The Dash Pro are no ordinary earphones.
They are wireless, and intelligent, and possess an almost implausible roll-call of features and German engineered gadgetry.
But at the heart of all this is some high quality audio.
Compared to standard off-the-peg earbuds the sound quality is significantly better – we’re talking a whole different ball-park better. I wouldn’t consider myself a true audiophile but in comparison to, say, a pair of standard issue Apple earbuds the sound is clearer, with added subtlety, and a nice bass/treble balance.
There is a noticeable richness to the experience.
Initially, as I read the instructions and attempted to memorise the taps, swipes, and head movements that allow you to navigate the Dash Pro, I found myself feeling very slightly bamboozled. I wondered if the clever stuff was too clever for my 41 year old semi-analogue brain.
So I did what I always do when I’m feeling swamped – I went for a bike ride.
Once out on the bike the simple stuff is genuinely very easy: swipe forward or back on the right ear for volume control; single tap for stop/start; double tap for next song; triple tap to go back a song.
The 4D menu is trickier but still pretty intuitive. With a series of nods and turns of the head you access the menu and do a virtual “swipe” along the options. In your ear a voice tells you where you are – “stop/start”, or “assistant”, for example – and you nod to select the function.
If your phone rings, you nod to answer that, too.
It takes a bit of getting used to, and I’m not sure how much I’d use the 4D while riding, but it’s damn clever.
In the wind-rush of a bike ride is where it gets cleverer still.
Once I’d played around and chosen my favoured earbud fittings I was sealed in to a totally noise-cancelled environment. On the bike I could hear literally nothing but the music (except when the wind really blew strongly, when I could just about hear it in the background).
A single swipe on the left ear activates “transparency”, which lets background noise seep in, and the rush of wind is all you can now hear. A second swipe removes the wind noise too.
I have no idea how.
You’re left with the music – still very clear – and background noise (of the traffic, for example). It’s a big safety selling point, and it works.
The activity tracking
It’s intelligent, remember, so if you give it permission it figures out when you’re swimming, running, or cycling without you telling it.
It then gives you periodic reports by talking to you – time, distance, heart rate, cadence, etc. Tap the left ear twice and it provides a run-down of your “live” data on demand.
And it does this via the device in your ear and without any additional sensors. As a serious cyclist it would never replace my on-board Garmin computer, but for some effortless mid-ride feedback it’s great and, importantly, seems accurate.
In terms of the fit I’ve always struggled with earbuds. The standard Apple version that I’ve tolerated for so long will just about stay put if I stay as still as possible. If I go for a ride, or read a particularly exciting magazine, out they pop.
The Dash Pro come with a variety of earbud fittings to suit even awkward ears like mine. I pop them in, give them a little twist, and there they stay. This security is slightly implausible and very welcome.
Out on the bike you’re very aware you’ve got them in, because they burrow slightly into your ear-hole, but you soon get used to the feeling.
So, back to this “implausible roll-call of features and gadgetry”
Check out the website for the full lowdown but we’re talking, for example: wireless; Bluetooth connection; stand-alone (store songs like an MP3); storage case/charger (30hrs total use); audio transparency; activity tracking; waterproof; real-time language translation (via additional app); hand-free phone calls; online updates, and more.
Ultimately, compared to a pair of simple earphones, there is no comparison – this is a luxury piece of kit.
Sound quality is excellent and the noise cancelling properties are truly impressive. The control out on the bike – whether with taps and swipes, or using the head gesture 4D option – allows you to pick and choose your entertainment without interrupting your ride.
The ability to charge when you’re away from a power source, and the option to store songs like an MP3 player gives you added versatility and use-ability. The activity tracking is clever, and adds to the experience.
The way they throb with light, as if alive, is very cool.
As for the language translation?
I’ve had a play around with it and, frankly, it’s like some kind of witchcraft!
At £299 the Dash Pro don’t come cheap, but if you’re in the market for some feature packed audio gadgetry they deserve your attention.
Available: here in the UK from Cycle Republic.
Bragi website: www.bragi.com