Rayz are no ordinary headphones. The Pioneer Rayz may look like regular in-ear headphones, but they’re quite the opposite. The Rayz are in-ear lightning headphones with a feature-set you’re lucky to find on much larger headphones. They have built-in noise-cancelling technology, auto-pause, a personalization app, a built-in smart button, and the Rayz Plus model comes with an inline lightning port so you can charge your headphones while you listen to music. Not only do they sound incredible, but they actually use less power than any other pair of lightning headphones, including Apple’s!
Other than a few subtle differences, the Pioneer Rayz look like a regular pair of in-ear headphones. Considering the amount of technology they squeezed in, they have a minimalistic design. The buds are angled for each ear and come with three different sizes of silicon ear tips. Each bud has a built-in microphone that’s used for smartnoise cancellation that adjusts based on your surroundings. The inline ControlTalk features two more microphones and 4 buttons: volume up/down, the universal play/pause/siri button, and a smart button that by default controls noise cancellation. The headphones are lightweight, so they’re quite comfortable. Finding the right ear tips is key for the best fit and comfort. There are no ear-stabilizers or ear-hooks included, so if you generally have trouble with earbuds staying in you might need to use your own ear tips (or comply ear tips).
Of course, there’s one very obvious design difference: there’s no standard headphone plug, instead there’s a lightning plug for Apple iOS devices. Pioneer design the headphones in a way that makes them very power efficient, more so than any other lightning headphones. Because they’re lightning powered, Pioneer was able to build in a lot of features that normally require a separate battery, but there’s no battery or charging required for Rayz. Pioneer even managed to build in a lightning charging port on the plus model so you can charge your phone while you’re jamming out to music. Just plug your standard iPhone charger into the inline port near the end of the headphone cable, and your phone is charging.
For a pair of headphones with so many features, Pioneer did a fantastic job of making them really intuitive. A lot of the comfort features work out of the box. You don’t have to turn them on, just plug them into your phone like a regular pair of headphones and they work. Noise cancellation should work right away and can be enabled and disabled with a click of the smart button. There are voice prompts to let you know the status. Auto-pause will automatically play and pause your music as you put the headphones on and take them off. There’s also a feature called HearThru mode that automatically adjusts how much ambient sound is heard to give you greater awareness of your environment. Everything just works, and it can all be tweaked in the app to your liking.
The app allows you to connect to the headphones and adjust the audio with an equalizer. You can shut off each of the comfort features or tweak how they work. You can also set up the smart button to open an app of your choice. Future app updates can unlock new features on the headphones.
We imagine Pioneer named these Rayz because they sound like a ray of sunshine in your ear. They’re bright with a lot of detail and fullness. The music truly shines, and most anyone in the market for better in-ears would agree they sound phenomenal. They’re very well balanced, and if you don’t like how they’re tuned you can tweak the equalizer to your preference in the app. Out of the box they’re favorable to most any genre. Having a good fit and using noise cancellation helps a lot. The good fit adds a noticable amount of bass. With a looser fit the bass is a bit light, but with a nice tight fit, the bass is very natural and relatively boomy. It complements the music perfectly. The noise cancellation is lightweight; it removes a lot of ambient noise without eliminating background noise altogether. It’s almost always preferable when listening to Rayz. There’s also no annoying anti-noise hiss that you may find on some noise cancelling over-ear headphones. The mid-range audio is so clear and detailed that voices and instruments pop right out of the music. It’s a truly excellent listening experience.
Read on for the Verdict…