Wearhaus’ Arc social headphones are clever: you can share a new song with your friends without asking them to plug in or borrow your gear. However, not everyone can use over-ear cans — you aren’t about to bring the Arc on a run just to broadcast a few tunes. Thankfully, you don’t have to. Wearhaus is crowdfunding the Beam, which crams that social experience into a set of fitness-friendly earbuds. They still include Bluetooth-based music sharing (including to Arc owners) and color-changing light rings — they’re just much smaller and sweat-resistant. If you want to share tracks with a gym buddy or just don’t want to be quite so conspicuous at a silent disco, this is your better option.
At least at a first glance, these perform about as well as conventional earbuds. You can listen for 8 hours before charging up through micro-USB (a full charge takes 2 hours), and there’s an in-line remote to skip tracks while you’re on the move. Wearhaus is touting “studio quality sound” through the 9.2mm, 16 ohm drivers, but that’s something we’d want to verify.
The good news: the smaller design is also the more affordable design. The company is asking for a pledge between $69 to $89 to get the Beam ($120 when it hits retail), and you can score a discount if you buy the Beam in sets of two or more — which, let’s face it, makes the most sense. Your earbuds should ship in October if Wearhaus meets its goal. That’s a while to wait, but you aren’t really going to find social in-ears elsewhere — it might be worth holding out if you like the idea of group listening.