Wireless earbuds allow you to listen to an iPod or MP3 player without a tangle of cords. They are particularly useful for listening while you are engaged in sports.
There are two types of wireless earbuds: those that transmit wirelessly via an iPod adapter, and those that attach directly to an iPod shuffle. Most of the transmitting wireless earbuds use the Bluetooth protocol, but a few high-end earbuds use a different wireless protocol called Kleer for CD-quality audio. Bluetooth transmits music reasonably well, but if your are looking for high-fidelity sound you should probably choose a Kleer-compatible device.
The iPhone supports Bluetooth headphones, but split-second interruptions can sometimes be heard in playback while an App is loading. iPod audio continues to be almost perfect when running even device-taxing games, but there are occasionally similarly brief interruptions. This will depend on the App.
Here’s our round-up of the best wireless earbuds currently available:
We’ve found two new wireless headsets that you might want to consider: the Nokia Bluetooth Headset BH-905 and the Jabra BT8010 Bluetooth Headset . These were both given “Excellent” rating by CNet, this month (February 2011). They also gave an “Excellent” rating to the Etymotic Ety8, which is listed below.
Etymotic Research Ety8 Bluetooth Wireless Earbuds
Etymotic Research is a company that produces high-end earphones that compete with the likes of Shure and Ultimate Ears. They make a set of wireless earbuds, the Ety8 Bluetooth Wireless Earphones which are noise-canceling earbuds that are supported by your ear canal. They come with different sizes of ear-tips to accommodate the many different ear sizes.
The set weighs less than half an ounce and one of them contains the battery and the other the circuit, antennae and controls. However, all of these electronic means the earbuds are pretty large and fairly heavy. Despite there being no cables dragging at your ears, the sheer weight of each earphone is enough to pull uncomfortably under normal use. You definitely cannot run with these earbuds.
However, they do offer excellent sound and great noise reduction. So if that is your priority when selecting earbuds, you might want to try these.
The Sleek Audio SA6 Wireless Headphone Bundle
The Sleek SA6 Wireless Headphone makes use of Kleer Corporation’s digital transmission technology. Kleer uses the same 2.4 GHz range as Bluetooth, but it actually allows for the transmission of uncompressed CD-quality sound. It also uses less power than Bluetooth, so the headphones hold their charge longer.
The only other earbuds using Kleer technology, are the Sennheiser (featured below). These Sleek headphones top our list of wireless headphones, offer excellent sound quality and good battery life.
Sennheiser MX W1 Totally Wireless Earphones
The entire system consists of the earbuds, a small transmitter that connects to an iPod or MP3 player, and a carrying case with built-in quick charge function that enables up to three full recharges while on the go.
The transmitter is very small — it’s about half the size of a pack of gum. It comes with a rubber band to strap to an iPod. In a clear space you can move about 40 feet away from the iPod and still get a clear signal. On a full charge the transmitter will last for about 10 hours, while the earbuds will last for about 3 to 5 hours.
Sennheiser MM 200 Bluetooth Wireless Earbuds
The Sennheiser MM 200 bluetooth headset is a good choice if your budget is under $200 (it currently sells for $106). The MM 200 earbuds have a lanyard design — you wear the device around your neck. They earbuds themselves are very similar to wired Sennheiser earbuds — the device on the lanyard holds the battery and the bluetooth receiver. So the MM 200 is likely to appeal to those who don’t mind wearing it around their neck.
The battery takes about 3 hours to charge, and its gives you about 9 hours of music, which is quite good when compared to other headsets. The process of pairing the headset with an iPhone using bluetooth was straightforward. The controls allow you to play and pause music, change the volume, and some in-call controls for the phone too.
The earbuds comes with three different sized rubber tips. Once you get the right fit, the quality of music really improves. The overall quality of the sound is very good, as you’d expect from Sennheiser. The only reservation I have is that the earbuds are a bit light on bass.
JBL Ref 610 Headphones For iPhones and iPods
The JBL Reference 610 are bluetooth headphones that are designed to be used with iPhones and iPods. Made by Harman Kardon, they have good sound quality (as good as you can expect from Bluetooth). They are also very comfortable, and the built-in rechargeable battery last at least 10 hours on a charge. The JBL Reference 610 includes built-in controls on the ear cup — you can adjust volume, select tracks, play, pause, plus browse menus when in iPod navigation mode.
These headphones can also be plugged in using a included 3.5mm mini plug (I don’t know of any other bluetooth headphone with this feature).
Motorola S305 Bluetooth Stereo Headset
The Motorola S305 Bluetooth Stereo Headset is a very functional headset, that sells for $35. This is the best rated Bluetooth Headphone on Amazon (it gets an average rate of 4 or 5 stars from over 100 buyers).
Available on Amazon.
Jaybird JB 200i Earbuds For iPod
The Jaybird JB 200i Bluetooth Earbuds are built for listening while active. They are water and sweat resistant, and they are made to stay secure while in motion. Jaybirds are quite comfortable to wear — the bulk of the earpieces are contained in the two crescent-moon-shaped units that curve behind the ear when worn.
Jaybirds are also designed to make calls with Bluetooth-equipped mobile phones (they switch from music to calls with the press of a button). They include an iPod adapter, and the process of pairing with the earphones is pretty easy.
The earphones have three buttons on the right earpiece: one that plays and pauses music as well as starts and end calls, and two more that alternate between volume controls (long press) and track shuttle keys (short press). A thin cable, meant to be worn behind the head, connects the right to the left ear piece.
The sounds quality of the earphones is reasonably good, but the bass tends to muffled and under-represented.
Overall, the JayBird JB-200i is good for active types who want a super low-profile set of wireless earphones for their iPod.
Motorola Motorokr S9 Wireless Earphones
Like the Jaybird earphones, the Motorokr S9 Bluetooth Wireless Earphones are made for sports use. They are water-resistant and can be used with any phone that supports Bluetooth Stereo Profile (A2DP) or Bluetooth Adapter for iPod. The Motorokr S9 comes with a Bluetooth adapter for iPods.
The S9 headset is comfortable to wear. It has a rigid plastic band that sits just behind the back of your neck. The earbud covers are made with soft rubber. The left-hand side of the headset has the Play and Track Skip buttons. The right-hand side features volume controls and a multifunction button for managing voice calls.
The headset isn’t a true in-ear design. This makes it more comfortable to wear, but it also lets more sound in from the outside.
The audio quality is reasonable, but not great, The battery life is reasonably good (up to approximately 6 hour music listening, 7 hours talk time from a single charge).
One Amazon reviewer had an issue with power button:
The product delivered everything I expected. The only issue I have is the touchy on/off switch. My robe collar will actually shut the headphones off, if I’m not careful. Other than that, it’s a great product.