Aiwa Arc-1 Bluetooth Headphones Review


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Aiwa Arc-1 Bluetooth Headphones Review

I’m always looking for a light pair of Bluetooth headphones that sound good and are comfortable to wear, so I was pleased when recently sent a pair of the Aiwa Arc-1 Bluetooth Headphones to try. They incorporate a two-piece, stiff bio-cellulose composite speaker cone with a flexible surround, and they are not only comfortable, but they also sound great!

Aiwa is an audio name that I grew up with but had lost touch with over the years. What I didn’t realize was that Aiwa Corporation had been resurrected in 2015 with no affiliation to “the Sony Corporation or any of its subsidiaries, the previous holders of the Aiwa Trademark.”

We’ve proudly resurrected the iconic Aiwa brand in the passionate pursuit of bringing people together around music. How do we do that? We create products that deliver legendary sound quality; we bring you the music you love, the way it was meant to be heard.

Aiwa has a simple formula for delivering serious audio equipment without compromise – we have the best acoustic talent, we put our money into the highest quality components and we offer world-class customer service.

For those that want music to be more than background noise, for those who want their music to have the power to entertain. Aiwa.

So let’s take a look at the new Aiwa Arc-1 Bluetooth Headphones, and see how they compete with all the others that are now available.

Inside the box, you’ll find the Aiwa Arc-1 Bluetooth Headphones, a heavy-duty travel case, a no-tangle nylon-wrapped microUSB charging/data cable, a no-tangle nylon-wrapped 3.5mm audio cable, and a quick start guide. I want to compliment Aiwa on the packaging — ever bit of the box and its interior can go right in the recycling bin, even if you live in an area with limited recycling.

The travel case measures approximately 10.5″ long by 8.5″ wide by 2.75″ thick. It is stiff and strong, and it should protect your headphones whether they are in your backpack or suitcase. As a frequent traveler, I do wish that the headphones could be folded into a more compact bundle, but when traveling I generally just wear them on my shoulders, removing them for TSA check-in. The lightweight makes this a comfortable way to travel.

Aiwa Arc-1 Bluetooth Headphones Review

Aiwa Arc -1 Headphones Feature:

• 90-day returns, 3-year warranty

• Accessories include a rugged travel case and no-tangle woven USB and audio cables

• 20-hour battery life for nonstop music

• Leather ear pads and lightweight aluminum construction for maximum comfort

• High-performance Qualcomm CSR 8670 chipset with aptX Low Latency

• High-resolution 24-bit DSP

• Integrated microphone for calls and voice control

• Visible battery level indicator

• Replaceable ear pads

The Arc-1 headphones have a clean black and matte silver design. They aren’t showy or obnoxious, and at 8.8 ounces, they are incredibly light.

Aiwa Arc-1 Bluetooth Headphones Review

The headband is about 1.25″ wide, and while stiff and flat on the top, it has a rounded pad underneath that is about 0.5″ thick. Unlike some of the heavier headphones I’ve reviewed that truly needed a thick headband to cushion what the top of your head would end up supporting, the Aiwa Arc-1 headphones are light enough that the headband doesn’t need to save you from a headache. The replaceable leather earpads are 1″ thick, and they feel like cushy clouds around your ears.

Aiwa Arc-1 Bluetooth Headphones Review

Worth noting is that each earpad has a flat edge on the side that covers the front of your ear. The headphones are not noise-canceling, but the thick ear pads provide good noise isolation.

On the left speaker, there is a microUSB port for charging. Mine arrived fully charged, which was nice as it allowed me to jump right into using them. On the right speaker, there are the following (from the bottom up): a 3.5mm stereo port, a volume down/previous track button, a volume up/next track button, and a Bluetooth pairing button. In the center of the right speaker, there is a power/multifunction button with a four LED battery indicator directly above.

Aiwa Arc-1 Bluetooth Headphones Review

Other than the embossed AIWA logo in the center of the headband, the only other branding is a red and shiny silver AIWA plaque on the right side of the headband. The matte silver aluminum size adjustment bars are good-looking, and they will take the headphones from ~15″ from speaker to speaker to 18″ from speaker to speaker. The headband itself is quite flexible; fully opened the speakers (not counting earpads) measure about 9″ from each other. In other words, the Arc-1 headphones should fit comfortably on top of and around just about anyone’s head; they aren’t heavy, and they don’t pinch — it’s the Goldilocks effect.

Aiwa Arc-1 Bluetooth Headphones Review

To turn on the headphones, you’ll press and hold the power button for 2 seconds; a voice will say ‘Power on” followed by a tone. To pair with your Bluetooth streaming device, you’ll press the Bluetooth button for two seconds; a dual tone will sound. Once you have connected them to your device through your Bluetooth settings, the speaker will say “Connected.” Everything is very intuitive; I can easily operate these when half-groggy on a plane.

Aiwa Arc-1 Bluetooth Headphones Review

Four LEDs means the battery is full; one light means the battery is almost empty, and the headphones will also announce “Low battery.” If the device you are listening from has a 3.5mm connector, you can continue listening to the headphones even if the battery is dead.

The surprise comes in when you put the headphones on and give them a listen. I’ve used them while traveling and at my desk with an iPhone XS Max and the Huawei Mate 20. It would be fair to say that these are some of the better sounding headphones I’ve ever listened to; the sound produced is incredibly rich, and it sounds great across a variety of genres. Bass is boosted just a bit, but they aren’t overly bass-heavy. Even on the higher volumes, bass-heavy songs did not bottom out or become overly thumpy. When you hit max volume, a beep will sound in the headphones letting you know you’ve hit it.

Aiwa Arc-1 Bluetooth Headphones Review

Highs are pronounced, vocals are clear. I do not hear any hiss or other obnoxious sounds when the volume is extremely low. The one thing that always kicks a pair of headphones into my “meh” pile is if they muddy the mid-range. Amazingly enough, the Arc-1 handled songs like Radiohead’s The Witch perfectly; Thom Yorke’s soaring vocals are not overwhelmed or buried by the massive symphonic cacophony occurring in the background; trust me on this, that has killed my enthusiasm for many a speaker or set of headphones. The Aiwa Arc-1 perform equally well on rap, rock, classical, and spoken word; that makes them a great set of headphones for listening to just about everything.


Design Principle: Closed back, Dynamic, Circumaural
Driver type: 40mm Dynamic
Driver technology: Bonded biocellulose composite with flexible surround
Impedance: 20 ?
Frequency range: 15Hz to 20kHz
Max. input power: 40mW
Sensitivity: 115dB/mW @ 1kHz IEC 318
Inputs: 3.5mm stereo mini jack, Bluetooth 4.2 audio
Cable length: 1.2m / 47in.
Weight: 258g / 9.1oz
Materials: Aluminum, Protein Leather, Real Leather
Bluetooth range: 10+ meters  / 33+ feet
Battery life: 20 hours playback / 800-hour standby
Microphone type: Internal Powered
Supported codecs: aptX, aptX LL, SBC, AAC

Perhaps the main con I can find to these headphones is that they don’t use an app for over-the-air updates, so if there are firmware updates, you’ll only be able to download and complete the upgrade from a Windows computer.

When you are done listening, you’ll press and hold the power button for two seconds; a voice will announce “Power off, disconnected.”

Aiwa Arc-1 Bluetooth Headphones Review

While the plain style may dissuade some from thinking that the Arc-1 is anything special, it would be a mistake to discount them. The Aiwa Arc-1 Bluetooth Headphones are comfortable to wear for extended periods of time; I travel with them regularly, and I’ve had no issues. The sound they produce is comparable to the (much) more expensive headphones I’ve used, yet they are priced at a relatively affordable point. Why spend more if you don’t have to? The Aiwa Arc-1 headphones sound great!

The Aiwa Arc-1 Bluetooth Headphones retail for $199.99, and they are available directly from the manufacturer and from other retailers including Amazon [affiliate link].

Warranty: Aiwa takes care of its customers. Period. The Arc-1 headphones are backed with a 3-year, no-questions asked warranty.  Any genuine pair of Arc-1s is eligible. All the information you need is on the headphone itself – no hunting for receipts, no hassle, no exceptions. [email protected] or (888) 982-8561.

Source: Manufacturer supplied review sample

What I Like: Incredibly light and comfortable to wear; Easy to operate; Long-lasting battery life; Not overly bass-heavy, yet they handle bass very well without bottoming out; Mid-range is not muddy; Highs are crisp; They sound as good as many of the more expensive headphones I’ve tried; Supports simultaneous connection to two devices; Voice prompts guide you through operations: Include a sturdy travel case

What Needs Improvement: They don’t fold compactly down for travel, but since I usually wear them on my shoulders at the airport and on the plane, it’s not a huge issue; Firmware updates can only be downloaded via a Windows computer


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About the Author

Judie Lipsett Stanford
Editor in Chief of Gear Diary, Secular Humanist, techie, foodie, hoarder of Kindle eBooks, lover of live music, and collector of passport stamps.

1 Comment on "Aiwa Arc-1 Bluetooth Headphones Review"

  1. I’d like to win the Aiwa Arc-1 Bluetooth Headphones because I hate wires and trust the Aiwa brand.

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