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Bang & Olufsen EarSet 2 Review

by December 15, 2006
Bang & Olufsen EarSet 2

Bang & Olufsen EarSet 2

  • Product Name: EarSet 2
  • Manufacturer: Bang & Olufsen
  • Performance Rating: StarStarStarhalf-star
  • Value Rating: StarStar
  • Review Date: December 15, 2006 00:00
  • MSRP: $ 350

Technology:  Bluetooth
Transmission range:  Up to 10 meters
Battery time:  4 hours talking, 100 hours standby
Charge time:  3 hours
Weight:  22 grams
Materials:  Aluminum and plastic


  • Aesthetics
  • Ease of operation


  • Price
  • Non-reversible
  • Uncomfortable after extended use


B&O; Earset 2 Build Quality

EarSet2_FrontThe B&O EarSet 2 is constructed out of plastic and aluminum. While the unit looks bulky, it is very light. The black “hockey puck” piece sits over the ear and works to mute outside noises. On the side of the “hockey puck” is a little lever that can be pushed up and down (to increase or decrease volume) or pushed into the unit (to answer or disconnect from a call). The microphone arm does double duty. When the arm is rotated in, the headset is off. When it is swung out, the headset is on.

On the end of the microphone arm you’ll notice a black nub. This is, of course, a mic but what you won’t immediately notice is that there is a second mic located a the hinge. These two microphones work together to filter out noise. The way it was explained to me, the DSP within the EarSet 2 filters out (or attempts to filter out) all noise that arrives at the two mics simultaneously (basically, it uses a directional mic). Such things as wind and ambient noises would fall under this category. At the same time, B&O claims that they have not filtered out all noises so that it doesn’t sound like the call has been disconnected when you’re not speaking.

The EarSet 2 must be purchased based on the ear that you’ll be using it in. It isn’t reversible. The speaker sits sort of on top of your ear and is covered by the same black foam material you see on old cheap headphones. The arm that goes over your ear can be raised or lowered, moved closer or farther away from your head, or the entire arm assembly can be raised or lowered. Needless to say, this unit will fit any ear.

Using the EarSet 2

EarSet2_EquipThe EarSet 2 looks different from every other Bluetooth headset I’ve seen to date. While it looks bulkier than most, it doesn’t feel that way. I found getting the unit placed just right on your head (so that the microphone is pointed toward your mouth) took a little practice and normally two hands. The six different modifications on the over-ear hook means that it will fit your ear but it might take some finagling to do so. Pointing the mic at your mouth doesn’t seem a prerequisite for proper functioning (though it is for the best sound) but it looks kinda stupid if it is pointed anywhere else.

Operation of EarSet 2 is fairly straightforward. There is an indicator light on the headset (on the ear side of the hockey puck). If the light is:

  • Off – Power is off

  • Slowly flashing green – The unit is ready for use

  • Rapidly flashing green – The unit is in use or there is a call coming in

  • Slowly flashing red – Battery is dieing (less than 5 minutes of talk time remaining) but the unit can still be used

  • Rapidly flashing red – The unit is in use or there is a call coming in and the battery is dieing (less than 5 minutes of talk time remaining).

Aside from the Bang & Olufsen designed ring tone (which is high pitched and tends to be noticeable no matter what else is going on), there are beeps which will indicate different things depending on the situation:

One beep-

  • (While talking) Volume limit (up or down) is reached

  • (During incoming call) Call rejected

  • (At standby) Redial call started

Two beeps-

  • (Rising tone) Call audio on (usually means you just answered a call

  • (Falling tone) Call audio off (you just hung up)

Repeating beeps-

  • (Three beeps repeated every 30 seconds) Battery low

  • (One beep repeated every 1.5 second) Microphone muted

Pressing the button (these functions may or may not work based on your phone):

  • Up – increased the volume

  • Down – decreases the volume

  • In for a short period –

    • (When a call is coming in) Answers

    • (During a call) Hangs up

    • During standby) Voice dialing/Voice commands

  • In for a longer period –

    • (When a call is coming in) Rejects call

    • (During standby) Redials last number

It is pretty amazing all the things you can do with just one little button. My only complaint is that you can’t use call waiting from the headset. You have to go back to the phone. The single operation button works very well. There seems to be just the right amount of resistance so you can change the volume without accidentally hanging up on someone. The button itself is on a VERY thin piece of plastic that just scares me. One wrong move and it looks like it will break. I’m sure it is sturdier than it looks but it was the first thing I noticed about the unit. Perhaps if it was made from aluminum I’d feel better about it.

From a comfort level, I’m not crazy about the EarSet 2. I’ve used a number of different types of “ear bud” type headsets and I haven’t really found any of them to be all that great. The best, in my opinion, are the inner ear models that use some sort of molded plastic to secure the bud within the ear. The EarSet 2 speaker is just a little too big to go in your ear so it tends to find pressure points and irritate them. I found that the best way was to use the ear hook to squeeze the unit on your ear rather than using it to push the speaker in your ear. I found that I could only wear the EarSet 2 for a couple of hours before I had to remove it because it would start irritating me.

This only exacerbated the other problem – the unit is non-reversible. You have to choose the ear you’ll use when you buy the unit. Now this, I truly don’t understand. I can think of a number of ways that this unit could be made reversible. The only thing I can think is that the designer didn’t want to compromise the integrity of the design by adding the required hardware to make the unit usable with both ears. When the speaker would start irritating me, I couldn’t help but wish that I could switch ears. Plus, though I preferred to wear it in my right ear, I also carry my son with my right arm. Invariably (like 3-5 times a day) I’ll pick him up and he’ll make some sort of random (and most likely violent) motion that will cause my ear and his head to collide at a relatively high velocity. The black, smooth hockey puck wouldn’t hurt his head but the speaker would send stabs of pain through my ear. In the EarSet 2’s favor, regardless of the abuse it took, it never fell off my head.

The charger doubles as a carrying case, table stand, and wall mountable stand. Honestly, this is the sort of design flexibility that I like to see in a high priced product. The charger/case is circular and perhaps a bit too bulky for the back pocket of your jeans (unless you are trying to fit in with the Skoal crowd) but it fits perfectly in a jacket pocket. When you are toting around a $250+ headset, you aren’t going to want to put it down without some protection. While the table and wall mounts are more gimmicky than useful, I like that they are options. In my case, a wall mount might actually work. I generally just grab the headset and go. It stays on until I get back.

The talk and charge time seem to be right on. I’ve left the headset off the charger for very extended periods of time with the unit on (purposefully) and I never saw any red flashing lights. I think you’d have to really abuse this thing to use up all the batteries.

Earset2 Listening Test and Conclusion

While comfort is a huge factor, how the unit sounds is just as important. Bang & Olufsen has gone to great lengths to ensure that voices sound as natural as possible. I found that this is, for the most part, achieved. My wife and most of my friends all had a very clear and natural sound. Much more so than the cell phone I was using the EarSet 2 with. The only time I noticed a problem was with low male voices. My father, who has a very low voice, tended to sound a bit attenuated and flat. For everyone else, they sounded very good.

The directional mics are used to cancel out wind noise and ambient noise. I tested this ability in the car. Sitting in the driver’s seat, I turned the AC on high and pointed the vent toward my face. When facing the vent, the wind noise was very noticeable on the other end of the line when the AC was on high but only one notch down and it was almost all removed. When I faced away from the vent (so that the unit should be getting the wind noise at both mics simultaneously), the noise was slightly better than head on but most noticeably so at the notch down from high.

One thing to remember is that the EarSet 2 will be limited by the functionality and quality of your cell phone. I found that I would hear static on the EarSet 2 if my cell phone was in my left pocket (as opposed to the right). When the cell was out of my pockets, I got fairly good reception as long as there wasn’t too many obstacles in the way. I believe this had more to do with LG VX5300 cell I was using rather than any fault of the Ear Set 2.

Conclusions and Overall Perceptions

Form and function. The Bang & Olufsen has got form in spades. I love the looks of this thing. The more I look at it, the more I like it. Now, it does resemble a borg accessory when worn, but it definitely turns heads. It isn’t the most comfortable and it can only be worn in one ear. It costs 3-10 times most everything else on the market but that comes part and parcel with the Bang & Olufsen name. If you like the looks and don’t plan on wearing the unit for extended periods of time, this might be the Bluetooth headset for you.

Bang & Olufsen
780 West Dundee Road
Arlington Heights,
Illinois 60004, U.S.A
Phone: 847 590 4941

The Score Card

The scoring below is based on each piece of equipment doing the duty it is designed for. The numbers are weighed heavily with respect to the individual cost of each unit, thus giving a rating roughly equal to:

Performance × Price Factor/Value = Rating

Audioholics.com note: The ratings indicated below are based on subjective listening and objective testing of the product in question. The rating scale is based on performance/value ratio. If you notice better performing products in future reviews that have lower numbers in certain areas, be aware that the value factor is most likely the culprit. Other Audioholics reviewers may rate products solely based on performance, and each reviewer has his/her own system for ratings.

Audioholics Rating Scale

  • StarStarStarStarStar — Excellent
  • StarStarStarStar — Very Good
  • StarStarStar — Good
  • StarStar — Fair
  • Star — Poor
Audio PerformanceStarStarStar
Build QualityStarStarStarStar
Ergonomics & UsabilityStarStarStar
Fit and FinishStarStarStarStarStar
Ease of SetupStarStarStarStar
About the author:
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As Associate Editor at Audioholics, Tom promises to the best of his ability to give each review the same amount of attention, consideration, and thoughtfulness as possible and keep his writings free from undue bias and preconceptions. Any indication, either internally or from another, that bias has entered into his review will be immediately investigated. Substantiation of mistakes or bias will be immediately corrected regardless of personal stake, feelings, or ego.

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