Scott Hanselman

Review: Nokia Purity Pro Wireless Headphones by Monster

October 9, '13 Comments [34] Posted in Reviews
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imageI like gadgets, but my tolerance for price is low. But a friend of mine showed me his Nokia Purity Pro headphones (made by Monster) and I tried them...and bought a pair.

I've been using the same Beats by Dre Tour In-Ear Headphones for over a year. I've taken them all over the world and they've worked great. However, on planes they hurt the insides of my ear, and once I got them stuck in my ear real good so I started re-thinking my aversion to over-the-ear headphones.

I used to have a pair of the original Bose noise-cancelling from years ago. Noise-cancelling technology has apparently improved a lot since then. When my friend showed me his Purity Pro's we were standing in a parking lot after lunch. I put them on and the street noise just stopped. Any low-level or repeated noise just disappeared. They work at least as well as my Bose did and are a joy to use on a plane.

The model I bought was the "Nokia 02734L7 BH-940 Purity Pro Wireless Stereo Headset by Monster" which is a mouthful, and I paid $300 for them, which was about $150 more than I wanted to pay. Sadly, I'm looking at Amazon today and seeing these headphones as low as $235. There's also wired versions for $79, although they lack the noise-cancelling and Bluetooth (of course) features.

I consider myself a power user and I don't put up with a lot of trouble from my devices. If it sucks or doesn't work in some way, it's going back.

The "oh gee" feature of the Purity Pro's is that it has NFC (Near Field Communication) to aid the initial paring process. The resulting pair is still Bluetooth. If your phone has NFC, more power to you, but after it's paired you'll never use this again.

The Bluetooth feature that I really appreciate is the ability to pair with multiple devices - up to 8. You can also be simultaneously connected to two devices which is REALLY convenient.

Note: Read the manual (PDF) and turn on "Bluetooth Multipoint" to use this feature.

For example, right now as I type this I'm connected to my laptop's audio (for Skype and Lync) and to my phone for music (Spotify and phone calls). I could certainly go along with connecting to just one, but when you're sitting in a café working, it's really nice to have "all electronic audio" from your devices routed into your headphones. I can listen to music, take Skype calls AND answer phone calls using the headphones.

I also have them paired with my tablet (so phone, laptop, tablet) and I must say, having no wires to worry about really IS a nice touch. I feel like just NOW, today, in 2013 the promise of Bluetooth is happening.

image

It's also a microphone (the mic is near the left ear) so I can take calls OR use it as a mic for Skype/Lync.

image

Of course, if I have a better mic or a laptop with an Array Mic I can tell the computer to NOT use the headphone's mic and use another. (You'd be surprised how often folks forget that they have full control over what mics are used for regular apps or communications apps.)

Purity Pro Headphones foldedThe headphones turn off when you close them up and reconnect when you open them. They have an internal battery and recharge using a mini-USB connector. They say they last for almost 24 hours of use, and if the battery runs out you can just switch to a standard 1/8" headphone plug. I have used them for a few months and have never needed to move to wired but it's nice to know they will keep working even with a dead battery. That said, they top off fast using mini-USB cables I have in my bag already. I did a 6 hour flight from New York watching movies last week and didn't give headphone battery life a thought.

One other cool feature is that the headphones talk to you. When you're pairing with Bluetooth or the battery is doing something it talks in your ear and says stuff like "Connected."

There's switches behind each ear for answering calls, changing volume, and going previous and next track. There's also some more subtle gestures, so RTFM. For example, double-press the Call button to decline a call, or hold the Call button to switch to phone from the headphones. Press and hold the call button when not in a call to use Siri or Voice Dial. You can even pair with more than one phone and use the < button to manage calls from both phones while on one call.

I got the black ones because I'm fly, but not that fly. There is also white, yellow, and red. I've seen those as cheap as $230 on Amazon, so search around.

They were somewhat expensive but I'm using them every day and I'm happy with the purchase. They are comfortable, light, fold up into my backpack easily and don't beg to be charged all day. Recommended if you're looking for a great pair of tech-savvy wireless Bluetooth headphones with noise-cancellation.


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About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. I am a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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Wednesday, October 09, 2013 6:42:12 PM UTC
I think it's funny you say that you are price sensitive, yet buy headphones from Beats, Monster and Bose. In my experience, while they make pretty good stuff, they offer insanely bad value for money compared to manufacturers like Beyerdynamics, Sennheiser or AKG.

That said, these actually seem pretty nice. I might consider getting a pair for when travelling or doing teleconferences.
Danni
Wednesday, October 09, 2013 7:28:42 PM UTC
I had one question when pairing multiple phones. Can you specify which is the primary phone easily?

I have a personal cell and a work cell. During work hours, I want to call out with my work cell but during weekends, after hours, I want to call out/sms with my personal cell.

Seems kind of lazy to ask you but this kind of info is *impossible* to get from the spec page

Thanks. I owe you a coffee
Taki
Wednesday, October 09, 2013 7:58:24 PM UTC
Danni - What headphones do you recommend from those manufacturers? Why do you think they aren't more popular?

Taki - Good question...but I don't know. I've never had to as they are connected simultaneously.
Wednesday, October 09, 2013 8:07:57 PM UTC
I have one pair of Beyerdynamic DT990 (open, for home use, expensive, unbelievable sound quality) and one pair of DT250 (closed, for travel or office use, cheaper but not cheap). I can recommend both those highly. I haven't used the other brands as much myself, but Sennheiser HD650 and AKG K702 are really good.

These are all too choices if you prioritize sound quality. None of them are cordless or noise cancelling though, so they're not really comparable.
Danni
Wednesday, October 09, 2013 8:18:02 PM UTC
While not the same quality, I had a pair of Nokia BH-503s. Those were amazing. Unfortunately, they broke due to my error. I've seen on Amazon that Bluejoy and GoGroove make (or like Nokia, brand) identical. I like wrap around, not into ear buds so much. Those look nice and I'm sure the quality is amazing, but not sure I can see paying a lot for a pair of headphones. Different strokes and all... my splurgy targets are likely to not be someone else's cup of tea just the same.
Robert
Wednesday, October 09, 2013 8:18:25 PM UTC
Hi Scott, this is really cool - I'm actually looking to buy a pair of wireless headphones myself, but I've always got an issue about the quality of audio.

Beyond all these cool features, what is the quality of sound (sound hiccups, etc.)?

Wednesday, October 09, 2013 8:38:45 PM UTC
These headphones seem pretty sweet. It's been a few years since I've looked into Bluetooth audio, but isn't the quality pretty lousy (i.e. FM radio-ish)? If so, these seem quite expensive for something you couldn't even listen to music well on.
Wednesday, October 09, 2013 8:43:25 PM UTC
Thanks for this great review, Scott. I, too, owe you many a Diet Coke.

I've got the Logitech H800 which goes for about 1/3 the price on Amazon and I've been very happy with them for the last year.

It sounds like the benefits of the Nokia/Monster are better construction (I assume based on the look), the multi-device pairing, and the sound quality/noise cancelling.

Is the max volume actually loud on the BH-940 or is it lukewarm? This is one of the main problems I have with BT headsets as a NYC subway commuter, although perhaps the noise canceling makes this moot. Can you get them to turn off without folding up? I don't carry a bag and the switch on the H800 make it easy to just turn them off and hang them around my neck. How is the sound quality in a noisy environment with the mic by your ear? The H800 has a fold-out boom, but it doesn't seem very helpful based on how mad people get with me if I forget to mute on conference calls!

Thanks!
Wednesday, October 09, 2013 10:12:18 PM UTC
I've had mine for about 4 months now. I bought them on special for 200 from Amazon before a plane ride. Paired then to my laptop, Surface and phone. So so nice. I listen a lot scarier music probably and I think they have the right amount of bass and love the integration on Nokia phones. I also have the in ear Purity's.

Sennheisers BT headphones are actually more expensive and not as good, plus less features. People love throwing those audio brand names around though...
Wednesday, October 09, 2013 10:12:41 PM UTC
To anyone willing to wear $300 headphones on the NYC subway: don't sit by the doors.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8vjR1JeSOk8
Jed
Thursday, October 10, 2013 1:27:13 AM UTC
If you want the iPhone of Headphones you have to try the Parrot Zik.
http://www.parrot.com/zik/usa/

Notable features:
Bluetooth
Noise cancelation
Replaceable battery
Optional wired cable
Can use them as regular wired headphones if battery dies
Touch controls on the right cup for play/pause, forward/back, volume.
If you take them off they automatically pause the audio

I'm in love with mine.


Christopher Deutsch
Thursday, October 10, 2013 8:01:07 AM UTC
All well and good having all these features - but do they sound any better in comparison to other headphones?
Andrew Munro
Thursday, October 10, 2013 9:16:06 AM UTC
Agree with what Danni said.. I would spent my money on Sennheiser, Klipsch, AKG, Brainwavz sort of brands over Bose, Beats, Monster.

Anyway, good review.. :)
Thursday, October 10, 2013 9:25:47 AM UTC
Spent money on Sennheiser wireless, keep getting interference with mobile signal, even switching channels.

Stopped using them.
Fabrizio
Thursday, October 10, 2013 3:16:33 PM UTC
Do these fit comfortably around the ears? I have had the BH-905's for a couple years, and they seem similar in function (though minus a few new features)-- but they fit against my ears, and I can't wear them for more than a couple hours. I can wear my old QC2's all day.
AdamC
Thursday, October 10, 2013 3:45:42 PM UTC
I have a pair of Sennheiser PXC-250 headphones I bought back in 2004. They have cables, admittedly. But I paid $150 back then, and I still have them. They're only now really at a point where I'd consider replacing them. I've replaced the earpads once, but now there is a short in the wiring and i get static sometimes.

I can get the new model for $120 through Amazon, and it's supposed to have better noise reduction, and they only use a single AAA battery.

I also have a pair of Sony MDR-v6 headphones I bought in 1988. They are heavy though, and I find if I wear them for more than an hour or two it's annoying. Nowhere near as bad as in-ear headphones. I have a pair of Klipsch in-ear phones as a backup in my bag, but I can only use them briefly.

So I considered buying a pair of bluetooth headphones like these, or the Sennheiser PXC-450, or PSB M4U. But they're all $300 or more, and since the batteries and such are in the cans they gotta be heavy.

So I think I'll live with my wires. Not just cheaper initial purchase, but they last longer before breaking. That's my logic.


Steve S
Thursday, October 10, 2013 5:54:42 PM UTC
I'm curious how you/they deal with the bluetooth lag? I tried to use bluetooth to listen to the audio of my PC once via a bluetooth "streamer" that works with my hearing aids. However, when I watched a video I noticed the audio lagged behind and it wasn't in sync with the video, it was like watching a video with english dubbed in.

I thought it was the streamer device but when I did a bit of research it seems that all bluetooth headsets have this issue.

Is there a way to deal with this, or do you only listen to audio only type stuff using these?

Thanks,
BOb
Thursday, October 10, 2013 6:18:06 PM UTC
PilotBob - I only have my experience with Nokia BH-503s to speak of, but I watched videos, played games, and the like with no noticeable lag. May be worthwhile borrowing a friend's headset/laptop with bluetooth and seeing which is the issue. I did have issues with an old Toshiba laptop and pairing with the headphones consistently.
Robert
Thursday, October 10, 2013 9:45:33 PM UTC
PilotBob - That's really a good point I hadn't considered before. I looked around, and it's a very common complaint of bluetooth. Some software is smart enough to try to keep the video and audio in sync by delaying the video to compensate, but other software does not.

One problem is Bluetooth has limited bandwidth(768Kbps, or half the 1.411Mbps bandwidth CD audio tracks use), so it requires audio compression to pass the signal. To manage compression that means it has to look ahead before sending, which means a delay. On top of that since Bluetooth is a radio signal and uses the common 2.4Ghz band, it's subject to interference from a lot of consumer electronics, including Wifi, microwaves, etc.. So you could see severe lag because of other devices causing interference and the packets needing to be resent. Apple has a support page about this, because it's a common issue with their idevices... http://support.apple.com/kb/HT1365

I'm starting to feel better about my wired life decisions. Even though it would be cool to be able to move around without taking headphones off.
Steve S
Friday, October 11, 2013 12:46:38 PM UTC
Great review thanks.

Is there any particular reason you did not go for Dre Beats Wireless (since you said you own Beats already and like them)?

I was thinking about getting these but now I am curious if they have any obvious disadvantage compared to the "Purity Pros"?
Sunday, October 13, 2013 12:42:36 AM UTC
I picked up the wired version for $80. Great for on a plane. They block out the sound reasonably well, and they don't make me sick like noise canceling headphones.

I bought mine at a retail store, and the guy said they were way better than headphones like beats, but he said the name sells those, not quality.
Sunday, October 13, 2013 9:06:10 AM UTC
Try Beyerdynamic DT 60 PRO or if you dont mind the full size then 990 pro 250ohm.
soso
Sunday, October 13, 2013 9:01:58 PM UTC
Do you find that when you activate the microphone on the microphone, the audio quality drops to phone quality?
I own a pair of Bluetooth headphones and when I activate the mic form any application, the quality just drops to phone quality.
The settings are grayed out in Win7's Sound menu as well, hence it seems to be either a limitation of Bluetooth bandwidth or a poor driver.
Just curious as to what you found.
Mattr
Tuesday, October 15, 2013 9:43:02 AM UTC
Hi Scott,

I bought a pair of Purity Pro's based on your review and so far I am really happy with it. I used them on Germany's autobahn and was amazed at the level of noise cancellation when I lifted an earpiece at 100mph or so. There was a hurricane of wind noise around me that I had never before realized even to exist.

I also enjoy the enthusiam from the headphones' voice when they tell me they are "co-nec-ted!!!" after starting them up.

Who'd have thought I would buy anything from Nokia again. So, thanks for the recommendation!
Peter
Wednesday, October 16, 2013 10:35:40 PM UTC
Ditto what Scott says. I got the bright yellow version to match the phone and while I get stares, I do like the quality of the device.

It works extremely well with the Nokia Lumia - fast connect and audio switch over.

Had it for nearly two months now with no regrets.
Thursday, October 17, 2013 12:45:28 AM UTC
If I sold my Bose QC3s I could upgrade to Nokia Purity Pros for around $100. Worth it? The wireless is very tempting. I also have a Lumia 822 if that makes much difference.
Friday, October 18, 2013 10:28:42 PM UTC
I am convinced that Bose does price fixing. I can NEVER find their current QuietComfort headphones for less than $299.99 ANYWHERE. Not even on Amazon. Anyways, I don't care for their headphones. I buy earphones from Etymotic only.
Abdu
Wednesday, October 30, 2013 10:00:36 AM UTC
Music playback to these from my Nokia Lumia 920 Windows Phone 8 is less than perfect - there are one or two half-second blips per track. The noise cancellation is pretty cool though (you can hear it kick in a second after slipping them on) and the mic has been usable on phone calls. Not tried Skyping with them yet. Multi-pairing with my Surface RT also worked, but I've not done much with it. Surprised & disappointed to discover the Xbox 360 doesn't support Bluetooth - would have been great to use them for gaming too.
Robert Baker
Wednesday, November 06, 2013 9:55:05 AM UTC
will they work the same at 9 meters away from laptop?
Thursday, November 21, 2013 9:15:41 AM UTC
Ah - I forgot the golden rule of Microsoft products: rebooting the phone cleared up the playback quality issue I was having. It comes back again after a few days (gets progressively worse) but rebooting the phone clears it up again.
On the downside, about an hour into a car journey the noise cancellation started switching off for a second then back in again, which was so disturbing that I couldn't keep listening. Was driving so couldn't fiddle with the phone or headset to see if reboots would fix :-(
Robert Baker
Friday, November 22, 2013 10:07:00 AM UTC
The manual you link to refers to an app in the Store that will show you the remaining battery level of the Purity Pro headphones. It took me a while to find this on my Lumia 920 because it's not in the store - it's already in my phone. Settings > System > accessories > Purity Pro. Also lets you fiddle with some settings, such as toggling the multi-pairing.
Robert Baker
Friday, November 29, 2013 5:12:27 PM UTC
My husband wants wireless headphones to use when he travels by air. He wants them for watching movies on his laptop (Dell). Any recommendations?
LMaria
Monday, December 02, 2013 10:15:36 PM UTC
Thanks, Scott, for the review! And thank you Robert for your observations!
I couldn't connect a second device until I found RB's reference to the Purity Pro app on the Lumia phone where there is a multi-pairing setting.
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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent my employer's view in any way.