Cool Thing of the Week: Wireless Headphones Face-Off

It's a wireless headphone face-off: Here, we compare Harman Kardon's BT Headphones and SMS Audio's Sync by 50.

Photo courtesy Harman Kardon

Since no one seems to have invented untangle-able headphone cords yet (we can dream, can't we?), we have to settle for big, clunky wireless headsets. Thankfully, they've come a long way in a few years. Here, we compare Harman Kardon's BT Headphones and SMS Audio's Sync by 50.

Harmon Kardon recently released an over/closed-ear, bluetooth enabled, wireless headset with up to 40 hours of playback between charges. For those unfamiliar with the Harmon Kardon brand, they're considered by some to be "the Apple of sound." They even partnered with Apple in 2000 to manufacture and create the original Harman Kardon SoundSticks system, which is now in MoMA's permanent collection.

The headphones are incredibly comfortable, USB-rechargeable, and feature playback buttons on the BT (Bluetooth) ear cup, allowing you to play, pause, and skip tracks wirelessly. They also fold flat when not in use and come with a leather carrying case so they won't get scuffed up when traveling or thrown into a gym bag. What's more, the sound is pure nirvana, with an excellent frequency response of 16Hz to 20kHz, extended bass, and acoustic engineering with passive noise reduction, meaning your music will sound crystal clear even when the volume is low. They look great, too, thanks to beautiful sandblasted steel with matte black housings.

SMS Audio's Sync by 50 (as in 50 Cent) Headphones use memory foam for super comfy over-ear cushions with on-board controls located on the sides of either ear cup. Absorption gaskets prevent sound leakage, so you only hear the pure recorded sound without the constant hum that comes with headsets that have active noise cancellation.

One of the major differences between the two headphones is the wireless technology. Instead of Bluetooth, Sync by 50 uses Kleer, which transmits 16-bit lossless sound at a higher bandwidth frequency (41mHz). Bluetooth uses a radio technology that compresses audio, resulting in lower-fi music.

As far as the exterior housing, Sync by 50 is heavy on DJ club-style, as opposed to Harman Kardon's minimal, Dieter Rams-esque aesthetic. But just because they're plastic doesn't mean they're not durable. According to SMS Audio, using plastic sides instead of metal results in a more secure product. It'll cost you, though. Whereas Harman Kardon's BT Headphone's cost $249, Sync by 50's will run you $399.

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