Macally Bluewave Bluetooth Headphones
by Chuck Brown, Assoc. Editor - Reviews
July 26th, 2005

There are iPod owners that are at all extremes of use. From casual and running only use, to those that live and breathe with their iPods for hourly music, calendar, contact, news and now “podcasting”. Where do you find yourself in that mix?

Myself, I use my iPod 3rd Gen when I travel by plane and train for all compass points far and near, and my old 1st Gen iPod with it’s nearly double capacity new battery is permanently in my truck plugged into a six speaker Pioneer stereo.

The iPod accessory market has easily eclipsed the iPod itself, making up for the many shortcomings of the various iPod versions and generations. I’ve always hated the OEM Apple “Earbuds” and early on switched to using a wonderful old set of Sony “over-the-head” in-ear phones that came with an old expensive CD Walkman model. Fidelity was great and they didn’t fall out of my little ears canals while being active, like any earbud design does.

But, if you’re really into your iPod and the music or content there in, there are times you really want very high fidelity and extraneous noise isolation that only “closed” headphone types can give. Like the time you were on the long flight, stuck in crowded Coach Class seat with three brats around you screaming their heads off for the whole trip. Or, maybe your little Johnny is blasting his boom box upstairs and the wife is watching Entertainment Tonight while you’re trying to enjoy some tunes.
The LED glows blue when sync'd with the headphones (click images to enlarge)

Not wanting to be limited with wires or position and distance restricted Infrared, wouldn’t a light and compact high-frequency RF home stereo like headphones be nice? The trouble is, that any home stereo RF (radio frequency) headphones will require an 110VAC power supply and there goes portability for things like car or plane trips.

Designed for "gen 2 - 4" iPods, clip off the small white tab and they'll work also with a generation 1iPod.




Across the Finish Line is -
Macally was the FIRST to answer that call by releasing a few months ago their Bluetooth based BlueWave iPod headset. This “Closed Cup” (means your ears are enclosed inside the padded speaker ear cups) are light, fold up for portability, use two AAA batteries instead of a 120VAC power and employs a small self-configuring Bluetooth transmitter module that fits the top on any iPod model (not including Mini or Shuffle).

While the Bluetooth module clearly looks and was designed to match the familiar white iPod design, it will actually work on any MP3 player with a standard 1/8-inch Stereo headphone jack mounted on top near the center. We tried it with several popular competitors to the iPods and it works just fine.

Because Bluetooth uses 2.4Ghz frequency, and “frequency hopping” at that, interference with other devices is nonexistent. We found that you could walk as far as 25 feet (line of sight) away from the Macally BlueWave equipped iPod and still get a clear connection. We did experience signal breakup when a door or wall came between the BlueWave equipped iPod and the Headphones, even at short distances as low as 15 feet.
"Set up is pure simplicity, perfect for the Apple (KISS) iPod crowd."
We think that this is pretty acceptable though, considering that the Bluetooth BlueWave module is only powered by the > 3 Volts DC of the two AAA batteries. Printers and Notebook computers with Bluetooth have the luxury of a constant a +5 Volt DC power supply.

Volume and Power Switch to save battery power. There's also a 1/8-inch stereo output to deliver music to a stereo.

Set up is pure simplicity, perfect for the Apple iPod crowd. All you need to do is unfold the headphones, have two fresh AA batteries (Alkaline of NiMH Rechargeable) installed, turn the power switch on, plug the BlueWave module into your powered on iPod, switch the BlueWave module power switch on and wait about 2 seconds for it to exchange “handshakes” with the headphones. It’s simpler (and more reliable) than Mac OS X.

The Macally BlueWave transmitter module (Macally refers to it as a “dongle”) has dual color LED that is first redish in color when you first power on and then turns blue after Bluetooth connectivity is made with the BlueWave headphones.

Fidelity was quite impressive and as it should be considering the price. I have a pair of Sennheiser Studio Pro headphones used for broadcast and recording studio work, and the Macally BlueWave headphones sound nearly as good, perhaps a bit short on lower frequencies.

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