The second iteration of Brookstone’s cat ear headphones are out, and they’re a delight on so many levels. I couldn’t be more pleased that Brookstone ’s Bluetooth wireless cat ear headphones are out in time for Christmas, because they represent such an advancement on the old wired version that I feel delighted to recommend them as a holiday gift.
First of all, the manufacturing defect that plagued the old wired headphones first sent to me for review seems to be absent from the newest model after a few weeks of solid use. The first wave of wired cat ear headphones had problems with one of the cups, where not only would the light flicker in and out but the audio would as well. My second pair was free of this issue, but I still found myself wary in case that problem popped up again. After dropping over $100 on a pair of unique headphones, the last thing you want to do is worry about such a thing.
But I have had no problem with either the audio or lights of the Bluetooth wireless cat ear headphones, much to my relief. They function great straight out of the box and after a month of use, they still do. The volume on the headsets goes up real high (thanks, Brookstone gods) and easily drowns out every asshole on your commute.
A group of diverse and stylish young people wearing the Brookstone wireless cat ear headphones. Maybe it’s a silent rave??
The old wired headphones limited you to one color of LED lights, but the Bluetooth wireless headphones allow you to cycle through 8 different colors (blue, green, purple, orange, white, red, yellow and pink). This is a total godsend. Coordinate the lights to your outfit or mood by tapping the color button on the right ear cup – no need to drop another $150 just so your cat ear headphones match your look. It’s just plain fun to cycle through the colors.
On top of cycling through the colors, you can also set the lights to various different modes: Breathing mode (slow flashes of color), Transition mode (changes to the next color every 5 seconds), Beat mode (the color flashes to the beat of your song), Strobe mode (color flashes very quickly), and Solid mode (color stays put, nice and bright).
The weakest of these modes is Beat mode – it always seemed like a slower Strobe mode and never actually seemed to match to the beat of the currently playing song. Strobe mode is also a bit much unless you’re actually wearing these at a party and just want to blare your speakers and go wild. My favorites were Breathing, Transition and Solid modes.
The party gets deeper.
As far as the colors themselves, blue, green, purple and red are the brightest and most vivid colors. I didn’t even realize there was a white color available, and orange, yellow and pink have a strange look to them, as though they’re a malfunction of some other color rather than a color of their own. Again, fine by me – blue, green, purple and red look so vivid and cool that I wouldn’t want any other color anyway.
The Bluetooth function is fantastic. These are heavy headphones, though every effort has been made to ameliorate that through the same cushy ear cups and band support as the last model, so divesting it of wires is a major improvement. Of course, you still want to take care tilting your head back and forth – no headbanging in these bad boys – but the lack of wires makes these Bluetooth headphones a much more palatable option.
The Bluetooth function itself is also strong and simple to use. It will pair with the most recent device used, so if you have the headphones paired with both your laptop and your cell phone, you’ll want to turn one of them off before turning the headphones on.
The weak, pointless gaming mic has also been removed, replaced by an in-line mic for making voice calls. The cat ear headphones were never going to compete with top gaming headphone brands like HyperX and Turtle Beach, so there was no point to the little boom mic except highlighting the headphones’ weakness as a gaming headset. I have no use for the in-line mic because I love being footloose and wire-free, so I haven’t even bothered taking it out of the carry case.
As for one of my biggest bugaboos from the previous version of these headphones, I’m pleased to report that you can choose between listening to the music through the earcups AND the speakers, listening only through the speakers, and listening only through the earcups. It made no sense to me that the speakers, which are intended for you to share music with friends, would blast sound into your ears as well so that you couldn’t even hear your friends’ reaction to your sick tunes. This way, you can choose exactly how you share music, making the speakers a lot more user-friendly.
The carry case is the same as before, a huge crate of a thing with a flimsy little wrist strap that WILL fall off if you’re fool enough to believe that you can swing it around like a purse. You cannot, and the wrist strap should have been redesigned for the new headphones to make it more durable, but this is a minor quibble.
As before, you’ll also have to memorize the places of buttons in order to use your headphones without constantly removing them to check the icon on the button. These headphones have six buttons placed on the bottom of the right ear cup, which I actually prefer to having them split across both cups. They’re also grouped by function, with three volume controls and three light/speaker controls separated by the headphone cord input. On the top of the right cup is the Bluetooth button as well as the Micro USB input for charging. Getting the micro USB into the input can be a little tricky, but it’s not a big deal.
Overall, the ability to swap colors, the lack of wires and removal of the pointless mic, and the ability to choose how the speakers and earcup audio will function together make the new Bluetooth wireless cat ear headphones a great improvement on their predecessor. The headphones play up to five hours of music per charge (more without the lights on, I think). Here’s the audio stats:
- 20Hz-–20KHz frequency response
- 32 Ohm impedance
- 40mm drivers
Cat Ear Speaker Audio
- 200Hz–18KHz frequency response
- 32mm drivers
The headphones are available for purchase on the Brookstone web site here at $139.99, which is a reasonable price for the comfort, cuteness and improvements made. Protection plans are available at an additional price.
What do you think? Have you purchased the Brookstone Bluetooth wireless cat ear headphones? How do they compare with the original? Feel free to let us know in the comments section below.