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Apple has put their money where their mouth is and has fully jumped into the cordless revolution. Should you?
This article will discuss some of the pros and cons of having a cordless set of earbuds as well as introduce some of the best contenders. Over the past few years, the number of companies carrying wireless earbuds has dramatically increased.
Alongside cell phones, battery technology has improved enough that you can now power a set of earbuds for a reasonable amount of time. While there are obvious merits, there are additional considerations one should make before pulling the trigger.
Is now the right time? Or should you wait a few years until the technology has improved? These are all good questions.
Let's dig in! (Here's a list of the earbuds we'll cover if you are in a rush).
Let's not sugar coat this. Underwhelming across the board. Most of these earbuds will only be able to be used for 2 hours max. There have also been numerous reports that you'll be lucky if they even last this long. However, most companies have gotten around this by offering a portable charging station where you can charge on the go.
You'll find most changing stations will hold 2-3 complete charges and take approximately 1 hour.
- Industry average of 2 hours with one charge.
If you are willing to be organized and bring along the charging station you can make this work. I can see charging your earbuds and using them during a workout and then recharging directly after.
The battery life will be determined by a combination of factors. It's always going to be a trade off between size, volume, sound quality, Bluetooth range, and battery life. If you need the smallest earbuds on the market, you'll pay for it in battery life. Need something that will pump out loud volume? You're in the same boat.
- Need the best battery performance on the market? The SMARTOMI Boots Mini Wireless Earbuds below have an average of 5 hours use with one charge.
Overall I'd like to see much longer battery life and find most of the earbuds on the market lacking. Don't completely believe the manufacturers advertised battery life as many people have reported it being much less.
Do not settle for anything less than Bluetooth 4.1. It's now essentially an industry standard and is a requirement for cordless earbuds. You need the power saving and fidelity 4.1 offers.
This has again been a nagging issue for wireless earbuds.
Unfortunately, customers are finding that the transmission isn't flawless and the earbuds have been occasionally cutting out.
This can be caused by a number of different reasons (interference, low battery, range, compatibility, etc.), but until Bluetooth technology improves it's something we are going to have to live with if we want cordless headphones.
- Bluetooth 4.1 at the very least!
You're best chance here is with the SoundPEATS Wireless Earbuds. It uses a AB1511J Bluetooth Chipset which should minimize any connection issues you may have.
I would not recommend using these headphones for watching any video content from a Bluetooth connection. There is a good chance that you will have latency issues. It will be difficult to watch anything where the audio is lagging the video by even milliseconds.
Again, slightly underwhelming.
Headphones have tiny, delicate electronics. In order for these electronics to perform they require a certain level of power. Conventionally, headphones have had a large reservoir of power from the audio source to draw from. This has allowed companies to stack multiple drivers in a single earbud and separate each frequency band in order to achieve maximum sound clarity.
Suddenly having to be completely self-contained has damaged the ability for the headphone to pump out crystal clear audio. Adding the compression from the Bluetooth and we are starting to want for audiophile quality.
If you don't set your expectations too high you won't be disappointed. I wouldn't recommend using this style of headphone for your cerebral listening anyway.
If you consider yourself an average day listener these will be completely fine (even an improvement in some cases). They will be absolutely perfect for use in the gym or casual listening on public transit.
- Totally fine for working out or everyday listening.
If you are looking for something to blow your mind you will need to head over to the wired section.
With that being said there are a few notable standouts. Either options shown above, or the Syllable Truly Wireless Headphones is a safe bet. The Syllable uses DSP technology to give the low-end a little more juice.
Size and Durability
As discussed above - the size will always be a trade off between sound quality and battery life. Smaller is better has always been the trend in tech, but shouldn't always be the case here. You need your headphones to still perform the basic function of moving air to get the best sound quality. The smaller the earbud the harder it will have to work to get the loud volume or deep bass.
That being said, no one wants to hang giant earbuds out of their ears. These earbuds will be far more comfortable if they are lightweight and sit nicely in your ears.
There have been a few companies that have offered cordless earbuds with sweat and dust proofing (IPX5). Notably the Rowkin Bit Charge Stereo Truly Wireless Headphones. The Rowkin also happens to be the smaller earbuds on the market. Just be aware that these come with a higher price tag.
Personally, I'm not completely sold on the state of wireless headphones at the moment. I do believe they have extreme promise and I will be the first in line to purchase something that I think is reasonable.
Luckily, the price tag for most of these headphones isn't outrageous. A few more years and I think the battery technology will be mature enough along with the Bluetooth capability for a company to produce a compelling product.
I neglected to discuss any compatibility issues, but it goes without saying that 5 minutes spent confirming the compatibility will go a long way.
Also be careful of the advertised battery life. Some companies are advertising battery life of 15+ hours. This is true if you add the portable charging port into the equation (keep in mind that the average charge time is around 1 hour).
- Please feel free to add any input down below in the comment section. What are your experiences? Good? Terrible? Let us know!