Rumors swirled over the past few years that Sonos would take on Apple’s AirPods Max by releasing its first headphones, possibly with Wi-Fi in addition to Bluetooth. But a little-known Swiss startup has beaten both companies to the punch with a pricey new set of cans.
HED Technologies recently unveiled HED Unity, the world’s first wireless headphones to offer lossless, high-resolution audio streaming over a local Wi-Fi network at up to 24bit/96kHz.
HED Unity lossless Wi-Fi headphones
One can only hope Apple and Sonos are taking notes on the HED Unity release, said Tech Radar, which reported on the new cans Friday.
Going over Wi-Fi gets the cans around data loss long associated with Bluetooth, which new-and-improved codecs try to remedy. That data loss is the reason why Bluetooth headphones like AirPods Max have only recently become more of a standard beginning to rival the excellent audio of high-quality wired headphones.
What does this mean for the AirPods Max 2?
So you have to wonder if and how this might influence development of AirPods Max (2nd generation), which are due for a refresh. They came out in December 2020. Recent speculation pushed AirPods Max 2’s likely release date to at least late 2024, possibly early 2025. For its part, Sonos has yet to come through with premium headphones and rumors have faded.
Enter HED Technologies, headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, as the first to market with lossless Wi-Fi headphones. It arrives ahead of not only Apple and Sonos, but headphone leaders like Sony and Sennheiser. HED created a separate website, getunity.com, for the new product.
Tech Radar noted the startup’s obscurity by pointing out its Instagram account had 207 followers as of Friday, when the TR article came out. As of Monday morning, that account skyrocketed to a still-unimpressive 515 followers.
HED Technologies calls its lossless tech “better than high fidelity, it’s Full-Fidelity”:
Unity’s proprietary Full-Fidelity™ Standard delivers unprecedented, truly lossless audio exactly as it was intended to be heard. Surround yourself in pristine sound and rediscover your favorite music in a comfortable all-in-one, over-ear, completely wireless device.
HED mills the headphones ear cups from high-grade aluminum with a rigid, carbon fiber-infused nylon chassis and memory-foam ear pads with a cooling gel.
The headphones feature 40mm titanium drivers delivering 24bit/96kHz sound, “active environmental sound management” (noise cancellation with the aid of 12 microphones) and a nine-band EQ means you can customize to optimize what you want to hear across the sound spectrum.
The cans also support head-tracking motion detection for immersive, three-dimensional surround sound, similar to AirPods Max’s spatial audio.
Supports AAC codec
When not operating over Wi-Fi, the headphones use Bluetooth 5.3. They support the SBC and AAC codecs. AAC is good for Apple Lossless audio.
You can use the company’s Unity Multisource Music Player app to connect to a music library or streaming services like iHeartRadio, Qobuz, Spotify, Soundcloud and more, the company said. Regarding your media library, the headphones support personal NAS devices, DLNA, UPnP and FLAC files.
The headphones include a dual-core processor and receive over-the-air software updates for improved features over time.
And, as you can’t help but notice, the new cans’ price comes in far higher than that of AirPods Max and its closest Bluetooth over-ear headphone competitors.
Where to buy: getunity.com