I like completely wireless earbuds. The reason is simple, no cable, just two earpieces inserted into my ear canals. Aside from playing music, they integrate a bunch of practical features especially for fitness enthusiasts like sweatproof and secure fit. Smart wireless earbuds can do a lot more such as measuring time, consumed calories, distance, speed, pace, and heart rate. These information can be tracked and stored on the earbuds themself and latter synced to a Connect app. The app then can give feedback to improve your performance by fitness coaching feature. Wireless earbuds can also be hearing aids or noise cancelling devices with transparency feature that allows you to adjust how much ambient sound you want to hear. I have spent a lot of time reading information about kickstarter compaigns, follow-up stories on CNET and reviews of some pairs. The first thing I am really interested in is the sound quality, and luckily it is easy to find a pair that sounds good with clear treble and rich bass, but because of current limitations in technology they present some issues related to connectivity, which makes me heristate to get a pair. Still interested? here are top seven things you would consider before buying totally wireless earbuds this year, 2017 will be the year of wearable in ear tech.
Price ($80 – $300)
All small things but smart seems not cheap, and a pair of tiny earbuds may charge you up to $300. Kanoa offers a half price when you pre-order their products (recrently I saw them increasing the price). The Earin, a product developed by Swedish startup, is available for $279.99. The $200 Samsung Gear IconX will pop up on the market soon (Available now). The ideal price for me to get a pair is $150, Apple has recently released Airpods with $159 price tag, very close to my expectation. The cheapest pair is the BÖHM S10, priced for $80, which is sports earphones, but they are rather large in the ear.
Today wireless earbuds are far from the perfect one, they may sound good but have poor connection and the other way around.
*Price updated on 11/05/2016
Untethering means two earbuds are separated–No strings attached. In order to create stereo audio from these earbuds, they must pair with each other, from the Left earbuds to the Right, and you hear simultaneously the same sound from them. Have you ever heard the sound from one chases the other, probably, it won’t happend it you wear wired earbud, but in the totally wireless domain it may.
One of those wireless earbuds (R or L) or both will connect to your phone to stream music. However, it is not easy to maintain these two steady connections between earbuds and earbuds to devices, because not only does Bluetooth signal has to transmit through our body, which contain up to 60% percentage of water (You know water hinders Bluetooth), but the syndication between earbuds maynot be stable. The connection stabitility also depends on where you keep your device, the more it is close to the earbuds, the better the connection is.
The Dash or Earin has this problem that they may lose connection from phones, or there is audio gap between 2 earbuds. To have more reliable Bluetooth connection, the Dash ultilized Near Field Magnetic Induction (NFMI) for communication between 2 earbuds. This may be exploited in their next version. Let’s see how other companies are going to deal with those issues.
Apple wireless Airpods use their own developed chip, the W1 to process ultralow-power Bluetooth to keep two earbud synced without connection loss or lagged.
Bragi have developed the second gen of the Dash, making their product simpler, and they called it “the headphone”. This time they resolve the connection issue existed in the Dash by removing sensors and fitness feature, so the Headphone now is merely for listening music.
Sets of wireless earbuds have passed the test of consistant connections: the Headphone (Bragi), Skybuds, Jabra’s Sport Elite, Gear IconX, Airpods and Apollo 7, and the Airpods are a rocking star for its stabitility in the Bluetooth department.
Regular Bluetooth earbuds with short cable attached 2 earbuds don’t sound good if compared to wired earbuds. Completely wireless earbuds are still Bluetooth stereo audio, so they can’t be not a breakthrough in the sound, but we are expected that changes anytime soon with rich and full sound.
That said wireless stereo audio doesn’t impress audiophiles. They tend to sound thin, lack of bass and clarity. If you need a pair to truly enjoy music, you should get wired earbuds, which cost around $150 for a great pair. Otherwise, the Apollo 7 or Elite Sport is the best you could pick for sound right now, but it is expensive. An alternative could be the Headphone, the second gen of the Dash for less than $150.
I know it aslo depends on your experience about sound, and you may prefer heavy bass earbuds, well I am sure Earin and Amps Air with enhanced bass sound signature won’t miss your beats.
Comfort and Fit
Wireless earbuds are norms of big size and heavy weight. Some appear to be bulky, and it seems they don’t fit well and aren’t comfortable. The BÖHM S10, VerveOnes, and the recently launched Amps Airs (Sol Republic) are examples of how huge and silly wearables could fit to your ears. Since they are packed with a lot of inner components like battery or hardwares for Bluetooth and audio. They look bulky but are lightweight, which fortunately won’t make it insanely uncomfortable. Others have smaller sizes like Earin and Gear IconX, so make sure you find the right size to your ears.
Wireless earbuds may fit snugly with wing tips, and increase the noise isolation with eartips. Phazon earbuds are exceptional, they are built without eartips.
Today, earbuds are built-in with a lot of innovative features, but I guess you will not use all if those features are not easy to access or control. Most common features are tracking fitness, noise cancellation, voice command prompt, connect app, touch control and volume equalizer. For sports, sweat-proof or water-proof are useful for rough condition. Earhooks/wing tips are necessary parts to lock earbuds in the ear. You may not need all this if your purpose is just listening to music.
Ears are the perfect location to place sensors to track biometric infomation. Taken this into account, wireless earbuds have built-in sensors and could replace the wristbands for tracking fitness, which can track all information about, heart rate, distance, calories burned. But they can’t be wearing all day as wristbands because of their short battery life and daily communication. If the earbuds don’t fit properly, the measurements may not be correct.
The Hear One has built-in active noise cancelling feature, and you have an advanced access through app to control how you hear the world around you. This is a safe feature that you can be aware of things happening around or adding a benifit that you can chat with your friends without letting out the earbuds out. Transparency, Hear Through, Aware Mode are different names for this feature, but basically they work the same.
IQbuds offers speech enhancement which allow you to selectively enhance the sound you want to hear. This is not simply passive or active, but about the sound amplication and cancellation.
Touch control is a smart feature that can recognize touching patterns: single/double tap, tap and hold. This is very useful when you like to change tracks/receive calls and adjust the volume. If there is a button on earbuds I think once you press, it will create an annoying sound.
Since wireless earbuds are very small, in case they fall out, it is very difficult to find them. Phazon wireless earbuds have a cool feature that once connected to their app, you can locate the earbuds when they get lost.
Currenly there are only 2 wireless earbuds that can work as an independent MP3 player, which are the Dash and Samsung Gear IconX (available in September). Their 4Gb internal storage can hold up to 1000 songs. In the future, hopefully they can be synced with popular streaming music services like Spotify, Apple Music or Tidal, so you don’t have to manually copy songs to those devices.
Most truly wireless earbuds are fitness-focused, some have built-in fitness feature like Oxygen comsumption (VO2 Max), calories burned, steps counting and distances. It is extended to heart rate tracking and pace. And you track those via Apps.
With integrated microphones wirless earbuds can use as a headset, but just one side works when you make or receive calls. The quality of calls depends largely on the mics, so the Jabra Elite Sport uses dual-mic on earch side, one for picking up your voice, the other captures the ambient noises and filter out. To take calls, the Dash offer touch control that you just tap on either earbuds to receive calls or navigate tracks.
The voice command prompt allows you to take calls, launch app without touching the earbuds.
Because those wireless earbuds are small, there is no room to host a big battery. No more than 3 hours is a course for battery. So you have to charge them regularly, and the idea of portable charging case servered as a power bank for earbuds has been adapted by many companies. Earin charging case appears in form of a tube, others you could find with rectangle cases. The charging case or clip is pocket sized and can provide the earbuds up to 5 full charges. But it does take time for the earbuds to get full charge, probably more than an hour. However, Sol republic used fast charging tech in their first cord-free earbuds, the Amps Air, that enables earbuds get 45 minutes of play time with 15 minutes charging. Airpods are even better that they get 3 hours of battery just by 15 minutes charging
|The Dash||Apple Airpods||Kanoa||
|3 hours||5 hours||
If you want to rock the music, some wireless earbuds aren’t able to live that up. I don’t know weather this is a safety feature or a trick of makers to save the battery life. I would guess the small speaker placed on each earbud has a low power.
They will get lost
When I wear wired earbuds, sometimes they fall out, fortunately the cable keeps the earbuds on my neck. What happens if your wireless earbuds fall out, it is hard to locate such small things and you know they are expensive. Accessory makers offers a solution, they invent the cable to attach 2 earbuds. This is quite interesting, since while companies are trying to make headphones without cable, people still need it. Another solution is a tracking app, that will locate where your earbuds are in case they get lost or stolen. Currently only Apple offers consumers to buy a single earbud when one of their airpods get lost.
Here are 18 completely wireless earbuds you may be interested in (I only made the comparison of 12 sets, the cateria are overall rating, feature and price). This table may not be reliable, if you decide to buy a pair, do your own research.
|Picture/Model||Rating||Accessories||Features||Price and Availability|
|3.0/5||Comply Foam tips, Wing tips, A charging tube||Sweat-resistant||
$279.99 on Amazon
The Bragi Dash
|3.5/5||Portable charging case, eartips||NC, Mic, Integrated Mp3–4Gb interal storage||
BÖHM S10 Wireless Earbuds
|3.8/5||Eartips, Comfy Earhooks, Portable charging case||Sweatproof, Mic||
|VerveOnes||3.0/5||Eartips, Portable charging case||Dual Mic, Sweat&Waterproof||
Samsung Gear IconX
|3.8/5||Silicon jacket with hooks, eartips||Integrated Mp3–4Gb interal storage, Splash Resistant, Fitness Tracker||$199, September|
|Charging Dock, Eartips||Sweatproof & Water-Resistant, Mic||$249.99
|Silicon jacket, Eartips, Charing Case||Water resistant,||$299, November|
|Here one||Eartips, Charging Case||Mic, Speech amplification, Smart noise filter||$299, November|
|Charging case, eartips||Hearing Aid-Speech Enhancement, Noise Cancellation, Mic|| $199,
|Smart case, eartips||Mic||$145.00,
|Charging case||Mic, water–resistant||
Jabra Elite Sport
|Charging case, eartips, Earhooks||Mic, water–resistant, VO2 Max, Fitness Tracker||
$250-Best Buy, 30 October
Other wireless earbuds like Airpods and Hearnotes are not included in this list. Apple has reportedly killed the headphone jack in the Iphone 7, probably they will introduce the Airpods at the even releasing their latest plagship, the iPhone 7.
Apparently, not all crowd funding campaign is successful, the most famous case is Dot, claimed as one of the smallest wireless earbuds it failed to deliver their products and was suspended. Note that some companies may encounter delays, so their finished products may be shipped later than expected. Even Apple also delays its Airpods release.
Here are more information about companies and startups, which manufacture wireless Bluetooth earbuds. You can check back for the price and availability.
1. NextEar: A Earin competitor, the Nextear claimed to be the smallest earphones on the planet.
Price: $198 | Style: Totally wireless earbuds | Play Time: up to 4 hours | Frequency Response: 20-30,000Hz | Driver Size: 8mm | Driver type: Balanced armature (BA) | Sensitivity: 94.5± 3dB at 1mW | Impedance: 16 ohms | Bluetooth range: N/A | AptX: Yes
Indiegogo campaign: Nextear – The worlds smartest wireless earphones
2. IQbuds: Nuheara developed the wearable called IQbuds. It is not only an hearing aid device, but wireless headphones.
Price: $249 | Style: Totally wireless earbuds | Play Time: up to 4 hours | Frequency Response: N/A | Driver Size: N/A | Driver type: Balanced armature (BA) | Sensitivity: N/A | Impedance: N/A | Bluetooth range: N/A | AptX: No | Additional features: Noise cancellation, Hearing Aid |
The IQbuds features SINC(Super intelligent noise cancellation) like transparency feature, which can enhance or diminish the ambient sound up to your preference.
Indiegogo campaign: Nuheara IQbuds: Super Intelligent Wireless Earbuds
3. Earin: Swedish startup met their funding target soon after they lunched their campaign. They were the first company that announced their first gen of wireless earbuds. Claimed as smallest earbuds, the Earin sounds good, but lack of fitness features and mic for hand-free call.
Price: $245 | Style: Totally wireless earbuds | Play Time: 3 hours | Frequency Response: 20-20,000Hz | Driver Size: N/A | Driver type: Balanced armature (BA) | Sensitivity: 105 dB SPL +- 2dB | Impedance: 25 ohms | Bluetooth range: N/A feet | AptX: Yes
Kickstater Campaign: Earin – The Worlds Smallest Wireless Earbuds
4. The Dash: German Company took a bold move to be the first to make a computer that fits into the ear. However, due to technical issues the startup encountered, causing shipping delays. Finally, The Dash has been released after a long wait by backers, but they are not fully equiped with promised features, software updates and stable connections are still on going issues to fix.
The Bragi makes the second gen of the Dash, a well-know headphone, named the headphone. This model cuts out smart features like HRM, Transparency existed in the first version. The Heaadphones are smaller and more compact than its predecessor. But here’s the deal, it sounds better and is much cheaper. It is lighter and more comfortable to wear compared to the the previous model. Due to cutting the cost for manufacturing the Headphone, the Bragi also removes the tap control feature, instead they build 3 buttons on earch earbud, which is not really intuitive, giving awkward experience for users when they use those buttons. The headphones have solid Bluetooth connection, no worry about sound hiccups or pairing cut out if you place your device within 10 meters from the Headphone.
Price: Pre-order $199 | Style: Totally wireless earbuds | Play Time: 6 hours | Frequency Response: 20-20,000Hz | Driver Size: N/A | Driver type: Balanced armature (BA) | Sensitivity: 105 dB SPL +- 2dB | Impedance: 25 ohms | Bluetooth range: N/A feet | AptX: Yes | Headset functionanlity: Yes.
Kickstater Campaign: The Dash – Wireless Smart In Ear Headphones
5. Here One
The first built-in active noise cancellation pair, but they can’t survive for long haul flights with 5 hours of battery.
Price: $299, November | Style: Totally wireless earbuds | Play Time: 2.5-3 hours, 4-5 hours ANC on | Frequency Response: 20-20,000Hz | Driver Size: 8mm | Driver type: NA | Sensitivity: NA |
Kickstarter Campaign: Here Active Listening – Transform The Way You Hear The World
The only thing you may want to stick to the Skybuds is their impressive sound. It is expensive, but feels cheap on hand because of plastic structure. The Bluetooth pairing is not the most persistent, it sucks sometimes. Like average Bluetooth earbuds, it plays 3 hours or more between charges. The fitting is not as comfortable as Gear IconX.
Kickstarter Campaign: Skybuds – Free Your Sound
7. VerveOnes: the name comes after the company, Binatone, which borrowed some technology from Motorola.
8. Kanoa: Wireless earbuds for music and sports with long Bluetooth working range, 33 feet. The KANOA uses BA driver for accurate, detailed sound. The sound is wirelessly streamed to the earbuds with AptX support. It fit perfectly into your ear, no sliding out or loosen fit.
Price: Not available, Preorder: $169 | Style: Totally wireless earbuds | Play Time: 3 hours (battery: 47mAh)| Frequency Response: 20-19,000Hz | Driver Size: N/A | Driver type: Hybrid Balanced Armature Driver | Sensitivity: 31dBPa/V at 1kHz | Impedance: 16 ohms | Bluetooth range: N/A feet | Water Resistance: IP67 | AptX: Yes
9. Phazon: The game changer for earbuds–that said one size doesn’t fit all.
Indigogo campaign: Wireless Earbuds Guaranteed Not to Fall
10. Jabra: The company is well known for making headsets. They also make smart Bluetooth headphones like Jabra Sport Pulse. At IFA 2016 this year, they introduced their first cordless earbuds, the Jabra Elite Sport. The earbuds work with the company’s Sport Life app.
11. Apollo 7 wirelesss earbuds: Created by Erato Audio Technology Ltd–a Taiwanese startup, the Apollo 7 are sweat-resistant and good-looking earbuds. The company stated on kickstarter the Applo 7 is the most compact wireless earphones. Though it is expensive and has short play time around 3 hours, Apollo 7 are among best sounding sets. Erato also announced 2 other budget models: Muse 5 and Rio 3. The latter will have hangers like
Erato might be a Taiwanese startup, but its Apollo 7 ranks as one of the top wireless earbuds without any connecting cable between them. Straight out of what some might term as the Apple’s ‘Airpods handbook’, the Apollos are small, compact and quite lightweight.
The Erato Apollo 7 employ an in-ear, softly cushioned ergonomic design to make sure that the buds fit securely in your ear. The excellent finish is complemented with the fact that Erato’s Bluetooth connection is surprisingly better than most of its immediate ‘established competitors’.
Thanks to the near-perfect Bluetooth connectivity that is almost synonymous to the Apollo 7s, the audio output here is clear, loud and quite balanced. But as it is the norm with earbuds, the bass is not that definite. And neither is it punchy or over-pronounced. There is simply not enough room inside the comply-foamed earbuds to fit powerful magnetic audio drivers as it is the case with mainstream headphones.
The Apollo 7s, like most of its peers, can boast of approximately 3 hours of continuous playback or just about 4 hours of phone talk time. Fortunately, though, there is a charging case where you can drop them off when the battery dies mid-session. Speaking of dropping, the Erato Apollo 7s are reasonable waterproof with an IP67 rating. So they should survive an accidental bounce to a pond of water when exercising outdoors. You should also be in a position to control your audio ( pause and skip ) through the click-centric control button found in the left earbud.
12. FireFlies: Wireless earbuds tend to be very expensive with more than $200, the affordable truly Wire-Free earbuds, the FireFlies will cost for $79. The kickstarter achieved their goal in half a day. I will update their stories when their products are available.
13. Truebuds: The smallest wireless earphones
Indigogo campaign: Truebuds – The smallest cordless stereo earbuds
Price: Pre-order $149 | Play time: 6 hours | Driver type: Balanced Armature | Waterproof: IP 53 | AptX: Yes
The others: Ripple Buds.
14. Airpods: Finnally Apple announced their new wireless earbuds with 5 hours of battery life. They only play music when you have them on, the built-in infrared sensors are able to detect and trigger the tracks. Apple also developed the W1 chip, which will process both Bluetooth connection and sound as well as batter use.
Though Airpods are not making a break-through about the sound, its smart feature and rock-solid connection tops the competion for best wireless earbuds.
Price: $159 | Touch control: Single, double taps |
Price: Available to order in late Octorber $159 | Play time: 5 hours
15. Axum: Wireless sport earbuds
Price: Not available, Preorder: $169 | Style: Totally wireless earbuds | Play Time: 4 hours (battery: 60mAh)| Frequency Response: 20-20,000Hz | Driver Size: N/A | Driver type: Dynamic, M-voiD® Sound Technology| Sensitivity: N/A| Impedance: 16 ohms | Bluetooth range: 10 meters | Waterproof: Yes | AptX: Yes
Indigogo compaing: Axum – World’s Best True Wireless Sport Earbuds
16. Onkyo: Onkyo W800BT
Onkyo was one of the first companies announced wireless earbuds. Built-in 8.6 mm drivers do the job for delivering good sound and impressive amount of bass.
Price: Not available, Preorder: $299 | Style: Totally wireless earbuds | Play Time: 3 hours | Frequency Response: 6-22,000Hz | Driver Size: 8.6mm | Driver type: Dynamic| Sensitivity: 107dB/mW| Impedance: 16 ohms | Bluetooth range: 10 meters |
We will make a report that how many crowd funding campaign could deliver their products to buyers/backers.
17. Sol Republic: Amps Air
Combine a wire-free in-ear design with a robust built that the company claims ‘grips the inner ear like new tire treads’ and you have Sol Republic Amps air.
Available in black, rose gold, blue, and teal, the sweat-resistant earbuds are likely to attract some attention when you’re in the gym or outdoor jogging. However, given their rubberized matte finishing, they should fit snugly when in use. The manufacturer also found it necessary to include several ear tips to make it easier for one to select the best seals for their ears.
The bass here doesn’t distort – surprising for earbuds of its size. And as long as you are using them in a moderate volume, the lows should be as distinct as the rich trebles and warm mids. Overall, these are some of the best sounding, punchy, in-ear, cable-free earbuds you will ever come across.
The exterior panels of these earbuds also double as multifunctional buttons. You can press shortly once to receive calls, pause music or switch to a different call – all of this without taking your phone out of your gym bag. In similar tandem, ending your calls will require you to press longer and hold for several seconds. The absence of a dedicated rewind-or-fast-forward button makes it quite cumbersome to work with these earbuds especially during long workouts or runs.
Having said, on a full charge, expect to use enjoy at most 3 hours of continuous play time before having to dock them in their accompanying USB charging case.
Price: $180 | Style: cord-free Bluetooth earbuds | Play Time: 3 hours. The earbuds are rather larger and don’t fit securely. The earbuds have strong, heavy bass.
The trend for earbuds that they are more compact and discrete-looking, and the RippleBuds are made for this. It is built with innovative tri-flangle eartips that maximize blocking ambient noise capacity. The integrated microphones are able to filter out the noise, so your voice is always clear.
19. Air: Acoustically Stunning Wireless In Ear Headphones
Which pair would I buy?
Untethering cable, wireless earbuds are actually worth it. But they aren’t cheap so you would be very picky about the build quality and functionality since not all features as advertised by manufatures work properly. In addition, it totally wastes the money if you get the wrong pair, which is easy to break and consistantly lost the connectivity. Don’t be fooled by specs, the frequenccy response, sensitivity an impedance do matter just little for the sound quality. In the world of wireless earbuds, you should care about how they sound and work rather than what manufacturers listed their products. For the good and the bad, our top pick is the Samsung Gear IconX for its solid Bluetooth connection, good fit and decent sound.
It depends on what is it for?
Pick a pair by specifying the features you need. If you travel a lot on train or plane a pair with noi would be a benefit. If you need to track your fitness or you just need a high-quality audio.
Not all wireless earbuds are designed for sports with secure and comfortable fit.
While waiting for a better set, if you would like to try wireless sport earbuds, which are cheap, the BÖHM S10 is a nice pair.
Updated on 01/11/201 By Contributor of Wearable In Ear/Wireless Earbuds