capsule review

Sound ID 510 Bluetooth Headset: Comfortable and Customizable

At a Glance
  • sound ID 510

    PCWorld Rating

    This is a solid Bluetooth headset unit for anyone who is willing to spend a little time fine-tuning the audio.

Sound ID 510 Bluetooth headset
With its own iPhone application and a handful of comfort features, the $130 Sound ID 510 Bluetooth headset is a very customizable headset with audio quality that's consistent with other headsets in its price range.

Other Bluetooth headsets--such as the Aliph Jawbone Icon series--can be customized with new features via the Web, but the Sound ID 510 is the first to have its own iPhone app--EarPrint, dowloadable for free from Apple's iTunes Apps Store (or from PCWorld's AppGuide).

EarPrint lets you fine-tune the unit for the way your particular ear hears, according to a company official. On the iPhone, the software looks like a simple graph with two intersecting lines. By placing your finger on the intersection and moving the pair of lines around the screen, you can adjust the type of audio compression used for incoming audio. EarPrint can function as an equalizer as well (a sound-level gauge comes with the application). As a result of your finger's movements, some types of sounds are amplified while others are muted, depending on where the lines end up on the screen.

In practice, making the adjustments is easy because you can hear tone and fidelity changes as your finger moves. Once you reach a setting that sounds good, you can lock it into the headset. EarPrint comes with a battery meter and a headset-finder utility that causes the unit to flash its LED and then (if you don't find it right away) to start squealing.

Three tiny microphones that separate your voice from other ambient sounds handle noise cancellation. Though people on the other end of the line occasionally noticed pops of static, the problems were not consistent and might have been caused by other electronic devices in the room where we tested the unit. In general, audio quality was clear and crisp.

The response of the 0.28-ounce unit's touch-sensitive volume control was especially smooth. To make volume adjustments, you slide a finger up or down the outside of the unit while a call is in progress. The Sound ID 510 comes with multiple earpieces, along with an earhook in case all else fails.

The Sound ID 510 also has an "environmental" mode that amplifies ambient sounds so that they pass through the unit as if you didn't have the headset in your ear. This setting does improve hearing, but noisy rooms become much noisier because even distant sounds get amplified.

I found pairing the Sound ID 510, which has a simple, on/off switch, easy and uneventful. The unit supports Bluetooth 2.1+EDR, and it will also support A2DP when a planned free firmware update becomes available for download.

According to its manufacturer, the Sound ID 510 should last for 5.5 hours of talk time and 135 hours of standby time per charge of its lithium polymer battery.

This lithe headset is highly capable, but you'll need to spend a little time optimizing the audio before you can settle into it.

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At a Glance
  • PCWorld Rating

    This is a solid Bluetooth headset unit for anyone who is willing to spend a little time fine-tuning the audio.

    Pros

    • EarPrint software customizes incoming audio
    • High-quality audio and ample noise cancellation

    Cons

    • Static detected in some calls
    • Environmental mode can be harsh in a noisy room
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