Greatest Bluetooth audio glasses and sun shades for 2021

Audio glasses, which have built-in micro-speakers and a Bluetooth connection, are proliferating. Bose is main the way in which with its Frames audio sun shades. Amazon can be within the recreation with its Echo Frames, now on their second technology. A bunch of different firms, a lot of that are no-name Chinese language producers, have launched audio glasses in latest months. Some are geared towards on a regular basis use, permitting you to forgo headphones and stealthily take heed to audio on the go, whereas others are designed for runners and bikers who need to go away their ears open to the world for security causes.

The reality is most audio sun shades do not sound good, and plenty of sound downright unhealthy, together with and particularly those who use bone-conduction expertise as an alternative of conventional audio drivers. The glasses’ tiny embedded audio system fireplace audio into your ears, and that audio tends to be missing within the bass and readability division. The sound is often on par with what a pair of free earbuds you’d get on a aircraft would produce — and typically it is worse. In addition they are inclined to leak sound at greater volumes, which implies people who find themselves standing close by can hear your audio. 

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That mentioned, in the event you take heed to extra spoken-word audio — whether or not that is podcasts, audiobooks or speak radio — audio glasses are simply wonderful as a result of they’re strongest within the midrange, the place vocals reside. And a lot of the audio glasses on this record work nicely for making cellphone calls; some function beam-forming microphones. 

Other than audio high quality, the opposite necessary issue is clearly the glasses’ design. There’s a variety of variation there as nicely, with some fashions becoming higher and looking out extra fashionable than others.

Learn extra: Greatest locations to purchase alternative prescription lenses on-line in 2021

It needs to be famous you can add prescription lenses to most audio sun shades, and it is simple sufficient to ship your glasses in to a web based alternative lens website. (Try our record of finest locations to purchase alternative prescription lenses on-line in 2021.) Nonetheless, that provides to the general value, with alternative lenses typically costing round $100 to $200, relying on the kind of lens you select. 

Whereas I am solely recommending a number of fashions at this level, I will replace this record as new ones are launched. Lots extra are on the way in which and hopefully they will enhance. 

David Carnoy/CNET

Water resistantSure (IPX4 score — splashproof).

In the event you’re on the lookout for the best-sounding pair of audio glasses with the most effective general efficiency — that features name high quality and battery life — the Bose Frames Tempo are the one to get. It is ostensibly a sports activities mannequin designed for runners and bikers, and whereas it is a little bit cumbersome, it stays in your head securely. 

The Tempo presents barely higher sound and battery life than the extra traditional-looking Tenor and Soprano (see beneath). The Tempo has higher specs all-around, with USB-C charging and bigger 22mm drivers. It additionally delivers as much as eight hours of battery life.

Their sound is unquestionably improved from the unique Frames. Bose says the Tempo performs “deeper and louder — loud sufficient for biking at 25 mph — whereas nonetheless capable of hear visitors and your coaching companions.” They’re sweat-, weather-, scratch- and shatter-resistant, based on Bose and match beneath most protecting helmets. (I had no downside utilizing them with a few bike helmets.) In addition they work nicely for making calls, because of a brand new dual-microphone system. Non-compulsory lenses can be found for $39 and you may order prescription lenses via Lensabl. Learn our Bose Tempo Frames assessment.

David Carnoy/CNET

Water resistantSure (IPX4 score — splashproof).

Razer has made a shock entry into the audio glasses area and the result’s surprisingly good. The Razer Anzu is available in spherical and sq. variations in two completely different measurement choices and is offered now for $200. When it comes to sound, it is arguably only a tad behind the Bose Tenor and Soprano beneath (like these fashions, the Anzu has 16mm drivers), but it surely’s fairly shut. It is a little bit bass-shy, but it surely nonetheless has extra bass than among the different fashions on this record. Its $50 cheaper price tag additionally offers it a worth benefit over the Bose.

They’re additionally fairly gentle and cozy to put on (as you possibly can see from the picture, I attempted the sq. model). The small model weighs 43 grams whereas the big weighs 48 grams. By comparability, the Echo Frames, the lightest audio glasses on this record, are 31 grams. The glasses embrace 35% blue gentle filtering lenses together with a set of polarized sunglass lenses (you possibly can simply swap them in).

They’re IPX4 water resistant (which means they’re splashproof) so you should use them for working — audio glasses work nicely for working and biking, as a result of they go away your ears open so you possibly can hear visitors. Battery life is rated at as much as 5 hours at reasonable quantity ranges and extra polarized lenses can be found for $30.

Additionally value noting: Since Razer is a “gaming way of life” firm, it is highlighting its low-latency Bluetooth expertise — it says the “custom-made Bluetooth 5.1 connection brings industry-leading 60ms latency for easy, stutter-free sound.”

The Razer Anzu companion app for iOS and Android permits firmware updates, allows you to make EQ changes (default, enhanced readability or treble increase), entry latency settings and test battery standing. You may make calls with them and entry your digital assistant with a button press.

Razer has partnered with Lensabl for prescription lenses, though extra on-line alternative lens websites, together with replacerxlenses.com and overnightglasses.com, can match them with RX lenses. Lensabl is providing a 15% low cost to Anzu house owners, however you possibly can examine its costs with different websites’ costs.

David Carnoy/CNET

Water resistantNo (no IPX score).

Just like the Tempo, the Tenor and Soprano are a part of Bose’s line of second-generation audio sun shades, however whereas the Tempo is extra sport-oriented, these fashions are designed to seem like commonplace sun shades. (You’ll be able to nonetheless run or bike with them however they don’t seem to be rated for water- or sweat-resistance.) They’re slicker-looking than the unique Bose Alto and Rondo Frames, they usually have a shiny end. The Tenor suits my face higher than the Soprano, which — as its title implies — Bose is aiming at ladies who like outsized sun shades. Anecdotally, my daughter likes it.

Bose improved the sound within the Tenor and Soprano and the battery life is best. It is as much as 5.5 hours as an alternative of round 3.5 hours, charging with a pogo-pin cable moderately than USB-C. Each pairs of sun shades play a little bit louder than the unique Frames and the bass response is best, so music sounds fuller and richer. Do not anticipate the massive bass you get from a normal set of headphones, although, they usually can distort at greater volumes. Nonetheless, the sound is considerably higher than what you get from even the most effective bone-conduction headphones like these from AfterShokz, which developed a pair of audio sun shades however by no means shipped it.

Just like the Tempo, Bose has additionally upgraded the voice-calling capabilities in these fashions, including twin beam-forming microphones. Bose presents elective lenses for $39. Since these sun shades have a extra conventional design, extra on-line alternative lens websites — together with replacerxlenses.com, Lensabl and overnightglasses.com — can match them with RX lenses. Learn our full assessment of the Bose Frames Tenor and Soprano.

James Martin/CNET

Water resistantSure (IPX4 score — splashproof).

For sure, Amazon’s Echo Frames have Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant constructed into them so you possibly can ask what the climate is, get information and sports activities scores, skip your music tracks ahead and management your Alexa sensible dwelling merchandise with out touching your glasses. I like their design — they’re light-weight and match my face comfortably and securely (they match me higher than all of the Bose audio glasses). In addition they work nicely for making calls, with respectable noise discount open air. 

Actually, the one strike in opposition to them is that they sound fairly middle-of-the-road for audio glasses. They’re OK sound-wise however are missing within the bass division and fall nicely in need of the Bose Frames by way of sound. That mentioned, they’re at the moment an honest choice for audio glasses and in the event you strive them and don’t love them, they’re straightforward sufficient to return to Amazon. It’s value noting that the included lenses are clear and never tinted, so they aren’t sun shades.

They arrive in a number of completely different shade choices (the Horizon Blue model is pictured) and battery life is rated at a modest 4 hours for music playback. Just like the Bose Frames (apart from the Tempo), they cost with a proprietary pogo-pin cable. A pleasant carrying case is included.

On-line alternative lens websites comparable to replacerxlenses.com, Lensabl and overnightglasses.com can match Echo Frames with RX lenses.

David Carnoy/CNET

Water resistantSure (IPX4 score — splashproof).

Austria-based Fauna simply launched its audio glasses, which can be found in a number of completely different fashion choices. They’ve a premium really feel to them and are among the many most fashionable audio glasses on the market — I attempted the Spiro clear brown (pictured), which match my face nicely and has Carl Zeiss tinted lenses. 

I had a little bit bother initially pairing the glasses with my iPhone 12 Professional — I needed to reset the glasses — however as soon as I obtained all the pieces linked up they mechanically paired each time I took them out of the case. These glasses cost of their case, which has a USB-C port built-in into it. 

The Fauna glasses I attempted sounded fuller than the Amazon Echo Frames, however they weren’t pretty much as good as any of the Bose Frames. In addition they labored decently for making calls.

Fauna audio glasses are on the costly facet at $300, however they do have a extra premium appear and feel to them — and that goes for the case as nicely. The sound high quality is best than what you get from most audio glasses, too, but it surely’s nonetheless a little bit underwhelming in comparison with what you get from a pair of finances headphones. 

On-line alternative lens websites comparable to replacerxlenses.com, Lensabl, and overnightglasses.com can match Fauna audio glasses with RX lenses. 

David Carnoy/CNET

A whole lot of the higher Bluetooth audio glasses begin round $200. Flows, which makes ound (Taylor’s) and sq. (Bruno’s) fashions, sells its audio glasses for $150 and in the event you apply the code CNET20 at checkout, you may get you 20% off ($30), which places them at an inexpensive $120.

I attempted the Taylor’s they usually match my face nicely and have been comfy to put on. They do not sound nice however in addition they do not sound unhealthy. They’re sort of center of the pack so far as sound goes and the identical goes for call-quality efficiency. Battery life is rated at as much as 5 hours for music listening, which can be center of the pack.

They arrive with tinted lenses however you should buy an elective lens pack that features three lenses (together with clear) for $30. The lenses are comparatively straightforward to swap out and in. 

The 20%-off low cost code (CNET20) is at the moment on good on the Flows web site, and it is unclear when it can expire.

David Carnoy/CNET

Perhaps you’ve got had your eye on Bose’s second-gen Frames audio sun shades (see above), however you seemed on the $250 price ticket and mentioned no thanks. Properly, JLab Audio might be releasing a $49 various in late April (they’re out there for preorder now). The JBuds Frames are basically open-ear true-wireless earbuds that clip onto your current glasses.

It is an intriguing idea that JLab describes as a bring-your-own-frame design, though it is clearly a bit kludgy wanting and a bit disingenuous to name these earbuds “frames.” That mentioned, I obtained a assessment pattern and might inform you that these sound virtually pretty much as good because the Bose Frames and are additionally respectable sufficient for making calls. Actually, I would say they’re the second-best-sounding “audio frames” on this record.

JLab says its JBuds Frames comprise “two independently working Bluetooth true wi-fi audio gadgets, which may be affixed to the temples of sun shades, eyeglasses, and equally styled blue gentle blocking eyewear.” They’ve 16mm drivers, and JLab says your music cannot be “heard by these shut by,” although from my exams that solely applies whenever you’re listening to audio at extra reasonable quantity ranges. 

Battery life is rated at eight hours, and the clip-on gadgets have an IPX4 water-resistance score, making them splash-resistant. They cost with a proprietary pogo-pin cable.

Learn extra: The perfect open wi-fi earbuds that are not AirPods

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