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You’ll take a battery hit with your iPod, but don’t forget you can use these with a Mac too.
Come on, wired headphones holdouts! It’s time to ditch your wired cans. With improved sound and iPhone optimization, the latest iteration of Wi-Gear’s iMuffs, the MB220, stands above the previous MB210 model, and they fit better too.
The street-style iMuffs have a flexible band that wraps around the back of your neck. We dinged the MB210 for not having an adjustable headband, and the MB220’s doesn’t adjust either. But the fit is still much improved--we had no trouble getting the ear pads to rest flat against both our ears, and almost no sound leaked out to annoy the people around us. The headset is light at 2.1 ounces, and we wore it comfortably all day.
The included Bluetooth dongle attaches to the dock port of your iPod (every model but the shuffle) or iPhone, and it arrives already paired with the headset, so there’s no setup, just plug and play. The dongle saps your device’s battery life--in our tests, our 2G iPod nano played just 7.5 hours of audio with the dongle attached, down from almost 21 hours without the dongle. The iMuffs’ right earphone holds buttons for play/pause, forward, back, and volume as well as an on/off switch to save battery life and a tiny noise-canceling microphone.
That mic lets you pair the iMuffs with an iPhone--or any Bluetooth phone--to use as a hands-free headset. Once we paired the headset with our iPhone (in Settings > General > Bluetooth) for use as a hands-free device, the music paused when we received a call, which was a snap to answer by pressing the Play button on the iMuffs, and sounded loud and clear. You can even pair the ’phones with your Mac for using Skype or iChat, which sounded good too, but not necessarily better than using our MacBook Pro’s built-in mic and speakers.
If your Mac runs Leopard, which uses the A2DP Bluetooth spec for stereo music, you can use the iMuffs to listen to iTunes music in stereo--the forward/back buttons on the headset even work to skip iTunes tracks. Tiger didn’t use A2DP Bluetooth, which limits the sound to mono only. When using the iMuffs with iTunes, we found ourselves cranking up our Mac’s volume much higher than usual, even with the volume in iTunes already maxed, and the iMuffs set to full blast as well. Volume wasn’t an issue using the iMuffs with the iPod/iPhone dongle, however.
Wi-Gear accurately states the range at about 40 feet from the audio source, and we were able to venture away from our desk, around a corner, and down a hall until static cut into our music. The headset charges via USB (an AC adapter is also included), which took nearly 3 hours but yielded a healthy 6 hours of music.
Of course, the most important factor with a set of headphones is how they sound, and we were pleased with the iMuffs. They aren’t ultra-high-fidelity audiophile-approved ’phones, but our rock, pop, and hip-hop tracks sounded clear and crisp with satisfactory bass. A fight scene in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon sounded great,with the sword clangs ringing in stereo over the moody background music.
With impressive audio quality, simple setup, and versatility to spare, the iMuffs rock.
REQUIREMENTS: iPhone or iPod with dock connector
Bluetooth stereo music with an iPod, iPhone, or Leopard Mac. Integrated mic for phone calls, iChat, and Skype. Charges via USB or AC.
Plastic hooks around your ear are uncomfortable for glasses-wearers. Volume is quiet when paired with a Mac.