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Go big or go home: Definitive Technology’s Symphony 1 are a bold first effort

For Definitive Technology’s first ever headphone, the Symphony 1, the stalwart audio brand decided to go bold. Leapfrogging would-be competitors, Def Tech crafted a minimalist black and silver chassis loaded with features — including wireless connectivity and active noise cancellation — to put the new cans in small company with the likes of Sennheiser’s new Momentum Wireless.

The Symphony 1’s paired-down design is setup brilliantly for the wireless genre. The heavily-padded ear cups easily adjust and stay in place for a comfy fit, and the headphones pair quickly to devices, requiring nothing more than a click of the power button to connect once you’ve got them assigned in your smarthphone’s Bluetooth settings.

Related: Hands on with Polk’s affordable Hinge Wireless headphones

The controls look a little complicated at first, but the design is actually intuitive. While many wireless models offer a single button for a multitude of functions, the Symphony 1 provide six different keys in all to allow for easy 1-click control of functions like power, pairing, and ANC (active noise canceling). Volume and play/pause keys are easily differentiated while wearing the cans thanks to a small bump on the latter, and the button also allows for skipping songs forward or backward with a double or triple click respectively.

The sound signature of the Symphony 1 is light and balanced, though there’s plenty of bass provided by the headphones’ 50mm drivers when called upon. We did notice just a touch of fogginess in the lower mids which can cloud lower register instruments a bit. Conversely, the lighter touch up top can make some instruments sound a little thin and brittle. Still, for most genres, these cans do a good job of keeping things balanced, and present.

Noise canceling isn’t of the same caliber you’ll find in Bose’s newer QC25 headphones (as we’d expect), but it was a bit more effective than the Momentum Wireless we referenced above. That’s a nice surprise given that the Symphony 1 priced at $400, are a full $100 less than the Momentum, although we’d argue that the Momentum’s deeper attention to sonic detail and dimension  make up the difference.

We also had trouble with the Def Tech’s microphone during calls upon occasion, so if you make a lot of calls on your headphones, that’s something to keep in mind.

Overall, the Symphony 1 make for a relatively impressive debut from Definitive Technology, helping to prove that the wireless segment has finally begun to add high performance to go along with the convenience factor of cutting the cord.