Dolby Dimension evaluation: headphones to your residence

For the previous couple of weeks, I’ve been carrying headphones loads. That’s not too totally different from regular – I put on wi-fi headphones on a regular basis once I’m commuting or working on the workplace. However the brand new Dolby Dimension headphones aren’t meant to be worn whereas commuting or on the go, they’re designed to be worn in your house. So, as a substitute of utilizing my Sonos audio system, my TV’s soundbar, or the speaker on my telephone, I’ve been carrying the Dimensions at residence at any time when I’ve been listening to music, streaming YouTube, or watching TV and flicks.

The $599 Dimensions are Dolby’s first self-branded client product. They’re over-ear, wi-fi Bluetooth headphones loaded with Dolby’s audio applied sciences and some distinctive options you received’t discover on the typical wi-fi headphone. The obvious distinction with the Dimensions is that they don’t seem to be designed for journey in any respect: they don’t fold up, they aren’t straightforward to pack, they usually don’t have battery life that may compete with the perfect from Sony and Bose.

As a substitute, they’re designed to be worn in your house, linked to the stuff you use to devour content material, whether or not that’s in your telephone, pill, laptop computer, or TV. Since carrying headphones inside the house isn’t at all times essentially the most pure or comfy expertise – particularly in case you have a household that you simply’re not making an attempt to completely ignore – Dolby developed particular options for the Dimensions to make carrying them at residence simpler. There’s head monitoring, so your audio will sound prefer it’s coming from a set location, like a TV display. There’s the flexibility to avoid wasting as much as eight pairings and shortly change between linked gadgets with buttons on the correct earcup. And most vital is the LifeMix system, which helps you to take heed to your music, video, or different content material, whereas nonetheless with the ability to hear your environment.

All these options do make it simpler to make use of the Dimensions should you incessantly change between your telephone, pill, or TV when at residence. And the Dimensions have a snug design that’s straightforward to put on for hours at a time.

However their benefits haven’t satisfied me that their worth and limitations are value it.


Verge Rating

Good Stuff

  • Simply change between a number of gadgets
  • Comfy headband and well-padded earcups
  • Expansive soundstage that’s perfect for films and cinema

Dangerous Stuff

  • Troublesome to make use of on the go
  • Can’t be linked to 2 gadgets on the identical time
  • LifeMix options don’t utterly alleviate the truth that you’re carrying headphones

The Dimensions have a big, over-ear design with premium-feeling leather-like materials masking a lot of the earcups. The scarf is padded with the identical materials and makes use of metallic for the remainder of its construction. At 330g, they aren’t the lightest headphones I’ve ever examined, however their ample padding and enormous, oval earcups make them comfy for lengthy stretches.

The bottom of the correct earcup is residence to an influence button and three gadget buttons, which you’ll program to change between your mostly used gadgets with the Dimension smartphone app. The best earcup additionally has contact controls for quantity, monitor skipping, accessing a digital assistant, and toggling the LifeMix function. Swipe controls on headphones are sometimes clumsy, imprecise, and irritating, however the Dimensions’ are at the least slightly extra responsive than others I’ve tried.

The Dimensions have 40mm closed-back drivers – customary for a lot of over-ear headphones – that are tuned by Dolby’s numerous audio applied sciences. Apparently, Dolby doesn’t declare that these headphones reproduce Atmos sound and even mimic 5.1 or 7.1 encompass sound methods, however simply claims that once you use them for “leisure created in Dolby Atmos, you’ll mechanically get the perfect sound for it over a Bluetooth connection.” The corporate additionally doesn’t declare that they’re tuned for any particular exercise, however in my exams they’re most spectacular for cinema content material with a lot of dynamics. The Dimensions have a large soundstage, with crisp particulars that basically lends them to make use of for watching films.

That isn’t to say they sound unhealthy for music, they simply aren’t as spectacular as once I put on them throughout a film. The Dimensions wouldn’t have a flat sound signature, however they don’t unnaturally emphasize bass and are largely nice to take heed to. You could possibly describe their sound as “medical,” as they lack heat, however I don’t suppose anybody will probably be displeased with it.

Exterior of these restricted controls on the headphones themselves, configuring the Dimensions is basically executed via the iOS or Android app. You’ll be able to toggle Dolby’s audio enhancements, handle paired gadgets, and alter the LifeMix stage. Although you’ll be able to have as much as eight gadget pairings saved directly and set three of them to the buttons on the headphones themselves, it’s not attainable to have the Dimensions paired to multiple gadget at a time, which might be limiting when you’ve them linked to a pill or TV after which wish to reply a name in your telephone. Luckily, the app management is finished over Bluetooth LE, so you’ll be able to nonetheless handle options even when the headphones aren’t linked to your telephone.

A type of options you’ll be able to toggle is the top monitoring, which can make the sound seem as if it’s coming from a set location, like your TV. Flip your head away from the TV and the sound will shift to the aspect; flip again and it’ll appear to be it’s coming from the TV itself. It’s a neat trick and it’s cool that it doesn’t require any further {hardware} – the entire monitoring is finished by way of accelerometers within the headphones themselves.

Dolby claims as much as 10 hours of battery life when virtualization and head monitoring are enabled and as much as 16 hours when these options are turned off. Neither of these stats examine favorably to Sony’s 1000X Mark III or Bose’s QuietComfort 35, however for the reason that Dimensions aren’t designed for use on the go, even 10 hours between expenses is okay for residence use. When it comes time to recharge them, 15 minutes on the included magnetic charging dock offers as much as two hours of use, whereas two hours on the dock will cost them utterly. There’s additionally a microUSB port on the underside of the correct earcup for wired charging.

The LifeMix function is what Dolby is absolutely pushing because the Dimension’s massive differentiator. Like many headphones with lively noise canceling, there are a number of microphones on the skin of the Dimension’s earcups. However as a substitute of utilizing them to cancel out exterior noises, Dolby makes use of the mics to combine in your setting’s sound with the content material you’re listening to. You’ll be able to alter the extent of the combination from full noise cancelation to a boosting of out of doors sounds, so they’re louder than the content material you’re listening to utilizing the Dimension cell app.

The thought right here is should you’re watching one thing in your pill whereas another person is watching TV, you’ll be able to nonetheless hear them and have a dialog with out having to take your headphones off or pause your film. Or perhaps you’re a dad or mum watching a film at evening and don’t wish to wake the children, however nonetheless wish to hear your film as its supposed and never have to look at it with closed captions on. The Dimensions will help you hear every thing in your film and nonetheless be capable of hear if the infant wakes up.

At the very least, that’s what Dolby guarantees the expertise is like. In actuality, it’s much less spectacular. Although different headphones, just like the Sony 1000X Mark III, can pipe in exterior audio for situational consciousness, the Dimensions do appear to actively combine the exterior audio along with your content material in a simpler and pleasing method. The app offers twelve totally different ranges of combine, which might be greater than most individuals would hassle to fiddle with. The upper ranges, which offer extra ambient sound, are likely to amplify the outside noises in unusual methods, offering an virtually ASMR-like expertise, whereas the decrease ranges may as effectively simply be cancelling the noise.

It doesn’t matter what stage I set the LifeMix to – which, frustratingly, can solely be adjusted within the app, the headphones can solely toggle between full ANC and the final LifeMix setting you had – it was nonetheless troublesome to listen to different individuals speaking once I was enjoying content material within the headphones. I may inform that somebody was saying one thing, however with a view to actually perceive them, I needed to pause the content material or take the headphones off, largely defeating the aim of the function.

LifeMix can also’t overcome social norms. Sporting headphones offers social cues to different individuals that you’re not listening to them, even should you can hear each phrase they’re saying. In comparison with different headphones, the Dimensions do make it simpler to listen to my spouse when she says one thing to me, however they don’t make her wish to speak to me whereas I’m carrying them.

I do suppose that they’ll enchantment to some house dwellers in search of a cinematic expertise with out the burden of enormous speaker methods and irate neighbors, however most individuals are higher served by a high quality soundbar for that objective.

Overcoming social norms round headphones is the Dimensions’ greatest problem, which they don’t conquer. It’s simply extra comfy for me to make use of audio system, soundbars, and even closed captions when acceptable, than to put on headphones at residence. And it’s irritating how poor the journey expertise is with the Dimensions – they’re massive, cumbersome, have poor battery life, and don’t actually have a 3.5mm cable possibility for in-flight leisure methods. Despite the fact that the Dimensions sound spectacular, are comfy to put on, and have good supplies, it’s laborious to justify their excessive price ticket once I can’t even use them in most conditions the place I wish to put on headphones.

It’s doubtless that Dolby will put this type of know-how into different merchandise, together with extra transportable headphones, and that may make me extra enthusiastic about them. However for now, I’m saving my $600.

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