May 24, 2016
by Neil Turner
When my latest set of headphones stopped working in one ear, thanks to a loose connection in the jack, I decided that it was probably about time to get rid of the wires altogether and go wireless. I’d previously tried some cheap no-brand Bluetooth headphones in 2014, which were terrible – a non-standard charger cable, poor sound quality and cheap plastic-y construction. I think I used them once – I’d bought them for the gym but then stopped going and haven’t been back since.
After browsing through Amazon, I came across these mPow Magneto headphones. The reviews were generally good and they ranked as the number best-seller in wireless headphones. I purchased them for £16, but at the time of writing they’re selling for less, making them a bargain.
The headphones aren’t completely wireless – there’s a flat wire between the two earpieces which also has a remote control on the right side. But they’re less prone to tangling than regular wired headphones and you can run the wire behind your neck. The ‘Magneto’ name refers to the magnets in the earpieces – you can attach them together and wear it as a sort of necklace when you’re not listening to them.
The remote control has volume control buttons, and a general purpose button used for turning them on and off, and for pause the current playing track. There’s also a microphone, and when paired with a phone you can use it to make and receive telephone calls. The right earpiece has a micro-USB port for charging – a full charge takes about an hour and gives around 8-10 hours of music playing in my experience.
Pairing with your device is straightforward, and if your device supports the Bluetooth Battery Service, you’ll be able to see how much charge your headphones have left. My iPhone 5S supports this; when connected, the Bluetooth icon in the top right gains an additional battery indicator and a new ‘Battery’ widget appears on the Today pull-down. The mPow Magneto will also play an audible warning every 5 minutes once you get below 30% battery remaining.
Sound quality is pretty good – decent bass and reasonable clarity. Audiophiles will probably want to spend more on something better, but I was pleasantly surprised – I’ve used wired headphones with worse sound quality before. Although sometimes radio interference affects the range – the sound can become choppy if your device is more than a foot away from your headphones, but it depends where you are. Other times it can be a couple of metres away and be fine.
Going wireless does have its downsides. As far as I can tell, you can only pair your headphones with one device at a time, whereas you can plug wired headphones into any device with a 3.5mm audio jack. Although you can use the headphones whilst they’re charging, you may have physical difficulty getting the right earbud to sit in your ear as you do so. Plus, the need to recharge your headphones once or twice a week may put some people off, as will the extra battery drain on your phone or device (especially if you normally have Bluetooth turned off). But not having to unknot wires that then dangle and pull when running is quite liberating.
There are better headsets out there, if you’re prepared to pay more. But the mPow Magneto is fantastic value for money and gets my recommendation. I use them daily and have been really impressed with them.