Bragi announced its Dash earphones at CES way back in 2015, when wireless Bluetooth headsets were still relatively niche. Since then we've seen Apple, Samsung, and a host of other companies launch their own "truly wireless" headphones, prompting Bragi to give the market another pop with "The Headphone" ($149), a less expensive, more awkwardly named variant of its original cord-free buds.

FullSizeRender 9
Announced last September two days before the Apple iPhone 7 event, The Headphone only began shipping in January, so Bragi has had plenty of time to iron out any last-minute kinks. Not that there should be any. The Headphone buds are a lot less ambitious than the Dash.

They don't have touch-sensitive controls, for one. Bragi has also done away with the internal music player, heart-rate monitoring and fitness tracking features found in the company's original wireless buds. Are they susceptible to the same connection problems that initially befell the Dash? And how do they compare against Apple's AirPods? Let's find out.

FullSizeRender 3

Design and Features

Bragi has chosen to go with a more minimal packaging style for its latest audio product when compared to the Dash. These come in a compact rectangular cardboard box about the size of a cigarette packet, with a top that levers up for you to slide out an inner compartment.

FullSizeRender 4
Tucked inside is a black carry case connected to a lanyard, a micro-USB to USB-A charging cable, two pairs of FitTips (small, medium), a pair of large Comply foam eartips, a quick start guide, warranty information, and some stickers. A quick look at the documentation seems to confirm there's no accompanying Bragi app for these buds and no obvious way to update the firmware.

FullSizeRender 6
The carry case is all-plastic (as opposed to the metal Dash case) and despite being significantly bulkier and less pocketable than Apple's AirPods case, it actually feels slightly lighter in the hand. There's a good reason for that, though – unlike the Dash and AirPods, The Headphone case packs zero on-the-go charging capability.

Another thing that distinguishes The Headphone from the Dash buds and AirPods is its lack of waterproofing. Fortunately the buds are splash-resistant though, so they'll be fine for sweaty ears and running in the rain.

FullSizeRender 5
The earpieces don't look very "premium" at first glance, but a closer look reveals a neat ergonomic curvature, with a little arm emerging from the body of each bud where the eartip and driver are located. Overall they feel robust, yet lightweight and well balanced in the hand, despite all the button controls being located on the right earpiece.

Using the three physical buttons, you can skip through tracks, take calls, make voice commands via Siri, and activate audio transparency (more on that later). The only feature on the left bud is a small raised Bragi logo on its back.

IMG 2029
The buds line up with gold charging contacts and magnets in the case, and snap back in easily, but they don't automatically turn off once they're inside, so don't get caught out if you're used to a case with a built-in battery charging feature. With the buds in the case and the case attached to a power source via the USB cable, the LEDs on both earpieces blink until fully charged, then stay illuminated.

Performance

Pairing The Headphone is pretty straightforward. Pressing and holding down the power button sets off a flashing arc of light on the right bud, the Near Field Magnetic Induction kicks in and connects the pair of them together, and they show up in your Bluetooth settings as a single headset.

Using the large Comply tips, the buds fit inside the hollow of my ears nice and snugly – maybe too snugly. The buds never threatened to work themselves loose while I was out on a run, or pop from my lugs during circuit training exercises, but the drawback to this level of security turned out to be my sense of relief upon removing them.

IMG 2030
The earbuds aren't uncomfortable to wear exactly, but after wearing loose-fitting AirPods for an extended period, The Headphone buds' embedded seal feels a tad constricting. This sensation isn't really diminished by using the smaller FitTips, either.

On the upside, The Headphone buds are much easier to hide or disguise than AirPods, if that's a concern, and they do a heck of a better job at blocking out ambient noise than Apple's wireless buds, which sort of blithely hang in the hollows of your ears and let in any old commotion going on around you.

The Bluetooth connection between my iPhone and The Headphone was also very reliable during runs, even with my phone secured against the small of my back in a waistband. The connection even remained firm while I tottered between two adjacent rooms indoors, so it's safe to say they have at least one up on the original Dash.

IMG 2032
The audio transparency feature is meant to let in ambient noise when you want to hear it. A long press on the volume up/down buttons turns the feature on/off. I didn't get much out of it, to be honest. The noises it allowed through were in the high-pitch range, and didn't significantly increase my awareness of my surroundings; it just made the sounds around me more distracting.

With the original Dash headphones, swipes and taps on the buds' touch panels controlled music playback, while gestures let users nod or shake their heads to accept or reject phone calls, all of which could work haphazardly or feel too sensitive in practice.

With physical buttons and no gestures, none of those issues are present with The Headphone buds and they respond a lot better as a result, although the buttons aren't very "clicky" and you can end up pushing the earpieces further into your ears when you press them, which isn't a nice sensation. The buttons' positioning takes a bit of getting used to once the buds are in, but removing them pauses your music and putting them back in resumes playback, so presumably there's a sensor tucked away inside them, which came as a neat surprise.

IMG 2033
The original Bragi Dash have a measly three hours' battery life; The Headphone managed around five and a half hours in my tests, just shy of the stated six. That's marginally more than Apple's wireless buds, but the difference is nullified by the AirPods' carry case, which can hold an extra 24 hours of charge and fast-charge the pods in 15 minutes for an extra 2 hours of juice. Once you lose that convenience, you quickly miss it.

In terms of sound quality, The Headphone's bass was a bit too much for my liking, and seemed to overpower other aspects of certain music types. Hip-hop and dance sounded okay, but instrumental and jazz sounded awful, and there was some faint distortion in the upper end. I definitely prefer the clarity and openness of the AirPods.

perfect fit headphone bragi
Taking calls through them, on the other hand, was fine. Speech sounded clear enough, and I was told my voice came through loud and clear. The buds' integrated mic isn't quite good enough to dictate text messages accurately, but it works fine for making calls in a moderately quiet environment.

Bottom Line

They may lack Apple features like W1 seamless device pairing and an on-the-go charging case, but at $10 less than the AirPods, The Headphone by Bragi is a viable, discreet option for anyone interested in going "truly wireless" but isn't convinced by what Apple's offering.

The sound quality isn't amazing by any stretch, but these are relatively inexpensive isolating Bluetooth buds and should satisfy most users as long as they accept that they're buying into an audio compromise for the convenience of not having to worry about wires.

Pros

  • Inconspicuous in the ears
  • Extremely secure fit
  • Strong Bluetooth connection
  • Decent battery life

Cons

  • Sound quality is so-so
  • Case doesn't hold any backup charge
  • Audio transparency feature needs fine tuning
  • In-ear button pressing can be a faff

How to Buy

The Headphone by Bragi costs $149 and can be ordered from the company's website.

the headphone product page slider 2x e1488483876633
Note: Bragi supplied The Headphone to MacRumors for the purposes of this review. No other compensation was received.

Tags: review, Bragi

Top Rated Comments

naeS1Sean Avatar
64 months ago
Bought the AirPods and would have kept them, but was deeply disappointed by the EXTREME hissing sound as soon as the microphone kicks in while doing phone calls etc. Not talking about normal Bluetooth basic hissing I guess/hope, but really, really bad. A pity as I would have loved to keep the AirPods.
Perhaps they were a bad pair…?
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
radus Avatar
64 months ago
I bought the first version of Bragi s earphone and what should I say ... never again.
They didn't fit, I lost one -- no replacement available ... . I will avoid this company like a plaque.
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
jhfenton Avatar
64 months ago
Bought the AirPods and would have kept them, but was deeply disappointed by the EXTREME hissing sound as soon as the microphone kicks in while doing phone calls etc. Not talking about normal Bluetooth basic hissing I guess/hope, but really, really bad. A pity as I would have loved to keep the AirPods.
It sounds like you had a defective pair. There is no hissing on phone calls with my AirPods.
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Chuck Kostalnick Avatar
64 months ago
Perhaps they were a bad pair…?
Mine do the same thing - it's especially bad on Mac. I'm not sure why, but whenever my 2015 rMBP tries to use the Mic on the AirPods, the audio quality is absolute garbage.
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
BvizioN Avatar
64 months ago
I wouldn't cope without the back up charge that offers the Airpod case. I think the only thing Bragis the Headphone have that airpod lacks is the black colour. Very happy with the Airpods.
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
0029937 Avatar
64 months ago
Review needs pic of these things in your ear. Side profile shot of head.
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Popular Stories

airpodsinear 1

AirPods Save Woman's Life With Feature Everyone Should Know

Friday January 21, 2022 2:13 am PST by
Apple's AirPods have been credited with saving a woman's life after a potentially fatal fall, People reports. When a 60-year-old florist in New Jersey tripped and hit her head in her studio, she lost consciousness and awoke heavily bleeding. With nobody around to call for help, she realized she had her AirPods in, and used a "Hey Siri" command to call 911. An operator was able to stay on the ...
iphone 13 earpods

Apple to Stop Including EarPods With Every iPhone Sold in France From Next Week

Friday January 21, 2022 3:21 am PST by
Apple will no longer include EarPods with every iPhone sold in France, starting on January 24, according to a notice posted by a French carrier (via iGeneration). Apple was previously required to include EarPods in the box with the iPhone due to a French law that required every smartphone sold in the country to come with a "handsfree kit," but the law has now been changed in favor of reducing the ...
peloton tv workout cardio

Apple Floated as Potential Buyer of Peloton

Friday January 21, 2022 6:11 am PST by
Following months of bleak news about Peloton's "precarious state," including the revelation that it has halted production of its bikes and treadmills, Apple is being floated as a potential buyer of Peloton's troubled fitness business. Yesterday, CNBC reported that Peloton will temporarily stop production of its connected fitness products due to a "significant reduction" in consumer demand, a ...
Questionable Design Decisions

Apple's Most Questionable Design Decisions in Recent Memory

Sunday January 23, 2022 2:59 am PST by
Apple has always emphasized the depth of thought that goes into the design of its products. In the foreword to Designed by Apple in California, a photo book released by the company in 2016, Jony Ive explains how the company strives "to define objects that appear effortless" and "so simple, coherent and inevitable that there could be no rational alternative." But every once in a while even...
Spring 2022 Apple Products Feature

New iPad Air, Macs, and iPhone SE With 5G Likely to Be Announced at Apple Event This Spring

Thursday January 20, 2022 8:32 am PST by
Earlier this week, Bloomberg's Mark Gurman tweeted that Apple "will be holding a spring event" to announce a new iPhone SE and other hardware. In a recent edition of his newsletter, Gurman said the event is likely to occur in March or April. Gurman did not elaborate on what "other hardware" will be announced at Apple's purported spring event, but rumors suggest at least four products are...
Upcoming Products 2022 Feature

Gurman: Apple Preparing 'Widest Array of New Hardware Products in Its History' for Fall

Sunday January 23, 2022 10:32 am PST by
Apple is working on a number of new products that are set to launch this fall, and Bloomberg's Mark Gurman says that it will be "the widest array" of new devices that Apple has introduced in its history. In his latest "Power On" newsletter, Gurman explains that Apple is working on four new iPhones (iPhone 14, iPhone 14 Max, iPhone 14 Pro, and iPhone 14 Pro Max), an updated low-end MacBook Pro...
apple watch series 7 aluminum colors yellowbg

Apple Watch Charging Bug Fixed in watchOS 8.4 Release Candidate

Thursday January 20, 2022 4:01 pm PST by
The watchOS 8.4 release candidate that was seeded to developers and beta testers this morning addresses an ongoing bug that could cause some Apple Watch chargers not to work properly with the Apple Watch. Back in December, we reported on a growing number of charging issues that Apple Watch Series 7 owners were facing. Since watchOS 8.3, there have been a number of complaints about...
safari icon blue banner

macOS Monterey 12.2 and iOS 15.3 Release Candidates Fix Safari Bug That Leaks Browsing Activity

Thursday January 20, 2022 1:30 pm PST by
The macOS Monterey 12.2 and iOS 15.3 release candidates that came out today appear to address a Safari bug that could cause your recent browsing history and details about your identity to be leaked to malicious entities. As shared last week by browser fingerprinting service FingerprintJS, there is an issue with the WebKit implementation of the IndexedDB JavaScript API. Any website that uses...
apple college discounts

Apple Walks Back UNiDAYS Verification Requirement for U.S. Education Store

Friday January 21, 2022 12:43 pm PST by
Earlier this week, Apple began requiring that customers taking advantage of educational discounts in the United States verify their status as a teacher, student, or school staff member through UNiDAYS. The requirement was a major change as Apple had never asked customers to go through a verification process in the United States before, and now, just three days after verification was added,...