Don't look now, but Etymotic isn't going to be the only member of the high-end wireless in-ear headphone club for much longer. Sennheiser has just shown us its new MX W1 hear- pieces. Unlike Etymotic's ety8s, the MX W1s transmit audio to each earpiece without compression, using the 2.4GHz frequency band, meaning those lossless audio files on your won't be tarnished as a result of limited Bluetooth bandwidth.
The technology behind this lossless transmission of audio is engineered by a company called Kleer. It's a relative newcomer to the market, having been founded just six years ago. Combined with Sennheiser's proven ability to impress with audio performance, we have every faith that these wireless ear treats will sound sublime.
How they work is like this. A matchbox-sized transmitter fastens on to your MP3 player with a stretchy band, and plugs into any 3.5mm audio socket via a short cable. The earphones themselves have internal batteries (life tests will have to wait until our review) and can be fully recharged up to three times when docked into their battery-equipped carry case. You simply 'twist' the earphones into your ear canal, giving a snug fit without any hookage required.
"The plug and play transmitter makes conventional audio equipment instantly compatible with the MX W1 earphones," said Bill Whearty, the VP of sales and marketing for Sennheiser in the States. You can also have the transmitter send the same audio to two pairs of MX W1's, so you and the Mr or Mrs can be slightly more sociably anti-social with each other.
The downside to all this wireless sexiness is the price. When the MX W1's go on sale in May, they'll cost $600. That's about £300, and we know how much more us Brits end up paying for stuff. Nonetheless, we'll have a full review for you so you needn't part with your quids needlessly. -Nate Lanxon