Full disclosure: I was a Kickstarter backer for the Bragi Dash, and I was given a backer coupon for the Headphone. I bought both products with my own money, and this review of the Headphone is my own opinion and not influenced by Bragi in any way.
TL:DR: I like the Headphone, and the price point is just right. However, I find myself going back to the Dash for daily listening.
My Bragi Headphones were delivered on January 6, 2017 after a couple production delays. Bragi didn’t give anyone a hint that they were working on another product so quickly after the release of the Dash, and I was so excited to get Bragi’s latest product. The packaging is very different than the Dash’s. The Dash came with an instruction booklet for the cover while the Headphone’s packaging is very minimal. However, there are nice little touches. Opening the lid and seeing a small heart underneath was a subtle way for Bragi to tell their customer thank you.
In the box, you get 2 pairs of silicone ear tips, 1 pair of Comply tips, carry case with lanyard attached, micro USB for charging, a few stickers, and the usual pamphlets that I rarely read.
There are a few differences between the Dash and Headphone. The biggest one is the price. Dash is $299 and the Headphone is $149. There are some tradeoffs that come with the lower price. You will not get the 4GB internal storage, touch interface, fitness tracking, or heart rate monitor that come with the Dash. However, you are getting a newer audio driver for enhanced sound, and the battery life is 6 hours compared to the Dash’s 3 hours. For me the biggest difference are the cases. The Headphone case will not charge the Headphone while you’re on the go. You must plug it into an outlet, computer USB port, or a battery pack. The Dash only lasts 3 hours on a charge, but it will last 15 hours total with each full charge from its battery case. Which battery life is the best depend on how you intend to use them. The LEDs in the Headphone will pulse while they’re charging, and they’ll shine a solid white when they’re fully charged.
The Headphone’s interface are the buttons on the right ear bud for volume up, volume down, and the main button that is used for play/pause, power on/off (something the Dash desperately needs), and making phone calls. Like the Dash, the Headphone does have audio transparency that you can activate by pressing and holding the volume up button. Audio transparency lets you hear what’s going on around you while still listening to your music, video, etc. To me the Dash seems to have better “transparency clarity” than the Headphone. The Dash also has the Windshield feature that removes wind noise, but the Headphone doesn’t. This omission makes audio transparency on the Headphone useless on a windy day. When you press a button, there isn’t voice feedback like the Dash has. There are a series of tones to let you know a button press was accepted. I think it was a mistake to not carry the voice feedback over to the Headphone, but I got used to the tones.
Both parts of the Headphone case are plastic while the sleeve of the Dash’s case is metal. The plastic sleeve doesn’t feel like it will break without a lot of force, but a metal sleeve would’ve been a nice touch to make them feel more premium.
And now the two issues most Dash users have encountered. Audio quality and connection quality. The Headphone’s audio quality is better than the Dash, but for some reason I find myself going back to the Dash for my daily listening. With the Headphone, I listened to music with the silicone ear tips and the Comply tips. The Comply tips definitely provide a better sound quality on the Headphone than the silicone tips, and the Bluetooth signal strength is, without a doubt, much better than the Dash. I’m able to walk at least 30 feet before I hear a slight audio stutter. Walking 40 feet and going behind a wall is definitely too much for the Headphone to handle, but the signal returns as I walk closer to my phone. It seems like Bragi has learned from the Dash and applied that knowledge to the Headphone.
What I’d Change
A battery case would be nice, but the design oversight for me is not placing the charging pins on the Headphone in the same location as the Dash. You cannot store or charge the Headphone in the Dash case. I was told by a Bragi support representative that they have listened to the feedback from their customers regarding a Headphone charging case and have forwarded that information to their design team. This is not a confirmation that anything is being worked on, but it’s nice to know a company is listening to their users. While I’m talking about the case, that lanyard…why? In Bragi’s ads they show people wearing the case around their neck. A much shorter lanyard could be useful as a wrist strap. I’ve considered cutting it off several times. However, I’ve started using the lanyard to shut the case.
What I Like
I wrote this review while wearing the Headphone, and I forgot I was wearing them. These things are light but solid. They do not feel cheap, and I can shake my head without them falling out. The 6 hour battery life is great. I can get through an entire work day without needing to charge them like I have to with the Dash and its 3 hour battery life. Unlike Apple’s AirPods, you can control your music entirely from the Headphone’s interface. You don’t have to activate Siri or take out your phone to change a track or change the volume. That is a must have for me.
Overall, yes I think you’d be very happy with them. The Headphones are designed to be sweat resistant and worn for regular listening, and the Dash are water proof for use at the gym, on a run, swimming, etc. It could come down to price with the Dash being double the Headphone’s. If you already have the Dash and are happy with them, then I recommend holding off for Bragi’s next product. If you don’t have wireless headphones, or have the “wireless” buds with a cable connecting them, then I’d recommend getting the Headphone.