Whether it's mowing the lawn or going for a jog, I find music to be an essential part of the equation. I started off using a regular set of headphones plugged into my phone, but it only took one instance of me catching the cord with my hand and accidentally yanking them out for me to switch to wireless earbuds.
So far, my gold standard has been the Jaybird BlueBuds X for it's low profile and fantastic sound, amongst other things.
But the folks over at Syllable have come out with their tiny, and truly wireless, D900 Bluetooth earbuds. They were nice enough to send me over a pair of the beta version to try out.
The Syllable D900 is a truly wireless set of headphones made up of two earbuds that pair with each other via Bluetooth. Each has a power button and a built-in microphone, so you can use them as a set or just a single one as a headset for your phone.
The earbuds come with two sets of rubber ear pieces that have fins to hold them securely in place.
There is also a wireless charging dock that doubles as a carrying case, along with a micro USB cable.
Setting up your D900 is pretty straight-forward. They come already paired with each other, so you need only turn them on and pair them with your phone.
If by chance the headphones become disconnected from one another, you can put them into matching mode and hold them next to each other to pair them again.
I must admit that I was skeptical about the design of the D900 being comfortable to wear and whether or not they would stay in my ear when exercising. On both counts, they passed with flying colors. The shape of the earpiece is contoured nicely to fit and the soft silicon keeps the inside of your ear from getting irritated.
The fin on the earpiece settles in the curve of your ear to hold it snuggly in place. And the headphones are so compact and light that there is minimal movement, even when running.
As for sound quality, I tested everything from Pink Floyd to punk rock. It all sounded pretty solid, but not spectacular. They offer clear audio, a fair amount of bass, and plenty of volume, but it wasn't close to the high-end sound of my Jaybird BlueBuds X.
The noise canceling gives you an uninterrupted experience without making you feel like you have your fingers in your ears. Overall, I would say that if you are an audiophile, you may be displeased with the sound, but as an average person exercising and talking on the phone, it was good enough for me.
When I wasn't wearing them, the D900 earbuds sat neatly in their little carrying case, charging wirelessly in the cradle. And if I wanted to take them with me to the coffee shop, it was convenient to grab the whole set and throw it in my bag.
Syllable did a good job designing their D900 wireless headphones, but the test drive wasn't without its bumps. But it 's hard to tell if these issues are inherent to the design, or if I experienced them because I was sent a beta version.
I found some minor annoyances with the Bluetooth pairing. Occasionally, the two earbuds would become unpaired from each other, so you have to press the button four times, holding it down for two seconds on the fourth press. Then you put the buds next to each other and they will connect.
The first 5-20 seconds of music playback was also spotty. One headphone would cut out and come back in, then the other. However, once they were both going, they stayed working.
Without a doubt, the most aggravating issue I faced is that I couldn't get more than 30 minutes of battery life out the D900, and more often than not, it was 15 to 20. I asked my contact at Syllable about this and was assured that it was because these were not the production version.
According to the manufacturer, the D900 should get 60-80 minutes of playback on a charge, though someone on the Amazon listing says it can go for at least four hours. Unfortunately, I cannot corroborate either.
From a usability standpoint, I would have loved to see more controls built into the headphones. You can play/stop your music or answer/hang up a call with a touch of a button, or double-click to reject a call or dial the last number you called, but that is it.
Playback and volume controls are not there. It's an understandable trade-off for the lack of wires and diminutive size. Something needs to be left out, though it is inconvenient to have to pull out your phone while running to make changes.
The Syllable D900 is a tale of two headsets. On one hand, it is masterfully designed to fit comfortably and securely in your ear, offering an enjoyable listening experience that will not be interrupted by the impact of exercising or the racket of your surroundings. And they are immensely convenient.
On the other, it suffers from a slight lack of features, and in my case, less-than-perfect execution of its functionality.
Again, I want to stress that mine was a beta model. I give Syllable the benefit of the doubt that the experience with a production version would be different than mine. If that is indeed the case, then they would be worth a try.
The Syllable D900 lists at an unjustifiable $199.99, which is much higher than the list price of the Jaybird BlueBuds X. But the "sale" price of $79.99 on Amazon is much more reasonable.