The technology of Bluetooth Headsets has been evolving at a rapid pace. High quality, noise canceling Bluetooth headsets can now be had for around $100.00. last year, Aliph took the world by storm with the introduction of the Jawbone with state of the art DSP technology.
Now, Australia’s BlueAnt – the manufacture of some of the highest rated headsets on this site – enters the DSP world with a new twist. Don’t be fooled by its diminutive size, this is an amazing piece of technology wrapped up in a very small package. Is this the new king of the Bluetooth hill? Read on for my thoughts and a comprehensive review. BlueAnt makes some of the finest and most economical Bluetooth Headsets on the market. Now they bring a new type of DSP (Digital Signal Processor) technology to the table – which they call Voice Isolation Technology.
About BlueAnt Wireless BlueAnt Wireless is Australia’s largest supplier of Bluetooth peripheral devices. BlueAnt’s product portfolio includes hands-free, stereo audio streaming and wireless communication products offering cutting-edge technology, design and features. BlueAnt’s Global Head Office is located in Melbourne, Australia and the company’s recent expansion has seen the opening of a North American office in New York, as well as a London office servicing the European market.
For further company information, please refer to BlueAnt’s North American website: www.myblueant.com
The ‘Official’ line on the Z9
Awarded for its innovative design at CES 2007, the Z9 leads the next generation of Bluetooth headsets with its stylish design and use of dual microphone, noise reduction technology via BlueAnt’s patented Voice Isolation Technology(tm), a revolutionary proprietary Digital Signal Processor (DSP) software solution.
Voice Isolation Technology(tm) uses sophisticated techniques to separate the voice signal from all background noise, enhancing and isolating all frequencies that affect voices coming in to and out of the headset and resulting in noise suppression, wind noise reduction and echo cancellation.
In addition, the Z9 incorporates two ‘Voice Isolation’ modes that a user can switch between when making a call – ‘Voice Isolation Standard’ for use in normal everyday environments providing a natural sounding voice while removing mild background noise and ‘Voice Isolation Max’ to provide superior intelligible voice clarity for use in extreme noise environments.
BlueAnt’s Z9 is a sophisticated addition to the already, highly successful BlueAnt product range. The Z9 Bluetooth Headset offers a range of advanced specifications making it one of the most innovative Bluetooth headsets to be launched to date It offers a range of differentiating features such as:
Winner of a CES 2007 Innovations Design and Engineering Award
Bluetooth v2.0 technology
Dual microphones for pure speech
Revolutionary Voice Isolation Technology(tm) produces outstanding noise suppression, wind noise reduction and echo cancellation, with zero voice distortion
Separates the desired voice signal from background signals enabling crystal clear communication in the noisiest of environments
Incorporates ‘Voice Isolation’ Standard and Max settings adjustable to surrounding noise environments
‘On-the-Fly’ switching between multiple devices (up to 3)
Automatic connection and reconnection with notification
Different ring-tones for known and unknown contacts
Innovative tie clip for attaching to shirt or cuff, when not in use
Stylish, translucent ear hook
Firmware upgrade via USB on your PC
Small and lightweight (just 1.5′ in length and weighs only 0.35 oz)
Up to 5.5 hrs talk-time or 200 hrs standby
Locally based customer support center
2 Year replacement warranty
MSRP – $99.95
On to the review……
It is hard to appreciate just how small this thing is until you hold it in your hands. Next to the Aliph Jawbone, it looks minute. The headset really has a very sleek look. With all this technology, I expected many more buttons to have to learn. I was pleasantly surprised to see just how simple and user friendly the design was.
The multi-function button which is used for answering and disconnecting calls, initiating voice dialing and pairing is on the main face of the headset. A stylish ‘Blue’ Ant is emblazoned on the button. On the top of the headset are very easy to use and large volume up and volume down buttons.
On the back of the Z9 is where the clear ear loop clicks in and where the earpiece is located. Finally, on the front of the device is a small button which controls the ‘Voice Isolation’ technology – the standard setting is fine most most situations. For particularly noisy environments, the ‘Max’ setting isolates the voices and virtually eliminates all background noises.
Two microphones pick up the nuances in your voice for clear transmission to the end user.
Many Bluetooth headsets are just not comfortable to wear for long periods of time. The Z9 is incredibly lightweight and very comfortable for wearing over extended periods of time. It was so light that I really did barely notice that I was wearing it. When I wasn’t wearing it on my ear, the built in lapel clip made it easy to clip to my shirt or jacket – a very nice feature.
Ease of Use:
All this technology is worthless if it is too difficult for the typical user to master. Fortunately, the Z9 could not be easier to use. Pairing was a snap – just put into pairing mode and have your phone search for it and then put in the pass code. A nice feature is that the headset can switch on the fly between multiple devices – a nice feature for road warriors. It was also easy to set different ring tones in the headset for known and unknown contacts.
As always, the make or break issue for Bluetooth headsets is the quality of the sound. With those headsets using DSP technology we have to look at the sound on both ends of the call. The BlueAnt Z9 rivaled the best Bluetooth headsets for overall sound quality and noise isolation.
From the headset itself, callers sounded very clear and loud – I had to turn the volume down several times when wearing this which is not the norm for Bluetooth headsets.
I am always amazed that with headsets this small, which are nowhere near my mouth, my voice can come across loud and clear. I had my wife use this headset in several noisy environments and I was truly amazed by how clear her voice was and how little noise was present.
I did ask her to switch to ‘Max’ isolation and the DSP technology was so powerful that it picked up every nuance of her voice and if other people were in the car – their voices were picked up as well. The voice of the caller is certainly isolated and made crystal clear. In short, this little baby does just about everything as advertised.
For $100.00 you will be hard pressed to find a better Bluetooth headset. You might be hard pressed to find one for double that cost. The proprietary ‘Voice Isolation’ technology is remarkable and truly isolates the callers voice. The built in ‘clip’ to attach the headset to your clothes when not in use was also a very nice touch. This headset is stylish, packed with technological innovations and very comfortable.
Final Grade: A
Pros: Super small, great DSP technology, clear call quality, good value