Gone are the days when enjoying concert-hall sound meant wearing a pair of heavy “can” style headphones with thick, clumsy wiring. The advent of Bluetooth technology has given us the option to untether from our wireless devices; we are now able to closely recreate the large-headphone experience in wireless earbuds that are light, sturdy, and deliver great sound. You’ll find many companies offering wireless earbuds at different price points, and with different capabilities; however, when deciding if a set of wireless earbuds is a good investment for you, there are several general factors you’ll want to take into consideration.
Audio technology has come a long way in the past decade, creating an ever-improving listening experience in a rapidly shrinking package. While wireless earbuds cannot promise to deliver exactly the bass and fidelity of their around-the-ear counterparts, the gap in user experience is small, and decreasing at a steady rate. This is in part due to the increase in data transfer rates for electronic devices. Bluetooth technology has improved steadily, allowing data to move at close-to-wired speeds, with less data corruption and loss along the way. The result is a fast, clear transmission of your favorite tunes with very little interference from technology. Unless you are looking for a higher high rate of fidelity (for instance, if you are listening to playback for a soundboard or post-production work), you will probably find the playback and clarity of wireless earbuds entirely satisfactory.
One of the biggest issues with the breakdown of wired earbuds is the wear and tear on the wires themselves. Presently, wired earbuds have fragile wiring. This perfect for ease of use, but not so perfect for return on investment – even the most expensive earbuds are susceptible to breakdown due to wire damage and deterioration. One significant jolt (dropping your iPod while the earbuds are in your ears, for example) can mean the end of your expensive pair of earbuds. While some care must be
Taken in the use and storage of wireless earbuds, they tend to last a little longer with gentle use, as there is no extended cord to be pulled, wrapped, or moved. The set sits in your ears, with a small wire that wraps behind your head. This means far less manipulation of the wiring during regular use.
Cool new technology always comes at a cost, and wireless earbuds are no exception. Because this technology is relatively new and still considered a luxury feature, expect to pay the “early adopter tax” when you shop for a pair. You should plan to pay anywhere from $50 to $100 or more for your new buds, depending on the brand and sound capabilities you are looking for. Because wireless earbuds invariably suffer from the minor fidelity and data transfer gaps discussed above, it’s especially important to invest in a quality pair of earbuds that have high-quality drivers, sufficient dynamic range, and first impedance. Spending a little time and research in your decision will go a long way to ensuring you find a quality product.