Dolby Dimension Headphones
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|Form Factor||Over Ear|
|Noise Control||Active Noise Cancellation|
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What I love most about them are the a) easy charging by simply placing them down on the charging pad, b) the 3 Bluetooth buttons to instantly connect to different devices, c) the Virtual Surround feature, and d) the LifeMix mode. I love the second feature, because it makes it so I don't have to resync every time I want to change a Bluetooth device. I simply press one of the three buttons and it instantly connects to one of the three saved devices.
The Virtual Surround feature is also great, and showcases Dolby's expertise in surround sound processing. Watching a movie trailer in stereo, the movie sounded as expected. But switching on the surround processing mode in the app suddenly made it sound as if sounds were really coming from different directions and I could hear a distinction between different sounds in a much more 3D space than with the feature off. This feature makes movies come to life and it is worth the purchase just for this.
However, this feature does not work well for everything. Music is better left in stereo mode, as are games that already have well-mastered stereo for headphones, such as The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. For a majority of movie and TV content, though, I can see this feature being amazing to have.
The LifeMix mode is particularly useful if you would like to hear your surroundings while still hearing your content. It works particularly well, and the range of adjustment is great, going from 0 (noise cancelling) to 11 (boost surroundings). The noise cancelling works and does reduce noise, but does not reduce as much noise as the latest Bose or Sony noise-cancelling headphones. But if you are watching content at the same time as having noise-cancelling on, it should not be an issue.
Head-tracking: The headphones also offer a high-end headphones feature called head-tracking. If you turn this on and look away from the screen, the sound will respond as if you are moving your head away from speakers located at the screen, enhancing immersion in the film. When I tried this the first time, it placed the location improperly, so I did not get the intended effect. However, I am sure with more tries it will work properly. Personally, I can do without this feature, but it may be useful for certain movies and games you really want to be immersed in. Keep in mind using this feature uses more battery life.
Sound quality: In terms of sound quality, these headphones are definitely tuned for the wide range of sound common in movies, TV shows, and videogames. You can clearly hear all of the different sounds going on in the movie, especially with the surround sound mode on. For gaming, I tested these with the Dolby Atmos for Headphones setting on the Xbox One, and the surround sound was phenomenal in Star Wars Battlefront II, with me being able to locate every sound precisely and feel as if in a 3D space. The bass in particular isn't as deep or satisfying as on the Sony WH-1000XM3, but it's still there. At the same time, if you prefer less bass in your headphones and a more balanced sound, then you may prefer this sound signature.
However, music specifically does not sound as rich and clear as on other headphones more tuned for music, such as Bose, Sony, or Sennheiser. Pop songs sound clear and bassy enough, but orchestral and acoustic tracks with more nuance don't sound as rich compared to other options. If you are buying these specifically for music, I would look at other options.
Bluetooth modes: These headphones are also unique, because they offer the largest amount of Bluetooth codecs I've seen in a pair of headphones, making them the best headphones for every type of Bluetooth device and content you would like. The Dolby Dimension features support for: AAC, aptX, aptX Low Latency, and SBC
The aptX Low Latency support is a huge plus for me, because paired with a proper Bluetooth transmitter, this allows the audio from your screen to come to your ears with the least amount of lag possible, minimizing any lip-sync or sound lag issues with any content. This is particularly important for fast-paced games where reacting to sound is important. Bose, Sony, and AirPods all lack this feature, and the difference in delay between those headphones and these is noticable (so long as you have a Bluetooth transmitter that transmits aptX LL). Those headphones are still usable, of course, but if you want the least amount of delay possible, these are the headphones to get. The only codecs they seem to lack are aptX HD and LDAC, but the sound is more than good enough with the other codecs, IMHO.
Connections: Bluetooth is your only option. There is a charging port, but does not support audio over USB. There is no 3.5mm port either. These are truly wireless headphones, except for charging. Thankfully, the broad array of Bluetooth codecs and the amount of Bluetooth transmitters on the market make this a non-issue, and further emphasizes the cable-free convenience this pair of headphones is designed to embody.
Comfort and build quality: The headphones are comfortable, and offer a good range of adjustability that suits me well. The material can make your ears hot after a while, but because they were so comfortable, it wasn't much of an issue for me. I would say the build quality is solid, though plastics are used. As long as you are as careful with these as you would be with any other pair of headphones, you don't need to worry.
Battery life: In terms of battery life, it is about what is expected. You will get several hours of playback with these once charged, and once done using, it is so easy to simply place the headphones down on the charging pad to charge. No plugging in a cable necessary (though this is an option). It is great to be able to simply take the headphones out of the charging pad and begin using them immediately. These are the fastest headphones to switch between charging and using I've ever seen. It also helps that charging for just 15-20 minutes gives at least a couple hours of battery.
Portability: These headphones aren't designed to be taken on the go. They don't fold up into a case like the Bose or Sony options, and don't offer battery life on par with those options. But at home, when close to the charger after each session, this is no problem. The headphones do come with a soft-carry case, but it doesn't look very protective from drops or bangs, so I wouldn't recommend taking these on the go very often.
App: The Dolby Dimension app is also very useful and is how you turn on features like surround-sound, noise-cancelling, LifeMix, and low power mode. The app is very well organized and quick to use. Unfortunately, there are no EQ options to be able to modify the sound signature to how you'd like, but I assume this is because it may mess up Dolby's surround sound process.
Final words: I think these headphones are worth the price for packing so many features into one pair. No other pair of headphones offers Dolby Surround Sound, LifeMix, head-tracking, AptX Low Latency, a cable-free charging dock, and 3-button Bluetooth Switching, all in one set, and these features combine to make this headphone the most versatile and convenient Bluetooth headphones ever made. While the bass may not be as deep as I'd like, and they aren't the best for music; for movies, TV, and gaming at home, these are the best wireless headphones for the job.
The battery life is fine. If you’re watching movies for ten hours straight and can’t afford 15 minutes to get a quick top-up charge, then you’ve got bigger problems than the battery life on a pair of wireless headphones.
The Bluetooth switching is great. Easily the best I’ve seen on any headphones.
Audio quality is also great. Surround effect is really noticeable, especially if you turn ‘virtualization’ on and off while watching to compare the difference.
Latency is a real issue.
The headphones themselves support a good range of Bluetooth codecs, including Aptx Low Latency. The problem is that most equipment you connect to is only going to support SBC and maybe AAC codecs.
SBC (the fallback codec on every Bluetooth device) is unusable. The lip sync is unacceptable for movies and TV. It’s like you’re watching a badly dubbed movie.
AAC is slightly better, but there’s still latency there. If things are moving fast, you’re not really going to notice. But when you’ve got two heads talking to each other, something feels slightly off. Lip sync is just outside of acceptable. If you get immersed in the movie, you may not notice it. But when you do notice it, it will bug you.
And here’s something else with AAC - its handling is different from device to device. Connected directly to my Apple TV 4K, things are ever so slightly out of sync, with audio coming approximately 120ms AFTER the video. But watching the Apple TV 4K with the Dimension connected to my AV Receiver, the sync is too early, coming at 120ms or more BEFORE the video. Yet my AirPods also use AAC, and they sync perfectly with the ATV.
Further, there are noticeable differences in audio quality when playing the same movie directly from the Apple TV and routed through the receiver. I’m not decided on which sound I prefer, but I’d be interested to know what signal the headphones are receiving from each. Both should be sending a downmix of Atmos on appropriate titles, but I can’t confirm.
It would be really helpful if the app could show you the audio type it’s receiving.
The app is great, simple, easy to use, and you can stay connected to it while you’re listening to another source. But a little icon or something that tells you whether it’s receiving Atmos or PCM or whatever would be great.
AptX, even the standard non-Low Latency version, works perfect. The sync is almost non-existent. If every manufacturer included it in their products, none of this would be an issue.
The problem is that the only device I have that supports AptX is my LG OLED TV. But my TV automatically downmixes everything to, at most, Dolby Digital Plus. The sound profile here is in sync, but it’s much quieter and less detailed than when connected to the Apple TV or receiver.
You could get an AptX dongle to plug into your Receiver’s headphone port, but then your Receiver’s going to downmix the audio anyway and you’ll be in the same situation.
In a perfect world, all apps on all platforms and devices would implement AptX, or at least smart compensate for latency sync issues with profiles like AAC. But that’s not the reality.
Which leads me to my ultimate suggestion...
PLEASE consider adding a manual delay function to the app. Just a +/- scroller in 10ms increments, so that we can manually correct these sync issues ourselves when the source is not doing it for us.
It would solve so many issues, considering that none of the manufacturers of other products we’re connecting to seem to care enough to do it.
For headphones dedicated to home theatre, this is one small thing that is a huge hurdle to a 5 star recommendation.