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Sometimes you win

2 Feb 2024

Regular readers will be aware that I've been trawling AliExpress for some gems and largely come up with chunks of plain old rock.

However, sometimes you find a winner and this week I did... albeit not from AliExpress.

In fact, I bought this locally, from The Warehouse of all places (for overseas readers, that's the New Zealand equivalent of Walmart).

Finally, a really good deal on something I've been wanting for quite a while.

I'm talking about wireless headphones.

Unlike most computer users, I don't have speakers connected to the several computers I use on a regular basis. Our house is small and I'm often up and working by 2am in the morning so I can imagine the response I'd get from the old-sheila as I edited videos of RC model aircraft or listened to a a few Japanese Thrash Metal tracks while I worked in the wee small hours.

Headphones are the solution to this.

I can't stand those earbud things -- they irritate my ears and never seem to stay put so to date I've just had a few sets of wired headphones at hand whenever I need to be listening to something.

For editing I have a pair of Audiotechnica AT4H M40X cans and for general YouTube and other tasks I have some el-cheapo Philips on-ear budget phones which are far more comfortable than the ATs.

The big problem with wired phones is that I'm forever forgetting I have them on, so when I get up and walk away from the computer -- bad things sometimes happen!

With this in mind I figured I'd buy some wireless phones, at least for non-editing tasks. I still prefer to use wired phones for editing because if you're trying to sync up audio and video tracks the small (but perceptible) delay introduced by a Bluetooth connection can screw things up.

Being a penny-pincher, I figured I'd go for a low mid-range set of wireless phones and found a pair of JBL on-ear wireless cans for about $80 down at the local Warehouse. Since my computers are "old" I also had to shell out a few bucks for a USB BT adapter and I found a Sennheiser BTD600 on sale a few months ago, so that's what I use.

The JBLs were a bitter disappointment.

I didn't expect studio quality but what I got was a really bad set of headphones.

The Philips wired cans these were to replace are bright and have decent base -- perfect for listening to music while I work. The JBLs are lacking bass and treble with a very muddy midrange. This is clearly a low-quality driver issue because they sound exactly the same whether used as wired or wireless units.

They're crap and I've just not bothered using them. They've been relegated to a "backup of last resort" and sit in a box in the corner of the room.

This week I was in The Warehouse when I saw that the Veon brand audio gear was all subject to a 30 percent discount. Amidst the sea of yellow discounted price labels I saw some wireless headphones that looked "okay".

Hmmm... just $18, that's pretty cheap and surely they couldn't be any worse than those god-awful JBLs, right?

So I took them to the checkout and was very pleasantly surprised when the checkout operator rang up a price of just over $12. Yeah, the $18 was pre-discount so they were pretty much giving these things away.

Oh dear, how bad could they be?

After getting home I threw them on charge (which took a couple of hours, surprisingly) and paired them with my BT adapter then fired up some music.


Okay, let's be fair, they're not "the best" headphones I've ever heard but they're light-years ahead of the JBLs that cost over six times as much. Far better bass reasonable highs and a useful level of clarity in the mid-range.

Being "over ear" (although the Chinglish instructions state "over era") they're also a lot more comfortable than the JBLs or my ATs.

To be honest, I'm quite chuffed with the purchase on a "value for money" basis.

Yeah, I do look like a dick with them on (imagine a Cyberman from Dr Who) so I probably won't be using them to livestream but for regular day-to-day use they're just fine and mean I won't be wrenching the snot out of the 3.5mm jack on my PC's front-panel as used to happen on a regular basis.

Don't get me wrong... these things are far from perfect and do make your ears a little sweaty with extended use but for a smidgen over $12 they're a steal.

They're made of plastic (I chose gray but there are other colors) and I'm not sure about their longevity so maybe I'll grab another pair before the deal expires -- just in case.

Sometimes you find gems in the oddest of places.

Carpe Diem folks!

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