks fit. For something that I would consider to be a high to premium level pair of headphones, I think Motorola could have done better.
You’re not going to look like a total geek wearing these headphones, but they’re not the most stylish design either.
Sound quality is about what you would expect from a pair of decent headphones. As with any headphones the sound quality gets much better if a proper fit or seal can be accomplished. All of the materials are good quality, including the ear hooks. The wire connecting the earpieces is thick enough that it doesn’t tangle easily, but thin enough that it still allows for good flexibility. Weight isn’t really an issue, but the battery still gives you around 8 hours of play time.
Another swing and a miss as far as this perfectionist is concerned, although by a considerably smaller margin this time. The S7-HD is definitely usable, and will be my headphones of choice until I can find something that I can’t argue against. A couple of tiny complaints are all that keep the S7-HD’s from being the perfect solution. Complaint number one is the lack of any hinges on the ear hooks. I really don’t understand how those could have been left out of the design. My only other complaint is the lack of a real charger. Personally I can get by with just using USB power, but this could be a big deal for some.
If Bluetooth Stereo Headphones are your cup of tea, do some shopping over at your favorite store. You can pick up your very own Motorola S7-HD’s for $69.95.
It’s worth noting that finding this particular product on Motorola’s website is impossible. Browsing and searching have both been attempted to no avail. The packaging points you to motorola.com/S7, which gives a “Page Not Found” error. Insert morbid jokes about the demise of the Motorola giant here. If you do purchase a pair of the S7-HD’s, hold onto your manual. It might be hard to get an electronic copy from Motorola.