Surprisingly Brilliant For Work!
The Microsoft Surface Headphones 2 have been my go-to headphones for work for over a year and I think they suit their purpose well, but would I buy them today?
We’ll discuss that later in this article, but first, I wanted to explain my reasoning behind the purchase which may surprise you!
Why The Microsoft Surface Headphones 2?
To be truthfully honest, I purchased these headphones blindly, I didn’t do any research and I wasn’t even specifically planning to buy them.
I was looking for a new set of headphones for work and by chance, I was walking past a CEX store near my place of work and I found these in the window.
They were in very good condition and practically sealed, the best part was that they only cost £80! After doing a quick Google search to check the pricing, I just had to buy them!
So the thing with this review is that I don’t actually know how old these headphones are, but they’re still doing good!
While I managed to get these headphones at an excellent price, I will be comparing them to headphones at a similar cost of £239.99 direct from Microsoft.
My Long-Term Review
The Microsoft Surface Headphones 2 are packed full of useful features which make them the ideal headphones for work.
They offer a stylish yet, minimal look, which thinking about it is ideal for work, especially if you work in a formal environment.
They come available in either a Matt Black or a light Grey, both of which look impressive. I went with the Matt Black as that was all that was available, but if I was to purchase them new, I think I would also go with the Matt Back version.
I think it’s fair to say that Microsoft did a fantastic job with the controls on these headphones, they’re minimal but at the same time very functional!
Both ear cups have dial controls which enable you to control the volume as well as the level of Active Noise Cancelling (ANC) you want. If you turn the ANC dial fully to the off position, it will activate transparency mode which is decent and you can comfortably have a conversation without taking your headphones off.
I find this to be a very good feature, especially when working in an open-plan office environment. When it gets noisy, I can simply turn the dial to enable full ANC and when I need to talk to someone, I can simply turn it the other way to enable transparency mode.
When travelling by train, sometimes it’s important to listen out for announcements, especially when there’s disruption. With the Surface Headphones 2, I can adjust the level of ANC so that I still hear the announcements, but they still cancel out people around me, which I think is pretty impressive.
The headphones also offer touch controls. If you tap once, it pauses, tap twice, it goes to the next track and tap three times it goes to the previous track. There is also a button to mute your microphone.
Active Noise Cancellation
Whether you’re working from home or in an office, sometimes it’s just nice to get away from it all and just get on with your work.
That’s where active noise cancelling (ANC) headphones come in. Using built-in microphones, they eliminate unwanted external noise, so if you’re sitting next to that chatty colleague or are travelling on a busy train, you can go about your day in peace.
The Surface Headphones 2 offer an excellent level of ANC which if set to full, can seriously perform well!
Speaking of how well they perform, I decided to take these headphones with me on my commute to work, I usually use the Pixel Buds Pro for commuting, but I decided to switch things around. So I was there working on my iPad, listening to music with full ANC enabled, so I could barely hear the train announcements and if I didn’t look out of the window, I would have missed my station! That’s how well they perform!
As mentioned above, I like the fact that you can adjust the level of ANC, a feature I think more headphones should have. But it gets better because you actually get 13 levels of ANC and you can adjust it using the dial!
Transparency mode lets outside sound in so that you can hear what’s going on around you. I think it’s important for headphones and earbuds to have transparency mode, especially when in the workplace or when you are listening out for traffic.
I tend to use transparency mode when walking or when buying a coffee as it allows me to have a conversation without taking my headphones off. This can be particularly useful when I’m out and about and I’m listening to a meeting or a podcast.
The transparency mode on the Surface Headphones 2, is actually really good and I can comfortably listen to the sound around me if I needed to.
However, I do have a complaint in this department, because in order to enable it, I have to turn the ANC dial all the way to the other end and there isn’t a quicker way of enabling it such as by covering the earcup with your hand to just enable it temporarily as you can do with some of Sony’s alternatives. I think that this would have been an excellent addition, especially considering the cost of these!
This feature would have come in handy when answering a quick question from a passerby or even telling someone something. It would also be useful for when someone in the office approaches you to ask a question.
Moving on to sound quality, I think it’s reasonable, especially if you like your bass however I do think that they can be a bit too bassy at times, especially with full ANC enabled.
Personally, I’m a huge fan of bass but I’m also a fan of clear audio, I want to be able to hear those instruments and feel them with the bass. But that’s just something I’m not getting with the Surface Headphones 2. Now it could be just my version of the headphones that are behaving like this, but I have seen other reviewers mention this too.
With that being said, I don’t think the sound quality is bad, it’s just a bit bassy for my liking.
When it comes to vocals, these headphones excel! Listening to podcasts, audiobooks and even meetings, the voice is very clear. If we combine it with the ANC, they make perfect headphones to use in online meetings.
To summarise my overall thoughts on the sound quality, I think that it’s very reasonable for headphones at that price range, but I also think that Microsoft needs to work on the clarity as I mentioned before, I want to be able to hear those instruments.
Other Cool Features
The Microsoft Surface Headphones 2 also come packed with a handful of other useful features such as multi-point Bluetooth which allows me to connect the headphones to my phone and my laptop, so when I’m working on my laptop, I can simply answer the call on my phone using the headphones without the need of disconnecting them from my laptop or taking them off entirely to answer the call. I seriously wish more manufacturers included this!
I also like the fact that every time I turn them on, a friendly voice will tell me how many hours of battery I have left and the devices they are connected to. It’s such a small thing, but makes a big difference, especially at work! I mean, If I’m going into a 3-hour Teams meeting with these, I want to know whether they will last me throughout the meeting.
Speaking about the battery, these offer a pretty decent amount of battery life. I charged them Monday morning, and I’ve been using them all week for working from home, in the office and commuting and they still have some juice left! In fact, they had around 4 hours left when I put them on to work on this article.
Microsoft states that you can listen for up to 18.5 hours on a single charge and while I haven’t tried listening to them for that long, I definitely feel that it sounds about right.
The last thing I wanted to talk about is comfort and to simply put it, they are surprisingly comfortable, especially for someone who wears glasses.
As a whole, they are lightweight and have extremely comfortable ear pads and don’t hurt my head when worn for extended periods of time, which once again, is something important for when you are planning to use them for work or extended periods of time.
My Final Verdict
✅ What I Like
- Very Comfortable, even for extended periods of time and someone who wears glasses
- Adjustable ANC with you 13 levels!
- Decent ANC
- Multipoint Bluetooth
- Decent microphone
- Minimal design
- Good Battery Life
- Come with a decent case
- Battery announcements
❌ What I Don’t Like
- Not foldable, for easy of carry to and from work
- Sound can be too bassy
- No temporary transparency features for quick conversations as you get with other brands
- The Surface Audio app needs more features, it’s very basic
- A bit pricey, but worth it!
Who Are They For?
As with many products out there, they’ve been designed to perform a particular task. Based on my year with the Surface Headphones 2, I feel that Microsoft has been concentrating on perfecting these headphones for one purpose, work.
I mean they are absolutely perfect in every aspect of my working life, they perform much better in a working environment than any other headphones I used for work!
If like me, you use Windows for work, that’s another thing that I feel has been perfected incredibly well. I mean every so often I have issues getting Bluetooth headphones or earbuds to work flawlessly on Teams or Zoom calls. But these just work!
My Overall Opinion After A Year
To summarise this review, I think that these are a brilliant set of wireless headphones, especially for work. But I wouldn’t use them as my everyday headphones for two reasons.
The first reason is simply that I prefer using wireless earbuds as my everyday device for music and podcasts as I find it easier to carry earbuds in my pocket. The second reason is that I believe the sound quality on my Pixel Buds Pro is more up my street.
But with that being said, the Microsoft Surface Headphones 2 will most likely still remain as my everyday headphones for work.