BlueAnt is one of my favorite Bluetooth headset manufacturers, and when I heard BlueAnt introduced a brand new pair of headphones I was really pumped to give them a try. BlueAnt's Embrace headphones aren't Bluetooth enabled, nor are they wireless. Until now BlueAnt has revolved solely based on Bluetooth connectivity with its outstanding headsets, but for odd reasons they decided to release their first ever headphones with a traditional wired connection. Whatever the case may be, I support that decision more than anything. Bluetooth headphones aren't quite ready to give us the same experience wired headphones can.
BlueAnt's Embrace headphones may be their first splurge into the headphone market, but at least we know they've got some kind of audio background nonetheless. How well do they stack up against a plethora of headphones currently invading the audio market? Prepare to brace yourselves, find out in the full review right after the cut!
First of all, I must say that I simply love BlueAnt's color scheme for the Embrace headphones. Isn't it obvious? Blue and black, it doesn't get any better than this now. Out of the nifty box, the Embrace comes with a few little useful goodies like an extra black (boring really) audio cable, a OMTP adapter and a carrying case that fits the Embrace headphones nicely as well as all of the included accessories. Additionally, the Embrace headphones come with a blue audio cable that's got an in-line 3-button remote control and mic built for iPhone and iPad. Using the supplied OMTP adapter will let you use any other smartphone if you need to use the blue cable and its in-line remote features.
As far as audio cables go, BlueAnt was smart enough to design the Embrace headphones so that they have a detchable audio cable input for more flexability mostly seen in the Beats By Dr. Dre line of headphones.
At first glance, I was under the impression that BlueAnt took its time and sat back while watching others succeed and fail with their headphones. And in turn, drew some inspiration from a few top headphones currently on the market when it designed the Embrace headphones. The end result is as if the Beats By Dr. Dre Solo and Bowers & Wilkins P5 we've also reviewed, had a baby. Some of the great features of each of those headphones have been infused into the Embrace headphones like the detachable audio cables, bold design and pillow-like ear cushions. Being closed back headphones, the Embrace leak very little in terms of audio. This means people around you won't be too disturbed if you crank up the volume whilst listening to Lady Gaga.
There's no hiding those enormously leather padded ear cushions and equally as padded headband found on these headphones. Instead of going for the ear cup design, the Embrace have a uniform cushions that are soft and supple with perforation to allow the audio to come thru. While the Embrace don't have active noise-cancellation, those well padded ear cushions actually work quite well in reducing the amount of background noise while you wear them. What's also great about these ear cushions is that they are fully user replaceable with BlueAnt selling each of the supplied accessories separately should you have any issues in the future.
The on-ear design of the Embrace might not be very comfortable to some because of how they clamp on both ears to get those ear cushions tightly sealing your ear canals. I didn't particularly find the Embrace headphones to be a comfortable pair for extended listening durations. At first, the Embrace feel very comfortable to wear, but after just 2 hours, my ears started to hurt from the force of the clamping and I needed a break in order to use them again.
This may have to do with the fact that the ear piece do not have tilting joints like most others do in order to fit differently sized ears and head build. Something I found to be rather disappointing. Other than being able to slightly slide sideways in a slanted angle, the ear piece are fixed in place. Adjusting the headband to fit your head could be a little hard if you're used to clicking levels of height adjustments typically found in headphones. The Embrace adjust fluidly without any pre-determined height level positions, so adjusting is done by eye level more. Not something I really like.
The build quality of the Embrace headphones are one of the things that took my by surprise when I first took them out of the box. They feel like a solid pair of headphones built to last. Not only that but they're also foldable as well. While you cannot fully collapse these and the headband does not fold, both ear piece fold to a completely flat state thanks to the rotatable joints. I wouldn't go as far as saying that these are the ideal portable on-ear headphones, but the flat design does help a lot in keeping the form factor down to a minimum when traveling. This is also how you would store these inside of the protective carrying case provided.
It's also worth mentioning that the Embrace are made with black, brushed aluminum which only adds a whole lot more to the style and quality coupled with a matte soft-touch coating. And to top it all off, black chrome accents add a touch of elegancy to the entire package.
An L shaped 3.5mm, gold plated plug is designed to fit most cases that you might be using with your iPhone, iPad or any other device. The 3-button remote isn't the best one I've used, but it does get the job done. It features volume control, multi-function play-pause button and a mic on the back side. Tactile feedback on the volume buttons isn't up to standards and doesn't provide and satisfying button click I would have liked to see. JAYS remain the leader with the a-Jays Four when it comes to a dedicated in-line remote control. Though I am nitpicking here as the in-line remote works flawlessly for answering calls and controlling your music. I should also note that the mic quality is outstanding and very clear when talking making it a great overall headset for use with Skype and other utilities. It's also worth mentioning that I haven't had these cables tangle on me even once. I'm positive that these are tangle-free cables even while BlueAnt has never actually claimed they are.
Everyone knows looks aren't enough, even when it's safe to say the Embrace aren't going to win any beauty pageant anytime soon, but instead they'll win our hearts for their impressive sound quality. Yes, the Embrace headphones perform surprisingly well in the sound department. And for the $200 cash money required to score yourself a pair, they better sound equally as pricy. Bass is always an important aspect for most consumers. I'm happy to say that the Embrace can and will deliver clean, thumping bass when required. While not overpowering like the Beats By Dr. Dre, the Embrace pump out just the right amount of bass that will be sure to satisfy most including myself. And I do love my bass.
Mids are well detailed and full bodied with that dynamic warm vibe added for a rich sound signature. Highs are also very clear and pronounced. With all that being said, the Embrace sound better than most of your average headphones below the $150 price point. These aren't light sounding as Etymotic and Grado, so if you like those particular brands these aren't for you. To sum things up, the Embrace have a well balanced sound signature that's perfect for listening to many types of music genre, and even gaming.
It's as if BlueAnt took the outstanding sound quality from the Bowers & Wilkins P5 headphones and some of the features of the Beats By Dr. Dre line of headphones and stuck all of that into the Embrace headphones. The result is a pair of fantastic sounding headphones. BlueAnt really knows what they're doing and I only hope they release even more pairs in the future that are slightly more comfortable and more competitively priced.
BlueAnt has hit it big with the Embrace headphones, but unfortunately decided to overprice them at $200. If they were $50 less, I would've of highly recommended them. With that being said, I think the Embrace headphones have a lot to offer in a well built package. The similarly priced Solo on-ear headphones may look prettier and more hip, but they've got nothing on the Embrace when it's party time.