Arctic Cooling Arctic Sound P311 Bluetooth Headset

Author
Logan King
Editor
Aron Schatz
Posted
August 11, 2010
Manufacturer
Arctic Cooling
Product Page
Arctic Sound P311
Views
45233
Arctic Cooling Arctic Sound P311 Bluetooth Headset
The P311 Bluetooth Headphones are a great addition to Arctic Cooling's Arctic Sound product range. They have a very impressive battery life, good sound quality, a practical design with a stylish flair, and several useful integrated features.

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Page 1
Introduction

We at ASE Labs have reviewed some of the products from the Arctic Sound branch of Arctic Cooling in the past. The »E361-BM and »E352 series of earbuds both proved their worth in our testing. We came away impressed with Arctic Cooling's commitment in an area in which they were relatively new. Today, ASE Labs has the Arctic Cooling Arctic Sound P311 Bluetooth Headphones up for review to see if they are able to impart the same feeling of quality that the rest of the Arctic Sound line proudly displays.

About Arctic Cooling

Quote

ARCTIC COOLING is a privately owned company founded in 2001 with headquarters in Switzerland, offices in Hong Kong and the USA and production facilities in Asia. The ARCTIC COOLING team consists o­f international highly educated people with business, technical and communicational skills. The attitude to work is based o­n Swiss principles of innovative spirit and high standards of workmanship for which it is recognized internationally. This striving for excellence is integrated in all processes as a matter of course. ARCTIC COOLING´s core competencies are multifarious including systematic noise reduction,copper and aluminum heatsink development, customization of thermal solutions, as well as designing quiet fans. More recently quiet and cool PC Cases and Power Supplies have been developed.


http://www.arctic-cooling.com/catalog/static_info.php?tid=ABOUT_US


Packaging

If you've read any of our other Arctic Cooling reviews, you would know that all of Arctic Cooling's products come in the same silver packaging with white accents. The box for the P311 headphones is no different.

Packaging Front


The front of the package is dominated by a large window that almost takes up the entire front of the box. The window wraps around to the left side of the box and proudly displays the headphones in all of their glory. The window itself is a hard, thick plastic; Though, it is only held in the box by the interior packaging.

Packaging Rear


The rear of the box contains all of the specifications for the P311 as well as some product photos and the same performance chart used on other products of the Arctic Sound range. Since Arctic Cooling is a European country, all of the specs are provided in 5 different languages.

Packaging Side


Finally, the side of the box shows off a diagram of how the headphones are supposed to be worn as well as a few product features and a rough compatibility shortlist. Of note, the product mentions that the headphones have a limited feature set when paired with an Apple iPhone and iPod Touch, specifically that "Back and forward buttons are not supported by Apple."
Page 2
Specifications

  • Frequency response: 18 Hz -22KHz
  • Impedance: 32 Ohm
  • Signal/Noise Ratio: 95 dB
  • Bluetooth Version: V.2.1+EDR Class 2
  • Profile Support: A2DP, AVRCP, HSP, HFP 1.5
  • Bluetooth Range: Up to 20m
  • Battery: 400mAh Lithium Polymer
  • Talk Time: Up to 20 hours
  • Standby Time: Up to 400 hours
  • Weight: 71.2g
  • EAN-Code: 0872767003668


As mentioned, the packaging on the P311 also comes with the Arctic Sound performance chart. This is handy for quickly comparing different models of the Arctic Sound range if you were buying them in a traditional store.

Performance Chart


Marketing Summary

Quote

Equally Beautiful in Design and Function

The ARCTIC Sound P311 is a wireless headset to complement with virtually any electronic devices that support Bluetooth wireless technology, such as laptops, mobile phones or music players. The ARCTIC Sound P311 possesses clean hardware design, yet maintaining functionalities at the same time.

Main features

  • Invisible microphone included
  • Travel case included
  • Compatible with mobile phones
  • Supra-aural headphone features soft pads and ear cup style
  • High fidelity stereo sound, including powerful bass and crisp highs
  • Ideal for sports and on the go


The ARCTIC Sound P311 is a well-made Bluetooth headset in terms of its design and function. Weighing only 71g, it is fairly small and compact – this makes it to be an ideal on the go companion. Since this is a Bluetooth wireless headset, it transfers audio signals over short distances. This means, it is compatible with laptops, mobile phones and music players that support Bluetooth.
The ARCTIC Sound P311 incorporates a one-size-fits-all headband. The soft pads and ear cup style offer great comfort and secure fit, even when doing sport. The good noise elimination ensures that you can truly enjoy your music. Its bendable arm allows users to easily fold and store the ARCTIC Sound P311 into the protective case that is included with purchase.

http://www.arctic-cooling.com/catalog/product_info.php?cPath=81_84&mID=596


Package Contents

Everything is packed inside a two piece shrink-wrapped plastic surround which keeps everything held tightly together.

Packaging Internals


Removing the contents from the interior packaging reveals the product manual, the P311 headset itself, and the P311 Travel Case. Tucked away inside the case is also a standard USB Mini-B cord.

Contents
Page 3
Arctic Sound P311

The headphones themselves have a compact shape and a design that is well in line with other Arctic Sound products.

Arctic Sound P311


The design is the over ear style that is popular for use with portable media players. The cup designs are largely symmetric with all of the buttons integrated into the design of the right cup. The button with a telephone icon is multi-function. It is used to turn the unit on, make the unit discoverable, Play and Pause music, and answer phone calls. The ring around this button contains a red and blue LED which light up in various combinations depending on what the headset is currently doing. All of the LED functions are explained the product manual.

Above the multi-function button are the two volume control buttons. These control the volume of the headset itself, rather the volume of the audio playback devices or the software on them. Below the multi-function button are the forward and back buttons.

P311 Speaker Cups


The speaker cups are a half-can style, with a thin fabric mesh covering the speaker holes and heavily insulated foam-filled surrounds to help keep noise out. The surrounds are made of the same material seen on most half-can and full can headphones rather than the cheaper stuff seen on most over ear headphones

Microphone Slot


Along the bottom of the the right cup directly below the Forward button is a slot for the microphone. When the headset is worn, the slot runs about parallel with your mouth, roughly 45 degrees from the bottom of your ear.

Charging Port


To the left of the microphone slot and below the Back button is the charging port. It is a USB Mini-B plug hidden under the piece of rubber that locks into place when not in use. When the headset is being worn, the slot and rubber cover are pretty much out of sight.
Page 4
Arctic Sound P311 Case

As with the E361 and E352 earbuds, the P311 comes with its own carrying case.

Case Closed


Similar to the ARCTIC In-Ear Case, the carrying case for the P311 is a hardbound clamshell case that is wrapped in a Nylon weave with a gold Arctic Cooling logo engraved in a metal badge on the front. The case for the P311 is a bit more heavy-duty then the In-Ear case. It has a thicker construction and two zippers for opening and closing it rather than just one.

Case Opened


The inside of the case is pretty much the same as the In-Ear case and has the same felt-like substance covering the entire interior. The circular raised portion in the top of the interior is the inset that the Arctic Cooling badge is mounted in and it doesn't get in the way when the headset is being stored.

While we were once again impressed with the quality put into what is usually considered a throwaway item, we were less impressed with the case when it was actually in use. The headset is designed to fold up and the speaker cups designed to rotate to fit into the case.

Headset in Case


While the case did its job well, the way the headset folds up when traveling with them seems to be a bit inelegant of a solution. It seems like it takes up more room when folded up than it should and, as a consequence of this, the case has to be larger in order to hold them when they are being transported in it. This is far from a serious problem, however. It also represents our only issue in regards to the design of the P311.

Battery Life

We had no established number to go by for battery life testing while playing music alone other than the 20 hour talk time quoted on the box. Our testing methodology included running the battery to the warning period three times (the first time being the initial charge of the unit out of the box) and then charging it fully three times, then taking the average of both. Before charging the unit, we made sure to drain the battery completely, as one should when breaking in new rechargeable batteries.

With those methods in mind, we were impressed with the battery life that the P311 displayed. Not only did it match the quoted battery life, but all three of our tests actually surpassed it, leaving us with a three way average of a little over 21 hours of straight music playing. Keep in mind that this time wasn't actually to the point the unit stopped functioning, but rather to the point where the warning light and sound began running, so the 21 hour number is all the more notable. Also of note is that distance from the transmitter didn't seem to effect the battery life that much. A fourth test was run near the outside of the determined usable range (about 40 feet away), and the battery life was close enough to the average to be considered within the margin of error.

We were similarly impressed with the charge times of the unit. The box specifically states that the P311 has a charge time of up to four hours, but none of our three charge times exceeded 3 hours and 30 minutes. The average actually turned out to be just a little over 3 hours and 25 minutes. Furthermore, our testing showed that the unit could be charged with any USB Mini-B cable which is a great design decision in a sea of proprietary cables and connectors.
Page 5
Testing Protocol

Remember that testing sound devices is a very subjective thing. Make sure you read reviews from many different sites to really gauge how something that deals with sound actually is. A sample size of one site is not enough to make an intelligent decision on which product to buy since there is no 'standard' way of testing something like a headset.

Our sound quality testing was done on a Dell XPS M1710 Laptop with an internal Bluetooth module running Windows 7 Professional with the music played through foobar2000 at default equalizer settings. The unit was also tested for compatibility with a Droid Incredible, an LG Chocolate 3 and a CECHAxx PS3; We found no problem connecting to any of the devices.

Ergonomics

For obvious reasons, it is very important to get a set of headphones that fit. Even your favorite songs won't seem worth listening to if the headphones you are using are uncomfortable to wear. With that in mind, the Arctic Sound P311 stands up very well. There is a bit of flex in the band design to allow the headset to fit people with different sized heads, and the low slung way they are worn proved to be quite comfortable. The light weight and partial bracing by the neck kept them from feeling heavy after extended periods of use, though, the way they rest on you neck makes them get in the way somewhat when looking around.

The buttons were easy to tell apart without looking at them which allowed the headset's media functions to be easily run on touch alone. One common complaint against over ear style headphones is that they can be quite uncomfortable to wear for people who wear glasses, but this surprisingly wasn't a problem in our testing of the P311 so long as the glasses were put on after the headset was.

All told, in our testing the design of the P311 headset stood out as being quite practical during extended use with no major ergonomic issues to speak of. The issue caused by looking around seems to be a necessary trade off imposed by balancing some of the weight of the headset on your neck and it wasn't noticeable for the most part.

Sound

Our tests of the P311 headset gave off largely positive impressions in regards to sound quality as well. The unit has good, solid bass, but not to the extent that everything is overwhelmed with it. The P311 also didn't seem to struggle with the highs or become tinny in the upper range as is the case with many similar over ear headphones. Mid-range sounds seemed a tad flat, but for most songs this went unnoticed.

There were two potential problems that were discovered during our testing. The first one was related to sound isolation. While the isolation was generally quite good as far as half-can headphones go, there were times that getting the headset resting comfortably over your ears prevented them from being tight against them, letting outside noises in until they were adjusted. The built in microphone was able to record decent quality samples, and it was capable of working both when the headset was in Stereo mode as well as when it was in Mono mode. It should be acceptable for voice chat, though for cell phone use you might be better served with an earpiece that only covers one ear.

The second problem was related to the Bluetooth itself. When the headset was first set up, there was a noted crackling whenever higher bitrate music was made to playback. This was especially notable with WMA and FLAC files. We discovered this to be a result of the headset sound settings, as it went away entirely when we switched the output settings from 44.1 KHz (CD quality) to 48 KHz (DVD quality). After we adjusted this setting, the only way to real giveaway in regards to audio that this was a Bluetooth headset was a faint pop of static when switching tracks, but we are unsure whether the initial crackling problem was caused by the P311, Windows 7 or foobar2000.

Conclusion

The Arctic Sound P311 Bluetooth headset certainly lives up to the standards set by the rest of the Arctic Sound range. It offers good sound quality, terrific battery life, some nice bonus features and a stylish design that is comfortable enough for extended use; all for an MSRP of only $38. With Bluetooth-enabled portable audio players becoming more and more common and external Bluetooth dongles in a price freefall, this headset is the right product at the right time. We at ASE Labs can easily recommend the Arctic Cooling Arctic Sound P311 Bluetooth Headset.



Thanks to Arctic Cooling for making this review possible.

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images/siteimages/upload/2010/08/06/4057l9p.jpg Packaging Front images/siteimages/upload/2010/08/06/4058mvn.jpg Packaging Rear images/siteimages/upload/2010/08/06/4059l8u.jpg Packaging Side images/siteimages/upload/2010/08/06/4060lif.jpg Contents images/siteimages/upload/2010/08/06/4061l20.jpg Packaging Internals images/siteimages/upload/2010/08/06/4062ls0.jpg Charging Port images/siteimages/upload/2010/08/06/4063l1p.jpg Case Closed images/siteimages/upload/2010/08/06/4064lvu.jpg Case Opened images/siteimages/upload/2010/08/06/4065ltf.jpg Headset in Case images/siteimages/upload/2010/08/09/4068ly0.png Performance Chart images/siteimages/upload/2010/08/10/4069lau.jpg Microphone Slot images/siteimages/upload/2010/08/10/4070mji.jpg P311 Speaker Cups images/siteimages/upload/2010/08/11/4071mfx.jpg Arctic Sound P311

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