Bragi The Dash Pro True Wireless Intelligent Earphones are a really smart and strong performing set of wireless headphones that pack in a huge amount of technology, but some of the cycling specific features could be a little more accurate and they are very expensive.
- Pros: Very intuitive controls, good sound quality, loads of features
- Cons: Ride tracking is intermittent, expensive, use with hoods is a pain
Bragi is a Munich-based company whose original Dash models were one of the first genuinely wireless headphones on the market. The Dash Pro is the second version and they add some really useful technology that would make them seem well suited to riding.
I have used bone conducting headphones on my cycling commute for a couple of years, because I like to listen to podcasts or music while I ride but always want to maintain a level of audio awareness. The Dash Pros aren't bone conducting, but have a transparency feature that allows for Passive Noise Isolation. This essentially means you can hear whatever you're listening to while also being able to hear everything that's happening around you.
This feature works fairly well and is easy to turn on and off by simply swiping the left earphone. You can definitely hear a lot of what's around you, but one of the slightly disorientating things is the way it picks up sound and that there isn't much directional sound, so it can be difficult to distinguish if the car you hear on your left is one behind you or one about to turn from a side road.
Transparency alone also causes a lot of wind noise and I found this to be the case whether I was riding or just walking, but Bragi has included a WindShield feature, which removes the wind. This works impressively well and although when you first set off you can hear the wind in your ears, after a few seconds the rushing gradually decreases to nothing; it sounds very similar to water filling a bottle.
After this there is a certain degree of transparency, but certainly not at the same level as when at a standstill or in pure transparency mode.
One of the elements I like about my bone conducting headphones is that they allow me to control certain elements of my phone through a couple of buttons, but the Dash Pro takes this one step further, integrating a whole host of different control methods. For instance, tapping twice on the right earphone skips the track, tapping once pauses whatever I'm listening to. Holding it can even turn on the Alexa voice controls, so you can essentially ask the headphones anything and get an answer. It's a really useful element, though I got some strange look when testing it out on my commute.
Another slightly annoying element is that the swipe element almost works a little too well. The few times where I was using them with a hood up as it was raining, when the hood swiped against the side of the earphones it would skip a song or change my transparency settings.
They can also act as a standalone music player as you can plug them into your computer and upload 3GB worth of music, so you can go out without a phone and still listen to tunes, although they don't have the same kind of connected functionality (no Spotify, navigation and so on). Using this feature takes a bit of getting used to, but through the spoken menu is relatively simple to get around after a bit of practice.
One of the more 'cycling/fitness' elements is their ability to track activities, with cycling, running, and swimming currently catered for. I used this while running and cycling, both manually and with the automatic settings. The manual tracking is activated either with a series of taps on the left ear, which I never really managed to totally master, or through the accompanying app. Automatic tracking is, as you'd expect, automatically started and stopped based on when the Dash Pros think you've started or finished a specific activity. They track your heart rate, time exercising, and cadence or steps.
When running I found the automated element worked very well, starting and stopping almost instantaneously when I began jogging, but with riding this wasn't really the case. Rides that would take me 45 minutes would only be automatically started and stopped for around 15 minutes, for instance. Heart rate monitoring is pretty good, with averages broadly matching with my chest monitor. Steps were surprisingly accurate when running, although cadence was a little unpredictable compared to my more accurate cadence sensors.
Bluetooth connection on the headphones is strong and throughout the review period I never noticed any kind of dropout, even when I had my phone in the rear pocket of my bag, which is very impressive. There were some odd quirks, like whenever I walked into a shop that has the anti-theft gate things, the left earphone would play no sound when I was between them, and for some reason the transparency setting went crazy at the sound of jangling keys, but aside from that, connection and performance was impressive.
One thing I particularly like is that connection is done through just putting them in your ears, so awkward connections or taps on the side, plus pausing whatever you're listening to is just a case of taking them out of your ears.
Battery life and charging
Battery life is a claimed five hours on a single charge, with five charges available from the carry case, but I found this was actually closer to four hours per charge when using the activity tracking features, but around five during regular use. This is more than adequate for most uses.
Charging from the case is also simple and it is easy to line them up to charge effectively, with a flashing LED indicating when they are charging, red indicating low battery, blue medium, and green fully charged.
Sound quality on the earphones is pretty good; I am not an audiophile, but they have a decent range with deep bass, mid ranges and highs. Despite performing well in this department compared to other headphones I've used, they probably aren't the best sound that you can find at this price point, but these aren't designed to be for pure music listeners and for most these are still going to be impressive.
Phone quality is mixed and I found that, especially when I was in slightly louder conditions, people struggled to hear me even if I could hear them clearly.
They stay in your ear well and Bragi includes silicone covers and a number of different tips so they are snug regardless of the shape of your ear.
Bragi has undoubtedly created some great headphones with the Dash Pros, but with the huge amount of tech packed in it is not a surprise that these come with a hefty price tag. It is difficult to say whether £300 is too expensive because they are unlike any other earphones out there; sure Apple's AirPods are around half the price, but by comparison they are just a means by which to play music from your phone into your ears without wires; the Dash Pros attempt so much more. So yes, this is a very high price, but is it too high for what they are? I'll have to leave you to decide that one.
One thing I'm certain about is that I really enjoyed my time reviewing them. They have a few issues that could do with improving, like automatic ride tracking, cadence tracking, and the way a hood can hijack your listening experience, but these are exploratory and unique in a way that is genuinely exciting. It is not often that I test something and physically smile when I find a new feature, but for the first few days I looked like a lunatic finding new functions on them. Sure, they're expensive, and they aren't perfect, and I can't always tell where a car is coming from, but for a tech nerd like me these have been genuinely exciting to review and with constant updates they are sure to only get better.
Incredibly expensive and tracking isn't perfect, but one of the most exciting things I've reviewed in ages
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Bragi The Dash Pro True Wireless Intelligent Earphones
Size tested: n/a
Tell us what the product is for
Smart headphones designed for more than just pumping music into your ears.
Bragi says, "The Bragi Dash Pro Wireless Earphones are the world's first truly wireless headphones. Stream music from your Android, Apple or Windows device using Bluetooth all whilst using A.I. Activity tracking to measure your running, cycling and swimming activities. Communicate and control hands free. Take a phone call or skip a song by head gestures.
"Thought that was cool? Now here's the seriously neat bit. The Dash Pro's allow feature audio transparency. Be immersed in your surroundings or at the flick of the button screen out everything.
"All of this is combined in a lightweight package that fits securely in your ear. The unit will allow you 30 hours of battery life on-the-go or up to 5 hours of continuous playtime per charge."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
- High quality bilateral Knowles® Balanced Armature Speakers with A2DP profile, AAC and SBS audio codec
- Compatible with all Bluetooth A2DP enabled devices, including Apple iPhone, Apple Watch, Android and Windows devices
- Optical Touch Interface & Bragi Kinetic User Interface
- up to 5 hours battery life
- Protective aerospace grade aluminum Slide in grey with leather inlay in Bragi blue
- Passive noise isolation
- Heart rate monitor
Well made with a strong construction, sit in the ears well.
This is a difficult one to score because they are fairly revolutionary in much of what they do, so for some elements like sound, connection, charge etc they are fantastic, but when it comes to tracking activity, less so.
They are waterproof and therefore likely more robust than many wireless headphones, but they're headphones so don't stamp on them.
Really comfortable in-ear fit thanks to the multiple silicone tips.
This is, once again, a difficult element to put a score on because they are eye-wateringly expensive, but then they do more than almost any other headphone I have heard of, so I'll keep it at a round 5 because there isn't an 'I have no idea' option.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Very well; it connects well, measures heart rate pretty accurately, sits in the ear nicely and has some really impressive tech innovations.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
A really simple thing, but just how putting them in your ear turns them on or off. It seems like such a little thing, but when it's done well you really notice.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The auto tracking on cycling is pretty poor.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes, if I was a little richer...
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
They are very expensive and they don't track perfectly, but they are genuinely one of the most exciting pieces of technology I've reviewed in the past few years. Although they are technically just headphones, they represent so much more.
About the tester
I usually ride: Cinelli Gazzetta My best bike is: Cannondale Supersix Evo
I've been riding for: 5-10 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mountain biking
George spends his days flitting between writing about data, running business magazines and writing about sports technology. The latter gave him the impetus (excuse) to get even further into the cycling world before taking the dive and starting his own cycling sites and writing for Road.cc.
When he is not writing about cycling, he is either out on his bike cursing not living in the countryside or boring anybody who will listen about the latest pro peloton/cycling tech/cycling infrastructure projects.