LAS VEGAS - Generally speaking, you can listen to music, you can listen to what's going on around you or you can have a coherent phone call, but you can't do all three on the same headset. OnVocal, a Bluetooth headset and app combination, looks to give users control over all three at once.
I went ears-on with the OnVocal headset at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2015, and found that the device worked exactly as advertised. I secured a Bluetooth band around my neck, and fitted two adjustable foam earpieces into my ears. From there, I used a mobile app to adjust three settings: one for sounds from the phone, one for ambient noise and one for my own voice.
Listening to music, a video or a phone conversation is simple enough with most headsets, but it can be extremely difficult to pay attention to your surroundings when doing so. With OnVocal, I could balance the phone and ambient noises on a scale of 1 to 15 using the iOS or Android app. This could be extremely handy when listening to music on a busy city street while needing to listen to surrounding traffic, for example.
The only hitch I encountered was trying to balance my own voice. The OnVocal features three microphones: one over each ear for the ambient noise, and one aimed toward the mouth. While in theory you can adjust how pronounced your voice is (making it easy to have a quiet conversation in a high-noise environment), I found that my voice sounded roughly the same no matter the setting. This issue can apparently be addressed by securing the earbuds more tightly, however.
OnVocal will retail for $299 and begin shipping in May 2015. Keep an eye on the company's website if you'd like to order one.
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