When Bragi launched the Dash three years back, it not only introduced the world to a completely wireless audio experience, but the apparatus also mimicked the term hearable to the world of wearables. Equipped with plenty of sensors to help track workouts, Bragi CEO and founder Nikolaj Hviid set the Dash as a computer on your ears. And unlike wrist-worn wearables, joggers who already run with their music won’t need to integrate still another device in their workout routines–the Dash includes its own storage, or it might play music streamed from the phone on top of being a gym trainer.
But the downside is that Dash’s technology priced it at a premium, and that kept it from the reach of casual music listeners who might enjoy the cord-free encounter. This is where The Headphone, Bragi’s second take at the wire-free audio marketplace, comes in. Priced at $149, it sheds its bigger brother more expensive physical fitness monitoring components in favor of a less complicated experience that’s focused solely on sound pleasure.
In many ways, by going back to basics, The Headphone is what Bragi should have surfaced with. Its pricing and attributes make it competitive against broader entries in this area, including Samsung’s Gear IconX and Apple’s $159 AirPods, the omission of health and physical fitness tracking features allow it to be less intimidating to those that aren’t as concerned with quantifying their wellness.
Encompassed in black and gray plastic, The Headphone looks its older and more premium-priced brother using its understated good looks. And unlike before Bluetooth earphones from a couple of years ago, The Headphone is an entirely wire-free experience, meaning that there isn’t just one cable that connects the left and right earbuds.
And unlike Apple’s version of the wireless earbud, The Headphone doesn’t come with stems resembling earrings hanging from your ears when worn. This means that The Headphone is much more distinct, and Bragi’s alternative is a nice choice for those who don’t like Apple’s white aesthetics.
It’s like a matchbox where the interior tray that homes The Headphone slides out of the outer case. A lanyard is connected to the peak of the situation, allowing you to wear the case around your neck for effortless portability.
Unlike the Dash and a couple of similar wireless headphones on the market now, it doesn’t come with its own portable battery to easily recharge The Headset on the go. Bragi promises around six hours of listening time on The Headphone’s 100mAh inner battery before you will need to drop earbuds back in the case and plug in the package into the walls, and I got only over that during my testing. Battery life will likely vary with the type of songs you listen to and your volume levels.
By comparison, Apple promises five hours on one charge with the AirPods, but drop the cans into the charging case for a fast battery charge, and you also get up to 24 hours of usage before you want to plug the entire bundle into an outlet for recharging. Bragi’s latest product, the Dash Pro, comes with an internal battery rated for five hours of usage, but you’ll get a combined total of 30 hours with the battery incorporated from the charging instance before you will need to plug the device into the wall for recharging.
The headset offers much more simplified music controllers compared to the Dash. While the latter provides capacitive touch surfaces to control audio playback and handle fitness monitoring, the former comes with three small physical buttons on the earbuds. These buttons are small, and I found them hard to press on.
There’s a single multifunction button that serves as your playback management and to take and end phone calls. The button may be pressed multiple times to skip between tracks. Additionally, there are two volume control buttons. When you hold one of the down volume buttons, it functions on The Headphone’s mic to activate a feature called sound transparency. With sound transparency turned on, you can listen to the background sound around you.
Sound transparency is a particularly helpful feature if you are jogging in urban environments or walking into a city as it keeps you conscious of your environment. I truly appreciated this feature once I go on my outside runs, as I like to know whether a car or bicycle could be approaching me from behind.
For a comfortable fit, The Headphone includes two sets of gel ear tips–for small and moderate ear pads–and a single pair of foam eartips. I discovered that the medium gel ear tips fit me best, and with a great fit, I was not concerned that The Headphone would fall out from my ears while walking or exercise. If you are not a fan of the gel tips, the foam suggestions offer you a better seal, which provided excellent passive sound isolation to help block out background noise.
The Headphone also comes with sensors that senses if you are sporting the earbuds. If you remove the right earbud, for instance, your music will creep until you replace The Headphone on your ears.
The Headphone is tuned to have a more neutral sound profile. It uses Knowles Balanced Armature Speakers and could produce output in the 20 — 20,000Hz range. A2DP profile in addition to AAC and SBC sound codecs are encouraged. In addition, the Headphone also includes three microphones embedded inside the earbud design.
Given the device’s small size and also the need to prolong battery life–and also the simple fact that The Headphone’s charging case does not include an incorporated battery–the more neutral sound profile made by The Headphone may help to maximize battery life. While there wasn’t a lack of bass or treble when listening with The Headphone, I really do want the lows and highs are punchier. If you listen to a lot of vocals and acoustic music, a brighter profile on the high end would make the experience more vibrant.
And while I had problems with audio cutting in and out all the time using the Dash, I never encountered any of these issues with The Headphone. In general, I keep my phone on my entire body, moving it between pockets when I take it out to react to a message, choose a brand new track to play or check my notifications. With The Headphone, I never encountered any link problems. For people who remain inside Apple’s ecosystem, The Headphone doesn’t offer the same seamless Bluetooth pairing involving Apple devices such as the AirPods with its W1 chip. This makes it more awkward than Apple’s experience, but the pairing method is fairly straightforward.
And though the microphone does its job, it is somewhat tinny when used for telephone calls. That said, the mic had no problems with sound recording once I used them to record short voice memos.
For busy wearers, The Headphone isn’t watertight, like the Dash, so that you won’t be able to bring it onto a swim. However, being water resistant, you need to be able to work out and get sweaty together with The Headphone with no difficulties.
Unless you have tried on a set of truly wireless earphones, you truly don’t understand how freeing the experience can be. The unchained melody encounter supplied by Bragi’s The Headphone is liberating. And with The Headphone, you are not sacrificing much concerning audio fidelity, unless you are considering more premium earbuds priced in the $250 range up.
At less than half of the cost of Bragi’s new $349 Dash Pro, the original Dash headphones has been discontinued in favor of an upgraded Dash Pro at the top end of Bragi’s lineup. The Headphone represents a terrific value for people who don’t want the frills of fitness monitoring and a wearable computer for your ears. With The Headphone, you are still getting some innovative features, like sound transparency that keeps you aware of your environment as you’re walking about with your audio playing, which are not available on most of Bragi’s competitions.
The Headphone provides a solid Bluetooth listening experience without the messiness of cables at an even lower price in an attractive, albeit understated, bundle that fits snuggly in your ears. In essence, The Headphone is your contemporary “hearing aid” for audio listeners, providing a great sound experience that keeps you tuned in to the world around you.