A Little History
When smartphones became popular, more and more people were starting to listen to their music on the go. This meant that headphone manufacturers had to shift their attention to a new niche, namely the Lifestyle Headphone. One company that took advantage of the passiveness of the leading headphone manufacturers was Beats. Beats caught big names like Sennheiser and Sony totally off guard and put Lifestyle Headphones on the map. With aggressive marketing and celebrity endorsing, they passed the competition and from nowhere became market leaders.
With people using their mobile devices to listen to music, a logical next step would be that headphones should be wireless. However, the technology was not mature enough to release wireless headphones to the masses. There were wireless headphones, but they were very expensive and needed to compress the sound, because of bandwidth issues, using Bluetooth technology. This meant that wireless headphones would not become very popular and manufacturers including Beats still released their most popular headphones as wired.
Bluetooth is getting mature enough to provide great sound. Sennheiser releases their two very popular lifestyle models in wireless variants: The Momentum Wireless and the Urbanite XL Wireless. These two models pack a lot of cool features and most importantly, impress with very good sound! I would not say audiophile, but it’s getting there… Although wired headphones still have a massive market share advantage, we are seeing a big step up in the sales of wireless models. I think it’s safe to assume that this market share will keep increasing in the next few years.
Now, I’m particularly fond of the Sennheiser Urbanite XL Wireless. It’s not only about just listening to music through your smartphone anymore. It’s about giving the user the best user experience using his or her smartphone with their headphones. Check out these neat features:
- Call handling with dual microphones
- Touch control on the right outer earpad (pause, play, volume up/down, forward, skip,…)
- NFC panel on the left earpad for pairing with NFC devices
- USB charging
- Cool design
- aptX technology should provide great sound with mobile devices that support this.
I hope to get my hands on one of them in the future so I can do a decent review of them.
As of today, one of the biggest disadvantages of wireless headphones is still the price tag. The Momentum Wireless goes retail for $499.95, compared to the wired model which costs retail $349.95. That’s $150 difference for going wireless. To be fair, I have to say that the wireless model has active noise cancelling. When we look at the Urbanite XL Wireless which goes retail for $299.95 compared to the $199.95 for the wired model, the price difference is a massive $100!
I think we are at the beginning of an era where wired Lifestyle Headphones will be surpassed by wireless models. It is so much more convenient! Besides Bluetooth, there’s even stuff going on to connect the headphones through a WiFi connection. So your smartphone will create its own a private WiFi network where the headphone will connect to. We’re gonna see a lot of technical innovations in the coming years when it comes to wireless headphones!
To conclude. Wireless headphones are gonna become a lot more popular in the next few years. Today we already have some great options, but unfortunately, you’ll still be paying a premium for going wireless. However, I’m convinced that the price difference will eventually go away as wired Lifestyle Headphones become extinct.
So what about you guys? Have you already gone wireless? If yes, are you happy with your experience or not? If you have not switched, what’s the main thing that’s stopping you? I’m curious to hear what you guys have to say, so leave a comment below!