Surface Headphones 2 Review: The Change Required!

Today, we are taking a look at the Microsoft Surface Headphones 2 and will be discussing the changes Microsoft has made in these ANC headphones.

Surface 2 Headphones

Clearly, the most obvious change here from the original Surface Headphones is the colour.

They are back in matte black this year and it looks awesome.

There are few more differences in terms of design, battery life and a couple of other things that we will get into it just a bit.

But the biggest change, the most important change is the change in price.

When the first version of these headphones released, Microsoft was selling them for $350.

At that price, the first version of these headphones was a little bit tougher to recommend. They are not bad by any means but they were expensive.

Surface 2 Headphones

                      PROS

  • Great Dial Controls

  • Good noise cancellation

  • Comfortable design   

  • Multi-point Bluetooth support  

                       CONS

  • Disappointing battery life

  • Average sound quality

  • Headband can cause discomfort in long listening sessions

Surface Headphones 2 - Inside the Box

Surface 2 Headphones

The Surface 2 headphones come in at a full $100 cheaper i.e $250 and for what these headphones offer, we think that’s a price that we can much more easily get behind.

Inside the box, there is a really nice black carrying case which is hard-shelled to protect the headphones.

Unzipping that, you have the Surface 2 headphones themselves. 

Aside from the colour, the design is almost identical to the original Surface headphones. 

Its got the same thick and plush earcups, the same amazing rotating dials for controlling volume and Noise-Cancellation and what seems to be the exact same headband.

The one difference here is that the earcups do rotate the full 180 degrees this time.

Also, inside the box is a USB-C cable for charging and a 3.5-millimetre cable for wired listening.

The Surface headphones 2 overall feels as if they’d last a while and we think that the materials at this price point are fine.

There is a lot of plastic on the Surface 2 headphones so they are not quite what we consider premium feeling but we like the design of these headphones a lot.

They look pretty modern and sleek.

The comfort of the Surface Headphones 2

Surface 2 Headphones

A couple of things to note on the comfort side of things is while the earpads are very soft and very comfortable, its worthwhile to note that there is not much padding on the inside where the drivers are.

So, if you have ears that are big enough, you might feel that hard plastic underneath.

Also, worth noting is the fact that the headband is not quite as comfortable as some other headsets.

It’s fine but you will find that you have to readjust the headband just a little bit every couple of hours to keep them comfortable while they are on your head.

Minor complaints aside though, we were perfectly happy to keep the Surface headphones 2 on for long periods of time.

Which is good because Microsoft has actually given us more battery life for longer listening periods this time.

Battery Life of the Surface Headphones 2

Surface 2 Headphones

Something that’s coming up in reviews of the original Surface headphones is that the battery life just wasn’t as good as a lot of other headsets in the price range. Coming in at around 15 hours in total.

The Surface headphones 2 gets a little bit better at 20 hours this year which is good but still less than some other headphones like Sony WH-1000XM3. They get around 30 hours.

Luckily charging speed is pretty fast and 5 minutes of charging is going to give you around an hour of listening time.

Controls on the Surface Headphones 2

Surface 2 Headphones

Now, the way you interact with the Surface 2 headphones is better than pretty much anything else out there.

The good stuff starts as soon as you put them on your head. When you turn on they will announce how many hours of battery life you have left and then tell you which devices you have connected to. 

Because the Surface 2 headphones have multi-point Bluetooth support, you can connect them with 2 devices at the exact same time and you can play audio from either of them without losing connection to the other.

Also, the dials on either side, seriously one of the most intuitive ways to control headphones ever.

Along with the dials are a pair of touch control pads that do the exact same thing on both sides.

You can tap once to play/pause your music, tap twice to skip a song or accept a call, tap three times to go back a song and press and hold tp decline a call or activate the voice assistant.

Below the volume dial on the right side is a 3.5-millimetre jack for a wired connection, a USB-C port for charging, a power button and a microphone mute switch which is something you don’t see very often on a pair of ANC headphones.

Microphone Quality of Surface Headphones 2

Surface 2 Headphones

Another thing you do not see very often on headphones nowadays is a good set of internal microphones for calling.

The Surface headphones 2 whoever, actually kind of does.

Your voice will come through nice and clear and we have also asked multiple people what we sound like when we used the Surface Headphones 2 for calling and they all say the same thing, you sound pretty good.

The microphones are also used for the pass-through sound feature and we gotta say they impressed us here too.

Even with the headphones on, the voice sounds natural to us and which is again makes it ideal for phone calls.

You don’t get any of that “plugged ear” type sound that comes with wearing closed-back headphones and speaking out loud.

If you turn the left dial all the way clockwise, the Surface 2 headphones will amplify the ambient sound instead of just pass it through and you get the slightly strange sounding superhuman hearing.

It does sound a bit unnatural but it does what it claims. It amplifies ambient sound.

Noise-Cancelling on the Surface Headphones 2

If you turn the dial in the opposite direction, you will engage the noise-cancellation mode. 

The Noise-Cancellation built into the Surface 2 headphones is surprisingly good. 

Like most noise-cancelling headphones, these won’t be able to completely block out the sound of people talking but it will do extremely well with blocking out noises that have little variation in frequency like the hum of an air-conditioner or the sound when you are in a car or aeroplane.

The noise-cancellation is good but not quite as good as the Sony WH-1000XM3s.

The Surface 2 headphones are $100 cheaper than the XM3s, so we didn’t exactly expect them to be but it’s still worth mentioning.

The noise-cancelling and pass-through features on the Surface headphones 2 aren’t exactly quark free though.

This isn’t a big issue but one thing we have noticed is that our pair of headphones emit a slight white noise when the headphones are on.

It’s not noticeable when you are watching something or playing music but it’s definitely there when there is nothing coming through.

As we mentioned before, you can avoid using Bluetooth altogether and plug-in the included 3.5-millimetre cable for some good old-fashioned wired listening.

The noise-cancellation and pass-through features will still work if you have the Surface 2 headphones on but if you turn them off, you will lose everything included the ability to control the volume of your device with the dial.

Sound Quality of the Surface Headphones 2

Surface 2 Headphones

A good set of headphones is only ever as good as they sound. After all, that’s the whole point of them.

Overall, we were definitely not disappointed by the sound on the Surface 2 headphones.

All three areas, the lows, the mids, the highs are decent and there is no distortion present in the audio until you get up into the upper echelon of the volume.

And up there, let us tell you is not a place you want to stay for very long unless you want some serious hearing damage because these things are as loud as heck.

There is also a minimal sound leakage too. So, as long as you aren’t sitting right next to somebody, you won’t be bothering anyone with your loud music.

Well, they do sound good for the price, it doesn’t quite match the booming end of the Sony WH-1000XM3 can produce.

The Surface Headphones 2 does support Qualcomm aptX this time which is a definite improvement over the original Surface headphones.

But it doesn’t seem to support a higher quality codec like LDAC.

We experienced very low latency when watching videos on the phone or laptop which is great.

The Surface Headphones 2 also comes with a companion app where you can change some of the settings and update the firmware of the headphones.

There is also a pretty simple equaliser too if you want to refine the sound of the headset to your liking.

Our Verdict on The Surface Headphones 2

Surface 2 Headphones

So, we have come all the way back to the title of this blog, the change that was needed to make the Surface Headphones 2 competitive was dropping the price and Microsoft has done that.

There are some small changes over the first edition but nothing groundbreaking and we think that’s okay.

The addition of more battery life and aptX support just means that Microsoft is giving us more this year for the less and we think that is a great move.

The Surface Headphones 2 gets a solid thumbs-up from us!

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