Bluewave Get Review

I was really excited when the Get arrived because if the ES100 was any indicator, I would’ve been able to pit two excellent BT audio receivers – and while one would ultimately reign supreme, I would still have an awesome “backup”.

Unfortunately, it was an underwhelming experience. The ES100 just set the bar too high as far as these types of devices go.

I kinda feel sorry for the Bluewave guys – particularly because they’ve been outclassed in almost all aspects by the Radsone guys. I’d like to be able to give them a fair shake but it’s just easier to frame the situation by comparing the two products – given they’re practically supposed to be doing the same thing: deliver high quality Bluetooth audio that you can use with any of your headphones.

Let’s ‘Get’ On With It.

This is probably the only portion I’ll have decent things to say about the Get:

Packaging was better the ES100 in genereal. The box had a beefier structure – which was a good thing since these things tend to be shipped via envelopes/packs instead of actual “boxes.” My ES100 box wasn’t so lucky. The padding protected the unit fine, but it would’ve been nice had it been “mint” in every way. I’m nitpicking obviously, but hey, gotta find some points for Bluewave somehow 😛 It comes the unit, charging cable and manual (under the USB cable padding)

It’s a good looking unit, I’ll give them that. Both have clips; metal for the Get, plastic for the ES100 – so point for the Get there. The ES100 does have that lanyard hole though so make of that as you will.

Size-wise they’re pretty much the same with the Get slightly bigger only because of that barrel – but said barrel is made of aluminum – which gives it a bit of a premium feel as well as a quirky aesthetic if that’s what you prefer. The ES100 on the other hand is more minimalist in its design (and I really dig its LED indicator) – so it’s hard to say which one is better. It would depend on one’s taste.

Given the size of these devices, the controls of the Get are much easier to operate as they’re considerably larger. I also like the idea of the jog dial for the volume – this allows you to quickly change volume instead of the linear response of the ES100 which can take quite a while (and can easily make you press the other side which are the FWD and RWD buttons.

The [Get’s] jog dial doesn’t seem to digital though (not infinitely rolling) – which would suggest a basic potentiometer approach. I wonder if it would get noisy during operation over time as the contacts get dirty. I can’t be certain and I’m not keen on opening this thing up just to find out.

The positioning of the jack (underneath) is also ideal because naturally headphones tend to have long-ish cables, so you just want them to naturally drop. The ES100 has its jacks on its side, so unless you’ve got an L-shaped cable (or are clipping it sideways) it can get pretty annoying. It would’ve been better had they put both jacks at the bottom along with the USB connector.

This is where the Get’s praises stop – because here on out I’m just basically going to prove how inferior it is to the ES100.

Head to Head

The Get was funded in Dec 2016, the ES100 in July 2017. My ES100 obviously shipped three months earlier despite the fact that they started the campaign more than half a year later.

The Get feels pretty basic compared to the ES100. Granted, the ES100 was launched later – so if it was a matter of competing, they obviously had more time to see how to “outdo” the competition (which at that time I would’ve said it was pretty much just the Get) but given how much features are packed in the ES100, and that the Get shipped later, excusable or not, it makes them look really bad.

So shipping aside, let’s see how the ES100 outclasses the Get feature-wise.

Hardware

Starting with the output jacks, the Get has the typical 3.5mm TRS jack, but the ES100 has two output possibilities: the 3.5 and a balanced 2.5mm TRRS (which I’ve been using exclusively ever since I got it), and you can’t dismiss that as a ‘gimmick’ because those types of outputs are usually seen on really high end equipment.

The ES100’s got 350mAh worth of juice vs the Get’s 200mAh battery – in a relatively smaller form factor.

The Get uses the CSR8675 BT platform – which to be fair, is said to be the most advanced bluetooth platform to date but uses its built-in DAC. The ES100 on the other had, uses two external AK4375a DAC ICs.

If you want an analogy on why this might be a better setup, think of it as an Apple laptop that’s using built-in graphics vs having a discrete GPU (or two, in this case). Sure, the platform (board) is certainly “top-tier”, but there are always compromises when just using built-in features vs having discrete hardware added to deal with specific tasks. The Radsone guys have developed headsets/receivers with the CSR8675 and yet have still deemed it lacking for high-quality audio requirements.

Firmware

You can upgrade the firmware on both, but the ES100’s updates allow much more low level access on the hardware – for example they’ve just enabled ambient mode via hardware button – which previously could only be toggled via the App. I seriously doubt the Get could do anything close to adding extra features apart from just trying to “tweak” existing ones.

Mobile App

The Get is supposed to have a companion app – but as of this post it still hasn’t been released… so it’s difficult to determine exactly what added value (if any) is to be had. So I’m going to talk about the ES100’s instead. 1 Which, FWIW, was available for download even before their units shipped

The ES100’s EQ setting can be set via app. This feature is huge as it allows you to tune your headphones further of your music source.

Furthermore, the ES100 further extends its mic functionality with an “ambient mode” – basically allowing you to hear your environment should you be using sound isolating earphones or in-ear monitors. The Get doesn’t do this.

You can also adjust the actual voltage being delivered to your earphones via the app. This, interestingly enough, exposes one major flaw of the Get; it was “tuned” for high-impedance headphones. That means if you, like me, are using more “sensitive” equipment – there will be an audible “hiss.” Not only can’t you adjust voltage to compensate on the Get, but you know what their actual solution was? To offer a cable that attenuates the signal.

Bluewave’s offering the attenuator for free – but you’d still have to pay for shipping… and honestly it makes me wonder why can’t they deal with this on a firmware level!? Which just goes to show how much better designed the ES100 is. That voltage switching feature is how Radsone solves the ‘impedance dilemma’ – the fact that Bluewave’s “solution” is a hardware addon just underscores how limited the Get is in its implementation.

Conclusion

So normally the only way I could recommend the Get is if you were using high impedance headphones… but here’s the kicker: The Get retails at $130 (but I hear they’re still selling it at their crowdfunding price of $99). 2 Which is how much I got it for, btw The ES100 retails at $80-$90 – and I got mine for $50. And if you re-read this entire article with this little fact, every issue is now magnified. Because as far as I’m concerned, I just spent $40 more for a ridiculously inferior product.

The only way left is for them to slash the price further and undercut the ES100 by a considerable margin – because seriously, why would anyone bother with the Get at $99 when you can get the ES100 $10 cheaper? Nevermind the fact that Bluewave technically should’ve had longer to work on this product, I’m just trying to come up with a good reason I could recommend the Get in any context – when basically a cheaper product does more, and does it better – and I’ve got nothing.

FWIW, the folks at Bluweave have mentioned they’ll be making another model for low impedance headphones, 3 Which previous backers will still have to purchase anew – but the fact that the ES100 exists makes that plan of theirs pointless and silly at this point. Because it’s not unreasonable to say “don’t bother with the Get; just get the ES100 and be done with it.

There’s absolutely no reason to get the Get over the ES100. A good purchase analogy would’ve been like getting the GoPro Karma when there the similarly priced DJI Mavic that was better in every way.

Notes   [ + ]

1. Which, FWIW, was available for download even before their units shipped
2. Which is how much I got it for, btw
3. Which previous backers will still have to purchase anew

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