Microsoft Surface Headphones 2 are available now in market that too at lower price than Microsoft Surface Headphones 1. But again there is a twist in story ! With new introduction again the original Microsoft Surface Headphones are available at lower price than latest Surface 2 headphones !! so it is important to know if its really Worth upgrade by spending more money or buy the Microsoft Surface Headphones 1 at lower price (as on 04 June 2020 price on their website is $200 only instead of original price of $349)
So now we know that if I go for New Microsoft Surface Headphones 2 then I need to spend $50 more !!
Lets go into details of really what’s that we will now get better than original affordable model –
Microsoft Surface Headphones 1 vs 2 Comparison
|Model||Microsoft Surface Headphones 1||Microsoft Surface Headphones 2|
|Best Buy||Best Buy Microsoft Surface Headphones 1||Best Buy Microsoft Surface Headphones 2|
|Active noise cancellation||Yes|
|On-ear touch controls||Yes|
|Color||Light Gray||Light Gray, Matte Black|
|Frequency response||20 – 20 kHz|
|Noise cancellation||Up to 30 dB for active noise cancellation|
Up to 40 dB for passive noise cancellation
|Speaker||40 mm Free Edge driver|
|Sound pressure level output||Up to 115 dB (1kHz, 1Vrms via cable connector with power on)|
Up to 115 dB (1kHz, 0dBFS over Bluetooth® connection)
|Audio Codec||SBC and aptX™ (low latency – so perfect synchro for video viewing)|
|Compatibility||Windows 10, iOS, Android, MacOS||Windows 10, Android 9 or 10, IOS 12 or 13, Bluetooth 4.1/4.2/5.0|
|Charging||Full charge in less than 2 hours|
|Battery life||Up to 15 hours (with music playback over Bluetooth, ANC on, hands-free Cortana² enabled)|
Up to 18 hours of battery life by disabling Cortana voice-activation²
|Up to 20 hours (with music playback over Bluetooth®, ANC on)|
|USB cord length||1.5 m|
|Audio cable length||1.2 m|
3.5 mm audio connector
|Buttons/controls||Power button, Mute button, Volume dial (right ear), Noise Cancellation dial (left ear)|
|What’s in the box||Surface Headphones Carrying case|
Quick start guide
Safety and warranty documents
|Dimensions||LxWxD 8.03” x 7.68” x 1.89” (204 x 195 x 48 mm)|
|Warranty||1-year limited hardware warranty|
|Best Buy||Best Buy Microsoft Surface Headphones 1||Best Buy Microsoft Surface Headphones 2|
So I will go in details of whats same and difference in both the models ….
Improvements in Microsoft Surface Headphones 2 compared to 1
Improved comfort while you wear them
This is a small change making big difference.
Microsoft engineering have added ability to rotate the ear cups by 180 degrees.
So while you are not using the headphones and just hanging around, the ear cups do not poke your neck, but sit comfortably by rotation of ear cups.
Another advantage of rotation of ear cups is possible use like a DJ i.e. one-ear monitoring when using an analog cable.
I love such tweaks which improves the product usability by large amount, specially the one contributing to physical comfort of customer.
Music Playtime and calling – More powerful the battery
Surface Headphones had performed just acceptable range on battery life aspect, with only 15 hours of playtime (of 18 hours without voice assistance) they did not stand in competition noise-canceling headphones which are available in market (for the same price-band, some of them work for 25-30 hours in single charge)
So this time during the product upgrade, Surface Headphones battery life have been improved to 20 hours. If you look in terms of percentage improvement.
So Surface Headphones 2 have around 33% more powerful battery compared to Surface Headphones 1 with ANC ON.
Again if they have to stand in competition, I expect at least 25-30 hours of playime in a single charge with ANC ON.
Surface 2 have 5 minutes of quick-charging to get an hour of playtime, however if you compare with competition like Sony, their model Sony WH-1000XM3 provides 5 hours in just 10 minutes of fast charging.
Similarities in Microsoft Surface Headphones 1 & 2
Look and Feel
Latest model looks exactly the same in terms of aesthetics, with only change that you have one more color option available which is Matte Black.
It has same seamless headband, single-sided ear-cup pivot arms, and the subtle Windows logo like first Gen headphones.
The extra-cushy earpads remains same providing good comfort almost allowing you to use them daily for hours without fatigue.
Although the earpads do make ears sweaty, they make perfect sense in winter to me.
The large responsive touchpads on each ear cup for Volume and ANC controls remains as distinctive over the on-ear-cup dial.
Both first and second Gen Surface headphones are not intended for gym workout, although I can suggest using them during working on stationary bikes, elliptical machines, or free weights. Surely not for running or skipping rope
So both the Surface Headphones 1&2 are better for office use, where most of the time you are sitting on your desk/laptop.
Cortana and voice assistance
Now if Microsoft has to stand in competition they must have voice assistant like available already in Apple AirPods Pro, Google’s Pixel Buds 2 and Amazon’s Echo Buds.
So Microsoft have Cortana to fight with Siri, Google Assistant, or Alexa !
Cortana was introduced in the first version of Surface headphones, so nothing new as such, but to use it, you will need Microsoft’s apps, like Outlook Mobile (which is pain in the a x x )
Using Outlook Mobile you will be able to use hands-free Cortana for things like reading your email. Again you can only use it when you’re in the U.S !! (why?)
To be honest I haven’t seen many using Microsoft apps on their mobile (most of them are iPhones btw) so only thing left to you is using device’s built-in assistant, which you can do through a long-press on either earcup’s touchpad.
As advertised by Microsoft, these headphones deliver Omnisonic sound.
So Upgraded Surface Headphones 2, also deliver strong sound like Surfce 1.
These headphones can deliver a rich, full sound which can be extensively tweaked through the new Surface Audio app for iOS and Android. However the same App can also be used for Surface 1 Headphones ! So nothing you loose by buying Surface 1 at lower price in this case.
So overall sound quality remains same in both versions.
Only now Microsoft has added support for the aptX Bluetooth codec, which improves sound quality when used with supported devices. (Sadly iPhone 11 doesn’t support it)
Main benefit with aptX is low latency which is very very important while you watch videos, so lip sync with voice happens perfectly even while watching from a distance.
Your music pauses when you take off Surface Headphones 2 and resumes when you put them back on.
For those who love to hear loud music, at levels of 9 to 11, you may feel some distortion.
Both Microsoft Surface Headphones 1 & 2 demonstrated an excellent call quality.
Be it subway or highway car drive, you get clear voice calls without bothering about background or environment noises.
Advanced microphones in both ears ensures your voice is picked up in any wind direction.
You have to use the left ear-cup dial to select between 13 levels of ANC noise cancellation, and two pass-through modes (Normal pass-through and ambient amplification)
To hear your own voice during calls, simply use passthrough to feel a natural conversation, if outside environment noise levels are high, the headphones would automatically switch back to the lowest ANC setting which is good. (it gives audible click sound)
ANC quality (Noise canceling)
My benchmark for ANC is BOSE headphones.
So Microsoft stands well in competition for ANC quality. Of course Surface Headphones 2 are not better at ANC than the Sony WH-1000XM3 or the Bose Noise Cancelling 700. But they perform at acceptable levels.
So in first and second gen, there is no attempt seen in ANC area to catch up the competition.
The ANC is not bad, I will say. They do curtail air conditiong, vaccum cleaner sounds to acceptable levels, however as said they have miles to reach Sony WH-1000XM3 or the Bose Noise Cancelling 700 ANC quality.
Durability and sturdiness
Both models are same in terms of durability and carry 1 year warranty.
Build quality is better than average headphones in market which will make your headphones last for 3-4 years (in my opinion)
However considering they try to compete in premium range with this price tag, needs some homework for sure by Microsoft engineering and manufacturing team.
Which one to Buy – Microsoft Surface 1 or Microsoft Surface 2?
So finally coming to my final recommendation …
After introduction of Surface Headphones 2 which bears small increments like color and 33% increased power battery compared to the base version it all boils down to money spent in buying an upgrade over predessor.
As on 05 June 2020 and checked on Amazon or Microsofts own website, the original model of Surface Headphones is available at discounted price and hence makes it an attractive proposition.
You get good value for money proposition if you go for Surface 1 model – Great sound, wearing comfort, nice ANC with ergonomic touch controls, all at Discounted price.
|I suggest you to check the deal for both and then take final call (since offers keep changing)||Best Buy Microsoft Surface Headphones 1||Best Buy Microsoft Surface Headphones 2|
In fact if the offer expires for some reasons then also going for Microsoft Surface Headphones 2 make a perfect sense at price tag around $250.
In case still you have some doubt in mind . and wish to look for some available headsets in market ..
Alternatives to Microsoft Surface Headphones
Here we are looking at available models in the same price tag of around $250 budget.
So you have Jabra’s Elite 85H for similar price – Please Check latest price on Amazon .
Jabra’s Elite 85H have good battery life, better sound quality and water-resistance.
Only what you will miss in Jabra’s Elite 85H is the Surface’s superb dial-based controls and comfort to wear.