Advent of Truly Wireless Earbuds

April 03, 2016

2016 looks set to be the year where truly wireless earbuds make their mark. 

Popularized in the movie Definitely, Maybe (2008), you can see Ryan Reynolds' persona wearing a pair of wireless earbuds. This was nothing short of awesome to movie goers who wanted a simple and convenient audio device. This marked the beginning of a dream of how to make these earbuds mainstream. And FYI, those earphones were in fact the Sennheiser MX W1 which functioned with the help of a wireless transmitter (RF 2.4 GHz band to be precise) that was connected to the 3.5mm jack.

Fast forward 8 years to 2016.

Kickstarter saw the initiation of several projects leveraging on Bluetooth technology to push music to two separate earbuds. Over the coming months, we'll take a look at each of these products and the features that they promise.

The first mover advantage goes to Earin, the first to hit mass production in late 2015. It was quite an eye-opening experience to review this model. It currently retails at SGD 349 / USD 199 on Amazon, weighs a mind-boggling 3.5g per earbud and it sounds great. 

The Bragi Dash is now available on their website. Audio transparency, tap-to-play and heart rate tracking? Check to all. It now goes for USD 279 on Amazon.

Read - Bragi The Headphone review

The Kanoa looks set to provide a good balance of features vs price. It boasts audio transparency and aptX that promises CD-quality sound. Currently, the 2nd batch is set to ship in May 2016 for a relatively fair USD 179 (shipping cost is additional).

Doppler Labs - Here Active Listening
The Here Active Listening earbuds weight a decent 10g, comes with a smartphone app that gives preset filters and fits inside a sleek charging case. You can't get a unit as yet but you can join the waitlist

Update - 3 Aug 2016
Read - Here Active Listening review

Supposedly the 'smallest' Bluetooth earbuds, they weigh 8g, features a rather decent 6h battery life and comes with IP53-rated water and dust resistance. Upon pre-ordering the unit for about SGD 149.99, the estimated date to ship is sometime in Summer 2016.

Update (Mar 2017) 
Take heed! Truebuds is likely a scam. After crowdfunding a million bucks, no product was delivered.
Read - Truebuds: Beware of Kickstarter Scams!

Apple / Beats
The enigma of them all. The iPhone 7 looks set to go without the 3.5mm jack. With that, there are a few folks who surmise that Apple / Beats is going with the full wireless approach with their upcoming earbuds. This will be a very interesting proposition given that Beats have not developed any pair of earbuds since the Apple takeover in 2014. Will they go full swing with a totally new product? Stay tuned.

Update (9 Sep 2016)
As expected, Apple has launched its own truly wireless product, the AirPods.

Read - Beats' and Apple's 2016 Audio Lineup

Update (7 Jun 2016)
Samsung Gear IconX
Samsung have officially joined the party. With that, they take the truly wireless earbuds product category into the mainstream. Launching their wireless earbuds with fitness tracking and 4GB storage stashed within, these earbuds (12g combined) will start sales in Q3 2016. They now sell at Amazon from USD 189.

Read - Samsung Gear IconX - First Take / Review Part 1 / Review Part 2
Update (18 Oct 2016)
Erato Apollo 7 This is a Kickstarter funded product and its design has gotten accolades in the form of the 2015 Red Dot Honorable Mention Award. As there's no mobile app support, this is a hardware driven product but it doesn't stop it from holding up well against its peers. Selling from USD 299 on Amazon.

Read - Erato Apollo 7 review

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