Wired earbuds were becoming a thing of the past – until now?
There is still growth in the TWS market, which is why sometimes the prospect of wired earbuds goes amiss. However, the concept does make complete sense if you think about it. The Magnesium V3 Entry level IEMs piqued my interest this week.
Ear fit can be an issue, causing the earbuds to fall out. If you’ve encountered this, you know that it’s very annoying. Anecdotally, many earbuds owners I know have lost one (of two) of their earbuds. One owner even lost theirs in a car park, finding it again a week later a lot flatter than before!
There are limitations on sound quality over a Bluetooth connection. Especially with AirPods when you could be limited to 264 kbps with AAC. When not using Apple, you could achieve 576 kbps with AptX HD. Over a wired connection, one could theoretically achieve more. Noteworthy is that most streaming services don’t achieve anything near this. In more recent years, streaming services such as Tidal have released a high-tier service whereby you can stream up to 9216 kbps. If I were to critique the services offered by these “high-res” services stating very high bitrates, I would say that there is not enough work done to ensure the user is aware that they must have a compatible device in order to experience the quality they are paying for. Considerations also have to be made around which service provider you are using and if there are any restrictions on the bandwidth. In the UK, 4G service is congested, 5G is not available everywhere and 2G simply put is too slow to stream at high bit rates. Therefore, Wi-Fi would be a suitable counterpart for streaming hi-res audio.
The battery life of TWS devices is good, but it doesn’t last forever. LC3 which is the new standard for Bluetooth audio streaming (instead of SBC) is said to achieve noticeable battery gains. That being said, obviously, any kind of battery anxiety will be completely removed with a wired earbud set.
Then there’s the price, which is $99. I think this is respectable considering the lifespan of the product could be lengthy. Like all wired earbuds, one of the only faults that could occur would be the wires breaking. Periodic Audio’s wires are braided cloth-wrapped which could lengthen the lifespan. There are no microphones, accelerometers, etc., to replace if they go wrong.
We can’t comment on sound quality without listening to the product. The price suggests that the earbuds are entry-level so this could give some indication of potential. However, on inspection of the website specifications, it says the earbuds have a frequency response of 20 Hz to 30 kHz which is considered acceptable. The earbuds use magnesium foil for the transducer foil, which according to the article produces a bright top end.
SAR is forecasting a year-on-year decline in the wired earbud market, mostly due to TWS devices being more popular, however, there is still a relatively large market for wired headphones for new products to be successful. You can see our detailed forecast as part of SAR’s Headphones & Headsets Service.