Here is a headset that we expected firmly at the editorial office. After the excellent Mo-Fi wired models, Lola and the exclusive Ella, Blue – renowned brand of microphones for recording studio – launches its first Bluetooth headset, the Satellite. Marketed 449 euros, the latter comes to walk on the flower beds of the reference of the genre, the Bose QuietComfort 35 (379 euros), and its excellent outsider, the Sony MDR-1000X (399 euros). To put the odds on its side and fight against these two behemoths well known to the general public, the American brand put both on the design but especially on an integrated amp, supposed to greatly improve the audio rendering.
Another effort to make on comfort
Let’s start with the design. One thing is certain: the lines of the Satellite contrast radically with those of the other Blue references. Exit the complex Lola or Ella hoop, welcome to a more classic model whose headphones pivot and position themselves flat if necessary. An ergonomic tip always appreciated (and appreciated) on a portable headset, especially when it comes to storing it in a bag or keeping it around the neck between two sheets.
Despite some metal parts, the structure of the Satellite is mainly made of plastic, which unfortunately is not the best effect. The mix of black, gray and gold chosen here by the manufacturer will not be to everyone’s taste either. The whole remains however well finished but, compared to the other helmets of the range, we are nevertheless … a notch below.
And on the comfort side, the observation is identical. Blue helmets all tend to squeeze the skull, but the Satellite further increases the pressure. Worse, wearing it for several hours at a time is almost impossible! This is even more obvious if you wear glasses because the headphones press too much on the branches. We would clearly have liked a slightly less aggressive setting or, better, have the possibility of modulating it as was the case on Mo-Fi.
A very original noise reduction system
Much anticipated, the noise reduction system designed by Blue is original. As a reminder, the principle consists in emitting in real time sound frequencies opposite to those of the environment in which you are, and thus “canceling” unwanted sounds and noises. This system works – for example – wonderfully for continuous sounds, such as airplane or train noises.
In other manufacturers, these frequencies are emitted by the same transducers responsible for reproducing music. Blue has chosen to add two additional 30mm transducers (one in each earpiece) in addition to the two dedicated to music (44mm).
According to the manufacturer, this system does not alter the sound quality. While it is difficult to really verify this – the Bose and Sony models are nevertheless very good on this point – we can however judge the effectiveness of this noise reduction. And, after several hours of listening, it is clear that Blue still has room for improvement!
Reviewed in Parisian public transport (bus and metro), the Satellite is not yet at the level of the QuietComfort 35 or the MDR-1000X since it still lets much of the background noise pass. In an office, on the other hand, where the noise from colleagues is (normally) less loud, the Satellite easily fulfills its task.
Advantages and disadvantages of the integrated amplifier
In terms of sound, the Satellite offers two different experiences depending on whether the integrated amplifier is activated or not. Without it, the sound is flat, with a slight predominance of mids and a real absence of treble. Our eardrum is much more satisfied as soon as the amp is activated. There, even if the mids are still present, the treble comes out with much more relief. The whole is detailed and suffers much less distortion when you push the volume. Finally, we appreciate the way in which the Satellite manages and manages the low frequencies: while accuracy. A quality that few helmets can boast today.
To supply all the electronics, Blue incorporates a rechargeable micro USB battery. According to the brand, it is supposed to supply the Satellite for 8 hours with amplified listening. And takes three times longer (24 hours so) when the amp is inactive.
Amplifier deactivated, we measured an excellent autonomy of 23:52, a time almost equivalent to that of its two direct competitors: 21:50 for the Bose QuietComfort 35, 27:02 for the Sony MDR-1000X. As soon as the amplifier is in service, the Satellite will only last 9:58. Promises kept!