When you test drive as many products as I do, it’s hard to run across earphones that stand out from the pack. However, the Rays Plus from Pioneer Home Entertainment U.S.A do just that.
How? They blend the “intelligence” of an iOS app with the benefits of Apple’s Lightning connector. The latter means the earphones are powered by the iPhone, iPad or iPod touch, so you don’t need extra batteries. Also, the Rayz Plus model is the first (and, apparently, the only) Lightning headset with an in-line charging node. This allows you to simultaneously charge and iDevice while the earphones are connected and being used.
The folks at Pioneer Home Entertainment say the Rayz Plus are based on Avnera's LightX platform that enables the earphones to operate in modes with the lowest power use possible. The earphones are sleek and svelte, but manage to pack six microphones into the slim body.
This allows for “Smart Noise Cancellation,” a patented technology that scans your ear and optimizes the noise-cancelling performance uniquely to your ear and environment. Then there’s HearThru mode, which lets in enough outside noise so you’re aware of your surroundings without having to remove your earphones.
The Rayz Plus use the embedded microphones to implement sensor-less on-ear detection, so the earphones “know” when they’re or out of your ear. In other words, like Apple’s AirPods, they can automatically pause and restart audio. And the audio quality of phone conversations and music is outstanding.
As far as I know, the earphones are the only Lightning earphones to support a one-button click that mutes the mics during a call. Speaking of the smart button, it’s programmable and allows you access to open apps and to control the advanced features of the Rayz Plus.
This involves the Rayz companion app, which is free at the Apple App Store. It lets you personalize the earphone’s settings by adjusting audio EQ and programming the smart button.
And I’ve saved one of the coolest features for last: there’s new “Hey Siri” supportthat allows users to make calls, send messages, listen to music and more – all hands-free. The headphones will automatically recognize commands from users, even if their phone is in their pocket.
The Rayz Plus are available in graphite and bronze metallic finishes. They’re available at OneCall.com at a suggested retail price of $149.95.
Apple World Today Rating (out of 5 stars): ★★★★★