Review: Twelve South’s Fermata Charges Wireless Headphones Unconventionally but Very cleverly

Today, i’m going to tell you about a product from a company who is quickly becoming my favorite (next to Apple, of course). It is the Fermata headphone charging stand manufactured by twelve south. Twelve South has a reputation for making great accessories that complement Apple devices very nicely, and this headphone stand is no exception. Whether you are in the Bose or Beats camp for wireless headphones, this stand will not steer you wrong.

Description of the Fermata

The Fermata has two main pieces: a circular aluminum base and a support arm with a leather saddle where you actually rest the headphones to be charged. (I’ll explain more about how to put the stand together an the unconventional but very clever cable scheme Twelve South uses for this stand later.) The build quality is great; all aluminum and leather and rubber on the bottom so the stand doesn’t slide around on your desk. plus, the base includes a nifty cable management system to tame the two-meter power cable included in the box. A few reviewers online have mentioned that the underside of the leather saddle is made from plastic vs aluminum, but I haven’t found this detail to bother me–it certainly has no effect whatsoever on the functionality of the stand. I’ve always liked the design of Twelve south’s products; when you hold the Fermata in your hand, it is easy to imagine the product was made by Apple itself. The silver version fits nicely with the look and feel of my Belkin Valet Charging Dock and my MacBook Air. If Darth Vader black is more your style, though, Twelve south has you covered.

Why I Initially Got Confused

The Fermata comes with two cables:

  • A standard USB A to micro USB that is between one and two meters long.
  • A short silicone cable with micro USB tips at both ends.

I had never seen the second kind of cable before, so didn’t know what to do with it. I just used the standard micro USB cable, set the arm into the stand, looped the cable over the little hook, and charged my headphones.

But wait, there’s more! There is an extra USB port on the bottom of the Fermata stand that is supposed to charge your iPhone. Huh? How do you use that port? I started looking around online and found this review from iMore and this hands-on video from 9 to 5 Mac. Unfortunately, both mentioned the little rubber cable but neither mentioned explicitly how to use it. They also note that the cable is reversible, but Twelve south later reversed this design decision and now ships the unit with a standard micro UsB cable.

Assembling the Fermata (The Right Way)

After reading the early reviews and watching several more unhelpful unboxing videos, I finally emailed Twelve South support with my question of how to utilize the extra USB port on the bottom. In part, their reply reads:

Your Fermata should have come with two cables. One is short (just over 4-inches) and covered in thick, rubbery silicone, with micro-USB tips at both ends. The tip that sticks straight out of the end of the cable is plugged into the micro-usb port on the top of the stand prior to assembling the arm. The tip that sticks out at a 90-degree angle is for your headphones.

Oh. 😮

That makes sense. Why didn’t I realize that before?

There is a micro USB port on the top of the stand. So, to assemble and have a fully working Fermata, follow these steps:

  1. Flip the circular base over so that the rubber side is up.
  2. Plug the long micro USB cable into the micro USB port hidden within the stand.
  3. Plug in your other USB A cable (this could be for your iPhone or another USB-powered device).
  4. Wind the power cables around the circular outside so they are all nice and tidy, leaving enough cable out to reach your plugs and devices.
  5. Flip the stand back over so the aluminum is facing up.
  6. Plug the straight end of the rubber micro USB cable into the top of the stand.
  7. Fit the arm in place next to the micro uSB cable. There should now be a small groove in the arm where the rubber cable can hide when not in use.
  8. plug the power cable comeing out of the bottom of the stand into a power cube, then a wall outlet and…
  9. Presto! Enjoy charging both your headphones and a secondary USB device from this sleek stand!

Bottom Line

Once I figured out the hidden Micro USB port, I really like this stand. It is minimalistic, fits nicely on a desk, and has all the cables included (even if the implementation takes some getting used to). . At $79.99, it is not the cheapest option, but if you are used to bying Apple products for their functionality and design aesthetic, it is well worth the price.

Did I mention they give you back a uSB port?

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