You may recall that a few weeks ago, I got a chance to review the Plantronics Backbeat 903+. Although they were great, in-ear headphones aren’t really everyone’s cup of tea. Sometimes, you just want proper heavy duty over-the-ear headphones. This week, courtesy of MEElectronics, I get to try out the Venture Bluetooth headphones. They look absolutely gorgeous but are they really worth the $120 price tag? Read on to find out.
Weight: 400 grams
Driver diameter: 40 mm
Charging type: MiniUSB
Charge time: 2 – 3 hours
Listening time: 18 hours
Standby time: 250 hours
Frequency response: 20Hz to 20kHz
Microphone type: Omnidirectional
Where To Buy
The Packaging: 5/5
I quite liked the packaging of the Venture. It came in a sleek black box and you got to see half of the headphones at the front. Packaging was quite minimal since you just got the headphones themselves and a velvety black pouch. Inside the pouch, you got the charging cable, the headphone cable, and the set-up guide. The pouch has the MEElectronics logo and is a definite dust attractor. One thing to note is that the headphones don’t come with a dedicated wall charger but only with a miniUSB cable. I actually prefer getting the cable since I get the freedom to choose whether I want to charge the headphones via PC or an outlet.
Set Up: 5/5
Setting the Venture up was a breeze. Long press the Power button for about 7 – 8 seconds and the LED starts flashing with a voice saying ‘Pairing Mode’. Search for devices on your phone and you’ll see the Venture show up as “AF52″. Tap to pair and you’ll hear a beep from the Venture letting you know you’re good to go.
Comfort and Convenience: 4/5
These headphones are ridiculously comfortable. The leather padding around the ear pads is nice and soft, as is the padding around the headband. The headband itself is expandable and even when it’s not expanded, it isn’t very tight. This can be a good thing for those of you who have average sized heads but for people with small heads, you’ll find that the headphones will slip off your head if you’re not wearing them at the right angle. The ear cups rotate (they can be folded flat so the Venture can fit in the travel pouch) so you can twist them to whatever position you find most comfortable. I don’t like the fact that you can’t fold them in the same way you can with other headphones but can only rotate the ear-pads.
Even though it weigh 400 grams, the Venture isn’t heavy at all. You’d think that you’d constantly feel the weight of them on your head but you actually don’t notice them there. Wear them long enough and you’ll forget you’ve got them on! Also, these actually work rather well with glasses so you can comfortably wear both things at the same time. Of course, since these are over-the-ear headphones, your glasses won’t actually be touching your ears but will just rest upon the ear-pads themselves.
One of the disappointments I had with the Venture, as you can see in the unboxing video, was that it uses miniUSB instead of the now-standard microUSB connector. Since pretty much every electronic device uses microUSB to sync/charge, you can use one charger to charge multiple devices. Initially, I did find the miniUSB to be very annoying and inconvenient. I wrote to MEElectronics asking them why a product released in 2013 doesn’t have a microUSB connector and they said it’s because the Venture has been in development for quite some time. They are in the process of switching to microUSB for future products and I’m glad to hear it.
Unlike other Bluetooth headphones, you can use the Venture wirelessly while’s it’s being charged. And if the battery is completely dead with no charger in sight, you can use the provided headphone cable to use the Venture as a wired headset. So basically, you can use these things whenever you want, which is always a good thing.
I’m a big fan of the Venture’s design but one thing which I found rather odd was the 3.5mm headphone jack itself. It’s on the left side of the headphones and sticks out at the back. Since you’ll be facing whatever you’ve plugged the cable in to, the cable will stick out of the headphones and then bend towards the front (see the above picture). I understand that it can’t be placed at the bottom since all the controls are there, but placing it at the back is a really weird design choice.
Speaking of which, the 3.5mm headphone cable itself feels fragile and cheap. I worry that it’ll get messed up at the connector like so many headphones cables end up doing. Because of the weird design placement, I would have much preferred the cable itself to have an L-Shaped connector.
Sound Quality: 5/5
Sound quality is on par with most wired headphones. You can clearly hear the highs and the lows without any distortion or that weird artificial sound problem you get from cheaper Bluetooth headphones. Bass is also really good. It’s not over the top like you get with Beats but it’s still very impressive.
The padding around the ear-pads also helps the sound clarity and it minimises sounds really well. Sitting right next to the roaring engine on a bus full of chattering people, I could clearly hear the music and it wasn’t even set at full volume. Bear in mind that these aren’t noise-cancelling headphones so you will still hear the stuff happening around you. You’ll be able to hear incoming cars/people talking to you etc. but if you really want to shut them out, just turn up the volume.
I’m not sure if this is a safety feature to protect your ear drums from loud sounds, but the Venture has a strange way of moving from music track to music track. It skips over the first few seconds of a song and then just fades in. The weird thing is that it’s not because of some lag or connection delay since skipping tracks is insanely quick; you press the button and it’ll just start the next song instantly. The only problem is that it starts the next song at 0:02 so you lose the first 2 seconds of the song itself. This fade-in effect can get a bit annoying for devout music lovers.
Call quality is very good. I could clearly hear people through the headphones and thanks to the omnidirectional microphone, people on the other end could hear me fine. I didn’t experience any dropped calls at all but the sound did cut-out once or twice for only a few nano-seconds.
Controls and Notifications: 3/5
The controls are located at the bottom of the headphones. On the left side, you get your Power button and the volume controls. Pressing the power button while listening to stuff will open the Voice Dialler on your phone. Long pressing the power button turns the headphones on/off while holding it for a bit longer will activate Pairing Mode. Volume up/down response is instant but you don’t hear any beep or aural feedback like you do with other headphones.
The notification LED is also located on the left side, next to the microphone. I have to say that the notification LED is pretty strange. The good thing is that it’s pretty bright, even if you can’t always see it properly. The notifications themselves are also confusing. It will keep on flashing every 5 seconds while you’re wearing the headphones. I found this to be really annoying. I was wearing the headphones while watching a movie on my tablet and every 5 seconds, I could see the flash of blue light in the screen’s reflection. What made it more annoying is the fact that if you try to look at the LED normally, you won’t be able to see it since you need to be looking at it from a very specific angle.
Apparently, the 5 second flash is to let you know the the headphones are “On But Not Connected”. If you look at the picture above, you’ll notice that it’s also there to let you know that the headphones are “Connected With A Device; In Use”. So just by looking at the light, you’ll have no idea if it’s connected or not. And in my opinion, if it’s connected and in use, it shouldn’t flash at all. The fact that you’ll be wearing it and listening to something should be enough proof that the thing’s connected.
On the right side, you have your Play/Pause, Next Track, and Previous Track buttons. The good thing about having dedicated track skipping buttons is that if you long press on either one, you can fast forward and rewind stuff. In testing this, I found that it worked very will with DicePlayer and MX Player but it doesn’t work at all with Google Play Music.
I found the buttons to be very responsive and quite easy to press. They are a bit smaller than I would have liked but you do get some reassuring tactile feedback when you press them. There’s no quick way to tell the left side of the headphones from the right side and since they both have 3 buttons, you could easily put them on backwards (left side on your right ear and right side on your left ear). Fortunately, the buttons have small bumps on them so you know which button you’re pressing and what side it is.
Battery life on these things is impossibly good. They can be fully charged in up to 3 hours and the battery lasts for a whopping 18 hours! Charging via PC will take a tiny bit longer than charging directly from a power supply. Standby time is reportedly 250 hours which is about 10-ish days (10 days and 10 hours, to be exact). I only have to charge these things once a week or even more, depending on how often I use them.
When charging, the headphone’s notification light turns red. When it’s fully charged, the light turns off. Annoyingly, you get absolutely no notification of remaining battery. The red LED will flash twice every 20 seconds to let you know that the battery is low and you also get 4 short tones every 20 seconds. I’m not sure what percentage/time left counts as ‘low battery’ since there’s no way to tell how much battery you’ve got left.
Not getting any indication of battery life is a definite flaw with these headphones, even with that ridiculous battery life. Because of this, they get 4.5/5.
So after everything, are these worth the price tag? Honestly, despite their inconveniences, these are actually incredibly good headphones. The placement of the headphone jack and the miniUSB port might be a turn off for some people, but to be honest, these are just minor inconveniences and not actual flaws. One flaw which these things do have is the lack of a battery life indicator. That being said, I really recommend you buy the MEElectronics Venture. For the price, these things are a definite steal. They’re unbelievably comfortable, have a ridiculous battery life, and look absolutely drop-dead gorgeous.
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