Usually I’m not a fan of wireless devices since one way or the other they usually end up disappointing me with poor reception and/or broken connections due to interference. Of course, my Xbox 360 and PS3 controllers have never posed any problem, yet I wonder how some manufacturers nail this technology and how some others fail to provide a satisfactory experience.
Now TDK is a brand I have heard since a very young age. Way back when, I used to see TDK cassettes and videotapes lying around the house with different songs and recordings on them. However, TDK is one of those Japanese brands that you may have seen a lot, yet at the same time it remains obscure enough that you don’t see it advertised in the mainstream media either. It came as a pleasant surprise then, that I got a wireless headset from TDK for review for one of their premium headphones that’s going to be introduced in the market soon.
The WR700 headphones come with a 2.4GHz wireless transmitter, an extended 3.5mm jack (suitable for 1st generation iPhones which don't have a flush audio jack), a 3.5mm to 6mm audio extension jack, a soft pouch to hold everything in and 4x AAA (Imation branded) batteries. Starting up the system is a simple process of plugging in the transmitter into any 3.5mm compatible audio device, starting up the headphones and that's it. The pairing is done within seconds and you're good to go.
Going down the spec sheet of the WR700 headphones, the first and most promising thing that I see is its ability to playback uncompressed CD quality (16-bit 44KHz) audio. Next up is obviously the dynamic channel selection which uses a triple band wireless connection running on 2.4GHz from Kleer’s technology. The whole wireless tech used from Kleer essentially changes the audio frequency as soon as it senses a possible drop in wireless connection. What this means is that if you’re constantly moving around the wireless transmitter of the WR700 headphones, you may encounter 1 second drops as the frequency is being changed. So while this may seem annoying, it is still a better solution than listening to the audio feed all crackled up. Of course, you wouldn’t normally be moving so much around (and away) from the wireless transmitter which is rated at 10 meters, so this isn’t a big deal really.
To test the audio quality of the WR700 I tried a couple of songs, movies and obviously games. I’ll go through them in detail later on, but first let me tell you how the headphones themselves feel. The design of the ear cups on the WR700 is such that they will fit right on your ears, not over them. The padded cushioning is flexible enough to adjust to your ear, but it’s also thick enough to subdue any nearby noise. While there isn’t any noise-canceling tech in the WR700, the ear cups do a very decent job of eliminating background noise. You truly feel isolated from the environment with the headphones on; the other part of the experience is of course the brilliant sound quality.
For music I stuck to trance which is my usual go to genre for pretty much everything. Listening to Mirage
(title track from Armin Van Buuren’s latest album) running at 320kbps was as much a pleasurable experience as listening to it on my Razer Mako 2.1 THX speakers. Better, in fact, because of the sound isolation provided by the WR700 headphones. This is obviously the case for any audio track since good headphones will always provide a better experience than good speakers, unless in a studio setting. I also chose Mirage because the song itself is a brilliant mix of progressive trance, sharp electronic beats and some good old fashioned electric guitars. Next I tried a vocal track by Utada Hikaru, the PLANiTb Acoustic mix of Beautiful World
. Apart from having pronounced vocals, this track features heavy use of acoustic guitars and drum beats, all of which played back crystal clear on the WR700.
As far as movies are concerned, I played The Dark Knight bluray. Hans Zimmer’s score in the opening bank robbery scene felt really great. The WR700 amazed me with its low pitch base levels that I could actually feel, especially during the machine gun test fire scene. Next up was the opening sequence of LotR: Two Towers between Gandalf and the Balrog. The background orchestral score and all the different sound effects of the Balrog and Gandalf fighting it with his sword sounded superb. Even in movies the WR700 worked incredibly well.
Just to give you an idea of how loud I set the volume during my tests, I couldn’t hear myself snapping my fingers. That’s loud enough that I can really stress test the WR700’s high and low pitch audio capabilities, but not loud enough to blow my eardrums.
As far as videogames are concerned, I tried both Left 4 Dead 2 and Team Fortress 2. While L4D2 played fine, especially with the spooky background noises adding to the ambiance, TF2 left much to be desired. I guess it’s just the way the game’s audio was designed, what with loud bangs and screams all over the place. So then I tried World of Warcraft, which turned out to be a very serene experience.
While testing the music I also went ahead and walked into my living room as the wireless transmitter was plugged into my PC. I left the door to my room open and actually walked out to the farthest corner of my house (almost 9 meters away); having about three 1-second drops as the headphones changed the frequency. To its credit, the audio was just as high quality as it was when I was sitting next to the transmitter.
So at the end of the day the TDK WR700 really impressed me. The sound quality remained great throughout, and the headset and the transmitter feel of high quality making while also looking great. What I don’t like is the fact that you need four AAA batteries to power the thing, (2x in headphones and 2x in transmitter), but the rated life is almost 60 hours. I have only used the WR700 for about 16 hours over the past 3 days and have seen no sign of the battery dying. Sadly there’s not battery life indicator on the headphones and the transmitter, and the fact that it doesn’t have built-in rechargeable battery is also a downer, but nothing that should stop someone from buying these excellent headphones.