They are small, very high-tech and stylish to boot. And best of all, you can swim with them! There’s so much I can say about the S$428 Bragi the Dash, but I’ll try to be as concise as I can. If you’re putting this on your wish list, read on!
Build Quality and Design
I was actually surprised at how good these look. With its gloss semi-opaque touch panels the Dash looked more like a fashion accessory that you wear on a date, than earbuds. The breathing indicator lights also add to its slick, futuristic feel.
It even comes with a hard charging case with a black metal sleeve to protect it, while supplying five extra charges on top of the existing four hours in the Dash.
Bragi supplies a few sizes of ear tips, but unlike other buds, you’ll need to stretch them over the ‘phones. The silicone cushions the Dash against your ear cartilage making them more comfy to wear daily. These stay pretty snug in my ear while jogging. No complaints there.
And best of all? It’s waterproof! A feat considering its size and features. (Up to 1 meter depth for 30 minutes) So yes, you can now swim with music in your ears!
Performance and Features
They aren’t Hi-Fi quality, but the Dash offers great sound that you wouldn’t expect in waterproof earbuds. They strike a fine balance between the mids and bass, which can go satisfyingly deep. I totally enjoyed listening to rock tracks like ‘Back in Black’ by AC/DC on the Dash, which managed to express its unmistakeable energy with great bass attack and tight decay. The Dash actually sounded quite similar to a vintage Marshall guitar amp.
Its track separation is good enough to distinguish different instruments in an orchestra when I played ‘Scherzo for X-Wings’ from my Star Wars: TFA Album.
What they don’t very well is the highs which can sound pretty rolled off the top. It didn’t inhibit vocal clarity but showed up in percussions and wind instrumental tracks. Brass had less bite and percussions didn’t generate as much air as I remembered.
It may be the waterproofing that did this but overall, the Dash was a treat to listen with.
Beneath its fetching looks the Dash is crammed to its brim with smarts. They connect through Bluetooth 4.0 but in case you’d prefer to ditch the phone, it’s got an internal 4GB drive so you can play your favourite songs directly from it. (It will only take mp3, aac or m4a files though)
Both earbuds house touch sensors, gyroscopes and accelerometers that makes it possible to swipe, tap and nod your head to control them. On top of that, a pulse oximeter makes the Dash the most sophisticated sports earbuds that I’ve seen, for its price!
You’ll get an internal mic in each bud for voice calls and ‘Transparency Mode’, allowing you to hear your environment through the Dash.
All that is complemented by the talented Bragi App, which lets you perform intricate tweaks and settings to make the Dash truly yours. It can also optimise the Dash specifically to you for better sensor tracking.
The heart-rate sensor is pretty accurate, and it was a blast having the fitness tracker in the Dash show me my running stats like approximate distance ran and number of steps taken. (Even the calories I burned) You can also set the Dash to track for two other Activities, namely Cycling and Swimming. Plus, having that internal storage means that I no longer have to run with my phone strapped somewhere.
Its touch and tap controls have been pretty hyped by other reviewers so I will cover that first. The good? The Dash beeped in approval as it responded to my swipes pronto. Volume controls were fast and intuitive; Brownie points from me because I don’t like to wait!
What I didn’t like so much are the tap controls. You tap once to pause and play, and tap multiple times to skip through music, forwards and back. I had no problems skipping it forwards, but skipping back rarely worked even though the beeps were correct.
Transparency mode was great and in fact, a bit too good! I could even pick up distant conversations. Not only did it let through ambient sound, it also amplified it. So be wary about gossiping around anyone wearing the Dash! Personally I’ve never had any trouble activating Transparency Mode, so that’s another brownie on its plate.
The Dash could also be updated to gain new skills, even skills in beta, like the new MyTap feature. (It calls up your voice assistant when you tap twice on your cheekbone. Beta never worked for me and now I’ve got a bruised cheek) My only real gripe is that you cannot update the Dash wirelessly. You must plug it into a computer, then perform acrobatics involving a paperclip! For something so hi-tech, this seems weirdly pre-2007.
Typical for Bluetooth 4.0 devices the Dash is said to have a 10 meter tethering range. The Dash connected easily and quickly to my phone and the App recognised it with no incident. But, connection between my phone and the Dash was reliable, as long as I was within a much shorter range of 5 meters. Beyond that, signal drops were common and once I was around a wall, the connection dropped! I was very surprised at this because much cheaper wireless earbuds had better connection.
On train commutes, I had to keep my phone out of my pocket because the signal kept dropping. To be fair, both Left and Right earbuds stayed connected throughout – something that the Earin M-1s couldn’t do.
Having so many features, I was a big sceptic that the Dash could even manage two hours of juice, let along four as stated on Bragi’s website! In testing I actually got out 3 hours and 45 mins on 50% volume and with all features turned on – very close to Bragi’s stated rating.
At S$428 the Dash is above the price of other wireless earbuds in the market. (Even the Bose SoundSport Pulse costs $349) Taking into account its features, build quality and performance I consider this average value for money.
Though it isn’t the first earbuds that are waterproof or tracks your fitness stats, I see the Dash like I see my Swiss Army Knife. Bragi had managed to combine the best features of popular earbuds into one well designed, great sounding pair. That’s its key value proposition, but its high price would surely give customers some pause.
Build Quality and Design (Wireless Earphones)
- Pros: Looks and feels great with its clean, gender-neutral design. Packed to the brim with electronics. Bright indicator lights that add a futuristic touch. Comes with a charging case with a metal sleeve packing five extra charges. Comfy and stays well in the ear with four different tip sizes to choose from. IPX7 Waterproof.
- Cons: None that I can think of.
Score: 6/6 (33.3%)
Performance and Features
- Pros: Shiny Bragi App allows for granular tweaks and settings to the Dash and optimises it to your ears. Bluetooth 4.0 Wireless connection. Internal 4GB Storage for direct playback without tethered device. Four different sensors all crammed into these small earbuds. Internal microphones for phone calls and Transparency Mode. Accurate sensors that track your fitness routines. Swipe controls for Volume and Transparency Mode are spot on. Can be updated to gain new features in future. Nice sound quality that makes vocals and rock music sound more energetic – with clear track separation. Lightweight and comfortable. Case carries roughly five extra charges. Battery life was close to stated ratings despite having all features turned on.
- Cons: Internal drive does not recognise Hi-Res music files. Tap controls to skip songs were fiddly. Firmware cannot be updated wirelessly, but must be done connected to computer. Treble frequencies sound rolled off and muted at times. Bluetooth connection with external devices drop intermittently at very short 5 meter ranges. (Or less)
Score: 12/17 (23.5%)
Score: 3/5 (19.98%)