Bragi’s new Dash PRO headphones are true wearable head computers

Bragi has some new headphones coming out, and they have more in common with the original Bragi Dash than with the minimal Headphone they launched late last year. The new Dash PRO and Dash PRO tailored by Starkey are more powerful wearable computers, with the Starkey variant adding tech from Starkey, which is a maker of high-end audio and hearing tech.

The Starkey version is being called “the world’s first custom-made wireless ear computer,” and you can tell Bragi is serious about the tagline because they italicize it throughout their press release announcing the news. They are also only going to be sold via 5,000 “audiologists,” using a “highly-assisted personalized shopping experience,” all of which sounds unbearably ostentatious.

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But it’s a high-end experience for a high-priced product – Bragi is asking $499 U.S. for the Dash PRO tailored by Starkey, while the regular PRO will only cost $329 U.S. The Starkey version has bud tips created from a mold of the user’s ears, however, meaning perfect seal and sound isolation theoretically. Plus tire’s an actual damn laser engraving of the user on both the slider that holds the buds, and on the earbuds themselves.

The Dash PRO (non-tailored by Starkey version) is basically an upgraded version of the original DASH, with up to five hours of battery life (and another five charges possible via the included case). It includes passthrough active audio transparency, like the original, as well as a new codec to help further minimize background white noise, and new foam tips for improved sound isolation in addition to Bragi’s FitSleeves. A built-in 32-bit processor and a suite of 27 sensors help power the onboard computing functions.

Those features also get an update; Dash PRO now supports iTranslate compatibility, meaning you can actually translate speech on the fly using the headphones, which is a bit like having a real world babelfish from A Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, or like miniaturizing C-3PO and having him sit in your ear canal. iTranslate works with 40 languages, but it’ll require use of the iTranslate Pro app downloaded to your iOS device. Dash PRO owners get a 30-day free trial to see if it’s magical enough to continue paying for iTranslate’s services.

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There’s also a new 4D menu system, which lets you control the Dash PRO, as well as the original Dash, just by moving your head around if your hands are otherwise occupied. Sounds interesting, but we’ll reserve judgement until we have the chance to check it out for ourselves.

Other new features coming to Dash devices via the software update, which is Bragi’s third major OS revision, include one-touch Bluetooth connections, automatic tracking of fitness activities, a simplified touch UI and offline storage of workout tracking. There’s also a reworked audio profile, and better audio transparency based on testing and user feedback.

Both Dash PRO variants go on sale now at Bragi’s website (with distribution to retailers including Best Buy to follow soon). Dash PRO is available in all your favorite colors, so long as your favorite color is black. The Starkey version is available with a special case that has a Starkey gold leather inlay in the case, but they’re also black for the buds themselves.

Hearables are still a very young category, but the original Dash was promising, delisted its issues, and the Headphone was largely an improvement in terms of connectivity and audio. Hopefully the Dash PRO is a marriage and an upgrade of both.