Dolby is a company that every reader of The Digital Media Zone knows, but has never actually purchased a product from. Recently Dolby decided to release their first consumer product in the company’s 53 year history, and it’s perfectly targeted at those of us who just can’t get enough of our favorite media at home. It’s a pair of wireless headphones called Dolby Dimension, and they are well thought out and feature packed.
When Dolby decided to enter the headphone space they knew it was already quite crowded. You have many brands that have solid positions within the many sub-groups of the space. Dolby decided what they wanted to create was a set of headphones that was perfectly suited to the new ways people experience audio and video media at home.
In many homes it is a rare occurrence for the entire family to gather around the television and enjoy a program or movie together. Instead, one person gets the big TV while everyone is glued to their phones, tablets, and computers. Even when people do have time to finally relax on the couch and enjoy a movie there can be many obstacles to cranking up the volume on their Dolby Atmos surround sound system. Maybe the kids are sleeping, or the apartment walls are too thin. The Dolby Dimension headphones were designed for people who love a high-fidelity audio experience, but just can’t use their home theater speakers as much as they’d like to.
Upon first glance, the Dolby Dimension headphones don’t really stand-out from the crowd. They are black over-the-ear headphones that don’t have a pesky wire hanging out the bottom of them. That lack of a wire is part of the first feature we really love. Not only are they Bluetooth enabled (in fact, they are Bluetooth only) but the company recognized that there is usually more than one device we’d like to pair our headphones to. With that in mind, the Dimension headphones have three separate buttons that can be matched to three different devices. Simply press the button that corresponds to your phone when you’re listening to music while doing household chores, then tap the button mapped to your television when it’s time to watch a movie. Want to watch a cooking show on a tablet while preparing dinner? You can have another button mapped to your tablet. No longer will you need to constantly pair and un-pair to switch devices. In fact, using their app you can pair the headphones to eight devices, and then quickly switch which buttons map to those devices.
Like many headphones released recently, Dolby decided to forgo extra buttons and dials on the Dimension headphones. Instead the right ear cup has a touch panel. Swipe up and down to control volume. Swipe left and right to change tracks. Double-tapping on the touch panel toggles Dolby LifeMix.
Of course the new headphones have active noise cancellation (ANC), but they also have a feature that Dolby calls LifeMix. It has eleven levels of adjustability. At the highest level they block as much outside sound as possible. At the lower levels they don’t just reduce the cancellation, they actually pipe the sound into the headphones. At home this could be perfect for enjoying a movie, but still being able to hear if the baby is crying.
Dolby’s product managers are people too, so that means they like to binge the latest Netflix shows as much as the rest of us. But to be able to power through a marathon session of your favorite show with headphones, they better be extremely comfortable. We didn’t have time to watch six hours of Stranger Things while trying them on, but they did feel quite nice.
There’s another feature that sets the Dolby Dimension headphones apart from the competition. When listening to video through headphones it can be disorienting if you look away from the video. That’s not a problem with the built-in head tracking technology. You can essentially lock the location of the video, and if you turn your head away from it the sound will pan around you to accurately place the source.
It’s hard to imagine a pair of high-end headphones not supporting voice assistant technology, and in this area Dolby has you mostly covered. If you tap and hold the touch panel you can enable Google Assistant or Siri. Unfortunately they don’t support Amazon Alexa right now.
Did we mention Dolby makes these headphones? Given that, you know they are chock-full of audio processing and rendering goodness. They sound amazing, and even better when you turn on their virtualizations. All of that technology does impact battery life though. If you have all the head tracking and virtualizations enabled you’ll only get about 10 hours of use. If you turn those off you’ll get 15 hours of use before needing to charge them.
Charging the Dolby Dimension headphones is another area where the company put a lot of thought into the product. They can be charged via micro-USB, but they also come with a wireless charging dock. When you’re done enjoying your favorite content just stick them on the small charging puck, and you’ll know where they are the next time you need them, and they’ll be fully charged.
The Dolby Dimension headphones are available now, and starting today you can even pick them up on Amazon. While you get them delivered in two days, all this technology comes at a cost. They retail for $599.99. It’s a big price to pay, but Dolby put so much thought into these headphones that they are squarely at the top of our list of most lusted-after gadgets!
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