High-end Bluetooth headsets offer advanced adjustments and fancy features, but until now they have required memorizing obscure button-press sequences, then fumbling blindly behind your ear to pull them off. Sound ID takes a new approach with the 510 model by putting the headset control and information applications right on your phone (iPhone for starters, Android and Blackberry coming soon). Want to turn noise cancellation on or off? Just touch the clearly labeled on-screen button. Wondering how much battery power is left in the earbud? One look at your phone and all is revealed.
The most intriguing phone-tailoring option is the ability to set the frequency response to suit your preferences. When you like what you hear, just let go. In designing a headset, somebody has to decide whether the most pleasing sound is crisper and more treble-intensive or warmer, with more bass response. With the Sound ID 510, that someone is you. And it’s easy to do; moving your finger around on the screen changes the sound quality as you listen.
Another key feature controlled via software is environmental mode. If you walk around for extended periods wearing a Bluetooth headset, you’re blocking out half the sound around you. Turn on the environmental mode and the microphones in the headset pick up the surrounding sound and pipe it in through the earbud.
If you happen to misplace the 510, the phone app is ready to help, first by blinking the activity light, then by signaling the earbud to emit a sound loud enough to ferret out its location.
The power and volume functions remain under the control of the buttons on the headset, but are well thought out. Instead of a rocker switch to raise or lower volume, you simply run your finger across the touch-sensitive strip along the outer edge of the headset. Want to turn off the power? There’s a simple slider switch instead of a button-pressing maneuver.
If you don’t own a phone supported by the EarPrint software, you’ll miss out on some of the best features of the Sound ID 510. For iPhone, Android and Blackberry users, though, it makes sense to pair this $130 smart headset with your smartphone.