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Review – Syllable D900 Bluetooth headphones

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.

Setup

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.

The Good

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.

The Not-so-good

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.

Conclusion

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.

From $79.99 on Amazon

40 Comments
  • Plantronics Backbeat Fit are best Bluetooth headphones out there hands down
  • They absolutely are not, I have been through two pairs, both times one ear piece just stopped working. I will never buy Plantronics again.
  • Bad experience doesn't invalidate my own opinion, which this was and I should have articulated it. All products have bad batches and mine have been excellent
  • How do these or the plantronics backbeat compare to the JayBirds?
  • Never had JayBirds but read complaints about them on amazon. I would suggest they are not such good quality as Backbeat Fit
  • I actually love the Jaybird BlueBuds X. The sound is fantastic and the customer support can't be beat.
  • Nice to know Jaybird BlueBuds X has good customer support. I have found Plantronics support, on numerous occasions, to be completely unhelpful and in many cases downright incompetent. After 8 years of Plantronics products, I have left Plantronics for good and have been purchasing other products. 
  • The Backbeats are certainly a lot cheaper, but to a large extent it depends on your primary use.  If you often jog outdoors, you may prefer the bFits as they let in a lot of ambient noise -- the downside being a loss of bass.  I tried the bFits when they came out, they were OK -- good wireless sound quality overall, lacking bass though.  The back part would catch on a jacket if it had a high collar, pushing forward on the headphones and I found myself constantly needing to adjust it.  The back also flops around while jogging, which I found annoying but it might not bother you.  I also use them to listen wirelessly to my FireTV -- leaning against the back of a sofa pushed on the back of them too.  They didn't work out for me so I returned them. Last week I bought a pair of the JayBird X2's to go along with my new FireTV2... wow.  What a difference in sound quality.  They're more isolating with clear and balanced sound.  They have the best sounding bass I've ever heard in Bluetooth headphones.  The flat cable connecting the buds doesn't interfere with or catch on anything.  The 'fin' stabilizers aren't the most comfortable to my ears, but using the included Comply foam ear tips, they stay in place without the fins.  I think they're overpriced.  I returned the FireTV2, but kept the X2's ;-) Usually before a tech purchase, I check to see if the manufacturer's web site has user forums.  Amazon user reviews are an OK resource as well, but I find user forums to be a more accurate representation about what I might run into with a product.  JayBird doesn't have them, Plantronics does: http://soundingboard.plantronics.com/community/forums/backbeat-fit
  • Thanks for the detailed feedback! Ive heard great things about the Jaybirds but whenever I go to buy one, I end up hesitant about the quality (sound, bass etc), so Im glad you mentioned those! I used to have the BH-221 bluetooth piece + headphones from Nokia and that was absolutely amazing - it sounded better than most headphones despite being bluetooth, but it got lost and Ive been having hard time finding a replacement.
    --------
    Thanks to everyone above as well for thr feedback
  • Just make sure to get them from somewhere with a good return policy, like Best Buy or Amazon, just in case they your ears have different preferences.  Maybe even try them both.  Good luck :-)
  • They are what I use daily and they haven't missed a beat yet. Very comfortable to wear and are a real boon on my push bike as they don't drown out other noise.
  • Nice review... Would like to have one :P
  • Lou says it sucks Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • Yup. I saw this sh*t before in Unbox Therapy...
  • That's why I'm staying away from it Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • Unbox Therapy saw it before
  • I'll take the MPOW BT headphones for some $40 when I bought them at Amazon.
  • why always in-ear? they hurt my ears so much, but either you get those or the others which look like PC-headsets... its annoying af
  • MSRP is always subjective.
  • To My Experience, no Bluetooth headsets are good. I gave up. The good ol' cable is the way to go For me.
  • Sound quality is not that important when you're pushing a loud lawn mower around.
  • The lawn takes 90 minutes to mow. Need longer lasting earphones or a bigger mower.
  • Exactly my problem. I really wish they sent me a production set of these, so I could get a real assessment of the battery life.
  • 3 hours would be ok, even 2 at max volume. Voice controls without pressing a button, that work to skip to next song in any app is my most wanted feature.
  • I have 4yr old Motorola Bluetooth headphones, the kind that have the rigid plastic piece that wraps around the back of your head.... They get great battery life, probable 3-4 hrs on a charge... Only thing I don't like is that they aren't noise canceling.......for 20$ you really can't go wrong
    http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B002BH3I9U/ref=mp_s_a_1_1?qid=1444827868&s...
  • The Dash still sounds like the best in this particular category...
  • I hope they end up as good as Bragi claims them to be. I'm waiting for my set.
  • There's also a premium to be paid.
  • 60 min of battery life at $200US is a definite no buy. However, I love that headphones like these are finally coming to the market. I joked about the concept of wireless ear buds yrs ago to friends and they said it would never happen. But here we are! Maybe in a few more yrs they'll find a way to get better battery life from these.
  • We need body heat to electricity conversion! My ears are hot, I would like earphones to use that heat as secondary power and keep me cool - literally!
  • Kinetic charging is the future.
  • Would like to get more earbud/headphone comparisons like you guys do for laptops & tablets
  • I watched Unbox Therapy's video on this. It's not good. A great idea, but poorly executed.
  • Hey I think I saw this on The Office when Jim and Pam used it to talk to each other! I remember it being so cool because it was so nicely concealed
  • LG HBS900's, ftw! The battery lasts 17 hours of use, not standby. The harman/kardon buds are great, sounding natural, on the treble end, and still packing a bassy, bottom end, that's not overpowering. You have complete music/phone controls, as well. There is supposedly an Android app, that allows more controls, but, I only do WP/W10M, so I can't comment, on that part. The key, for me, is the LONG battery life, and the sound isolation, as well as a complete set, in various sizes, of very comfortable, silicone earbud tips.
  • You should really contact Bragi if they can provide you with their new Dash for review. Since this is also a completely new design I had obviously no chance to use them but on paper (read website: www.bragi.com) these earphones are superior to Syllable D900 in every way - slick design, more sleeves choice for perfect fit, clever touch control, better battery life. Not to mention activity tracker and integrated storage with music playback capability - oops I just did  If Bragi can deliver what they are claiming, this product will be revolutionary regardless high price tag (at least for now).
  • Can these open Cortana with their button?
  • I hope Windows Central does a review of The Dash when it's available this November. They're shaping up to be the Jaybird of the completely wireless headphones. There are numerous health tracking features, bone conducting mics, and you'll be able to hear the ambient sounds around you while still listening to music if you want. I haven't heard any glowing reviews of the D900
  • I'll throw my two cents in and say that the Nokia purity pro by monster are the best Bluetooth set I've used.
    Not without flaws, but the all round best.
  • Goodness, Windows Central loads so slowly these days because of all the ads that have to download.