At some point during the past few years, you've no doubt noticed an intriguing new phenomenon. More and more people are sporting what can only be described as high-tech collars with headphones sprouting out the sides. Call them what you will—"neckband headphones," "behind-the-neck headphones," or even the more obvious "collar headphones"—but this distinctive modern style of in-ear and around-the-neck earphones is all the rage as of late. And if you haven't experienced them yourself, you may be wondering what all the fuss is about.
Ultimately, the success of neckband headphones boils down to three essential considerations: a unique combination of convenience, features and battery life unmatched by any other in-ear headphone design.
Your Headphones Are Right There Where You Need Them, When You Want Them
The first major benefit of neckband headphones is perhaps the most obvious, but it's worth pointing out. Given that the earbuds are hanging around your neck, mere inches from your ears, means you won't have to dig through your bag or your pockets when you want to listen to some tunes or take a phone call. And since virtually all neckband headphones connect to your smartphone or personal media player via Bluetooth, those two tiny little cords connecting the collar to the earphones are the only cables you need to worry about. That means no more rat's nests to untangle. Since those cables aren't extending from your head to your pocket, it also means fewer opportunities to snag them on a doorknob and rip your earphones out of your ears. Or worse yet, break the wires, rendering your precious audio purchase worthless.
That Neckband Headphones Are Full Of Surprises
While we all appreciate the lightweight and convenience of in-ear headphones, as well as the add-on features commonly found in many popular models these days, those two desires can conflict with one other. After all, the more electronics you pack into one of those little housings, the bulkier, heavier and more cumbersome it gets. That's the definition of defeating the purpose.
Housing all their electronics inside the neckband headphones allows for additional features, without dragging down your ears or increasing discomfort. These features include:
Active noise cancellation: It's a feature we all love, but there's a good reason it's more commonly found in full-sized, over-ear headphones. Good noise cancellation requires sophisticated electronics, and those electronics must go somewhere. That's why most in-ears with active noise cancelling capabilities either come with a gigantic in-line control box, or bulge way out of your ears. Moving that circuitry to inside the neckband headphones means the bits you stick in your ears can stay compact and light, without any sacrifices in terms of the quality of noise cancellation.
What's more, the neckband headphones allows for a combination of features you rarely ever see in in-ear headphones otherwise: active noise cancellation and Bluetooth wireless connectivity.
- More convenient controls: Granted, in-line controls have been a feature of headphones since smartphones have existed. But have you ever found yourself fumbling your way down your headphone cables in search of the controls, only to forget which button does what? With neckband headphones, that's generally not a problem. With the controls right around your neck and easy to reach, you'll likely find yourself using them to pause, play, fast-forward and accept calls.
Enhanced telephony: If you regularly rely on a Bluetooth wireless connection, you've no doubt experienced this at some point—you're taking a break from listening to your tunes or podcasts, but didn't bother to unpair your headphones or turn them off. An important phone call comes through, and you miss it.
With some neckband headphones, like the Phiaton BT 100 NC, missed calls are a thing of the past. This lightweight, water-resistant wireless neckband headphone has a vibration notification feature that will alert you with a slight buzz when the phone rings, even if the 'buds aren't in your ears at the time.
The BT 100 NC also features enhanced features like Bluetooth multipoint connection, so you can pair it with your smartphone and tablet at the same time, aptX Bluetooth for superior sound quality with reduced latency, and active noise cancellation that blocks out a whopping 95 percent of ambient noise at 1kHz and below.
A Bigger Battery Means More Music and Talk Time with Less Charging
Of course, these extra features take their toll on battery life. And with wireless headphones, every minute of battery life is precious, which brings us to the biggest benefit of neckband headphones: that extra real estate around your neck makes room for a much higher capacity battery. While other wireless in-ears do well to offer five hours of play time between charges (and that's without the benefit of noise-cancelling, mind you), neckband headphones like the BT 100 NC can deliver up to 7.5 hours of continuous music listening between charges with active noise cancellation engaged, a staggering 12 hours of play time if you don't need noise cancelling, and as much as 220 hours of standby time. If you want better battery life than that, you're going to have to opt for full-sized on-ear or over-ear Bluetooth headphones, like Phiaton’s BT 460 on-ear wireless headphones.
If you do drain the battery before you can get to a mains outlet for a quick recharge, the BT 100 NC also comes with a Everplay-X cable that you can connect to your phone or portable media player and keep on rocking (or talking) in style until you can charge your battery again.
Speaking of Style…
There's one last thing about neckband headphones that's worth mentioning. Simply put, they look like no other headphones you've ever seen. Whether you love the style or find it somewhat alien (for now, at least), there's no denying that they make a bold statement. They say, "I'm on the go," and "I'm active." And perhaps most importantly, "I don't have time to be bogged down by cords or inconvenience."
By Dennis Burger
May 9, 2017