Fiil Canviis Pro headphones have taken an everything-including-the-kitchen-sink strategy with a host of next-gen features, including touch control and on-board music storage. Some get a little lost, but at the core they’re comfortable on-ear Bluetooth headphones with great noise reduction.
You have to be careful when reading about headphones and earbuds. So many will talk about noise isolation and cancellation, but will often just mean that they passively reduce the impact of external noise with how they fit in, on, or over your ears. If you really want the experience of having your headphones make it seem like the world outside is far away and there’s nothing around you but the music, you want active noise cancellation. This means that the headphones have microphones built in that sample the ambient noise around you, and generate additional noise on a wavelength that literally interferes with the ambient sounds and, wait for it… cancels it out. It’s actually pretty cool stuff.
If you’ve seen people on airplanes with those Bose Quiet Comfort headphones, that’s exactly what we’re talking about. That’s also one of the primary features of the Fiil Canviis Pro headphones sent to me for review (interestingly, the company got started with a successful Kickstarter campaign for their original headphones). And having tried out a few similar headphones over the years, I have to say that Fiil has done a very good job with the technology.
No pair of portable headphones is going to be able to dampen all the noise around you, especially irregular sounds like people talking, but if you are, for example, on a plane, they can do a lot. I recently took a flight across country, and I wore the Canviis Pros all the way. The noise level was less that than in a well-insulated luxury car, and meant I didn’t need to blast the volume on my music, which also helped keep my ears from stressing out. They also have different modes of noise cancellation, all controllable via app or the controls on the side of the right earcup. There’s the base mode, that maxes out the noise cancellation. Then there’s a monitor mode that will dampen low frequencies, like the hum of the engine on a bus ride, but still lets sounds like conversations or the driver calling out stops come through. Open mode lets you hear everything; probably best for walking down a busy street. There’s even a windy mode, for blocking the ambient noise of a windy day.
Did you notice I mentioned wearing them for the entire flight? Here’s another great feature of the Canviis Pros – they are very, very comfortable; especially for on-ear headphones. Those are the type that rest on your ears, and I think they tend to do a better job of sealing out external sound, but at a trade-off due to the pressure they often exert. One of my favorite pairs of very portable headphones are Bowers & Wilkins P5s, and while they sound great and fold up nice and flat, they apply very firm pressure that often leaves my ears sore. The Canviis Pros still created a good seal, but they were wearable for over 2,000 miles of flying which was remarkable.
But wait, there’s more. As I mentioned, there are a LOT of features included in these headphones. Here are a few stand-outs:
There’s 4GB of on-board memory that you can load up by plugging the headphones in via USB cable to your computer, which treats them like a thumb drive. You can move mp3s, FLACs, OGGs, and other usual filetypes over, but don’t do anything fancy with folders or playlists, because they won’t be recognized. You access the music in local mode in the app, but there’s no randomizing or filter/sort features, so the result is pretty basic.
You can raise and lower the volume, and advance or go back tracks by sliding your finger over the surface of the right earcup. I found this to be a little hit-or-miss, but it may just take some practice to get smooth at it, and it’s certainly a handy feature if you don’t want to keep pulling your phone out. Also, most of the features are duplicated via buttons on the rim of the earcup as well. One very simple, but highly useful addition is that the headphones can actually sense when you take them off, and go to sleep when you’re not wearing them, to save battery. Interestingly enough, there’s also a voice search capability, that allows you to search for songs in your library to play. And the headphones also come with cables with inline controls to allow you to directly connect to your phone as well, if you need to turn Bluetooth off.
3D Sound and Equalizer
If you’re into headphones, you know the difference between open and closed-back units, and the effect on sound stage. Open back headphones are usually better for listening, because they make you feel like you’re in a larger space since your ears are actually open to the outside world and you can hear everything around you. Of course, that’s contrary to the goal of closed-back headphones, which try to isolate you from the outside, and also tend to make the music feel closer, even a bit constrained. The Fiil Canviis Pros are of course closed-back, but they alleviate some of this with a 3D sound feature that modifies the sound to give the impression that you’re listening in a room, or a hall, or a stadium. In general, this kind of modification to the music can be annoying, and ends up distracting from the listening experience, but I was pleasantly surprised by the restraint and effectiveness of the feature here. I like the lower two modes, and found they helped make up for the closed back sensation. One quirk, though: the 3D sound feature doesn’t work with the on-board storage. There are also 3 equalizer settings, intended to promote either bass, treble, or a neutral state for your music. I didn’t feel that they provided any enhancement.
The headphones are rated for 33 hours of playback. I haven’t had the chance to test that all the way, but I’ve had them run for a solid day of usage with no sign of them giving out. And they do have the cable to connect, so even if the batteries die, they can be used as standard headphones (though without the noise cancelling).
The sound on the Canviis Pros is good. If you made me put a number on it, I’d call them a 6.5 out of 10. To put that in context, I give my current favorite pair of headphones, which are open-backed, so big they aren’t portable, don’t have Bluetooth, and need an amp to run properly, a 9 – so there’s still room at the top if I find anything better. Most earbuds don’t rate better than a 4. These have a warm sound, without a lot of detail or separation, but they are pleasant to listen to for an extended period of time. They’ll provide a listening experience at least on par with Beats or similar popular Bluetooth headphones, and their feature list makes them far more compelling in many ways.
I like these headphones. In fact, they’re the best Bluetooth headphones I’ve reviewed so far, and since wireless seems to be the direction most phone-based audio is going, that’s an important rating. They are comfortable to wear for an extended period of time, the noise reduction is surprisingly good, and the battery keeps them going and going. On-board storage makes them an interesting choice for workouts and other situations where it’s a bother to have your phone with you as well, and basically adds the functionality of an iPod Shuffle to your headphones. A few of the features, like the touch controls and voice search, seem a little quirky and aren’t core-functions, but they also don’t get in the way. All-in-all, these are a great luxury choice for folks who need portability and wireless functionality, and covet good noise cancellation.