Typically when you spend $299 on a pair of earphones, you’re expecting quality, but you’re also expecting some flaws. Well, that’s exactly the case with the Bragi Dash. So let’s get right into it.
I originally backed the Bragi Dash February 23rd, 2014 after scouring Kickstarter for $199 (early bird pricing) with expectations of getting them in January 2015 (no really, there’s screenshots):
I finally received them February 12th, 2016 after much delay and plenty of Twitter and emailed excuses. It’s something I should’ve expected after being a backer of “Coin”, which most people know wasn’t the most successful launch through Kickstarter at all.
Saying that to say this:
Finally with the Bragi Dash in hand, I was actually excited to finally cut the cord on my headphones. Prior to the Dash I had been using my favorite Bluetooth gym headphones, the Jaybirds X2’s, but always had an issue with the cable going around my head, so the Dash was the perfect substitute for that, or so I thought.
At face value, when you purchase the Bragi Dash they will set you back $299, cold cash. The earbuds themselves are essentially made for sports and fitness, more accurately, outdoor running. Coming with it’s own internal memory of 4 gigabytes, you can easily leave your phone in the house, and jam to your own 500-800 song playlists just with the Dash itself. So imagine the joy of taking it out for a run, without the need to have the phone in your hand or on your wrist! Also coming with a heart rate monitor and built-in step counter, these headphones are everything you’d think you’d want from a pair of headphones who’s main Kickstarter video shows a woman carelessly running the trails, no phone in hand, totally immersed in her fitness journey.
So let’s start there:
The headphones themselves promise all of that, but trip and fall at every turn. While yes, you can easily go out and run outdoors with the noise cancelling headphones, the difference is that the headphones physically sit in your ear. This means that while you’re running and somehow find yourself attempting to cross a street, or listening for background noise, you’ll have to physically turn the active noise cancellation off, which should work, but it doesn’t. In my experience, turning the audio transparency off is a simple swipe gesture on the left earbud. But once you do this, it doesn’t actually make the background noise easier to hear, it honestly only gives the right ear the ability to BARELY hear said noise. Too many times I wore them over the course of using, including while at work where someone asked me a question, and I attempted to turn the headphones down and I could still not hear them. So what I actually found myself doing was taking one headphone out so I could hear anything, which honestly is self defeating in itself.
This could be great for some due to the fact that like many other reviews you might read, the Dash simply DO NOT fall out of your ears, which is great for running long distances, to even doing the pull up bar or lifting heavy weights. But the fact that since they do sit snug in your ear, if you are in a pinch where you might need to hear outside noise, that could be a problem at turning the volume down, or simply turning the audio transparency on, it won’t really do much for you at all.
But I’m getting besides myself, so let me back up a bit. The Bragi Dash actually comes with a companion app that you’ll initially want to set up that’s available for iOS. I downloaded the app, and after synching the Dash headphones to my device through the settings app, I went over to the App where I was prompted to Search for the device.
Basically this is a process where you tap and hold on the left earbud for five seconds for the app to recognize the Bragi Dash. Well after two updates in the App Store, this feature still hasn’t worked for me. I’ve tried turning the Dash on and off. Even rebooting my phone, force closing the app, and testing on my girlfriends’ phone seemed to not work, whatsoever. So my hopes and dreams (for now) of tracking little things like, my steps, my heart rate, those won’t be happening. No matter, I can still use them for music, right?
So here’s the thing about that. I was told that the fitness tracking was currently the weakest thing about the Bragi Dash, but that I can assure you is wrong. After much back and forth through Twitter with other users of the Bragi Dash, I found myself with a host of audio quality issues with these things. Rather than typing another paragraph, allow me to list them.
- Once you actually use the Bragi Dash in tandem with your device, expect to have to hold the device in your hand ALL of the time. Apparently after researching when using the headphones, there is nothing for the pairing of the Bragi Dash to bounce off of, so you will experience a stutter to your audio quality.
- If you’re left handed, you can forget it. I typically have my phone in my left pocket, and my wallet in my right, and regardless of which I put my iPhone in, my audio coming into the Dash always felt like it was streaming and/or loading. This went for music already on my device, or music I streamed.
- If you’ve ever used a pair of earbuds, corded or not, you might have that strange habit of awkwardly feeling like the headphone is about to fall out so you attempt to adjust them by pushing them back in a bit. Doing this with the Dash, as a casualty of it being touchscreen, you will end up tapping accidentally, which could be annoying on a run. You WILL end up pausing your current track at least once or twice with these things.
- The left earbud would randomly just drop connection, making an annoying hissing sound before failing, then reconnecting itself, which at that point you’ll have to continue the song by pressing play again. It only lasts about 5-6 seconds, but if you’re going on a workout, and it happens, it’ll for sure throw off your groove.
A few followers on Twitter gave me a few suggestions of workarounds to make the Bragi Dash work, such as putting the device in my right pocket since the Dash’s main features are on the right ear and seems to connect to the phone better on the right side, but honestly, screw that. If you as a consumer are paying $300 for a pair of headphones, who wants to put a Band-Aid on a scratch?
But there’s more, let’s discuss the battery life. Now we’ve discussed the price, the audio quality, and the actual build of the device, but one thing that you’d expect out of the Dash is a lengthy battery life. Well, you can stop right there.
I should’ve known better when Bragi said that all of the Dash headsets would come complete with it’s own portable battery case, but this is just ridiculous.
After testing both WITH and WITHOUT audio transparency on, the best I’ve gotten out of them are 4 hours and 12 minutes (that’s with transparency on), and 3 hours, 28 minutes without it. That’s abysmal. And what makes matters worse, is the fact that, when the battery IS low (or dying) the very angelic voice (which I must say in all other cases is pretty inviting),talks entirely too much, which probably doesn’t help the dying batteries at all. When low, EACH ear individually tells you “my battery is low. Please connect me to charger”, one ear at a time. Now, I’m no rocket scientist, but what I do know is, if one headset is dying, and I know that they work in tandem, why not just have them both tell me at the same time?
So in an eight hour work day, plus the commute to-and-from work, I charged my headphones daily twice, all before I got home. Once at noon, once right before the gym at 4:30pm, and again when I got home. Now for a headset that is said to last three years, and you get roughly three hours of battery each use, carrying around the battery case is VITAL. This is easier on folks who carry a bag or purse, but for the average person who might just carry wallet, phone, headphones, expect to carry the additional feature which itself is about 1 1/2 inches thick, so that’s something to think about.
Sure, this “review” of sorts sounds like a lot of negatives, with limited positives, but when software updates don’t fix issues, and the features the device is made to use don’t work, there’s not much that Bragi is actually getting right here. Now I could speak volumes about the lack of true customer support, but from what I understand they don’t have a huge staff to begin with.
Regardless of the lofty promises, and the less than stellar performance, I wouldn’t advise you spending roughly a hundred dollars for every hour you would be able to use these. The two year wait certainly didn’t pay off on Bragi’s first effort, but consider this a lesson learned on my part. Hopefully they make things right but for now, the final verdict? No. Just no.
If you’d like to try for yourself, head over to Bragi today for a pair.
Source: Pissed off purchaser.
What I Like: Overall look; boxing; accompanying travel charger.
What Needs Improvement: Battery Life; Battery Life; Audio connectivity; Did I mention battery life?