When it comes to purchasing a new product, it is always based on research (lots of research) and a justification as to whether or not I ‘could not live without it’. The August EP650 Bluetooth 4 Headphones definitely do not fall into either category prior to writing this review. When I first heard about the EP650’s, I initially dismissed them because I had never heard of the company ‘August’, however after trying a friends, I quickly decided to get a pair.
The EP650’s are available in 5 different colours – Blue (EP650L), Silver (EP650S), White (EP650W), Red (EP650R) and Black (EP650B). I purchased the Black model from Amazon for £34 (Amazon links above and below). All have the following features:
In the Box
Bluetooth Specification: Bluetooth V4.0
The August EP650’s arrive in a muted black box with the marketing information, pictures of the contents and a picture of the headphones. The box is definitely understated given the capabilities of the headphones within!
When you open the box you’re greeted by a simple user guide and the headphones in a clear loose plastic wrap. Once you remove the user guide and headphones from the box, you’ll find a 3.5mm cable and a USB to MicroUSB Charging cable. In my box (the black EP650B’s) the USB Cable and 3.5mm Cable are black – From videos I’ve seen, the white model comes with white cables. The cables themselves are flat-style cables instead of the typical rounded cables. A nice touch that makes them easy to identify from the other potentially hundreds of cables that you might have in your bag.
The outside of the headphones is a matte finish in the colour of your choosing, with brushed metal highlights on the hinges. The ear cups have plenty of comfortable padding and a faux leather feel to them. The ear cups themselves rotate a little, and the headband extends to give you a comfortable fit.
On the bottom of the headphones there is a Micro USB connector and Microphone port on the right side of the band, and a 3.5mm audio jack on the left side of the band. The band itself has a decent amount of flex to comfortably adjust to how you wear them (and the shape of your bonce). The top of the band features a padded area, which is around 1.5cm thick. This should allow you to wear the headphones for an extended period without any discomfort.
Moving to the sides of the headphones, the left side has August and Bluetooth® printed on it. The right side houses the 5 buttons that control the headphones and your chosen connected media device. The buttons consist of (from top to bottom) Volume Up, Volume Down, Play / Pause, Next and Previous. The Play button is slightly recessed and is ringed with a thin light-bar which indicates the current status of the headphones. The power button also doubles as the power on / off button (requiring you to hold the button for three seconds to turn the headphones on or off).
The buttons themselves give good feedback when they’re pressed. There is no audible beep through the speakers, but you can hear the button press on the right earpiece as its pressed. Some reviewers have noted that the Volume and Forward / Back buttons are hard to locate – I’ve personally not found this an issue as I use the centre button as my point of reference. Embossed spots on the buttons would make them easier and quicker to locate, but this by no means detracts from these being an excellent product!
When the headphones are switched on, the LED status ring will flash blue every two seconds until your device starts playing music. once it plays music the LED changes to a soothing blue pulse every two seconds. If you put the headphones into pairing mode (by holding the Volume Up and Volume Down buttons for three seconds) the LED will flash quickly red and blue until a new pairing is established.
The Status LED is small and subtle, and does not emit much light. If you’re using the headphones in a darkened room, it shouldn’t be enough to distract anyone or to light up the room like some headsets do when they’re on.
When charging, the status LED is solid red. When charging is complete, it will change to solid blue. Charging should take between 2-3 hours. In my tests, the claims of the battery life and charge times are completely accurate! August have done an exceptional job squeezing so much capacity out of such a light-weight device!
When the headphones are paired with an iPhone, the Bluetooth icon at the top displays a miniature battery meter that lets you keep an eye on the condition of your headphones (see the iPhone screenshot on the right). The battery should be good for around 11 hours, and even if it does run out, you can switch to a cable connection using the supplied 3.5mm cable.
The Headphones can be easily paired with a Bluetooth 4 capable computer such as a Mac or Windows PC. I personally used these on my iPhone, iMac and Macbook Pro to listen to music, watch TV and to enjoy a film.
I’m no audiophile, so I can only discuss my thoughts and feelings on the quality of sound produced by the August EM650’s. Bass is deep and rich, and plentiful. Mid and high tones are clean if only slightly muted when compared to the Apple Ear Pods that I’ve been using up until now.
While there is no active noise cancelling on the EP650’s, the enclosed ear cups do provide adequate passive cancelling in most average environments. Isolation is pretty good as well, meaning you wont disturb those sat next to you on the bus or train while you listen to slammin’ dubstep.
The headphones have the ability to be used as a regular bluetooth headset. When a call is answered on the phone (or via the headphones), the headphones switch to call mode – this drops the audio quality noticeably. It is satisfactory for making / receiving a call, however the sound isolation from the ear cups does make you feel a little disconnected from the outside world. It is good enough to give you the opportunity to switch your audio source back to the phone should you want to.
If you want to use the mic input with your computer, doing so will enable the call mode on the headphones, reducing the quality of the audio. I would not recommend these as a gaming or VoIP headset (for Skype, etc), and instead get a dedicated headset that is designed for this purpose. Horses for courses!
Carry Case – BAG650
The EP650’s do not come with a carry-case in the box. Instead, you must purchase the BAG650 (available from a link below). The carry case is a simple affair – a rigid material box similar to those you’d get from other headphone manufacturers. As the August EP650’s already fold down, the case is a larger boxier affair than those you’d find from Bose, however its footprint is smaller. Either way, the case is great for keeping your headphones and cables neat and tidy, and free from any potential damage they might suffer during transportation. Whether you choose to employ the case if you go on holiday will depend largely on the size of your bag, available space, and how you pack – like I said, the case is not as small as others. One saving grace is the addition of a loop on the top of the case that I’ve found combines very well with a carabiner clip, and attaches to the outside of my day bag.
The case does make a great addition and I do feel it is worth the extra little bit of money!
Pairing with Bluetooth Transmitter Adapters
The EP650 has proven a touch problematic when pairing with your off-the-shelf Bluetooth Audio transmitters. I have tried pairing with a Avantree Saturn BTTC-200X (which is an excellent Bluetooth 3 transmitter and receiver with aptX) and a TaoTronics TT-BA01 (a generic Bluetooth 2.1 Audio Transmitter) with no luck. I would instead recommend using the August MR250 Bluetooth Audio Transmitter (click to see my review). The MR250 actually represents excellent value for money – while the Avantree Saturn comes in at £29.99 and the TauTronics comes in at around £25, the August MR250 is around £15!
The day I got the EP650’s I used them for around half of my working day. I mostly had it paired with my iPhone to listen to music, but I also paired it with my iMac for a bit of TV watching over lunch. The headphones performed flawlessly in each situation, and handled all the music I threw at them, producing pleasing results every time. They were very comfortable to wear, even for extended periods. The weirdest thing was not having a cable to get myself tangled up in.
I can sum these headphones up very simply. I LOVE them, and they are incredible value for money. Admittedly I’m no Audiophile, however I do appreciate things that sound good to me. To me – these sound good! Would I buy them again? Yes – most certainly. Would I recommend them to a friend? I already have been! Personally I think these headphones are understated given their quality and price.
Q: Is there any delay when using the headphones to watch movies or play games?
A: From my experience using the headphones with an Apple iMac and Apple iPhone to watch YouTube, Netflix, and local video content, there is absolutely no delay that I can detect.
Q: Do the EP650’s support multiple simultaneous bluetooth connections?
A: No – Only one connection at a time. Additionally it can only remember one connection – if you want to use the headphones with multiple devices you must pair it to each device when you want to use it
Q: Is a case included with the EP650’s?
A: No – a case must be purchase separately – please see the link below
Q: Do the EP650’s switch on when they are opened up?
A: No – the headphones must be switched on by long-pressing on the Play / Pause button
Q: Do the EP650’s work with the iPhone 4?
A: Yes! – Much to my surprise these paired and functioned perfectly with a non-Bluetooth 4 iPhone 4, indicating to me that they have the ability to switch back to a legacy mode should it be required.
Purchase August EP650’s from Amazon UK
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Screenshot is taken from the iPhone iOS 7.1.1
Gallery shots of the EP650 are courtesy of August International
This review is not sponsored or commissioned by August International or any of their affiliated companies