Review: Bose QuietComfort® 15 Acoustic Noise Cancelling Headphones

With all the travel I've been doing lately, I splurged today on a pair of QuietComfort® 15 Acoustic Noise Cancelling® headphones (over 180,000 miles this year and another 10,000 mile round trip to Germany next week).

These are the latest and greatest in sound control from Bose, and my first pair of noise canceling headphones. The other one I considered buying was the new digital headset from Sony, but after reading numerous reviews on Amazon I concluded that the Bose headphones had better overall noise reduction, quality, and battery life - and they were also $100 cheaper than the Sony's.

To properly test the noise reduction capabilities of these Bose headphones, I took them with me on my bus ride commute home. It was a 45 minute bus ride from downtown Portland, and I sat in the back right next to the noisy engine compartment.

Imagine a loud revving diesel engine, squeeky brakes, doors opening and closing - you get the picture. Plenty of noise.

The Bose QC 15 headphones are very comfortable with an around-ear design, and I didn't realize just how well they were doing until I turned them off and was hit with a blast of engine noise.

They also make music sound better because they filter out much of the external background noises, meaning you don't have to crank up the volume to hear deep bass and crisp treble.

Using Bluetooth Hands-Free Devices with the Motorola W376g

The Motorola 376g (KRAZR) camera phone from Tracfone comes equipped with Bluetooth support for hands-free headset devices, letting you keep your hands on the steering wheel while you make calls or answer incoming calls.

To use a hands-free device with a Tracfone Motorola W376g, you'll need to connect (pair) your headset with your phone. Once they're paired, then the headset can be used to automatically answer calls.

Setting up the bluetooth headset

Make sure your headset is fully charged and the boom (the part that goes over your ear) is in the closed position. Shown below is the Motorola H350 bluetooth headset that connects nicely with the Motorola W376g phone and all other Motorola phones as well.

Press the connect button for about 3 seconds to put it in "Find Me" mode. The connect button is the same button you press to answer an incoming call, and is usually located on the front of the headset near the top.

Setting up the phone

Press the main menu button (round button between the up/down/left/right arrows) and then select Settings -- Bluetooth Link, which is on the second screen of the Settings option (ie. you'll have to scroll down a little to see it).

Select Audio Devices and then [Look for Device]

The Motorola 376g will find your bluetooth headset and auto-pair them together. This only needs to be done once, and then it will recognize the headset in the future automatically.

You'll only have about a 30 second time window to pair the phone with the headset, so make sure you time the steps above to happen at about the same time.

iPod Sound Quality

Question: I've resisted buying an ipod so far because I am an audiophile and I hate the idea of compressed music, which I equate to poor sound quality! Can you transfer whole CDs directly into an ipod from a CD player without compression? If you could, it would still mean you could store around 220 full CDs onto a 160 gb ipod and get absolute sound quality.

Answer: You're going to love the sound that comes from an ipod, for a number of reasons.

First, to answer your question - yes, you can transfer whole CDs to your ipod without compression. Using iTunes, select Edit -- Preferences and then click the Import Settings button to configure CD import settings.

The default import encoder setting is AAC, and you have options for importing at 128kbps or 256kbps (stereo bit rate), or can choose a custom import quality level up to 320kbps.

If you prefer using an MP3 encoder, then you can select that option as well - with custom bit rate options up to 320 kbps.

You probably already know this, but for others reading this article: keep in mind that a larger bit rate settings (the kbps number) means higher quality music files but also larger files. The larger the files, the better they'll sound - in theory anyway - and the less you can store on your ipod.

Most ears won't notice the difference between 128kbps and 256kbps however, especially considering you'll most likely be listening to the music with headphones in an area where other background noises can be heard.

Turn Your Blackberry Curve into a Wireless MP3 Player

Most Blackberry devices comes with a standard 3.5-inch headphone jack that let you listen to music from the built-in mp3 player.

But you can also listen to music without plugging in a cord, by using a wireless bluetooth headset.

Here's a step-by-step guide that will show you how to set up bluetooth on your Blackberry so you can listen to music using a wireless bluetooth headset.

1. Enable Bluetooth on your Blackberry

Click the "Set Up Bluetooth" icon on the main Blackberry screen, and it will automatically enable Bluetooth and start searching for Bluetooth devices that are within range (normally about 30 feet).

Make sure your Bluetooth headphones are in pairing mode so that they can be discovered by your Blackberry. For the Jabra BT620s Bluetooth headphones shown below, this means turning them off and then pressing and holding both sides of the headphones at the same time for about 5 seconds until both sides show solid blue lights.

Blackberry Enabling Bluetooth

2. Pair your Blackberry with your Bluetooth Headphones

Once your Blackberry discovers the Bluetooth headphones, it will prompt you to select the device (the headphones). You may already have other Bluetooth devices that you've paired your Blackberry with, such as your computer if it has Bluetooth enabled, but you'll still need to pair with the headphones before you can use them.

Pairing with a Bluetooth device requires establishing a Bluetooth connection that's identified by a unique passkey. You'll always use four zeros "0000" for the Jabra headphones numeric passkey.