Bold is the word that comes to mind when first when looking at the Purity HD review unit on our desk. Ours is the candy pink coloured model, and though this has drawn many cat calls from the peanut gallery here in the CNET Australia offices, it is an undeniably eye-catching unit. The plastic headband is glossy and slick-looking, with soft-padding along the inside edge.
The ear cups are generous in size and padding, too, and are extremely comfortable to wear. Like the BH-905s though, we did find these headphones can start to feel a bit too tight after long sessions of wearing them. But perhaps this is just because of our enormous heads, and not a fault of the design.
Not to be confused with Nokia's BH series headphones, these do not connect over Bluetooth. Below the left ear cup you'll find a standard 3.5mm socket, and in the box are two cables: one with music controls and one without. Both cables are flat and thick, like fettuccine, making them tangle-free.
The reason Nokia includes two cables with the headphones is because the music controls on the cable only work with Windows Phone devices. This switchbox houses three buttons; up and down volume, and a central key for playing and pausing, which also doubles as the button you use to answer phone calls. Curiously, the hands-free calling feature will work with any phone, it is just the music playback controls that are limited.
The sales kit certainly helps give these headphones a premium feel. Along with the headphones and cables, you get a solid protective case for the unit.
For all of the effort put into making these headphones look and feel amazing, it is a shame that the same attention to detail isn't heard with the music played through these headphones. Nokia's audio collaborator, Monster, gets the basics right. The sound of the Purity HD is loud, but ultimately, it falls short of living up to its name. We associate Purity with clarity, but the sound we heard sounded like we were listening to our neighbour's music through a paper-thin wall.
The audio that we heard during our tests was uniformly muffled. High frequency sounds were least effected and the low end is deep and well represented, but the mids lack the crisp definition we'd expect from headphones at this price. We tested these headphones side-by-side with several other pairs in the CNET Australia labs, including the excellent and similarly priced Audio Technica ANC9s, and the difference is as obvious as it is disappointing. So much of the intricacy that you can hear through the ANC9s, the individual instruments in the mix, is lost when heard through the Nokia headphones.
The headphones does, however, do a good job of isolating ambient sounds to help improve playback. If you're like us and like to sit with headphones on at work to block out the sound of the office, you'll find a friend in these cans.
Despite its excellent and cheeky design, the Purity HD headphones just don't justify its hefty price tag. Without extra features, like wireless connectivity or noise-cancellation, the onus is on the raw sound of the headphones to set them apart, and the sound we heard is too muffled and murky to recommend.
Of course, if you got them for free, we also wouldn't recommend you look this gift horse in the, umm, ear.