Montblanc is traditionally known for its finely-crafted and fashionable accessories, but since dabbling into the world of electronics with the Summit smartwatch, it's expanding this new category. Now with the simply named Montblanc Smart Headphones, Montblanc is bringing its signature design and quality over to the competitive world of active noise-cancelling over-ear headphones.
We're all familiar with the leaders in this space, dominated by the likes of the Bose 700s and Sony WH1000XM3s (and sure, the Microsoft Surface Headphones too) all landing in the $300-400 price range. But as you'd expect from a name like Montblanc, these headphones are playing in a higher tier — at $595, you're ponying up extra for the materials, design and brand.
But after seeing, wearing and listening to them, it feels worth it.
The headphones come in three color options — black and gold, black and silver, grey and silver — and while the gold may be a little polarizing, the other two options are classically good looking. From all angles the headphones perfectly fit the Montblanc aesthetic, and the feel backs it up — that's metal, not plastic, and the headband and earcups are super-soft leather. The outer parts of the earcups are a soft-touch plastic, of course, but it all comes together into a very high-quality and expensive-feeling package.
Montblanc's design is on point, and the underlying tech is the latest and greatest.
I don't have the specific weight figures, but I'd still estimate Montblanc's headphones are a bit heavier than the ultra-light Bose QC35s I typically wear — and it wouldn't be surprising considering the metal build. In my short time wearing them, they were supremely comfortable, both from the minimal pressure they put on my head to the way the supple leather pads (which are easily removable with a twist) wrapped around my ears. The earcups created a great seal for noise cancellation, and I enjoyed the music streaming from my phone. The real test will come from wearing them for several hours straight through a full travel day and flight, but first impressions are great.
Perhaps the best part is that Montblanc didn't give up on any functionality in order to deliver this look. They're built on underlying Qualcomm technology, which is great because it gives you all of the features you want: the latest Bluetooth tech for good connection and sound, Google Assistant, Google Fast Pair and guaranteed device compatibility. Montblanc also went with USB-C for charging, and includes a very nice pair of cables — USB-A to USB-C for charging, and USB-C to 3.5 mm for wired audio — that are color-matched to the headphones. There are typical button controls for play/pause on the outside of the right earcup, and volume, ANC and Google Assistant on the back of the same side. No finicky touch controls here.
Yes they're expensive, but you can easily see value in standing out from the crowd of boring headphones.
I know these are 50-75% more expensive than the go-to ANC headphone competition, but I can completely understand why someone would opt to spend extra on the Montblanc Smart Headphones. Headphones are yet another accessory that can show off your style, no different from your watch, wallet, backpack or coat. What better way to stand out sitting in first class on your next flight, alongside every other person wearing Bose headphones, than to have these beautiful Montblanc headphones that show your discerning taste? Just like any other luxury accessory, there are those who will never see value in spending more for style rather than functionality — but I see precisely why Montblanc is making headphones, and I wouldn't be surprised if they're strong sellers.
The Montblanc Smart Headphones will go on sale this month both at its online store and in its retail outlets.
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