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Motorola S9-HD Review

Enhanced Motorola S9–HD Bluetooth Stereo Headphones Now Delivers High-Definition SRS WOW 3–D Surround Sound, Background Noise Isolation & Improved “Moisture Protection” Buttons

Motorola S9-HD

As you may recall the original Motorola S9 released last year was a superb A2DP Bluetooth Stereo Headphone (see my review) that proved to be _extremely_ popular – particularly for sporting Treo and Centro owners who wanted a solid cable free solution to listen to music while at the gym, running, biking or hiking. 

Although I personally loved the S9 and never had any problems whatsoever with it  there were however many reports from people (over 100 comments to my review) that the side control buttons on the Motorola S9 were too “touch sensitive” and that under heavy moisture from water and sweat it could malfunction.

The particularly frustating thing was that even those who reported problems with the S9 actually said that they absolutely loved this Bluetooth Stereo Headset which delivers a superb design, excellent sound and are ultra-comfortable.  In short, people wanted Motorola to keep the design exactly as is but to simply fix the moisture problems.

 Motorola-S9-HD-Front Motorola-S9-HD-Back

Best Sporting Bluetooth Stereo HeadphonesIt appears that the company did just that with the recent release of its new Motorola S9–HD – a Bluetooth Stereo Headphone that shares 90% of the design features of the original but now adds 3-D surround sound and high-definition acoustics from SRS WOW HD technology, better background noise isolation and new side control buttons with improved moisture protection.


The most important and most visible physical design improvement on the Motorola S9–HD is the new side control buttons pictured above.  Instead of using the previous “touch sensitive” buttons which could fail to control anything once moisture got near them, the S9–HD now offers larger and more intuitive recessed push buttons that are covered with a rubber skin which appears to be considerably more impermeable to moisture.  [Please note that Motorola does not claim that this unit is completely moisture-proof.]

 Motorola-S9-HD-Headset Motorola-S9-HD-USB

The Motorola S9–HD also becomes more “serious” and elegant going all black with a patterned rubber lining on the inside while at the same time retaining the convenience of a built-in mini USB charging connector.  As before, the left side buttons control Volume Up/Down and Call Answer/End while the right has the dedicated AVRCP buttons for Play/Pause, FWD and RWD.


In terms of accessories kit above, the S9–HD includes three sets of ear cups (small, medium, large) so that you can find your perfect fit, a new soft carrying bag and a mini USB wall charger.  Unfortunately, Motorola has also once again chosen not to include a mini USB cable that you could use to charge your headphones from a spare port at your PC.

Overall there is no doubt that the Motorola S9–HD remains as powerful and comfortable as its predecessor with a “behind-the-neck” design and weighing only 32 grams / 1 ounce which makes it ideal for most sporting activities where a lightweight “wireless” solution is most required.  At the same time the audio quality for both music and calls is further enhanced by the terrific 3-D surround sound and high-definition SRS WOW HD technology which makes it a real pleasure to listen to your tunes on the go.

Finally, it is worthwhile pointing out that while I consider the Moto S9–HD to be the best Bluetooth Stereo Headphones for sporting activities, my current top choice for “normal” activities is the terrific Jabra BT3030 (see my review) which I have been particularly enjoying now that my Treo Pro has a standard 3.5mm audio connector.

Note for Palm OS Treo & Centro Owners: In order to use all of the Bluetooth music features of the Moto S9–HD and its Bluetooth Advanced Audio Distribution (A2DP) and Audio Video Remote Control (AVRCP), Palm OS Treo and Centro owners will first have to install the Softick Audio Gateway software (see my full review for additional information).

Finally, the Motorola S9–HD is also compatible with the Motorola Q and BlackBerry.

Treonauts always look for more enhancements

Posted by Andrew on November 10, 2008 at 11:59 AM

Treo Bluetooth A2DP Headphones

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by Jack | Nov 10, 2008 2:48:57 PM

I just picked up a pair of these the other day, and I must say I'm very impressed. I got a chance to use them in a data center environment the other night, and the caller reported that I sounded nice and clear. I am getting even better reports about call quality from others than I do my Jawbone 2. Plus, I started mine up at about 9p at night, and they were still working the next morning at 7a when I got home. The only negative in using them as phone headset is that they will periodically power off. I think this must be a battery conservation mode. It happened about 3 times throughout an 8 plus hour period.

by jasp | Dec 15, 2008 5:46:24 PM

Moisture problem again just like the old S9.. my microphone stopped working.

by KC | Dec 31, 2008 1:40:25 PM

Moisture problem still exits on my third pair from running thats its. Volume button goes even when I take off and dry around my ears with my towel.

by DR | Jan 8, 2009 2:48:45 PM

Great review but now im trying to decide which I should buy, Motorola S9 or the Motorola S9-HD. Im thinking of going with the S9-HD as there improved (Somewhat) and got great reviews. Would u recommend the S9-HD or look for another brand?

by jsweaz | Jan 13, 2009 10:17:12 AM

I bit the bullet and purchased a set of the new S9-HD's a couple of weeks ago. So far I have not had any of the issues that I had previously with the original S9's. I went through around 14 pairs of the S9's some of which fried on the first use (luckily I found a local merchant willing to accept the returns). The S9-HD's have made it through approximately twelve ninety-minute exercise sessions without any issues... plus they sound better than the originals. One other thing that is note-worthy is that the HD's play phone call audio in both ears, unlike the original S9's.

If you like the design of the original S9's... the S9-HD is a worthy product.

by Charlie | Feb 15, 2009 10:33:26 PM

I recently purchased the S9-HD and 13 days later, returned them. Third time out problems started with uncontrollable volume issues. Then came possessed volume issues and beeping. then only played at one volume with no ability to change. The moisture problem exists, I'm very disappointed in this product.

by jon | Feb 18, 2009 9:58:13 PM

When paired with the iphone are they able to control the itunes music player functions as well? Does it have a built in speaker or is only used for a listening device?

by David | May 9, 2009 5:12:22 AM

i have a pair of the S9-HD...I really love these. marvelous sound quality, very comfortable and the placement of the buttons when the headset is on is fantastic.. i suggest buying a pair of these you will not regret it

by Genghis | May 15, 2009 11:59:21 AM

I'm surprised no one (including the reviewer)has mentioned the issue of sound cut-outs when using the S9 and now the S9-HD outdoors. It's maddening! How can you produce a headset that works so poorly outside? I recently received that latter from Motorola as a warranty replacement for the S9, and I immediately noticed the improved sound, Stereo phone calls, and unfortunately, the choppy sound outdoors. And to clarify, the devices (both both models) work fine in the car, but I have tried using them in multiple outdoor locations and they just don't work.

by Mark Klingsporn | Jun 22, 2009 9:11:49 PM

As the location of the bluetooth antenna is at the back I have found them really bad for using connecting to Skype on my laptop - unless I turn around and face away from the computer! Very disappointing.

by Mike | Jun 24, 2009 10:47:36 AM

I have the S9's and I've had the 'infamous' moisture issues.

Besides that, my headsets always seem to cut out when the device I'm connected to via bluetooth is close on my body. Seems like my body is contributing to this interference? And, seems like it only happens outside and in no place in particular..

Does signal strength improve AT ALL in the new S9-HD's? Or will I get the same potential disconnects?

I've tried the headset with a number if different devices with basically the same result, yet when I use my Plantronics or other devices, I don't have the cutout issue.

Weird, because INDOORS, I don't have the cutout problems with the S9's as I usually do OUTDOORS.. *Sigh*

by Rick Saphire | Jun 25, 2009 8:48:25 AM

In many cases when the screen on the iPhone 3G (system 3.0) is turned off automatically or manually, the audio becomes intermittent. When the screen is turned back on, the audio is constant. My guess is that the iPhone goes into a power save mode when the screen is dimmed and that precludes the steady audio output. I turned off the Wi-Fi, and that seemed to temporarily rectify the problem, but that test is not conclusive, as the problem on the whole is intermittent. A full charge of the iPhone also seems to help. I am quite certain this bug is in the iPhone and not the S9-HD, but in any case, the problem makes this wonderful device nearly useless for iPhone users. Hopefully the next iPhone system update will address the problem.

by Bryan | Jun 25, 2009 10:12:59 AM

I got a pair of these as a replacement for my old defunct S9; I have to say, at first I was really impressed, but like other users I did notice a couple of issues. First, while it may be more moisture resistant than the previous version, I noticed that my volume control fails when a little sweat gets on them; however unlike the previous version, when it dries out it works again. Also, like previously mentioned, outdoors they suck, I use it to listen to music on the bus, but when I'm walking from the bus stop to my office, it cuts in and out. Also the microphone doesn't seem to pick up very well, some people can hear me, but other can't hear me to I have to change the source. Overall its very nice, but Motorola needs to fix the problems or reduce the price.

by reggie | Jul 7, 2009 1:31:27 AM

for those of us who are experiencing interference when outside...the same microwaves that connect your phone are the same microwaves that interfere with your bluetooth connection. Kind of gives you an idea of just how much of a bombardment of microwaves is going on outside. if you stand in front of a microwave tower, you would be fried. goes on quite a bit. probably would be a huge payday for someone who invents some kind of shield\filter for bluetooth.

by Steve | Jul 8, 2009 10:42:24 AM

On my third replacement of S9HD, I decided to try to circumvent the moisture problem. Got 'liquid' electrical tape from a neighbor (who said that any marine store would have it) and with a toothpick went very carefully around the outside edge of the controls on both sides. There appears to be a plastic like cover that houses the controls where I thought moisture would find its way in. If this liquid tape is used to seal the cover to the headphone body then I felt this would work. Doing this didn't look great but functionality was more important to me. Besides since the liq electrical tape was black you couldn't see it from more than a few feet anyway. I have sweating very heavily on these headphones more than a couple of dozen times over 2-3mo and no issues!

by me | Aug 11, 2009 11:32:35 AM

If i get some kind of belt clip for my phone, and clip the phone to the BACK of my pants, will this solve the outdoor issue? as there should be a clear line of communication from the back of my belt, up to the back of my head right?

or has anyone already tried this and still have issues?

by George Mavris | Aug 14, 2009 4:03:04 PM


Great when in the house or car. I work in a city hospital and apparently the Bluetooth connection gets too much interference. I get allot of blank soundless playback while walking or running. If I had know I would of not bought them.

$105 from BestBuy is too much $$$ for headphones. Aside from that the sound quality is good and stereo phone calls are clearer.

by Dixintex | Aug 24, 2009 12:59:19 PM

Just in process of sending back my S9 for replacement to Motorola. The volume maxxed out and I can't get it to adjust anymore, probably due to moisture/sweat. They are replacing it with the S9-HD which I'll try. I had my S9 since June 29th. Today is August 24. 2 months...zapp-o. But the comfort, sound, ease of use are phenominal! I hope this new HD version lasts longer than 2 months!!! I have run over 100 miles to date with them. I sweat, but not a lot and I wipe them down even during a run. The battery has been lasting about 2.5 hours max. I'm very pleased with the product, except for the malfunction due to what I assume was due to moisture.

by me | Sep 2, 2009 8:26:30 AM

I got a belt clip for my phone to clip on the back of my pants so there should be a direct line of communication but the sound still cuts out when outside. The headphones only keep a good connection to the phone/mp3 player when inside, or in a covered area outside. They have never kept a good connection for me when outdoors with the phone in my pocket, and now even when the phone is out of my pocket on belt clip, they still do not work outside well at all.

by Chris | Sep 14, 2009 5:08:18 PM

Hi All,
Ive found a very very simple solution to the sweat/moisture issue. I bought the original S9 and went through 5[yes 5!!!...courtsey Motorola India] pairs before I found a solution.

Wear a sports HEAD BAND when exercising. Put on the head band first and then the S9[S9HD] on top of it...so that the headset sits on the band. This prevents the sweat from getting into the unit. Ive been using the headset this way for almost a year now and it hasn't stopped yet[yes...all buttons working fine!]!

The other advantage of using the Headband is that the headset fits snugger when working out and doesnt bounce around...so its basically a win-win situation!

Thanks for the great review...just placed an order for the HDs!

by vabs | Sep 19, 2009 1:51:45 PM

Can anyone tell the S9 HD Price?

by Jawaid | Oct 16, 2009 12:21:09 AM

Very dissapointed to read the manual about S9 HD that the batteries are not replaceable. Can't believe that Motorola would make something that should not be disposable but has an exact feature of disposal.

Why would anyone buy one of these with typical rechargeable battery life of about an year?

by Todd | Apr 8, 2010 5:44:27 AM

I bought the S9 and never had any problems. I actually lost them and upgraded to the S9-HD. I love them just as much. The sound is incredible. The handsfree phone is a bit spotty, but I bought them to listen to music, not talk on the phone. I connect to my blackberry and my netbook and have no problems. Bought both of them off eBay and paid minimally. At $26 (shipping included), who cares if the battery is replaceable. You probably would pay more for the batteries. Just my observation.... =)

by Milko | Dec 1, 2010 4:40:38 PM


I just bought the S9-HD. I use it in combination with my iPhone 4. Although I am satisfied with the sound, what is annoying is the constant NOICE (or rumble), the strength of which varies with the volume set on the headset. Is this common with bluetooth headsets or is there a problem with my set? Anyone familiar with this?

by Larry | Jun 16, 2011 6:05:26 AM

I've had my S9-HD for two years now and it's still working fine. I realize that batteries don't last forever but I don't consider something I paid 100 dollars for disposeable. That's my only complaint.

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