Here One review: Futuristic Here One earphones are smarter than the AirPods

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The Good The Here One is a set of totally wireless earphones with active noise-cancelling and good sound (for this type of Bluetooth headphone). They fit fairly comfortably and securely in your ears and have various pass-through noise filters that allow you to hear the outside world and even augment people's voices. The included charging case delivers over three full charges.

The Bad They're expensive, don't work well as a headset in noisy environments and there are some small glitches and quirks with the current software.

The Bottom Line Doppler Lab's new totally wireless earbuds don't quite live up to the hype, but these feature-laden headphones are one of the best AirPods alternatives we've tested to date.

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7.6 Overall
  • Design 8
  • Features 9
  • Sound 8
  • Value 7

Smart Earphones. That's what Doppler Labs calls its new Here One totally wireless headphones. The question is: Are they really smart or just too smart for their own good?

The earphones will be available online in March for $300. (That translates to about £242 or AU$391, but the Here One website only shows shipping addresses for the US, Canada, UK and most of Europe.)

Read more: Here One headphones put my ears in the uncanny valley

They're not the first totally wireless (separate left and right buds) earphones to lay claim to the "smart" mantle. Bragi's The Dash, which got off to a somewhat rocky start, has been on the market for several months and shares some of the same features as the Here One: Touch controls, a noise-isolating in-ear design, multiple microphones, a pass-through mode that lets you hear the outside world, so-so battery life, and a companion app that lets you control the headphones "smart" features. Oh, and like the Bragi, the Here One comes with a charging case that has a built-in battery that delivers over three full charges.

What you get in the box (iPhone not included but a free app for iOS and Android is).

Sarah Tew/CNET

Out of the gate, the Here One is the more polished product and a step ahead of the Bragi in terms of sound quality, delivering a reliable wireless connection with only the occasional Bluetooth hiccup. Using one of the included different-sized ear tips, you should be able to get a fairly comfortable, secure fit that will keep these guys in your ears even during a gym workout (yes, they're sweat-resistant and some accessory fins are coming for runners, but they aren't available at launch).

So long as you get a tight seal, the Here One clearly sounds fuller than Apple's AirPods (the other big truly wireless headphone on the market). The Here One delivers meatier bass and decent clarity for a Bluetooth headphone (a good wired in-ear headphone that will cost less than half the price will easily best it, however). The AirPods ($80 at eBay) are significantly more comfortable to wear but they have an open design and let in a lot of ambient noise. But they cost just over half as much as the Here One, too.

These earphones are designed to be jammed into your ears to get a tight seal.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Here One's special sauce: Noise filters

Aside from the good sound quality the Here One's differentiating factor is its noise filters. The earphones are equipped with six microphones and you can choose to tune out the outside world with a noise-canceling filter or tune it in with a pass-through filter.

If you're saying, "What's the big deal with noise-canceling headphones? Aren't Bose and other companies already doing that?" The answer is yes. But the Bose QuietControl 30 noise-canceling in-ear headphones cost the same as the Here One, but come in a bulkier neckband design. And while the noise-canceling feature is very well implemented on the Here One as well, it's the customizable filters where the headphone sets itself apart.

Some of the preset filters work well. For instance, walking around New York City using the city filter really cuts down on the noise, making this a much better totally wireless headphone to use in noisier environments than the AirPods. But picking which filter to use can be a challenge. Differences are subtle, and the Here One doesn't automatically make suggestions based on the environment or switch modes.