Wireless touch headphones
We tapped, swiped and turned to find the best Bluetooth touchcontrol cans on the market
Leave your tangles in the past
Everything is wireless these days: your watch, your car keys, the moggy’s collar. In the area of audio devices, going wireless was once a trade-off between sound quality and convenience: lose the wiring and you were at the mercy of ethereal factors such as latency, range and compression, along with an almost guaranteed reduction in sonic enjoyment. Fortunately, wireless audio protocols have come a long way since the introduction of Bluetooth, and with the help of codecs such as aptX and A2DP, audio quality is finally approaching standards once the preserve of wired systems.
That’s not to say every Bluetooth implementation is perfect. Bluetooth headphones will only sound as good as their audio components allows, to say nothing of potentially mitigating factors such as design, battery life, comfort and usability.
That last variable brings us to another innovation that is finding its way into all manner of tech these days: touch controls (also called ‘gestures’). They’re found in phone screens, laptop trackpads and now wireless audio equipment, as these pages attest. Rather than fiddling with the audio source device, the idea of touch-based headphones is to offload common actions, such as pausing or skipping tracks, to the earpads themselves to offer simpler, more intuitive control of your music – in theory. Again, whether that works in practice depends on a range of design and manufacturing decisions, which is why we’ve scoured the wireless headphone market to pit the leading Bluetooth cans against each other and find out which one manages this best.
The products on test are a mix of on-ear and over-ear cans retailing between £92 and £399. All of the headsets use either Bluetooth 3.0 or the less energy-sapping Bluetooth 4.0, while some also pack NFC (Near Field Communication) for potential hasslefree pairing with devices that support the standard.
Not every Bluetooth implementation is perfect; headphones only sound as good as their components