Disclaimer: Ricky is one of our readers who has written a couple of reviews on Cypher Labs gear in the past for his own account. I asked him to do the Koss review for us. This is his first guest review on Headfonia.com. I hope you like it. Lieven
Before I get started, I would like to point out that I know how a lot of those in the audiophile fiefdom seem to abhor Bluetooth for its lack of true lossless sound quality, so this will strictly be a review of the BT540i based on its functionality and sound quality as a portable Bluetooth device.
As a more portable oriented person who likes to be able to just pick up his music and go whenever the need should arise, I am always looking for great portable gear in any place I can find it. When I was offered the chance to give the new Koss BT540i a listen, I jumped on it. I haven’t owned many Bluetooth headphones in the past. Just one, in fact, and that was the Logitech UE 9000, but I do have some experience with Koss products since I currently own two Koss Porta Pro headphones and their KSC75 clip on headphones as well.
While extremely lower on the Koss food chain, so to speak, I mention them only to acquaint you with where I will be drawing my experience with Koss products from. With that being said, let us move on to what you are all really here for. The Koss BT540i is their first foray into the Bluetooth market, and I would have to say that as far as easy connectivity goes, they absolutely nailed it. I only own two Bluetooth capable devices. They are my MacBook Pro and my Samsung Galaxy S4, and when it came time to connect both of them, it was a breeze. For both devices it took all of ten seconds, if that, for the BT540i to be recognized and then paired and used.
Build Quality, Comfort & Fit
The build quality on the BT540i is… Well, it isn’t bad, but it isn’t the best either. If I were to make a direct comparison to another headphone, I would say that it is of slightly lesser build quality than the older version of the Audio-Technica ATHM50.
The BT540i uses high quality plastics, with metal hinges, metal slide adjustments, and a velour padded headband. The ear cups are over ear, but smaller and shallower than I would like, allowing my ears to be pressed up against the drivers inside. This made for some uncomfortable listening sessions when I wore them for a period of more than 2 hours at a time. The cushions however, are pretty comfortable and made up of soft, pliable leather and filled with memory foam to boot, so they aren’t too bad when you have them on for any amount of time under that 2 hour time period. Take my experience with a grain of salt though. I have somewhat big ears. The Koss BT540i cable, which allows for the headphone to be used passively should the battery die on you while you are out and about, isn’t very noteworthy. It is a standard 3.5mm to 3.5mm cable, isn’t very robust and is made of some kind of rubberized material. Not a huge deal at this price point and since Bluetooth is the main functionality of this set of ‘phones, I don’t foresee anyone using the cable much anyhow, but felt it should be noted.
Features & Battery
Let me get some of the more secondary features out of the way. Like the case these came with. It’s a hard case. Has an attachment inside for your cable and a pocket on top. Pretty durable and protective. And that’s it for the case. Moving on.
The Koss BT540i features aptX NFC technology for better (or as good as you can get via Bluetooth) sound quality and extremely easy pairing with your Bluetooth devices as well as dual microphones for calls. On the headphone itself, on the outermost edge of the right ear cup housing, there is a built in control for you to sync your device or turn it off for when it isn’t in use. You just push it back for about 4 seconds to pair with your device, or forward to turn it off. There are also controls that let you play, pause, stop and skip any music that you are playing from your device that are easy to use, and worked fine with both my Mac and my Galaxy S4, but if I’m being honest, I only used them a few times before reverting back to controlling everything the way I am used to doing. It just felt strange for me to be reaching for my ear every time I wanted to change a track, or pause, play, and stop playback. There are also volumes up/down buttons placed towards the front end of the right ear cup housing.
As previously mentioned, the BT540i comes with a detachable audio cable terminated in a 3.5mm termination on both ends as well as a USB charging cable. It boasts an 8 hour listening period on a single charge, and I have to say, it did deliver on that promise, making it about 8 1/2 hours or so on a single listening session before I had to charge it again. Charging it up took about 3 hours before it was up and ready for use again.
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