Countless times, I’ve had my headphones ripped painfully from my ears or my phone tumble to the ground while I run in the gym. Wired headphones can be a pain.
2017 promises to be the year where headphones go truly wireless – thanks to Apple galvanising the move by removing the headphone jack and creating the Apple Airpods.
But last year, a few headphone companies already started making the leap into the “truly wireless” world.
Bragi was one of the first.
Meet the Bragi Dash, the world’s first “truly wireless” headphone.
The Bragi Dash, raised over $3 million on Kickstarter in 2014, and have become the reference point for just about every other company currently trying to make it in the new world of “truly wireless” earbuds.
The Bragi Dash looks like it came straight from the future. The outside half of each earbud is made from a smooth glossy plastic, while the inside is made of matte-finish rubber. The earbuds look and feel lot more futuristic than the Apple AirPods do, and when in your ear, they don’t stick out like ugly toothbrushes, and the level of refinement in the design is commendable.
2 years in the making, the Dash boasts a plethora of features crammed into that tiny form factor.
It’s a stand-alone media player with 4GB of storage; a fitness tracker, complete with a heart-rate monitor and step counter, among other things. It can track your
To navigate menus, you need to either tap, long-press or swipe. As you interact with the Dash, a soothing voice gives you feedback. The taps and swipes were tricky at first, but I grew accustomed quickly and used them every day to control the music on my phone.
Gestures are easier to nail when you’re concentrating on getting them right, but once your basic faculties start to wane (after a couple of blustery miles), or when your fingers get sweaty. I did find myself swiping when I wanted to tap, and vice versa.
More often than not, I accidentally would toggle “Audio Transparency”.
Which brings to me to how amazing audio transparency is.
Normally the last thing I want while listening to music is to hear the outside world. That’s less true while running near roads and people, and hearing your surroundings is positively essential for many situations. That’s basically what transparency mode does—it uses the microphones on the Dash (the same you’d use for speaking on a hands-free call) to feed directional ambient noise into your ears.
It’s a great feature that lets you listen to the music as well as hear if someone is calling for you from the living room. It works really well except for when some small noises get amplified noises like jingling keys, typing on my MacBook Pro keyboard (which when amplified, has a ASMR effect).
But what does a bluetooth headphone essentially need to do?
Where the Bragi Dash falls short is where it needs to excel the most – Bluetooth Connectivity.
Everything works great if you’re indoors, in your room or at the gym. Take it out onto the streets, however, and instantly you get connection drops. The Bragi Dash becomes barely usable when you’re phone is your pant pocket, and I often had to hold my phone up to my chest to be able to smoothly hear my music or my podcasts.
The sound quality is good enough for the average consumer and even a little more, but audiophiles aren’t going to love the Dash. There is much more bass than you expect from earbuds of this size, but the mid- and high-range frequencies lack clarity.
But to me, all that doesn’t really matter. Regardless of how amazing these headphones look, how easy it is to interact with the touch interface and how fully-featured the headphones or the app itself might be, the connection problems in the real world break it for me. When the connection between the Dash and my phone is spotty, all the other quirks and little awesome features fade into the abyss, and all I have in my ears is a pair of barely usable S$428 headphones.
For $428, the Dash would be a rather good buy for its feature set and its futuristic looks – if and only if the connection problems are fixed. Luckily enough, Bragi can push firmware and software updates out to the Dash rather effectively – and the sooner Bragi fixes the problems at the core of this product, the better.
The Bragi Dash is now available for order via truewireless.sg and at most leading audio and consumer electronics retail stores in Singapore.
Look forward to the review of Bragi’s newer and cheaper “Headphone”, which doesn’t have the same connection issues that plague the Dash, but a lower and more practical price-point.