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Budget Bluetooth: Six wireless headphones for a song

J. Andrew Yang | Feb. 3, 2014
We've all heard of Moore's Law, which posits that the number of transistors on a typical integrated circuit doubles every two years. But one of the overlooked side effects of such technological progress is the proliferation of cheap chips. For example, the price of Bluetooth ASICs, used in everything from audio devices to smart watches to fitness monitors, has dropped dramatically over the past few years. As a result, a growing number of small vendors are bringing stereo-Bluetooth headsets to market at prices that would have been unheard of just five years ago. I took a look at six budget-priced Bluetooth headphones to see if there are (finally) affordable options worth considering.

The Pulse has an understated style that I find attractive, and it's competitively constructed and priced, but when it comes to audio quality, the Pulse falls well short of its promise.

Bottom line
The world is going wireless, and good wireless audio is finally within reach. Monoprice's 10245 is the best-sounding of the headphones I tested here, so much so that I can overlook its balky controls and average microphone. That the 10245 is the second-least-expensive model of the bunch is nice bonus. That performance, however, comes at the expense of size and bulk. For a more compact choice, MEElectronics's Air-Fi Runaway AF32 gets the nod, thanks to above-average sound quality, good battery life, and good comfort; Eagle Tech's Arion is a good choice for a compact design on a budget. I would steer clear of the other models, though Manhattan's Flyte might be worth considering if only the company would let you disable its audio-processing feature.

 

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