Headphones remain the most commonly used, and therefore debated items in a DJ arsenal. Until now however, there has not been much in the way of technical innovation on their performance. A new company called Bragi has created an award winning new concept of wireless bluetooth headphones called “The Dash” that have some very intriguing features for DJ’s and performers alike. While the Dash isn’t made for DJ’s specifically, there are many reasons why a DJ would wish they were.
DJ Listening with The Dash
The Dash is a pair of discrete earphones that are rechargeable and completely wireless. The earphones can playback music via Bluetooth or using the embedded 4 GB media player. While in-ear headphones offer a wide range of benefits, one of the less exciting realities is being tethered tightly to the mixer. The wireless feature here could finally free up DJ’s that prefer in-ear monitors while also making them look less like an iPod commercial. The headphones come with a charging case that will keep them ready for the road.
Even more important, each bud is equipped with microphones that pick up ambient noise. Dash has a noise isolation feature that can be enabled or disabled via a swipe of the finger. Similar to the Bose system, this noise isolation feature could further reduce ambient noise from the crowd, or if desired even blend it in providing a full picture of the mix.
A frequent complaint of in ear monitors is that they close a DJ off from the crowd and the sound system, killing any insights into what the room would sound like. Very high end in-ear monitors for touring musicians have “room blend” features to combat this but they run in the $3-$4k range. A wireless in-ear with room blending at an affordable price would be huge!
Finally, this pair is equipped with a ear-bone microphone naturally designed to reduce outside noise and provide a clear voice signal. That may, in fact, be perfect for on stage or in a DJ booth. The latency may provide a problem but in principle, it could be quite useful to not lug around a handheld mic.
Another problem with current musician focused ear buds is that they fall roughly into two camps:
- $800 and up – Custom molded in-ears that have great isolation.
- $300 and less – one size fits all ear plugs style headphones with ok isolation and ear coupling
In theory the Dash has a new system of special sleeves that offer a custom fit quality at a universal price.
Tracking Performance with The Dash
Right now the Dash is aimed at consumer users with a healthy dose of FitBit style behavior tracking. Body vitals are delivered to the user upon request including heart rate and body temperature. Of course, we don’t hear of DJs passing out inside the booth very often but it does and can happen! More interestingly, we could see Dash providing ambient noise and SPL information during and after a set to keep DJ’s aware of their surroundings.
DJs aren’t necessarily in focus right now for this product, but we see a natural fit, while recognizing some early adopter problems. While the main source of connection is through Bluetooth which, is known for horrible latency, there are transmitters that guarantee 30 millisecond audio latency. One more serious problem: The earphones run for only 4 hours when playing music and 3 hours while playing and tracking limiting set times between charges. With an increased audio spectrum, lower latency and improved battery, the Dash could one day be a smart solution for in-ear monitors. The Dash was successfully funded on March 31st, 2014 with 15,998 backers providing over three million dollars. Given the success of the campaign, maybe one day Bragi will tap into the in-ear monitor market to create the Dash for DJs and other stage performers.
You check out The Dash on Bragi’s website today and pre-order for $299.
This is a really interesting concept. However, I think the folks over at OwnPhones have done a better job creating a similar product!
They’ll use a scan from your ears that you create with their smartphone app, and 3D-print your very own unique earpiece for a much lower price as todays individual in-ear’s!
btw: do you know, that real heroes wears his under-trousers over the skirt ?….. well, maybe the austrian destination “Bad Gastein” will understands this
Well, I guess if you have to wear a stupid hat like in the pic, these headphones would be great but really, I don’t think we need to break tradition because the technology is available.
A great concept! Can’t wait to see how these develop!
Here’s a great article on noise canceling in-ear headphones. http://thewirecutter.com/reviews/best-noise-cancelling-in-ear-headphones-so-far/
I’d say they look more like Commas than they do Dashes. It’s a bit off-putting that on a DJ enthusiast website, the product information tells us “This isn’t for you… yet” right after we read all about it. I’m a little disappointed in these IEMs, in part due to that battery life reliably achieving an abysmally low 3-4 hours (that’s good for DJing a set at a club where there are 3 other people switching off, but not a club where you’re playing all night long), partly due to to using (the very hackable/insecure, and unreliable) bluetooth, partly due to the fact that these IEMs don’t have any information about the clarity and power (the drivers) of the sound driven through these IEMS, and partly due to the fact it does not appear to be offered with COMPLY tips.
If there was a wired version that satisfied my listed requirements, I’d be all over this like I was in 1999 with my Polk Audio active noise cancellation in-ear headphones, but for now, I’m going to keep using my wired, Pioneer I.E.M.s.
so in short these earplugs are useless for djs
The intent of the article was to show a new product that would be interesting if it was made specifically for DJs. Yes, these won’t be ideal for DJs but the concept is what makes this notion worth entertaining.
I think the idea of having a bypass switch
Annnnnnnd ordered a pair…. Will report back.
Great article Dean, I got into using IEMs as a result of reading Ean’s article on the topic and I do love them, but hate the feeling of being cut-off from the crowd/room, the frustratingly short cable length (at least with my UMMs) and as you point out, looking like you’re mixing with a pair of iPhone buds.
Understand a lot of potential trade-offs with the Dash, any chance your team could review the high end wireless gear and help educate us as to whether it’s even worth looking at? I am guessing not, otherwise all the big names would be using them instead of cans.
Thanks Paul! It is a great idea to have a piece focused on high end wireless gear and we may have something for you in the future. 🙂
There are quite a number of active noise canceling (that have microphones in them) I.E.M.s, that fit really well, last more than 8 hours using a standard battery, and are priced much lower than these, but they’re corded. The biggest problem with I.E.M.s is that they’re typically not made for a club environment.
I think latency is the reason these will never be picked up by a lot of DJs. They really need to create a low latency system if this is going to pass for DJ use.
I love the rest of the features with these though and I might buy a set for running/working out. Combining all the performance monitoring features of a Fitbit, heart rate monitoring (which not many fitness trackers have) and Hifi bluetooth ear buds. That’s a win right there.
You’re going to get latency from the active noise cancellation, and you’ll get latency from the wireless Bluetooth encoding. These are things that inherently cause problems for any active noise-canceling, wireless encrypted headphones. The trick is to make it faster so they minimize latency, or cut out the encryption. I’ve seen no effort to tell us this was a priority, so it probably wasn’t.
Good call on the noise cancellation latency. Didn’t think about that.
I get the whole idea behind bluetooth, for the target market it is the right choice.
For the Dj market however it seems like trouble waiting, why has no-one has made a unit that operates on the same principal /bandwidth (or whatever it is) as the shure wireless mic’s. The latency on those are minimal, so it should work. Hell I’d even purchase a set that had the amp/receiver on a belt-clip that my headphones still plugged into. Basically a high powered, low latency stereo transmitter/receiver that any headphones can plug into.
Exactly our thinking. The idea for DJs is great but we need better technology that produces lower latency.
Telex makes wireless two-way beltpacks, but these are typically used for pilots and event directors during an event… and they’re really expensive, however they’re no lag, have long battery life, and sound OK.
aren’t the in-ears that musicians wear at large venues wireless and low-latency already? it seems like all we really need is one of those systems equipped with the mic tech described above.
Yes, they’re usually expensive (typically over $800) wireless monitors, but they don’t have active noise abatement. Sennheiser, Audio-Technica, Westone and Shure are good representatives of wireless, on-stage I.E.M.s).
I’m beginning to wonder why we would need wireless headphones, as we don’t typically stray too far away from the controls of our DJ gear when we’re playing, so if we really wanted active-noise abatement maybe the best method is something corded. Corded Noise Cancelling IEMs are established technology; Bose, Sony, AKG, and Antec, make pretty good headphones that do this for flying, trains, buses, etc., but nothing is really DJ booth-ready as of yet.
I haven’t dug out my old pair of noise cancelling headphones to DJ in a loud environment yet, but I don’t think they’ll perform as well as my Pioneer IEMs, and certainly not as well as my over-ear monitors (no science on that yet, just speculating). On a personal note: I hadn’t really thought about wearing IEMs in the DJ booth as over-ear monitors had seemed like the traditional “right tool for the job” until I saw Pioneer’s line of DJ IEMs.
Meh, everything changes, right?
Noise cancellation technology wouldnt really be effective at isolating sound in the DJ booth. It works really well for blocking out general constant “noise” like on an airplane but would probably have trouble canceling out something as dynamic as loud music at a club. A good high quality pair of over ear monitors or IEMs would be way superior like you said.
Whats consider low latency for DJing? Whats the latency on Traktor or Ableton and Midi controllers??
It sounds like Shure has a great opportunity to make wireless headsets.
Just curious what the actual latency is in terms of milliseconds?