Take a look around and it seems like over ear headphones have become more of a fashion statement than ever. With all of those bold designs and eye catching colours to choose from, it’s a little more tricky to find something simple and elegant.
Fortunately for the people who prefer that simpler/sophisticated look, Coolstream’s BTH301 Bluetooth headphones balance out slick design with a compact form factor – and at a modest $50 they’re definitely not going to be breaking the bank either.
Design & Build
What immediately caught my eye when I got my hands on these Bluetooth headphones is the white glossy headband (also available in black). Unlike the cheaper quality feel of alternatives at this price, the rigid plastic & gloss finish gives these headphones a very stylish look.
The inside of the headband is made of a soft rubberised texture that gives it a better grip to your head, but it also feels really nice and comfortable.
What also helps in the comfort department is their weight at just 2.5 ounces. Being so lightweight, the BTH301’s are great for active use or even for those who want to move away from in ear options, but prefer something unobtrusive. The leather ear pads have been kept quite small and narrow to maintain that light & slim design, but they still sit comfortably on the ears anyway.
They’re quite a robust set of headphones too – even with my attempts to bend it out of shape, the strong plastic headband remained sturdy and always flexed itself back in to place.
Outside the right ear pad, you’ll find all of the usual controls you’d expect like a play & pause button, previous & next track controls, a volume rocker, on/off switch and a micro USB port for charging too. There’s even an embedded microphone you can use to make phone calls.
Although it all looked great and had the expected functionality, I found it frustrating to use the track controls on the side panel because they needed to be pressed quite hard, which wound up feeling really uncomfortable on my right ear.
At first glance you’d be forgiven for thinking that these headphones don’t pack enough ‘oomph’, but even with their petite size the Coolstream’s 40mm drivers comfortably handled even the demanding tracks in my iTunes library.
The bass is surprisingly punchy and thumps away in the background without feeling overpowering, but where the headphones lack is clarity in the vocals though. No matter how much I messed around with the equaliser settings, it always felt like the song’s vocals weren’t quite clear enough.
Other than that, the Coolstream BTH301’s pull off an immersive listening experience similar to products well above its price, although I will say that they’re better suited to mellow music like RnB, Soul & Jazz – rather than Rock, Drum & Bass or Hip Hop.
From around a 3 hour full charge you can expect more or less 5 hours of music from these Bluetooth headphones, which is acceptable, but not amazing. It’s likely to be a compromise based on the size of the headphones, but I can’t help but wonder that including an AUX input would have worked well as a backup to a dead battery.
The Bottom Line
Coolstream’s lightweight & elegant design makes them super versatile in terms of how they’re used, whether it’s for the gym, a flight or just at home. They look great, won’t be getting in the way or adding extra bulk to journeys, and importantly they feel comfortable.
Even with the slight lack of clarity in vocals, the affordable pricing makes these a worthwhile consideration if you’re looking to move away from in ear headphones.