Going fully Wireless IEMs. Too soon? Or are we there yet?
Sep 22, 2017 at 3:34 AM Thread Starter Post #1 of 56,823


Sep 15, 2016
Hi all,

Haven't posted much as I've been pretty happy with the Senn IE80s over the last couple of years. But I'm getting a bit fed up with having to replace the cable every 8-12 months. The IE80s are fantastic sound-wise, and I have custom-moulded sleeves which give a wonderful fit and great sound isolation. I was originally looking for a wireless lanyard like the Westone BT cable 78548, but unfortunately the IE80s use a custom connector, and I can't find an equivalent wireless converter that'll fit the Senns (there's some $5 ones on Alibaba, but I've no confidence that they'll have decent SQ, battery life or reliability).

I use the IEMs primarily for music/movies during my commute; it's walking and sitting, so they don't have to be exercise-proof or waterproof - although that would be good for listening sessions while I work in the garden. Battery life is reasonably important; I don't want to have to charge them every day, and if I forget to charge them once they need to last for a second commute (so at least 3hrs+ in total).

So the question is, are we at the point yet where it's feasible to go for fully-wireless IEM buds. There seem to be a lot of devices out there which very nearly cut the mustard, but all so far seem to have caveats. But there's also some interesting kit being released in the next few weeks, and I'm wondering whether anyone has experienced them and can help encourage me to take the plunge. :wink:

Current possibilities/shortlist seems to be:
  • Sony WF-1000X - has a few great (p)reviews, and the noice cancellation appears to be a great extra feature. Haven't seen any reports on battery life, but stated claims of 3hrs + 9 extra from the case seem 'okay'.
  • Bragi The Headphone - seem to be generally well-liked and a good feature-set. No charging case seems problematic though.
  • Bragi Dash Pro - super cool, but super-expensive (and reviews on head-fi indicate that the SQ is not good).
  • Zolo Liberty Plus - very promising, I'm looking forward to hearing what these sound like. I nearly pulled the trigger on a speculative punt via the Kickstarter, but missed the deadline.
  • Bose SoundSport Free - again, seem like they might be good, waiting to see reviews. No UK release date as yet.
  • B&O Beoplay E8 - look like they'll be good, but expensive too.

Anything else I should add to the list and consider? Are there any fully wireless IEMs with custom sleeves yet for a perfect fit?
Sep 22, 2017 at 9:56 AM Post #2 of 56,823
We might be getting close now that the big boys are all getting in on it. I'll add the Jaybird Run to the list but the consensus is that even though it uses the same drivers as the regular X3, the sound quality isn't the same. I am a big fan of the regular Wireless Soundsports so I am personally on the Bose Soundsport Free bandwagon. If Bose can pull off the same sound quality in the Free that will be a winner. $250 is steep but i'll willing to pay an extra $80 over the Jaybird. I think the real question on true wireless is are they solving a problem we don't have. I love gadgets and have tried dozens of BT headphones. Mostly of the sports variety because that's where I use them most. And even though I keep spending, I am always asking myself if these are really offering an difference over a "wired" BT headset? I am not entirely sure. There is a cool factor and I do use Jabra Elite Sports strictly for running and enjoy the complete freedom. But in 90% of the applications, the "regular" wireless version works. And if the battery is better, and the SQ is better, then it does leave my asking "why do I need true wireless". That said, I'm a sucker for shiny new toys. I ruled the Sony out because they are not sweatproof. The Zolo are intriguing but they are HUGE. The E8 will probably sound great but if they are anything like the H5 the design will fail them. I've held off on Dash Pro for the very reason you quote - mediocre SQ and $329 plus tax at best buy doesn't work for me. I cancelled my preorder of the Jaybirds in favor of the Bose. I'll report back here when I get them.
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Sep 22, 2017 at 11:20 AM Post #3 of 56,823
You're right, of course, there is little or no reason to switch to wireless, really. But I just had to replace my IE80 cables, which had worn out (they seem to last 8-10 months on average); I bought a set on Amazon for £12, and 24hrs after they arrived the sound stopped working in the left ear. :frowning2: So it just feels like a sign that perhaps I should look elsewhere and see if wireless is an option. As you say, lots of the big manufacturers are starting to get in on the act, and things are getting interesting. I suspect that we'll only see the full picture at the end of the year, but the promise is there.

Jaybird Run sounds like it should make the shortlist, until you read the connectivity issues: https://gizmodo.com/these-completely-wireless-jaybird-headphones-are-almost-1803758431 - at which point they drop onto the "not even with a bargepole" shortlist.
Sep 22, 2017 at 11:25 AM Post #4 of 56,823
For critical listening I think we're nowhere close but for working out/commuting I think most of today's offerings are adequate. If you are used to say $100+ earphones I don't think there's any wireless option that comes close.
Sep 22, 2017 at 11:35 AM Post #5 of 56,823
Agreed. Adequate is the right term but we always searching for improvements right? Some "regular" wireless IEMs are approaching the SQ. The new MA750 wireless and the VModa Forza Metallo Wireless come pretty close to offering the SQ of $100 IEMs.
Sep 22, 2017 at 11:42 AM Post #6 of 56,823
Except that neither of those are 'wireless'. :wink:

I can't see the point whatsoever of having wireless IEMs that have wires. Seems to me you have all the downsides of tangled cables, worn cables at the bud shell joint (particularly if worn over-the-ear) that need to be replaced, plus worse connectivity, low battery life, but none of the upsides of wired IEMs (better SQ and sound sync).
Sep 22, 2017 at 2:39 PM Post #8 of 56,823
As a general piece of advice, and this is coming from my limited experience. I tried a few of the more well praised Bluetooth IEMs right here on head-fi a few years ago (Plantronics Backbeat Pro, Brainwavz Blu100, Sony SBH80) and only one of them (the Sony SBH80) offered sound quality that made me think of "these sound decent". In all other Bluetooth earphones I tried one of the first thoughts I'd say to myself was "well, these don't sound too bad for a wireless earphone". The Sony were the first that made me go: "Alright, these sound okay, they have a similar quality to some of my budget IEMs".

Since that time my Sony broke, I try to avoid using my other earphones because frankly I don't think they sound good and both are immensely poorly tuned as sports/outdoors earphones with more focus on the highs rather than the bass and with a rather cold and airy presentation that is very lacking in detail and grainy sounding.

With those things in mind, right now what I use for my wireless fix are MMCX or 2-pin bluetooth modules that I plug to some of my favorite budget IEMs and those sound significantly better than any current or previous Bluetooth earphone I have and they cost significantly less while being more versatile. The Tennmak Pro and the KZ ZST are two examples of such earphones I enjoy using for sports with a bluetooth module and I'd sooner recommend an option like that than a purely-bluetooth earphone that will eventually become worthless once the battery dies out.
Sep 22, 2017 at 3:07 PM Post #10 of 56,823
What about the problem about the compression from BT codec?

It's still there, but fact of the matter is that even a budget chinese IEM sounds immensely better compressed than most of the crappy drivers other Bluetooth IEMs I've tried have.
Sep 22, 2017 at 3:56 PM Post #14 of 56,823
I have been using JBL bluetooth for the past few months and its honestly fantastic. 8 Hours battery life, water resistant and more importantly sounds great. I actually came today to the forums to look for any impressions on the new shure line but im a little bit confused as i still cant find the sub section for IEMs.

I do think wireless is going to be very popular next year especially since smartphones are abandoning headphone jacks and tbh, wireless is just much more convenient outside of the house and the sound is very good. If you are not in a hurry, i would advice to wait till early 2018 when wireless headphones and earphones support bluetooth 5.0 as it will be huge step in sound and range.
I have xperia XZ premium that have 5.0 but im not going to drop $200+ on wireless until it supports it
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