I've written at length about my love for Bose's QC35 headphones, which convinced me to make the leap into the Bluetooth soundscape full-time. But for all my praise of the headphones and their long-lasting 20-hour battery, they do die eventually. I've often resorted to digging through my backpack or desk drawers to find a micro-USB cable for a day's quick-charge juice, but that doesn't solve the long-term problem: It can be a pain to remember to charge long-lasting headphones.
Twelve South aims to make that pain disappear with its new Fermata headphone charging stand. The silver or black aluminum base not only provides a lovely way for you to showcase your headphones on your desk, but it gives you an easy way to charge them, too.
I was lucky enough to get a sample from Twelve South of the black Fermata stand this morning, and while I can't offer a thorough review after only a few hours, I can at the least provide you a first look — and I certainly like what I see.
Twelve South's build quality is often excellent, and this model is no exception: The aluminum base is hefty enough to adhere to your desk (with help from a soft rubber underside) but not too heavy, and the headphone rest offers a curved, smooth saddle to rest your headphones on, with a perfectly flattened middle to keep them from sliding around.
The stand comes in four pieces — base, arm, rest, and charging cable — and attaching them together takes less than a minute. Snap in the snake-like reversible micro-USB charging cable (yes, reversible — we'll talk more about that later), click the headphone arm and rest into the base, and secure on the bottom with an included screw and wrench. Once the stand is put together, you need only add the included wall cable to make it operational.
Let's talk about that snake cable, which connects to your headphones. At rest, it hides along the back of the headphone arm; this hiding place isn't always a perfect mesh, as the cable's rubbery nature means it occasionally bulges slightly out of the aluminum casing, but you shouldn't really notice it (and Twelve South includes a rear clip to hold it in place if you're really concerned). When your headphones need some juice, the cord's thick rubber curves out and offers a reversible micro-USB cable for charging.
That micro-USB charger takes an early lead in being my favorite part of the Fermata stand. One of my biggest charging annoyances with the Bose headphones — beyond having to charge them at all — is trying and failing to plug them in correctly. I hate micro-USB cables — even as someone with relatively good eyesight, it consistently takes two (or even three) tries to figure out how to plug the darn thing in correctly.
The Fermata's charger, in contrast, offers a diamond-shaped port that plugs into micro-USB ports no matter which way your headphones are turned. Forget about having to contort your body to stare at tiny ports and align angles — this is almost as easy as plugging in a Lightning cable.
Better still, the cable is easily removable from the Fermata's stand, which means it should be simple enough for Twelve South to manufacture replacement cables for future headphones with different charging ports (hi, USB-C and Lightning).
In addition, the company gets that taking up an extra charging port at your desk just for headphones can be a pain; as such, the stand offers an additional USB port under its base, so you can still plug in an iPhone or other accessory. It's the kind of smart, thoughtful gesture that Twelve South has made its name on, and one that's much appreciated in this gadget-laden household.
One last bit about power: The underside of the Fermata's base offers a coiled well for hiding excess charging cords. It won't hide your power necessities completely, but it keeps everything a lot more organized.
Your tastes may vary
Much as I've enjoyed my initial few hours with it, the Fermata won't be for everyone. The aluminum accessory's look is clean and solid, but it may not jive with others' wooden or colored desk styles. That said, sometimes function triumphs over form. For me, easy access to recharging and cord management far outweighs look or style, especially on a standing desk with a relatively small footprint. You can even stack an iPhone Lightning Dock atop the stand to save even more space on your desk. (Sadly, Twelve South's HiRise is a little bit too big to fit.)