Truly wireless earbuds are coming for your headphones

One of the dominant trends of IFA 2017 was the sheer volume of companies, both known and not-so known, that launched Bluetooth earbuds. The “truly wireless” revolution that was kickstarted by Bragi and embraced by Samsung and Apple is now a bandwagon that everyone is jumping on.

A recent Wirecutter roundup listed more than 20 companies making truly wireless earbuds, and we can expect that number to increase exponentially soon. At the show we took a closer look at offerings from mid-lower-end players like Philips and higher-end ones like B&O Play.

Speaking with representatives at the show, it’s clear that the advent of the Bragi, back in 2014, sparked a flurry of internal discussions at many audio companies. But many didn’t begin working on their own product until the launch of AirPods and the iPhone 7, which did away with the headphone port.

The slow (and contentious) demise of the smartphone’s headphone jack is prompting a wave of interest in wireless audio. And that, as consumers are gently encouraged to ditch the wire connecting them to their phones, they might as well abandon the ones that you’ll find in traditional Bluetooth headphones.

The numbers back it up, too, analysts NPD believe that around 900,000 pairs of wireless earbuds have been sold in the US since the start of the year. Of that figure, however, it’s thought that 85 percent of them were sold by Apple, with the rest fighting for the remaining 15 percent.

One of the smartest things that Bragi did was to embrace what could have been the fatal flaws in its design. These earbuds are super small, with limited battery space and it’s far, far too easy to lose them — all points that would dissuade plenty of wary customers from purchasing them. But by offering a charging case, supplied alongside the earbuds, Bragi solved both problems by forcing users to develop a habit of only ever moving their earbuds from their skulls to the dock.

SONY DSC

The case is just as important as the earbuds, which is why B&O made a big deal of making theirs look like a scaled-down sunglass case. You could easily plonk it down on the table in a restaurant and no-one would bat an eyelid.

There’s also the issue of sound quality, which requires some elegant audio engineering to get around how cramped these devices are. By and large, most of them that we tried at the show didn’t sound too bad, although it’s clear that — for now — they’ll never be as expressive as a pair of larger cans.

But being good enough, especially if users are only listening to low-resolution Spotify streams while they navigate a crowded subway station or office, will probably suffice. And the convenience of wire-free listening is probably enough to allay concerns from all but the snootiest audio snob.

What’s likely, however, is that as more companies build their own entrants to the market, that we’ll see prices crater. And since there still seems to be some room for innovation, expect to see plenty of nuanced takes on the form — and yeah, a million and one copycats as well.

Follow all the latest news from IFA 2017 here!

Engadget RSS Feed

The delayed BeatsX wireless earbuds arrive February 10th

If you’ve been waiting to get your hands on a pair of BeatsX wireless earbuds, you’re in luck. Today, Beats revealed on Twitter that the delayed model will arrive this Friday (February 10th). What’s more, in addition to the black and white color options that were previously announced, the company tells CNET that blue and gray versions will follow shortly.

BeatsX is one of three wireless models Apple teased when it confirmed it was killing the headphone jack on the iPhone 7. The three different Beats headphones were meant to give customers some options alongside the newfangled AirPods. Like those AirPods though, the BeatsX was also delayed. The wireless earbuds were supposed to arrive back in the fall, but the company announced in December that they wouldn’t go on sale until February.

In addition to providing a $ 150 alternative to the pricier AirPods, BeatsX also packs in Apple’s W1 chip for quick pairing via Bluetooth and Fast Fuel quick charging. That latter feature means BeatsX will give you two hours of use on just a five minute charge. It’s something that could come in handy if the earbuds go dead while you’re at the gym. They’re also attached to each other with a cord and in-line remote, if you’re worried about losing individual buds. When the time comes on Friday, expect to nab the new listening accessory via both Apple and Beats websites as well as Apple’s retail stores.


Via: 9to5Mac, CNET

Source: Beats By Dre

Engadget RSS Feed

Earin’s latest wireless earbuds tout AirPod-like controls

Fancy the subtle tap-based controls of Apple’s AirPods, but want something that’s not quite so conspicuous (or conspicuously targeted at iPhone owners)? Earin wants to talk. It’s introducing its second set of wireless earbuds, the M-2, and they promise a taste of AirPod-like control in a subtler design. You only have to tap an earbud to pause your music or answer a call — no reaching for your phone or fiddling with buttons. It’s not as sophisticated as the AirPods (you won’t be talking to Siri as easily), but the simplicity remains a big deal.

The M-2s are also more ergonomic than their cylindrical ancestors. Battery life hasn’t changed much, though: you can expect 3 hours on a charge, and the magnetic charging capsule will give you a total of 12 hours of listening. This is more for your workout than a long flight, in other words. Earin hasn’t divulged pricing, but the new earbuds should hit shelves near the end of the first quarter.

Click here to catch up on the latest news from CES 2017.

Source: PR Newswire

Engadget RSS Feed

V-Moda’s line of ‘Forza’ earbuds is meant for workouts

If you’re familiar with V-Moda, you know that the brand is mostly known for making premium over-the-ear headphones. While it does have earbuds in its portfolio, that’s never been the company’s main focus. Today, however, V-Moda is introducing the Forza Series, a trio of in-ear headphones designed for people who love to work out on a regular basis. It’s an interesting move for the company, which seems to be taking on Beats’ fitness-oriented products, like the PowerBeats and upcoming BeatsX.

For starters, there’s the entry-level Forza Sport Hybrid, which features Hi-Res Audio and 5.8mm drivers enclosed in a plastic housing. According to V-Moda, it’s the first sport set to support high-resolution audio files, yet it’s only going to cost $ 100. Meanwhile, the Forza Metallo comes with the same size drivers as the Sport Hybrid but in a metal housing, as well as Hi-Res Audio. That’s the model pictured above, which also has a tangle-free, Kevlar-reinforced cable. The Metallo is slightly more expensive, at $ 130.

It’s worth noting that both of those two models have a 3.5mm headphone jack, so you’ll need a dongle if you own an iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus or another “courageous” smartphone. If you don’t want to deal with any of that, V-Moda has a higher-end wireless option. Aptly named Forza Metallo Wireless, these $ 170 earphones also sport 5.8mm drivers, though they lack the Hi-Res Audio feature from the wired models. The neckband, for its part, is made out of titanium and designed to lock comfortably around your neck for better stability. Battery life is rated at up to 10 hours — two more than what you’d get with the BeatsX, for reference. And, thanks to fast-charging tech, a 30-minute charge gives you two hours of use.

As you might expect, since V-Moda’s Forza line is intended for an active crowd, all three options are sweat and water resistant. Unfortunately, I couldn’t test the audio quality when V-Moda showed me the Forza Metallo V-Moda in a recent demo, as the unit I saw was merely a prototype. Still, the company claims the they are tuned with “the V-Moda standard,” which means you should expect your tracks to sound clean, crisp and not so bass-heavy most of the time.

Engadget RSS Feed

Apple’s high-end wireless earbuds may not ship with iPhone 7

The long-rumoured death of the iPhone’s headphone jack has left everybody wondering: What’s going to become of Apple’s EarPods? Well, they’ll probably go wireless, but according to one analyst, they won’t come with your iPhone. They’ll be sold separately — and they might be expensive. KGI Securities’ Ming-Chi Kuo believes that Apple will announce a pair of high-end “AirPod” earbuds tomorrow as a premium accessory for iPhone 7 buyers. They won’t come in the box like Apple’s current earbuds, he says, and may not even use Bluetooth.

According to Kuo, Apple may have designed a “Bluetooth-like communications chip” with more strict limits on power consumption. This same low-power chip may also be used to communicate with smart car systems and other home accessories. The Analyst even goes as far as to name Taiwan Semiconductor as the company he believes developed the chip.

So, if Apple’s wireless answer to removing the headphone jack is going to be a premium accessory, what about the average user? Not to worry: Kuo believes the iPhone 7 will bundle in a pair of lighting-connector compatible earbuds or, at bare minimum, a 3.5mm to lighting adapter. Even so, take this report with a grain of salt — Kuo has a strong history of getting these kinds of predictions right, but we won’t know for sure until tomorrow.

Source: Apple Insider, Digital Trends

Engadget RSS Feed