The quality of Bluetooth audio has increased over the last few years, largely thanks to high-bitrate wireless codecs. But as you may know, full-sized speakers often stream audio over Wi-Fi for increased reliability and lossless quality—why don’t any headphones offer Wi-Fi streaming?
Well, a startup called HED Technologies is giving this idea a shot. Its new headphones, called HED Unity, support “Full-Fidelity” Wi-Fi streaming up to 24bit 96kHz—to be clear, this is a higher resolution and bitrate than CD-quality audio.
HED Unity users can stream high-resolution audio directly from Qobuz at launch (plus lossy Wi-Fi streaming for Spotify and Soundcloud). Support for Apple Music hasn’t been confirmed, though HED Technologies says that Tidal will offer high-res Wi-Fi streaming for these headphones at some point.
But I’m more interested in the HED Unity’s local playback capabilities. Using the HED Unity app, you can connect to and stream music from a local media server over DLNA or UPnP. Plus, the HED Unity headphones have 16GB of onboard storage, which is enough space for about 150 lossless 24bit 96kHz songs (it really depends on song length, metadata, and so on).
And when Wi-Fi streaming isn’t available (or supported by your app of choice), the HED Unity headphones offer Bluetooth 5.3 connectivity. Oddly enough, it only supports the SBC and AAC codecs. There’s no aptX or Snapdragon Sound.
In terms of actual sound quality, we’re looking at a 20Hz to 22kHz frequency response (which is expected for headphones), several microphones for ANC and phone call noise removal, a 9-axis motion sensor for spatial audio and augmented reality applications (of which there are very few), and a maximum battery life of about eight hours when listening over Bluetooth or Wi-Fi.
There are a few final things to note. First, the HD Unity headphones cannot reproduce frequencies at 40kHz, so they are not Hi-Res Audio certified (this certification is meaningless outside of the professional audio world, I’m just covering my bases). And while I’m happy to see Wi-Fi streaming in a pair of headphones, the best audio quality will always come from wired headphones.
Now, here’s the kicker; the HED Unity headphones cost a whopping $2,199. Even if you’re deeply interested in this product, I suggest that you wait for some reviews to come in. We don’t know what these headphones actually sound like, and HED Technologies is an unknown brand without a reputation.
HED Unity Lossless Wi-Fi Headphones
HED Unity is the first set of lossless Wi-Fi headphones. It's an interesting product, but it's also expensive, so wait for the reviews to come out.
Source: HED Technologies via Music Connection