Earlier this year, Blue launched a couple of new headphones, Sadie and Ella, which we absolutely loved (read the Sadie review here, read the Ella review here). Along with the announcement of those new headphones also came the announcement of Blue’s first foray into making Bluetooth headphones with Satellite ($399.99).
Blue’s Satellite headphones are premium Bluetooth headphones equipped with the company’s signature built-in amplifier and patented Active Noise Cancellation feature. We were fortunate to try out the headphones in a number scenarios for the past week and a half and once again, Blue has released a remarkable pair of headphones.
With all of the premium Bluetooth headphones on the market now, what makes Blue’s Satellite headphones so special? Not only are the Satellites fitted with Blue’s signature audiophile amplifier, they also have a noise cancellation feature called Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) that blocks out every outside sound. The headphones feature a 4-driver system that includes Blue’s two custom 44mm drivers for audio and two 30mm drivers for ANC. Blue’s reason for these separate drivers is that noise cancellation can sometimes hurt the quality of the sound of your music and keeping them on separate drivers improves the sound overall.
The audiophile amplifier is a 280mW amp at 32ohms with a gain of 4dB. The battery is a 1100mAh rechargeable battery that's being marketed as giving the headphones 24 hours of battery life on just Bluetooth and 8 hours of battery life with both the ANC and built-in amp turned on.
The buttons for turning the ANC and amp on and off are found on the left ear cup along with the Bluetooth button, while the volume, and play/pause buttons are found on the right. Blue did a good job in seaprating the buttons so you don't get confused and which button is which.
Design and Comfort
While the Satellites don’t have the unique and signature look and design of the wired Blue headphones, there’s still a sleek look to the headphones. Blue’s Mo-Fi, Lola, Sadie, and Ella headphones all carry a distinctive look that’ll get heads turning but the Satellite headphones offer up a more sophisticated and settled vibe. Another difference between Blue’s wired headphones and these Bluetooth headphones are the ear cups are on a swivel. They can be folded and made smaller to fit into a bag or backpack. Also, when you put them around your neck you can turn the ear cups flat, freeing up your neck and head movement. This was glorious! If there was any issue I had with Blue’s wired line of headphones, it was the lack of comfort wearing them around my neck. The Satellite design solves that.
When I first put on the headphones, they were pretty tight. While you can adjust the ear cups to fit over your ears, there isn’t really a way to loosen the headphones. After a while, however, the headphones kind of loosen up on their own and make for a nice fit that assists the noise cancellation aspect. The cup cushions aren’t as thick as Blue’s wired headphones, but are still soft and very comfortable.
I think I can confidently say that Blue’s Satellite headphones are the best sounding Bluetooth headphones I have ever used. I first used them on my Galaxy S7 Edge, listening to music and watching Netflix. Kendrick Lamar’s Damn. and Jamiroquai’s Automaton couldn’t sound any better. For most of the time I used the headphones, I had both the amplifier and ANC turned on and it was perfect. If you’ve read my previous headphone reviews, you might be aware that I love deep accentuated bass with crisp, clear treble tones and the Satellite headphones are in impeccable those areas. I also watched 13 Reasons Why and The Get Down on my phone, two shows with a lot of great music, and they sounded remarkable.
I had the same experience on my Windows 10 laptop. Listening my music as well as watching YouTube videos, and Hulu shows, I was continually impressed with how good the headphones sounded. On the gaming side however, it was a bit different. Playing Ghost Recon: Wildlands solo, the game sounded great. I was able to hear all the intricacies of the game’s world, the banter of the game characters were clear, and the music sounded crisp.
However, when I wanted to do some co-op gameplay and communicate with a teammate, Windows 10 would put the phones in a “headset mode” where the sound quality drastically dropped. I was able to communicate with my teammate fine and he was able to hear me with no problem, but it was like I was on the phone. So to keep the sound quality, I took it out of headset mode and used a separate USB mic for online chat. Granted, the Satellites aren’t made for gaming but hey, it was worth a try (also, they’re not compatible with the PlayStation 4’s Bluetooth technology). I also used the headphones for a few Skype calls and regular phones calls on my Galaxy S7 and in those instances they sounded great.
Battery life is impressive as well. The Satellite headphones are advertised as having a 24-hour battery life on Bluetooth and eight hours when the amp and ANC are turned on. I listened to the headphones fully charged with both the amp and ANC turned on and they lasted a bit more than eight hours. I was able to use them for a full work day and then some. Another defining trait of the wired Blue headphones is that when you take them off your head, they automatically turn off, saving precious battery life. The Satellite headphones don’t have that feature. You have to turn them off to save battery life when you’re not using them. But even if the battery runs out on you, the headphones come with an audio cable that you can plug in to keep the party going.