We live in a world without wires. We connect our computers to the web with Wi-Fi and we chat on our cell phones without being bound to a landline. Why is it, then, that we continue to use wired headphones most of the time?

Helping you cut the cords is the Arctic Sound P311 stereo Bluetooth headset. It rocks the sporty “behind the neck” style and it’ll support your mobile chatting needs too. Or does it?

Features and Highlights

There’s nothing particularly out of the ordinary. If you’ve used another stereo Bluetooth headset in the past, you’ll be familiar with what the Arctic Sound P311 brings to the table. It’s a headset with integrated music controls and a built-in microphone for voice calls.

According to Arctic Sound, this headset promises a “super aural” experience that will provide “high fidelity stereo sound, including powerful bass and crisp highs.” It should be compatible with most modern mobile phones, as well as other Bluetooth-compatible devices.

It has an effective frequency response range of 18 Hz to 22kHz, a signal to noise ratio of 95dB, and a rechargable 400mAh battery rated for up to 20 hours of talk time and up to 400 hours of standby.

Included Accessories and Necessities

Opening up the packaging, we find the stereo Bluetooth headset itself, a basic user manual, a protective carrying case, and a USB charging cable. It’s quite notable that they have not included a wall charger (or wall charger adapter) of any kind.This is why I’d recommend you mate the P311 with a portable battery pack like the Arctic Power C1 Mobile for some extra juice on the road. The carrying case is pretty handy though.

I wouldn’t say that the P311 is particularly delicate, but it’s anything but rugged and robust. It’s largely made out of rather cheap plastic, so you will want to be a little careful with how you handle it. Note that the band can bend and fold to collapse into the carrying case.

Performance as a Musical Device

The pairing process is what you’d expect from any other Bluetooth headset. Hold down the main button until you get the alternating blue and red lights, get your music phone to search for new devices, and enter the default passcode of 0000.

There are no controls on the left earpiece, as all the buttons are located on the right earpiece. The volume buttons are next to one another and then the back/forward buttons are next to each other. The main button doubles as the play/pause. I did notice a slight lag with any of these buttons, so be patient when you press anything.

In terms of audio quality, I wasn’t exactly blown away by what the Arctic Sound P311 had to offer. It did offer some reasonable bass response, but it quickly got distorted at higher volumes and many songs sounded “flat.” It’s nowhere near as good as the excellent valueWicked Audio Reverb headphones, but those are a regular set of wired DJ-style cans.

Performance for Handsfree Phone Calls

While I am willing to forgive less than stellar audio quality when listening to music, since you gain the added freedom of wireless freedom, I can’t say the same about using this headset for voice calls.

The “hidden” microphone is just a small slot in the right earpiece and it basically doesn’t work. It’s even worse than the iLuv i222 I reviewed two years ago.

I can hear the other person on the line just fine, but I have to be practically screaming before they can hear me. The alternative is to take off the right earpiece and hold it up to your mouth, which effectively nullifies any “handsfree” advantages that Bluetooth can have.

MEGATechie Uber Cool or MEGATechie Lukewarm Lameness

The Arctic Sound P311 carries an MSRP of $37.95, making it one of the more affordable stereo Bluetooth headsets on the market today. The collapsable design is handy, as is the carrying case and the comfortable “sport style” configuration.

The earpieces themselves are well padded and quite comfortable too. Unfortunately, sound quality barely hits par for the stereo Bluetooth course and handsfree conversations are pretty much out of the question. It’ll cause you to be that guy in the coffee house yelling as he talks into his headset.

If you want a cheap stereo Bluetooth headset for some music, these are basically adequate. If you want anything remotely better than mediocre and you have any plans to make phone calls too, you’ll want to look elsewhere.

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