VALCO noise-cancelling headphones - amateur review
Author Valco Laboratoriot
First things first, the most important observation about these headphones based on my own experience:
"The few weaknesses that can be dug out of these headphones are ultimately overcome by the sound quality of these marvels, which is personally the best I've ever heard so far - the sound clarity is in a class of its own at this price".
I have always liked VALCO's way of communicating what they do and for this reason I decided to join their mailing list. The biggest thing on VALCO's messaging this autumn was obviously some miracle headphones, which apparently were the successor to the company's Sorsa response headphones.
I had long thought about getting Sorsa+ headphones but, through laziness, never got around to getting them. Now, however, these mysterious counter-noise innovations were within reach somewhere in bitspace and so I decided to take my chances if I could possibly be one of the first to get them.
I forgot about the whole deal through my own foolishness, but luckily, on October 3, an email arrived informing me that on October 4, a small batch of the new headphones would be available.
I knew I would have to act fast if I wanted to be among the first to check out these wonder toys and apparently some market gods were gracious to me that Friday night and a miracle happened! I was one of the first to get these VALCO noise-cancelling headphones for myself.
The wait was short (but a long one for the waiters) and within a few days the headphones were in my hands ready for testing. I have now "tested/listened" to these headphones almost every day for this one month and in what follows I will give my personal observations from the perspective of a complete sound amateur - i.e. a normal consumer.
I also own a few other wireless headsets (Plantronics, Samsung, Jabra, Bluedio and a couple of other Chinese ones) and of all of them, the VALCO headphones are on the big end. However, the size is nothing like helmet level and yes these are just the same grey mass as the rest of the Finns.
A fine detail on these headphones is the VALCO logos printed on some dark wood - I wonder how they will stand up to the Finnish winter? The fit of the headphones is comfortable - once you put them on your own head comfortably, you won't notice they're there for the first time until a few hours later.
It's worth taking a little time to get them in place, because I found that the headband starts to put pressure on my head if the headphones aren't at the right angle. You don't have to worry about this with lighter headphones but the VALCOs are a bit heavier, 244 grams according to my book. That's like holding a Panda's bag of sweets over your head - if that's your thing.
There are few nipples and buttons on these headphones. They all feel like something made by a Chinese factory robot - nothing luxurious but nothing disposable either. Maybe these headphones are made in the same region as my other Chinese headphones are made in and quite well have the buttons withstood the wear and tear of my older headphones without breaking.
My imagination describes the feeling of plastic when tapping these keys. There are three buttons on the right side: top volume up (also track forward), middle on/off (also pairing and pause) and bottom volume down (also track backward). In addition to these, there is a 3.5 mm headphone jack on the right side.
On the left side there is only one (miracle) key, namely the on/off key for active sound control and a connector port for micro-usb charging. ANC - active noise control, is of course the SE thing these headphones are sold to us consumers with. These headphones are definitely noise cancelling headphones and that and the sound quality is what follows.
When you plug these headphones in, a familiar female voice from afar tells you that the power is on - power on! Personally, hearing this voice was a bit of a disappointment for me, as with other cheap headphones (I don't mean VALCOs) I had heard this phrase to my disappointment/surprise. I would have hoped for a little surprise from VALCO here - judging by the company's pronunciation, I might have expected something like "turn the damn thing on". Maybe here's an idea for the next headphones?
When you turn off the handsets a distant female voice says - power off! Boring. Continuing the Pairing and connected phrases are the same as on many other headsets and while this may sound like pointless nagging, uttering other voices/expressions would have made these SUPER VALCOs in my view. But as I said, maybe a development idea for the next headphones and a small thing in the overall scheme of things.
As I mentioned at the beginning, I am a complete amateur in the field of sound interpretation and judging. That's why I fully believe this VALCO voice logo that appears in the company's promo materials and the Chinese sound engineers that here is a really good sounding headphone for the price. However, based on my own experience, I can tell you this.
For years I have been testing various wireless headphones and speakers in shops by playing Rush - Tom Sawyer. I also put VALCO's noise-cancelling headphones on to play this familiar 'test track' via Spotify and, in short, as soon as I started the song I knew I'd bought a good pair of headphones.
I'll leave the fancy low, mid, and treble descriptions to the professionals and just say that Tom Sawyer sounded damn good on these headphones! After I had spent enough time gushing and congratulating myself on a good purchase, I completely remembered one little detail: these headphones have a reverberation function!
Well, let's try that out I thought, as usually back noise "lowers" and "attenuates" the sound quality, so I didn't expect much from this function. But no - the reverberation was not "noise" in the sound, but a rather strange sensation. Is it the sound that is improved in these headphones?
This is certainly a matter of opinion and perhaps the best way I could describe the feeling is that when you turn on the feedback, it feels like the handsets are sucked in a bit more around your ears. The sound becomes more intense at the same time and probably at least the bass is a bit more pronounced. Go and see - the wise men know.
As a small note on the operation of the feedback function, it doesn't turn off when the headphones are switched off with the power button, so this is something to keep in mind if you don't want to waste battery power while the headphones are resting (remember to switch off the feedback with the power button as well).
Anyway, I've now listened to all kinds of music and everything sounds just as good! One "bad" thing about these headphones is that you don't really want to take them off once you start listening - whether that's a good thing or a bad thing, I guess everyone knows that personally.
There's plenty of volume. Depending on the sound source, codec and audio program, these headphones will give you enough "strain" on all the bones in your ear. Really, you should consider whether you want to play these headphones at full volume all the time, that's how intense that volume is.
If you're an Android user, I recommend downloading the Boom app from the Play store, as Spotify and the music stored on your phone can be upgraded to a completely different level than with the normal Spotify app (this is not a commercial promo, just a recommendation from experience).
The bluetooth portability of the headphones is a bit of a question mark for me. As with all current wireless technologies, there can be a little bit of flicker here and there. This is also the case with these headsets and at least with my headphones there is already a clear stutter at a distance of 5 meters if there is a single concrete wall (apartment building) in between [Ed. note: November batch has a better antenna t: Valco].
I also couldn't get the TV, headphone, PS4 combo to work as hoped, where I was connecting the headphones via bluetooth to the sound source of the TV. The presence of the Pleikkar bluetooth controller severely disrupted the audio signal and the sound became boomy and intermittent. When connected to a laptop, the sound is just as great as on the phone and gaming, for example, is brilliant.
As I said at the beginning, I fully agree that these are my absolute best bluetooth headphones so far in terms of sound quality and therefore a really good purchase for me, as I primarily bought them for listening to music.
As a recommendation from such a normal street person, I wish VALCO headphones and the company success now and in the future.
Behind the self-deprecating humour and reading between the lines, you can see that VALCO's entrepreneurs are dedicated professionals and they have created a product for the consumer that a basic bull like me, who lived through the era of Kalevi Sorska, is happy to recommend.
4.11.19 Jarno Laine, Helsinki
VALCO noise-cancelling headphones
- EVERYTHING TO DO WITH SOUND - CLARITY!
- Can the counter-noise function be this good?
- Comfortable even when worn for long periods
- Finnish innovation and entrepreneurship with the right attitude
- Battery lasts and lasts
- Simple enough to withstand heavy use (do not use while swimming)
- By the way, according to the other party, these have a really clear sound when talking through the handset.
- Bluetooth signal range and immunity to interference?
- Annoying notification sound when the headphones are on (power on!) prkl!
- No automatic switch-off of the intercom function when the power is switched off. So you have to remember to turn it off yourself.