First Looks: Sennheiser MX W1 Wireless Earphones
A Kleer Audio Connection
It was at this year's annual Consumer Electronics Show that Sennheiser made its presence felt with the introduction of its premium wireless stereo earphones, the Sennheiser MX W1, which utilizes Kleer technology as an alternative to the commonly adopted Bluetooth wireless standard for hands-free audio solutions.
A Kleer Wireless Style
While most wireless devices are dependent on a secondary earpiece attachment that hooks onto the ear's outline to keep the device secure, the MX W1 does away with such a cumbersome design. Instead, just above the earphone output is a secondary rubber piece which fits snugly into your upper earlobe. As such, by inserting the earpiece vertically down first, you simply turn the earpiece in a forward and upward motion, allowing the secondary rubber piece to hook itself onto your ear. Sennheiser aptly names this as the "twist-to-fit" system, and in truth, each earpiece latches on securely, yet the comfort level is exceptionally good with almost little to no ear fatigue.
Carrying the MX W1 around is pretty easy and safe, as the pair of petite wireless earphones can be docked within a carrying case designed to fit the earpieces snugly in its bay. Furthermore, the carrying case doubles as a charging adapter too, connected to its accompanying AC adapter via a USB cable. This carrying case is designed to be a portable battery of sorts, retaining sufficient power within to provide up to 3 charging cycles without the need of the adapter.
Unlike normal Bluetooth stereo headsets, there were no muddled pairing processes involved, as you'll only need to plug in the transmitter to the 3.5mm audio jack, press both the transmitter and receiver buttons, and you're good to go. Connection obstruction was minimal as the Kleer wireless transmission essentially selects 1 of 16 narrow-band channels within the 2.4GHz band, not to mention we managed to get a good range of up to 5 meters before the signal was lost.
We decided to subject a portable media player with both the MX W1 and its bundled earphones to a few soothing bossa nova tracks from Clementine. There were no discernible differences on both audio peripherals during our tests, and more importantly, the 14mm transducer with neodymium magnets did manage to recreate the music track at its latent quality, retaining a good amount of mids and highs. Unfortunately, the lows did suffer a slight dip, but this is more of a fit issue as the MX W1 had a strong bass delivery, albeit audible only when we pressed both earpieces closer to our eardrums.
Beyond the audio fidelity, one has to be reminded that the MX W1 is a wireless earphone, and thus won't be passively powered by your portable media player. There is however no need for concern here, as we have mentioned earlier on about its ability to quick charge its earpieces with the carrying case's capacitive power, and furthermore, we managed to enjoy up to 4 straight hours of music with the MX W1.
A Kleer-Cut Conclusion
Though Bluetooth has been a popular choice for most manufacturers of wireless audio devices, Kleer technology has recently caught up in this wireless race. Sennheiser has made a wise decision by partnering themselves with a technology that delivers lossless audio signal and longer life expectancy. The MX W1 wireless earphones shows what audio peripherals could be, but it comes with a price and its rather exorbitant US$499 price tag may deter consumers from its promise.