Since the time Apple ditched the veritable 3.5mm jack, ill informed audio pundits have been ceaselessly predicting the death of wired audio. It also helped that consumer interest in this category has since been at an all time high, evinced clearly by how severely out of stock the Air Pods usually are – be it online or at your local large format retailer. Is there truth to all the soothsaying? Is the shift to wireless audio transmission inevitable and imminent? Maybe it is. But going by the kind of products that were available to the masses in this space up until recently, one wouldn’t have been too sure. For a long time the only attempts to bring wireless audio to the masses, in the form of affordable in-ears, were limited to products being made by relatively unknown companies like Soundpeats, MPOW, and the occasional Brainwavz model like the BLU-100 which was a little better than the pack. At the same time “true wireless” in-ears – ones that not only connect to the phone wirelessly but also between the left and right earpiece – were restricted to ultra expensive models like the Samsung Gear IconX earbuds, which had some issues with battery life.
Over the last month though, things have started to change.
I’ve noticed a trend that will most certainly benefit the budding audio enthusiast. And especially an audio enthusiast with a penchant to clear the clutter by going wireless. So what is this trend?
Well established headphone brands have taken some of their best models (some even legendary models) and made them wireless. Take for example the SoundMAGIC E10. With every successive iteration, SoundMagic added a few more bells and whistles to this crowd favourite budget in-ear. The erstwhile E10M got a slightly better quality cable and a toggle near the jack which would let you switch between the pole wiring for Android and iOS. They then took the same E10M and released the E10C which would switch automatically between the iOS and Android remote configurations. It was only a matter of time that this famous model jumped on board the bluetooth bandwagon. Out came the SoundMAGIC E10BT which supports Bluetooth v4.2 and is priced at ₹2,799 (quite affordable even for a price-conscious bloke like me).
A couple of other models have gone wireless before that as well. The budget-friendly Chinese brand Brainwavz took one of their most successful recent models – the Brainwavz Delta – and modified it to run on Bluetooth 4.1 and called it the Blu-Delta. They even promise 8-hours of battery life, all for ₹3,699.
Even Skullcandy followed suite with the launch of a pair of new bluetooth earbuds called the Jib Bluetooth priced at ₹2,999. Although their rated battery life is only 6 hours.
And now comes the affordable “true” wireless option: after waiting a long time Jabees has finally started officially selling their audio gear in India via headphonezone. You now have both the Jabees – Shield (₹5,499) and the BTwins (₹7,999) for the taking. The BTwins in fact boast an iPX4 Sweatproof Design and would work well for those health conscious geeks looking for truly wireless in-ears to accompany a rigorous workout routine.
This recent spate of going wireless makes me believe even more well established brands will soon take the plunge in this segment. One of the more encouraging announcements to this end was the official launch of the Beyerdynamic Byron series in India. Although to be fair, only the wired Byron variant was affordable while the Byron BTA was still stratospheric at ₹15,350. Still, it’s a start. I wouldn’t be surprised if we soon get a wireless Sennheiser CX 180 and CX 275.
So far, my “go to” wireless companion has been the Jaybirds X2, and it’s served me quite well, but now that this high end Beyerdynamic wireless has launched, maybe I should consider an upgrade. Even if I decide that it’s out of my budget I can always buy myself one of the more affordable options I’ve talked about above. Good times!
This article was first published in the July 2017 issue of Digit magazine. To read Digit’s articles first, subscribe here or download the Digit app for Android and iOS. You could also buy Digit’s previous issues here.