Wi-Gear iMuffs MB210 Review

Wi-Gear iMuffs MB210

“The iMuffs are easily the best sounding Bluetooth headphones we”
  • Impressive sound; Light and comfortable to wear; easy to setup and use
  • Expensive; frame is not adjustable; limited sound volume
MSRP $175.99

Summary

There are countless iPod headphones on the market and a seemingly equal number of Bluetooth headsets for use with cell phones and Skype-like programs. There are very few headsets that fall under the “all of the above” category, and even fewer that make a successful blend of technology, style and quality. Wi-Gear has an updated version of the iMuffs headset – dubbed the MB210 – and it has a lot to offer. Check out our review to see if this $179 USD multi-use headset could be the all-in-one solution you’re looking for.

Features and Design

The iMuffs (model MB210) by Wi-Gear are comfortably sized, multi-function headphones for iPods, iPhones, Bluetooth-enabled cell phones and properly-equipped desktop and laptop computers.

The headset frame is not the typical over-the-head design, but the less common behind-the-neck form. While the unusual form factor seems like it might be uncomfortable, it’s surprisingly easy to wear and feels very good, even after long stints of listening to music. This is partly due to the lightweight frame (2.2oz) but also due to the way the headset rests over one’s ears and disperses its own weight.

The round headphones themselves fit snugly against the ears, making the sound more direct and immediate. This eliminates unwanted sound-wave bleed-out from poor contact with the ear canal. It also helps make the bass and mids come to life without necessitating high volume levels.

The iMuffs use Bluetooth 2.0 for better data signal and distance. The iMuffs can pick up a Bluetooth signal from near-zero distance to anywhere from 3 to 10 meters (roughly 9 to 32 feet). Bluetooth range is mostly affected by environmental or situational issues, like line of sight, other electronic interference, etc. In one of our tests, the iMuffs worked flawlessly with our iPod touch even at a distance of 56 feet.

Skype & Chat

The iMuffs work very well with Skype and other voice-enabled chat programs like iChat, so long as your computer has Bluetooth wireless.

A2DP & Cell Phones

The iMuffs use a technology called Advanced Audio Distribution Profile, or A2DP. A2DP enables users to listen to stereo music wirelessly (from an iPod, iPhone or other Bluetooth/music enabled phone), allowing them to interrupt the music to take a call on the very same headphones. Non-A2DP users would need a separate Bluetooth headset for calls and dedicated headphones for their music. A2DP merges these functions into one headset. Of course, one needs to have an A2DP-capable phone to take advantage of this technology. Wi-Gear specifically mentions the iPhone for music/calling functionality, however there are plenty of other phones that’ll work.

Noise Canceling

One of the less-obvious features of the iMuffs is the built-in noise canceling microphone. This mic is what controls phone calls, Skype calls and voice chat. Better than a standard mic, the iMuffs mic filters ambient noise in your environment so the people you’re talking to will be able to focus on your smooth, sexy voice.

iPod Controls

The iMuffs have basic iPod controls on the right earphone – volume up/down, play/pause, forward/next and rewind/previous. The controls are sized just right, making them very easy to use.

The iMuffs have an impressive 20Hz – 20kHz frequency range. This is much better than most compact headsets.

Wi-Gear iMuffs
Image Courtesy of Wi-Gear

Setup and Use

Setting up the iMuffs is simple and fast. After removing the iMuffs from their packaging, be sure to plug them in for a while to get a decent battery charge. Use the included USB-to-miniUSB cable connected to your computer or the outlet-to-USB adapter (also included). The battery will charge to 80% in 2 hours or less. A full 100% charge takes roughly 5 hours.

Once the headset is fully charged, turn it on by flipping the little “I/O” power switch on the right earphone. Familiarize yourself with the controls on the right earphone – on/off, volume up/down, play/pause and forward/reverse.

The iMuffs fit comfortably over the ears. Depending on whether you have a thicker or narrower head, the wrap-around frame may be tight or floppy behind your neck. There’s no way to adjust the size of the headset frame, so if it doesn’t feel good, you may need another product. Most people will be satisfied, however.

The iMuffs are easy to pair with phones, iPods and computers. If you run into any pairing issues, make sure you’re pushing the volume button in, not up or down, when setting the iMuffs in pairing mode. Other than that possible user error, pairing is a snap.

Comfort Level

As mentioned above, the iMuffs are surprisingly comfortable. They only weigh 2.2 ounces, so they’re almost unnoticeable. They fit over the ears really well. When walking or even jogging, the iMuffs seem to hold steady. The only situation where the iMuffs didn’t feel great was when I was wearing them while slouching back in a high-backed chair. The back edges of the wrap-around frame pressed against the chair, nearly pushing the headphones off my ears and making me look like a doof. I was able to tilt the frame downward against my neck thereby solving the problem, but I don’t particularly like having a headset band touching my neck. It’s a personal preference. I wound up with an arbitrary 98.7% total comfort level for the iMuffs.

Wi-Gear iMuffs
The controls rest on the right ear piece

Audio Quality – Skype

Crystal clear. That was the verdict from friends that I called via Skype. The noise canceling mic silences ambient noise in one’s environment, leaving just your voice to be transmitted. On my side, I heard their voices just as clear as with any other headset or phone. There was a 1/2 second delay, but that was entirely a Skype matter, not an issue with the headset. iChat and other voice-enabled chat programs work just as well. Voices are clear and natural. It’s hard to ask for more.

Audio Quality – Bluetooth Phones

There was an ever-so-slight static hiss present when talking on the phone via the iMuffs. When the conversation was engaged, the hiss seemed to disappear. When the line was silent, the very faint hiss would return. According to the folks I called, my voice sounded clear and natural on their side – no hiss, just a perfectly clear call. I was able to reduce the hiss by getting away from all my computer equipment, so it’s fairly safe to assume that the hiss was environmental This has been experienced with numerous Bluetooth headsets, but certainly not all.

Audio Quality – iPods

The iMuffs are easily the best sounding Bluetooth headphones we’ve ever used. The bass was deep and clean, mids were vibrant, and highs were bright and accurate. The 20Hz – 20kHz frequency range really shows itself with the iMuffs. Testing a range of music from Groove Armada to Red Hot Chili Peppers, the iMuffs delivered predictably accurate sounds. Even at high volume levels (high enough to hurt), the iMuffs held strong and gave little to no unpleasant distortion.

Conclusion

The Wi-Gear iMuffs (model MB210) are great wrap-around earphones for iPods, iPhones, Bluetooth phones and VoIP programs like Skype. The sound quality is great, especially when used with an iPod or iPhone. The noise canceling mic and A2DP technology make the iMuffs equally useful and enjoyable for phone calls. They’re comfortable, easy to use and the battery life is impressive. Even more impressive is the extended Bluetooth range. Overall, the iMuffs are an impressive and praiseworthy multi-use headset. The $179 USD price tag may cause some people to think twice, but with all the technology included in the MB210’s, the price is understandable.

Pros:

• Impressive sound quality
• Bluetooth connection to iPods, phones & computers
• Lightweight & comfortable
• Very easy to set up & use

Cons:

• High $179 USD price point
• Wrap-around frame not adjustable

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