Bluetooth Headset and Car Kit Reviews
Motorola S9 Bluetooth Active Headphones
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Jan. 2009 Editor's Note: Check out the new Motorola S9-HD with improved audio quality and comfort.
The Motorola S9 Bluetooth stereo headphones turned a quite few heads when it was first announced. It’s much smaller than the over-the-ear Plantronics Pulsar 590A and lighter than most other Bluetooth stereo headsets. It looks sporty and is lightweight, and it’s especially chic-looking when Beckham wears it. The Motorola S9 works with mobile phones for calls and with phones with the A2DP Bluetooth profile or music players with Bluetooth (integrated or via adapters) for wireless stereo music playback. The headset offers easy-to-use controls, decent voice quality and good music quality and it supports common call management features. The headphones aren’t perfect but for those who are seeking a pair of lightweight, water/sweat resistant stereo headphones, the Motorola S9 is worth a look.
The Motorola S9’s ingeniously slim, light and durable design stands out. Dubbed as active stereo headset, the S9 is clearly targeted at users who are active and might jog, exercise or bike with the headset on. The lightweight behind-the-head design and small ear buds allow to be more physically active compared to traditional headphone designs. The Motorola S9 also has a tight form that ensures the headset stays on securely even when your body is moving. Does it feel good? It will feel very comfy if your skull is the right size. If your head is too large, the S9 feels as though it’s squeezing too hard and it won’t feel comfy when you wear it for a long period of time. If your head is too small, the back bridge of the headset will drop to your neck and it won’t feel good when it bumps your neck when you are jogging. As you’ve guessed by now, the headset is not adjustable and Motorola counts on the giving nature of the band to accommodate most (but not all) head shapes and sizes. The earbuds are comfy sitting in your ear and they don’t completely block out ambient noise which is good for those who jog in street. There are additional earbud tips included with the headset, so make sure you try them all to find the best size.
The controls on the MOTOROKR S9 are not big, but they’re easy to use. On the right ear arm, you will find track forward, play/pause and track back buttons. On the left ear arm, you will find volume up and down controls and call answer/end/voice dialing/last call dialing button. And on the back bridge, you will find the power/pairing button and the charging port. A built-in microphone hides in the right earbud.
The Motorola S9 headset has integrated Bluetooth v2.0 and supported profiles include Hands-Free, Headset, A2DP and AVRC. It works with mobile phones for phone calls via the Headset or Hands-Free profiles and for music playback in stereo with phones that have A2DP support. It can also control music playback using the via the audio/video remote control profile (AVRC), as well as handle call send/end wirelessly. We paired the Motorola S9 Bluetooth stereo headset with quite a few mobile phones and devices, and it paired with all easily. To pair the Motorola S9, press and hold the power button until LED light flashes in blue a few times, then turns solid blue indicating your headset is ready to pair. Use your cell phone to find the headset and pair with it using the default pass code: 0000. You can pair the Motorola S9 with up to eight devices and the pairing info will store in its memory and will try to reconnect with the last mobile phone and the last music source it was connected to. This is handy if you use dedicated music player for streaming music and a mobile phone for phone calls. If your music player doesn’t have integrated Bluetooth, you can get a Bluetooth adapter and Motorola sells one for the iPod.
The Motorola S9 Bluetooth stereo headset supports common call management features including making and answering calls via the headset, voice dialing, rejecting calls, redialing last number and mute/unmute in calls. You can transfer calls between the phone and the Motorola S9 when in a call and adjust volume of the incoming voice. The music playback controls include play/pause, stop, volume changing, and skip back and skip forward a track. If a call is coming in while you are listening to music, your mobile phone will stop playing music and alert you of the incoming calls. The S9 headset will ring as well to let you know you have an incoming call. You can use the call send/end button the S9 to handle the call. When your phone starts to play music after ending a call, your headset will pick up the stereo music streaming.
The stereo separation is great. Music sounds full, mostly balanced with the bass being slightly too thin (these are earbuds after all). The volume is loud and you should have no problem hearing music tracks while exercising. The AV controls work like charm for changing volume, back and forward tracks and taking phone calls. Voice dialing through the Motorola S9 works well. The one flaw in both music and voice quality is the white background noise that sounds like old radio static.
Voice calls have decent quality but not as good as the music playback quality. The DSP doesn’t have much effect and you can hear background noise quite clearly. Here are the details on selected phones we’ve tested wit the Motorola Bluetooth headset:
When working with the Motorola Q Global (Q9h for AT&T) (Bluetooth v2.0)
Moto to Moto is definitely a winning combination. Music playback quality was excellent with full sound and loud volume. Small earbuds can't deliver booming bass, but given this inherent limitation, we were impressed. The AV controls worked perfectly for music playback, making phone calls via Voice Signal and taking incoming calls. The S9’s background his was much less noticeable compared to several other phones. Call quality is good. We got 20 feet of range in line of sigh,t and 10-15 feet through obstacles and a wall.
When working with the Sanyo Katana DLX (Bluetooth v2.0)
Music playback quality was good with full sound and loud volume. AV controls worked like a charm for music playback, making phone calls via voice tags and taking incoming calls. Both headset and the phone sound an audio alert when a call is coming in and the music paused during phone calls and resumed when calls were finished. The S9’s white background noise is very noticeable on the Katana DLX. If you have tracks that feature tambourine, maracas or even some symbols you will not like the white noise which is accentuated by the percussion. Call quality is average, not super clear but good enough to hear the calls. The range reached about 20 feet with line of sight and 10-15 feet through obstacles and a wall.
When working with the Nokia 6120 Classic (Bluetooth v2.0)
The Nokia has the best audio sound in music playback when working with the Motorola S9. The background noise was hardly noticeable and the sound quality was superb with awesome stereo separation and full sound. The volume was loud and the playback controls worked well. The call voice quality wasn’t as good as on the Katana DLX. We experienced choppy audio on both incoming and outgoing voices that distracted callers on both ends. The DSP didn’t seem to have any effect and we could hear cars, waterfalls and other background noises clearly from the receiving end. The range is about 10 feet.
When working with the HTC Advantage X7501 (Bluetooth v2.0)
Sound quality was good and the background white hissing noise was less noticeable than any other phones we tested the S9 with except the Nokia N76 which had the least amount of white background noise. Remote playback and phone call controls worked well which proved to be very useful as you could just leave the large Advantage X7501 on the desk. Range was about 15-20 feet with direct line of sight.
When working with the LG MUZIQ for Sprint (Bluetooth v1.2)
It plays music fine through the Motorola S9 in stereo with loud volume. Sound quality is good but again you can hear the white noise and hissing on the S9. When a call came in the music paused and the phone asked if we wanted to take or ignore the call. There is an option to switch between the phone and the headset while in a call. The range was about 15 feet.
The Motorola S9 Bluetooth stereo headset comes with a rechargeable Lithium-ion battery and you can charge it using the included AC world charger. The claimed talk time is 7 hours and claimed music playback time is 6 hours. Our tests showed that those numbers were over-estimated. We got about 4 to 4 ½ hours of music playback time. The claimed standby is 150 hours which was also over estimated based on our tests. The headset offers power saving feature and will shut itself off when you are not using it for about 1 hour. You will need to turn it on again when you want to use it again.
Jocks who listen to music on either their phones or MP3 players will like the Motorola S9’s wireless music streaming and the light weight. Although the headphones focus many features on music playback, they also offer a nice set of tools for making and receiving phone calls. If you happen to use a phone that doesn’t have loud white noise then the S9 is a good choice for you.
Pro: Sleek design, small, lightweight, water resistant surface that’s perfect for physically active mobile users. Easy to use controls for both making phone calls and listening to music. Good music playback quality on selected phones and decent call voice quality.
Con: Not really adjustable, other than some stretchy give, thus they won’t fit all folks well. White noise is noticeable with many phones. Battery life isn’t that impressive.
Package contains the Motorola S9 headphones, AC charger, additional earbud cups, carry pouch, User’s Guide and pairing card.
-Profiles supported: Hands-free, Headset, A2DP and AVRCP profiles.
-Claimed talk time: 7 hours of talk time, 6 hours of music playback.
-Claimed standby time: up to 150 hours.
-Headset size: 4.96 x 5.11 x 1.89 inches.
-Headset weight: 1.14 oz.
-Battery: 180 mAh lithium-ion rechargeable battery.
-AC adapter: 100-240v.