Controls are likewise a littler cumbersome, because they’re all located on the right side and more or less require you to remember locations. There are six buttons in total, with three at the back top of the right can and the other three on the bottom.
The three at the back are the more irritating, with a top and bottom volume button and a little dimple on the middle one for pause and playback.
There’s no plus or minus etched into the buttons, though, even though the bottom buttons for power, Bluetooth, and active noise cancellation have a little imprint (though you can’t feel these either).
Really, what it feels like Definitive needs to do is make the controls a little easier to work out. So many times upon wearing the Symphony 1, we felt the need to take off the headphones and look at the buttons, forgetting what each did and accidentally pressing the power when we meant to press the pause, or hitting the pause when we meant to fiddle with the volume.
More logical, human friendly controls would go a long way into making the Symphony 1 feel like it was made for everyone rather than just fans of audio gear that doesn’t always think of the human component, beyond that of the ear.
Definitive’s controls can also stick, with the buttons becoming lodged in place, something that happened to us more than once. Again, better controls would probably fix this, so it’s just something else for version 2.0.
The other problem with the Symphony 1 headphones is the price, and at $699, you can’t help but get the feeling you’re paying for the brand, but not necessarily for the technology.
As a case in point, the Symphony 1 headphones cost $200 more than the list price of the Parrot Zik 2.0 and $50 less than the Bang & Olufsen H7, and both pairs are better designed, offering what feels like a more solid and dynamically impacting sound, and boast much more intuitive controls.
That’s not to say the sound on the Symphony 1 is bad, because it is mostly certainly not. It’s just far flatter than we’re used to, and made for people who like to listen to the music the way the engineer intended it to be, which is a different way from the punch and sense of dimensionality most headphones try to deliver these days.
Over in the US where Definitive is from, the local price reads more like $399. Converted and with tax and shipping, you get the general feeling that the Symphony 1 should be closer to the $600 mark, and so that extra hundred might be more of that Australia tax, because shipping here is never easy, or so we’re frequently told.
No neck sensor also doesn’t help the value of the Symphony 1 headphones, because it’s the sort of technology we’d expect to see in a pair of wireless cans costing this much. You should be able to take off your headphones and have the music stop, but you’ll need to manually control that on these cans.
Beyond the price difference, both Bang & Olufsen and Parrot also offer something Definitive hasn’t, and that is the traditional 3.5mm headset jack, something the Symphony 1 cans lack, replacing it with the less common 2.5mm port.