Welcome to MP3 Mailbox Monday, a reoccurring feature where I answer a selection of questions about MP3 players and accessories, such as headphones, speakers, and music services and software. Each week, my in-box is flooded with questions from around the world, and while a handful of them are very particular to the individual asking, most apply more generally to a certain use or scenario to which many people can relate. Check back often to see if the advice presented here might be of some use to you, or send your questions directly to me. (Note: We never include last names, but if you prefer to remain completely anonymous, please state as much in your e-mail.)
Q: Wasn't this feature called MP3 Mailbag Monday? -- Me, via my head
A: Yes, it was. I've adjusted the name slightly to avoid any confusion with a video feature over at sister site CNET TV. (By the way, it's a really entertaining feature: Check it out.)
Q: What's the best Bluetooth headphones (balance of quality and price) for use with a cell phone with an integrated MP3 player? -- jeffreywilfong, via TalkBack
A: There are actually several worthy options out there, depending on how much you are willing to spend and the style you are after. Fellow Craver Nicole Lee has reviewed a couple of pairs that she has rated highly, including the Cardio S-2 Bluetooth Stereo headphones, which sell for about $60, and the Jabra BT8010, which you can find online for between $65 and $100. The Jabras offer a lower profile design, but may not be comfortable for all users, whereas the S-2 is bulkier but more likely to offer comfort.
Q: I was just thinking after hearing the last [MP3 Insider podcast]...on my Zen V Plus is there a way to retro fit Bluetooth headphones onto it? I am thinking maybe some small part the fits onto the headphone jack to transmit to the headphones. Is there such a thing? -- Doug, via e-mail
The answer is: absolutely! You just need a Bluetooth transmitter, and some Bluetooth headphones even include one in the package. Some examples of the latter include the Logitech FreePulse Wireless and the Sony DR-BT10CX Stereo Bluetooth headset. You can also find Bluetooth transmitters that are sold separately, such as the Jabra A120s and the Sony TMR-BT10A Bluetooth Transmitter Adapter. Really, any that have a standard 3.5mm headphone connection should work just fine. Check out Amazon.com for more choices.
Q: Have you ever been on a commute beside someone who has a headset that splatters a high pitched "chsh----cha-cha-chsh----" for a 30 feet radius? A comment or numeric value or something [in the review] about the amount of external sound leakage would be valuable, especially since some people listen to their music at extremely high volumes. Is anyone who might remember reviewing the Shure E4c able to say how much external sound splatter they have? -- Wayne, via e-mail
A: Yes, I have, and it's really irritating, which is why I have a much happier commute when I remember my MP3 player and sound-isolating earphones. When I review a pair of headphones, I always mention sound leakage in the text somewhere--but only if it is in fact a problem. As most of the earbud-style headphones I review are noise-isolating in some way, sound leakage is generally not an issue, though I find using foam eartips in particular offers the best isolation. The Shure E4c, for example, does an excellent job of keeping the music right in your own ears, which is great because it means you can listen at a lower volume and save your hearing. As a general rule of thumb, sport-style and open-backed headphones suffer from the most sound leakage. However, those cheap stock 'buds that come with most MP3 players can definitely be culprits as well.