Out of all the A2DP headphones we’ve reviewed, the Plantronics Pulsar 590A is the first to successfully nail the comfort factor. Unfortunately, the sound quality isn’t on par with what we have heard from other offerings, but they’re still worth considering. There’s an audio streamer, stand and carry case included in the package to sweeten the deal.
Although the silver frame of the 590A doesn’t look very substantial the headphones feel quite solid. The headband is reassuringly firm without being painful and there’s enough flex to withstand more than its share of punishment. To help the drivers fold away there are several joints holding them in place, all of which seem sturdy enough.
All the controls, including a dedicated power switch and extendable microphone boom, are located on the right driver. There’s a ring around the controls that flashes to let you, and everyone else whose attention it grabs, that you are connected to a Bluetooth device. If you don’t have any other A2DP enabled devices yet, there’s a small transmitter with a 3.5mm jack on the end of it included in the package which will bridge your old audio devices into the wireless world of Bluetooth.
There’s an interesting round proprietary charging connector that makes aligning connectors unnecessary. There’s also a matching, weighted stand which will charge the headphones and display them. The charging connector plugs into the back of the stand, but you can pop it out and onto the headphones instead.
The sound quality is, unfortunately, very muddy. Undefined bass tends to drown out the rest of the signal, and a lot of the treble’s definition is lost in transmission. If your source has any EQ settings, you can tweak them to get better results, but using the Pulsar 590A as a pair of wired headphones, instead of as a wireless pair, will give you an increase in fidelity. This happens when you connect something into the headphones via a 3.5mm jack and turn the headphones off.
One other minor annoyance is that the headphones beep every time you push a button. We think it’s unnecessary, and despite the time we spent devising hypothetical situations, we couldn’t think of one that warranted audible beeps when tracks or volume levels change. Unless of course you are deaf to everything except beeps. Oh, wait…
Having a notification beep only when you changed between A2DP music and mobile phone headset modes would have been the way to go -- because if you tried to change modes and nothing happened, but heard a beep, you’d know the headphones were searching for another device and the problem existed somewhere else. All this aside, the beeps are easy to live with.
The last striking feature of the Pulsar 590A is the telescoping microphone. It’s actually just a plastic tube that funnels sound down into a microphone mounted in the headphone base, and there’s a noticeable increase in voice quality at the other end of the line when you’re making calls. There’s a replacement tube included in the package in case you break one, but seeing as though it’s quite short and flexible, it’d take some effort to break it. It’s a nice inclusion though, rounding off a comfortable headphone package, even if the cost’s a little steep.
Plantronics Pulsar 590A
By David Field
Aug 17, 2006 5:27PM
Aug 17, 2006 5:27PM