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Other Wireless Devices

Bluetooth wireless is included with a lot of different electronic devices. Cameras, bicycle GPS systems, printers, and of course phones and mp3 players. The technology provides convenience.

Here are a few other devices that you may be interested in if you are seeking out hand’s free music listening. Not exactly wireless earbuds but handsfree at least.

If you have an iPod shuffle here is one neat way to not have to hold onto and shed your earphone wires:

Monster iFreePlay Cordless Headphones

Arriva cordless iPod Shuffle Earbuds

Both of these come highly recommended by Ipod shuffle owners. The iFreePlay are a set of headphones that you plug your ipod shuffle into, allowing for hands free listening.

With the Arriva your ipod gets tucked into a little pouch that can hang off of the back of your head and the earbuds come right out of that package. This means your ipod shuffle does not need to be in front of you or hanging out of your pocket. The connection between the pouch and the earbuds is stiff and can be adjusted so the arrangements works well to keep everything in place, even if you are doing something active.

Here are a few interesting headsets. These are not quite earbuds and not quite headphones.

Sony DRBT140Q Bluetooth Headset

Kyocera Bluetooth Stereo Headset

Kleer Wireless Earbuds

Wireless earbuds using Kleer are able to transmit sound in a manner that is light years beyond what you can hear when you listen to Bluetooth enabled earbuds. The only downside is the cost. Compared to Bluetooth there are relatively few Kleer devices. The prices may come down as more products are produced with this technology but for now good wireless music listening comes at a steep price. Let’s review a few different models to get an idea of what is available.

Here are the wireless earphones that will be covered here:

Sleek SA6 and the W-1 Wireless Bundle Kit Unfortunately these are no longer being offered for sale.

Sennheiser MX W1 Wireless Earphone

Sleek SA6 and W-1 Wireless Bundle

Unfortunately these are no longer being offered for sale.

This system is a great set of earbuds that are paired with an elegant and simple wireless receiver. They are also designed to be flexible in their use, so they can also be plugged into an mp3 player if you ever prefer switching between wires and wireless. The earbuds provided with this setup are well reviewed and have good sound quality. The wireless receiver, which is the part that makes this the wireless bundle kit, is made to be tethered to both earbuds and hang behind the head. This would preclude do anything strenuous in terms of exercise while wearing these but besides that limitation the Kleer wireless system that Sleek Audio has put together is a great set of wireless earphones.

These will set you back around $250.

The Sleek Audio wireless earbud package includes a set of nice earbuds and both a wireless receiver and transmitter.

The Sleek Audio wireless earbud package includes a set of nice earbuds, a Kleer wireless receiver and a transmitter that can be plugged into your headphone jack on your mp3 player.

The SA6 earbuds offer some nice sound reporoduction, matching up well with the quality Kleer transmission they are capable of receiving.

The SA6 earbuds offer some nice sound reporoduction, matching up well with the quality Kleer transmission they are capable of receiving.

Sennheiser MX W1

What is it about using W1 in the model name when it comes to wireless earbuds? Despite having to share a model number with Sleek Audio’s product these Sennheiser’s are the cream of the crop. Using Kleer wireless technology and the spare no expense design has led to Sennheiser producing a nice product. One of its unique features is a totally untethered pair of earphones. Since there is no central receiver each earphone must have a receiver built into it. This leads to what is one of the few complaints about this product. Some people do have a bit of a difficult time getting the earbuds to fit well  and, since they are relatively bulky, they do not stay in their ears all that well. Yet there are many people do not have such problems, get a great fit and really enjoy them.

The only drawback for many folks is the price. They generally sell for somewhere between $400 and $500 dollars.

An iPod, Kleer transmitter and the wireless earbuds.

An iPod, Kleer transmitter and the Sennheiser wireless earbuds.

The earbuds come with a holder that also serves as a charging station

The earbuds come with a holder that also serves as a charging station

The Sennheiser MX W1 Wireless Earphone

The only other manufacturer of Kleer wireless is DigiFi. They offer two different models of wireless earbuds but these are not readily available in the US. At the moment they are only marketed and sold in Europe.

Bluetooth Wireless Earbuds

There are a few different styles of Bluetooth wireless earbuds available.  Lets look at a few models and highlight their features and options. While there are more wireless bluetooth earphones available than are listed here, I have made an effort to find a sampling of models that are well rated in review articles and by consumers.

Here is a list of the earbuds that we will explore:

Plantronics 906/R US BackBeat Headphones

Etymotic Research Ety8 Bluetooth Wireless Earphones

Motorola MOTOROKR S9 Bluetooth Headphones

Plantronics 906/R US BackBeat Headphones

This device is nice because of its rich set of features. You can use the headphones to listen to music and to take calls. When you are using these for calls, everything comes in twos. A microphone is included on each side earbud, which is supposed to improve the quality of what is picked up from your voice. You can hear your caller in both earbuds too. In outdoor situations where there is a lot of background noise hearing a voice in both ears can make a big difference. There is also a button on the headphones that allows you to easily switch the music off so that you can hear what is going on around you.

The headphones do require batteries but the device is rechargeable. You simply plug them in using the included AC cord that comes in the package.

These earbuds can be had for somewhere in the neighborhood of $75.

The Plantronics Bluetooth Earphones

Ety8 Bluetooth Wireless Earphones

The Etymotic earbuds combine sound isolating capabilities and wireless technology. Interestingly the product pictures used for advertising seem to suggest there are two unattached earbuds while in fact they are actually connected together via a cord. The reviews for this model are mixed and appear to reflect two different experiences. First are the people that understand that the sound isolation requires that the earbuds are carefully fit into the ear. First you need to play around with the variety of earpieces that come with in the package with the earbuds. Once you find the right arrangement, you also need to get them into your ear so they are properly seated into your ear canal. Once the earbuds are well fit into the ear the sound is quite good. Others do not want to be bothered with figuring out how to wear them correctly or find an in the ear canal earbud uncomfortable. People that are on this side of things do not like these wireless earphones and give the Ety 8 a thumbs down.

The Ety 8 wireless earbuds sell for a bit more than $200.

These earphones are actually tethered together with a cord.

These earphones are actually tethered together with a cord.

The sound reproduction part of these earphones are in the ear, noise blocking arrangment but there does need to be an outside the ear portion to accomodate the wireless reciever.

The earphones fit into the ear canal, in a typical noise blocking arrangement, but there also is the need for an outside the ear part of each earpiece to house a wireless receiver.

The Etymotic Research Ety8 Bluetooth Wireless Earphones

Motorola MOTOROKR S9

The S9 is worth considering as a slightly different form of packing a set of wireless earbuds. While many people would consider these a set of headphones, they are not much different than the tethered earphones shown in the previous two models.

The S9 is advertised as a hearty device that can withstand water, sweat and holds it place well. Reviews clearly show this is a bit of hubris. Another criticism of the S9 is its form factor makes for a bulky piece of equipment to carry around. Even with these limitations, these are not a bad option if you can handle carrying them around when you are not listening to them and are not planning on being real active while wearing them. A daily commute on the bus, for instance, would probably be a good situation to use these in.

The Motorokr’s are relatively cheap and can be bought for around $50.

The Motorokr S9 Wireless Headphones

The Motorokr S9 Wireless Headphones

The Motorola MOTOROKR S9 Bluetooth Headphones

If you think the S9’s are a viable option, you can also check out these models that have a similar form….

Sony DRBT21G/B Stereo Bluetooth Headset

Sony DRBT160AS Bluetooth Stereo Headset

Kleer Wireless

Kleer Wireless technology is a propriety protocol made by none other than – can you believe it – Kleer.

According to Kleer their wireless audio can deliver:

  • CD quality digital sound
  • Low power usage
  • The possibility of extended range wireless coverage

Kleer wireless Technology is currently used in wireless earphone products manufactured by Sennheiser, RCA, DigiFi, Cy-Fi, and Sleek Audio.

Here is one person’s take on the quality of the sound using a set of Kleer wireless earbuds:

Next, plugged in versus wireless: Having been disappointed by Bluetooth, this test amazed and surprised me. The Kleer wireless technology the drives the Sleek Wireless Accessory lived up to all the claims, and I was not able to hear any differences. In fact, I think in a blindfold test no one would know whether they were listening to a wireless device or one plugged in. I tried all the music described without any detectible difference in sonic quality. My advice is to forget A2DP Bluetooth and switch to the Sleek Wireless Accessory (or other Kleer-based wireless device) as soon as you can. When it comes to wireless music, the Kleer technology will make Bluetooth a thing of the past, I’m sure.

If you been disappointed that Apple has not put A2DP Bluetooth on the iPod or iPhone, don’t fret – you can now forget about Bluetooth on your iPod and jump right to Sleek. The Sleek wireless transmitter plugs into the earbud/headphone outlet on the iPod and iPhone and transmit a flawless, CD quality signal to the Sleek Wireless Accessory to which the Sleek head sets are attached. The music quality is unsurpassed, equal to or better then the most expensive audiophile over-the-ear headphones money can buy. Forget Bose, forget Koss, and all of the other high priced name-brand headphones. A Sleek custom in-ear head set with the Sleek Wireless Accessory takes head sets to a whole new level of sonic quality and wireless convenience.

courtesy of hi-fi-org forums

A Guide to Wireless Earbuds

Wireless earbuds rid you of some annoying wires and allows you to enjoy your mp3 player or iPod in comfort. If you are in the market for a set of wireless earphones it may be a little difficult, at first, to figure out what your choices are. The Wireless Earbud Guide is designed to help you understand your options: technological considerations, what to expect from different types of earbuds and an idea about what this might cost. Let’s get started…

Bluetooth or Kleer?

These are the two different wireless standards used in wireless earphones. Many people are familiar with Bluetooth wireless because it is found in a wide variety of electronic devices.  If you have a Bluetooth mp3 player you might think the choice between Bluetooth wireless and Kleer wireless is a no brainer. Why use anything else? Because the second choice, Kleer technology, offers much better sound quality.

Get rid of those tangled earphone wires!

Get rid of those tangled earphone wires!

If you want to listen to music and are picky about what you hear, Kleer enabled wireless earbuds are the best choice. Kleer technology can also have greater range (~ 30 feet in some cases) and is less energy demanding than Bluetooth.

Internal or Attached Transmitter?

If you have a Bluetooth device and Bluetooth wireless earbuds, life is good. You already have a transmitter in your digital music player, leaving you with one less thing to worry about. Kleer technology, or adding Bluetooth transmission to a device that does not already have Bluetooth built in, will require an additional piece of equipment. Kleer earbuds typically include a transmitter as part of what you are buying. Bluetooth earphones, on the other hand, may or may not include a transmitter. Be sure to check into this if you mp3 player does not have a built in Bluetooth transmitter.

Dual Use?

Bluetooth devices are commonplace so it is not a stretch to have a phone and mp3 player that are Bluetooth enbabled. If you prefer the capability of being able to use your earbuds for phone calls and listening to your music it is possible to find earbuds that allow you  to switch between these two uses.

Separate or Connected Earbuds?

The receiver for the wireless signal can be integrated into each earbud or to a central unit that is connected to both earbuds. The former makes for slightly bulky earbuds while the later makes for a crescent shaped device that contains both the receiver and the attached earbuds.

Where to go from here…..

Bluetooth Wireless Earbuds

Kleer Wireless Earbuds