Review: Motorola S9-HD Stereo Bluetooth Headset

By Ryan Blundell on 2 Jul 2009 05:06 pm EDT
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Motorola S9HD

I have stated the following fact many, many times before; music is a huge part of my life. From singing along to Raffi when I was quite young, to playing in several high school bands as a loud and proud band geek, my love for music rivals my love for the BlackBerry smartphone. So rather than have these two loves fight for superiority, I made it my mission to have the two work together. BlackBerry? Check. Micro SD loaded with music? Check. The perfect way to listen to music on my BlackBerry? Pending. I've found my perfect wired headset to listen with, but wires aren't always a viable solution. On my desk, with my wireless keyboard and mouse, there's not a wire to be seen, and I would prefer to keep it that way.

If you dig through CrackBerry Bluetooth reviews, you'll find a review for the Motorola S9 from way back. They were beautifully designed and performed well. Improving upon near perfection, Motorola also offers amazing audio delight with their MotoRokr S9-HD (yes folks, high definition) Stereo Bluetooth headset. Now that the music is playing, and the creative juices are flowing, let's see what this headset can do.

Package and Profile

Motorola S9HD
in all its glory

 

 

The front of the packaging for the MOTOROKR S9-HD displays the headset in all of its glory. The reverse side gives you a brief overview of what you have just purchased. Oh, and for those who care, the reverse side also shows a picture of David Beckham sporting the headset. Then I realized that he was actually wearing the original S9 and not the S9 HD.

Motorola S9HD
sneaky Mr. Beckham

 

 

Because of Beckham, I was told that I was never, ever allowed to throw out the box. I could tell you that wouldn't be the case if I was on the box...moving on...

Inside the package you will find;

  • Motorola MOTOROKR Stereo Bluetooth Headset
  • 3 soft ear tips (small, medium and large)
  • Wall Charger
  • Microfiber carrying pouch with drawstring closure
  • Manual

Motorola S9HD
package contents

 

 

Upon first glance, I could see that Motorola kept most of the original S9's design. Rather than the black and red color scheme, a simple, sleek black look was used. On each of the arms, just above the ear pieces, you find the main headset controls. On the right side, you can use the buttons to skip to the next or previous track, reject a call, mute a call and play/pause/stop the music. I'll explain the technology later, but pressing and holding the skip forward button selects SRS WOW HD audio mode. The right side also houses the headset's microphone. The left controls are used to increase/decrease the volume, answer/make a call or redial the last number. The bar that "floats" behind the back of your head houses the charging port, power button and the LED indicator.

Motorola S9HD
left side

 

 

Motorola S9HD
right side

 

Motorola S9HD
the rear

 

 

The design of the controls, in my opinion, offers an increased ease of use over the original S9, as the buttons seems to be raised. From what I have read about the original S9, the freedom it offered was also one of its drawbacks. The headset is designed to be used in any situation, including an active lifestyle. Sure it was found to be comfortable to wear while running, cycling, etc, but all that body sweat could potentially find its way into the inner workings of the headset, causing damage. The rubber coverings found on the S9-HD would help protect against such damage. As far as fit and comfort is concerned, I'll say that one size fits most. Motorola did an amazing job in the design and in order to maintain that, you'd think that the headset had to be rigid. You'll find flexibility in the length of the arms, which allows for a great fit on most noggins. Where you start to see the rigidity is around arch that fits over your ears; where the volume and the AVRCP (Audio Video Remote Control Profile) controls are located. With the "large melon" resting upon my neck, the fit and feel was decent enough, it didn't cause discomfort. I was used to Stereo Bluetooth headsets with wired earbuds. Those with (pfft) "Normal" sized heads found it quite comfortable. The controls were well placed, but it did take some time, and a few wrong button selections, to remember the layout. If I hung up on you, that's my story and I'm sticking to it. I found myself wearing the medium sized earbuds for optimal comfort. I almost always wear glasses and for those who also sport spectacles, you'll be happy to know that the headset won't interfere too much with them.

Motorola S9HD
made to fit most

 

 

Tech and Specs

Play/Talk Time: Up to 6 hours
Range: Up to 33 Feet
Profiles: A2DP 1.2, AVRCP 1.0, HF 1.2
Weight: less than 1oz (incredible light for its size)

The call quality for the MOTOROKR S9 HD was excellent. It does offer some echo and noise cancellation. I could be heard perfectly well in a normal, interior setting, still fairly well in the outdoors, but a busy downtown setting offered some difficulty. The headset will pause the music as a call comes in and will resume afterwards. Now, I bet you're wondering about the SRS WOW HD audio mode I mentioned earlier. It's a mash up of various audio solutions and technologies working together to recreate audio the way it's supposed to be heard - naturally. Here are some of the highlights:

3D Audio - Restoring the bigger, fuller sound we experience in everyday life. Close your eyes and make note of not only what you are hearing but where the sound is coming from. In a nutshell, these are called "spatial cues".

Bass but not bass - Hunh? Look at the size of those earbuds, there's no way that you could get the true "boom boom" out of those things! SRS labs found a magical way around this. With their "psychoacoustic understanding and technical know-how", they were able to simulate that deep bass feel by boosting overtones. Your mind, in its mysterious ways, fills in the missing information. You essentially hear what isn't there.

Clarity - By enhancing high frequency content, clear audio enjoyment is restored. You experience a true, full bodied sound without missing the small details.

My music sounded absolutely amazing with the MOTOROKR S9-HD. The other stereo headsets couldn't even touch the audio pumping into my ears. It was real, it was true, it was enjoyable.

Conclusion

Equally beautiful in design and function, it was literally music to my ears. If you are out for a run, make sure you are extra alert as you may find yourself lost in the sound. The fit and feel will please most, as will the ease of use. The rubberized coverings should help protect against liquid damage, but it's not water tight. I was hoping to see a slightly longer battery life and hoped that the call quality would be as good as the playback quality. The call quality was good, but you do get spoiled by the musical mastery.

Pros

  • Amazing audio quality for music
  • Echo and noise cancellation
  • Unique design
  • Easy to access controls

Cons

  • Requires you to get used to the fit of the product
  • Cannot be used for calls in loud areas

Editor's Ratings

  • Design & Function 4/5
  • Sound Quality music 4.5/5 call quality 4/5
  • Aesthetics 5/5
  • Ease of Use 4.5/5
  • Comfort 4/5

Customer Ratings and Reviews

Pricing & Purchase 

46 comments

rane4life

these are the best ones i have found so far for running..dont even know they are there and they dont feel all flimsy..perfect for this

Pre-dawn raid

I have the jaybird JB-200s and any kind of bouncing (such as running) and they fall out. Really wish I had gotten these instead.

tealturboser

All I need to do is find a good armband for my storm and I'm good to go.. or some type of bluetooth adapter for my iPod Shuffle

werd10101

what a coincidence...i just bought these the other day, and LOVE them!!!

tehnick

I have these same headphones for my Storm. I have a love/hate with these things. I tend to have issues with the sound cutting in and out, possibly tied to the accelerometer of the Storm causing the orientation changes to lock up the audio. I have found that when I have my phone in my back pocket, I have audio cutting in and out. It is especially worse when walking.

I'm not sure if it is the Storm, or the headphones since I have read other reviews talking about these headphones having poor range on them due to the weak BT radio in them. When the phone is in close range and isn't in movement at all, these things sound beautiful and have boom when needed.

CrackBurglar

I too, have these seemingly AWESOME headphones. What I mean by seemingly? They are AWESOME when they are not cutting in and out.

I bought headphone so I could be wireless while mowing. LOL. That is a joke. You cannot listen with the phone in your pocket. it cuts out more than in.

And phone quality, these headphones are not made for talking on the phone.

As far as I'm concerned, I dropped $93 (shipping included) to the crackberry store as a kind gesture, because these headphones do not work for the situation I purchased them for.

I have ended up just using them at work at my IT job with the phone sitting on my desk in front of me.

Less than stellar if you ask me.

Kasracer

What kind of phone do you have? The older versions of these headphones (S9) work amazingly well when I cut the grass with my Bold in my pocket. Hell, I've even paired it with my desktop and went into a different room with a wall separating me and my desktop and proceeding with vacuuming. Only had it cut out once during that period.

Maybe your phone sucks?

MofoDo

The S9 (original model) and it works fine. I do mow the lawn with them with the phone in my pockets (Pearl). it sometimes cuts off when in my front pockets and my hand over it or when I bend down while the phone in my back pocket.
While standing and walking, it works great!
HA! as I was typing, I was listening to music thru the headset and I received a call, everything worked great, good sound quality.

DigtheBerry

I have these and love them with my curve... if your outside just put your device closer to them like an armband, front top pocket etc. I will be getting a storm, I hope for no issues with them and it!

Buy them they are sweet and sound great

Klempenski

you say the call quality is not as great. does that mean there is a microphpone somewhere on the headset for full call functionality?

Snarfler

in th eparagraph under the picture of the pcakage contents, he says " The right side also houses the headset's microphone."

ra2daj

i had the regular s9's and loved them. unfortuanetly electronics + sweat ends up in a nasty combo. i soon replaced them with the sony dr-bt22's and realized its just not the same.

Jinksy

I got this headset a little while back, right when it first came out. I loved the sound quality and the volume, so acoustically everything was peachy. What I did have a problem with, however, was choppy audio while outside. I posted the question to Motorola and nobody ever got back to me. Basically, if I was inside everything worked wonderfully. I could listen to music very clearly while walking around, and the range was fantastic. Outside everything was fine too, until I went into direct sunlight. Once under the sun, audio would chop in and out. I even went to the extent of taping my Bold to the back of the headset just to see if it was a range issue, and it didn't help. Thinking it might be my Bold, I tried several other BB models with the same results. I don't know if I just had a faulty set or what, but the sun totally killed them.

CrackBurglar

I hear ya. mine's jacked up when outside too.

bpaulson

Hello,
I had the same problem but found a fix. I purchased an armband for my storm. When I run I use the arm band and have not had the headphones check out even once. I can't figure out what caused the problem but this seems to fix it.

deuces45

Audio tends to cut off when your outdoors walking. when your inside your home or school or where your at the motorokr s9-hd serve well.

wpwoodjr#AC

I love these headphones except for one thing. The SRS WOW mode is the default in these headphones, and it resets to "on" whenever you recharge them. Do yourself a favor and turn it off by pressing the "next track" key for 3-4 seconds until you hear a beep. You will have far less distortion, the bass will be centered and realistic, and the sound image will be accurate instead of all over the place. SRS WOW is an abomination. You can't improve sound by adding distortion, volume, and out-of-phase, overbearing bass.

The largest earbuds provide the most bass. Wear the largest earbuds that are comfortable for you.

tatts34

I have an old pair you know the ht820 aka ear muffs. Don't get me wrong I love those ones. but I just could not hear over my mowers or blowers. I am a landscaper so I cant stand listening to the equipment humming. plus on the really hot days it was like wearing ear muffs. Not any more the s9hd's are like three times less. You do have to wear an arm band with my BlackBerry Storm, or it will skip. Plus I have been using them while it was raining and so far nothing wrong with them crossing my fingers. But these things rock plus the white ones are $20 cheaper than the black ones at Best Buy. sorry about the book of a review it is my first one.

SAVJR

And they are fantastic. No complaints, excellent sound quality and work great for traveling.

Twisted Wine

NO Question!!!, The Best hands down.

bgwohlman

Hearing things in even my favorite songs I've never heard before!!

j7469

I own a pair of these and they sound awesome! I can't believe how good the sound quality and range is. Also the forward and reverse buttons work on the storm when using the music player.

mikehunt0324

just got mine in today and they are amazing. worth the buy

antprdgm

i love the sq, but i have a big head... if i wear them longer than a couple hours at a time... OUCH!!!! and forget sleeping with them on... but overall, wicked good

chochopr

well damn how big is your head... just kidding... I use my premium BB headset when sleeping with them... Cause don't like using up all my battery but I could always plug it up too when sleeping and listening to music or the radio. Like iheartradio that a good app, I'm pretty sure they are better ones but I'm stuck on this one.

chochopr

I have these, they sound sooo GOOD with my BB 8900, at first I got the 1st S9 but when these came out had to get the S9 HD...

crnz

Don't want to sound stingy, but that's pricey. I guess I don't love my tunes //that// much! ;)

flamingkitties

I had a pair of these free when I bought a Motorola Z8 two years ago. The Z8 is the worst phone I ever owned and had to revert back to my HTC Wizard because it was so disappointing. The headphones however, we very good. Sadly I gave them up with the Z8 to eBay in order to pay for my new Blackberry. Oh well!

1jaxstate1

My buddy had some of these, and I bought some made by Samsung. I really didn't like the build quality of either. Mine broke within a week. I'd rather have regular over the head BT headphone. The behind the ear just sucks for me.

cletis

I also bought these for use with my Storm, and like others have posted above, the audio cuts out *a lot* if you move at all while wearing them. I'm certain it's a poor Bluetooth connection issue because it only happens when the Storm is clipped to my belt; if I hold the phone near my face -- which is obviously NOT an acceptable solution -- it doesn't happen, although my arm is certainly still moving the phone around as I walk. Also, the music does not pause during the audio dropouts, as it would if it were being caused by accelerometer interference as suggested by a previous poster -- so again, I'm thinking it's the Bluetooth. I'm convinced that it's the headphones' BT radio at fault and not the phone's because none of my other BT headsets demonstrate this dropout behavior when paired with my Storm. (Unfortunately, I do not have another BT audio device to use as a control for the Storm.)

The fundamental design of these headphones -- whereby they clamp onto your headbone just above your ears -- interferes with the wearing of hats and (sun)glasses, causing discomfort and affecting sound quality when they're forced to clamp down *on top of* sunglass arms. This means that they are near to useless when used outside in the daytime. Wow! Good thing I only wear headphones outdoors in dark, warm weather conditions, eh? And what a REALLY good thing that I don't wear prescription eyeglasses!

Battery life is disappointing -- as one would expect for a teeny little button cell that has to operate both a Bluetooth radio and a mini audio amplifier. I typically get an hour to 75 minutes on a fresh charge, which is a problem when, say, I want to ride my bicycle for two hours, as I often do. (Of course, the fact that the battery is a contemporary Li-Ion and not a nasty, notchy old Ni-Cad is definitely a plus.)

I don't expect great bass performance out of any design of mini headphone, but as this review touts the wonders of the SRS-enhanced bass, I have to say that I find it to be boomy -- which is a common audio artifact of a small driver that's being artificially forced to reproduce lower bass notes than its size/mass/Q/etc will allow; low bass notes are reproduced as a nondistinct, boomy thump. But that aside, I find the overall sound quality to be quite good, and the rubber-seal design of the driver "enclosure" means that I don't annoy those around me on the subway when I turn it up.

Overall, I find the poor Bluetooth performance to make these a non-starter. On top of that, the shades-and-hat-interference issue prevents these 'phones from being used in the application for which they are designed. (That would be the outside world.) So for these reasons, I say they're not worth buying. But if you don't find these to be deal-killers, then knock yourself out and grab a set!

mykey2k

I would have RMA'ed them mate. My headphones last 6+ hours for certain. I charge them overnight so I can listen on the train and at my desk until lunchtime, then I charge them whilst away from my desk. When I come back, I listen to them from that time until I commute back home. All said, about 10 hours a day.

If it isn't too late, try getting a replacement I suppose. That's just wrong to be happening.

-m

tatts34

I have an armband it is the belkin used for the Ipod 120gb at walmart for like 20 bucks I run around use it for mowing does not cut out one single bit should try it

2hot

these are awesome..just got mine today

mhopkins79

These headphones have always worked great for me indoors. However I bought them to use outdoors. They seem to cut in and out a whole lot more outside. I give them a thumb in the middle. Great sound if you wanna press the headphones to your ears the whole time. But they didn't solve my search for the perfect outdoor wireless headphones! Still looking....

tealturboser

I guess I'm not getting these as I wanted them for running.. if it cuts out when you are outside mowing the lawn, then now way will it work for me.

mykey2k

My problem may be coming from wearing them almost constantly (about 50+ hours a week)

The tape that holds the power-button down started disintegrating and losing the stickum. This led to the power button to become flappy. Not a big deal, but they should have used a better solution than a weak glue.

Additionally, the rubber portion that is on the back (the bit that says rokr) is also held on by the same glue. Which also broke down. I eventually just made it all nice and clean so no residue finds its way in to my hair. I'll deal with it.

Bluetooth -- I have the same problem. Outside, wide open spaces, cuts out if I have it in my pocket or anywhere more than 5 feet from my person. Inside, I can walk from one side of my building to the other without problem -- well over 30 feet.

To this end, I've taken the holster and clip it on to the front of my backpack. Cuts out less.

I too was going to use them during lawn mowing... didn't work either. I just keep the Bold in my pocket now.

Sunglasses and hats -- I don't have a problem, but I also use wrap around sunglasses (the stems don't curl behind the ear). I've also worn hats without problem, but maybe I wear my hats differently too :)

The sound is very good, I agree. I've had some people complain about my voice being "low" or "distant" when on the phone though... not all the time, but when it does, they've had to mention it.

Battery is good (for me). 10-12 hours of use ... I charge them overnight in the car, then for a couple hours at work when my Berry isn't using the charger, and I'm good to go all day.

-m

angelsfan01

I agree that electronics and sweat don't mix! I got the original headset for Christmas and within 3 weeks I was having problems with the headset dialing out of the blue and forwarding to the next song. Figured out that my sweat was shorting it! I bought the HD hoping it would perform better and I returned it within 2 weeks! Definitely not worth the money if you are a "sweater" like me!

Tallgntlmn

Thanks for the straight talk. I just wanted to know if these things fry when you sweat on them like the previous version is known for. I need a set that is sweat resistant at the very least. And has a guarantee.

I currently use my iPod earbuds and on Friday, the right one quit working because it got too wet. At least I know it will work again once it dries. At $85 per set for the S9-HD, I don't want to take that risk.

jesse.criger

We use this device in Iraq as a wireless communication between teams and HQ Its Perfect fit and sleek design fits under my kevlar helment without a problem.....5 out of 5 stars..........

SPC Criger

SeattleReign

FYI These are on sale on Buy.com for 59.99 with free shipping.

bbeezy

bought them yesterday and taking them back today. NOW. as soon as i finish this comment. WAYYYY TOO MUCH cutting in and out. i KNOW there's nothing wrong with my BOLD. these are just NOT WORTH IT. they do sound good. i'll give them that. but i'd rather deal with the wired headphones than that VERY ANNOYING cutting in and out (and my phone can be in my hand or on my SHOULDER!!). they're worth 50 bucks. MAX.

viajshekar

The design of this headset looks great.
http://www.cancerlung.org

bigmike3491

I like so many, love these headphones. My problem is that I lost the earbuds. Anyone know where I could get some replacements?

Ricey155

got my S9's as like most i do a lot of running but im currently sync to my ipod touch 32gig in the gym, they sync fine with my bb 8900 but i dont really want calls when im in the gym and working hard so no phone action

they really work and fit well sounds is very good and no more wires, i use nike + shoe sensor so like to view the screen to see how far ive run etc they work

i only paid £11 of ebay for mine so bargain of the century or what ?? inc free post