I have had Bragi The Dash on review loan for over a month. At publish time, the product is yet to be approved for sale due to the wireless transmission technology (edit 8 Mar 2017: it will be available in Singapore from 13 March 2017 at S$428). Meanwhile, Jabra Elite Sport, a close competitor for wire-free sports earphones, commenced retail sales for over a month. The other alternative true wireless sports earphones is Samsung Gear IconX, which was on sale since August.
All the above-mentioned wire-free sports earbuds have these features:
- Heartrate monitor
- Storage cradle that doubles as battery pack
- Ambient noise mode to listen to the environment and music at the same time
- Workout stats. Jabra has the most comprehensive workout tracking features while Bragi is the least.
Additionally, Samsung and Bragi has these features:
- 4GB internal storage
But only The Dash has these capabilities:
- Waterproof that supports swim tracking. Jabra is IP-rated water resistant, while Samsung is merely sweat resistant.
- Head gesture that lets you answer phone calls just by nodding or shaking your head.
The Dash biggest feature advantage is the waterproof ability. The head gesture is also rather convenient to allow the wearer to respond to notifications and actions without touching the units.
The unboxing of The Dash is already an event itself. The intelligent retail packaging is a user guide, where I get to flip one page after another as it introduces me the product and how to use. And indeed, I must follow the instructions carefully to ensure I get the earphones working wirelessly with my preferred smartphone.
The Dash has 2 separate Bluetooth connectivity protocol. The right ear connects via Bluetooth Classic which is used for audio. The left ear connects via Bluetooth Low Energy which is used for sensors like heart-rate monitor and accelerometer. You first pair the right ear by standard Bluetooth, then run the Bragi app, before proceeding to pair the left ear in order to get the sensors connected to the app. The right ear pairing does not require passkey but the left ear pairing requires.
And since the 2 earbuds perform different functions, naturally the touch gestures on each earbud sensor work differently. The right controls volume and track changes while the left triggers activity menu and ambient mode, which Bragi calls “Audio Transparency”.
The earbud tips are designed as a single piece with the FitSleeves which covers most part of The Dash units, so that it fits snugly in the ears. The tips are small and shallow so it feels rather comfortable, though the discomfort lies on the outer ears as the entire Dash is stuck against my ear conchas. Though there are no ear fins to secure the units, they don’t fall out at all, kudos to the design mould.
To find out the battery status, one has to look closely at the LED colour. Blue means full, Green means high, Yellow means medium, and Red denotes low. Just give the earbuds a shake and then the LED will light up.
The Bragi app is crucial to configure the product and to activate the sensors. It is also the place to update firmware and to read about the newest features.
Activity tracking on the Bragi app supports running, cycling and swimming. Third party apps on Android does not work yet, although Bragi might get it working over time.
The audio balance on the Bragi, which uses Balanced Armature drivers, is neutral, with rounded treble and bass which benefits loud volume music playback. It does not strike me as outstanding, but neither do they sound unpleasant.
It is unfortunate that The Dash is plagued with weak wireless transmission, which gets interrupted even when the audio device is in the pocket. The Dash comes with 4GB internal storage to play music directly from the earphones, and that will eliminate the audio transmission issue. Occasionally, I also found the touch sensors not working properly.
When The Dash was announced in early 2014, it was a technological innovation, impressing consumers with its suite of unique features. But in 2016, many established companies like Samsung and Jabra have caught up and launched their own wire-free sports earphones. Fortunately, it remains as the only wire-free earphones that is certified waterproof, making it the best earphones for water sports and swimming.
Bragi The Dash will be available for sale in Singapore from 13 March 2017 at RRP S$428, distributed by LRT Singapore (truewireless.sg). You can head to the official website for more product information and purchase. It is possible to purchase every single item in the retail packaging individually, including either of the earbuds or the charger cover or the FitSleeve.