Aiwa will certainly not be familiar to everyone, like we are. Although the brand used to be very well known, it has been quiet around it in recent years. That was because it was discontinued after the acquisition by Sony. But now it’s back. The Arc-1 Bluetooth headset seems to give a good picture. We’ll check for you if that’s really true.
Scope of Delivery and Design
There’s not that much in that fancy box. First we see a hardcover bag with the rest in it. Besides the headphones themselves there is also a MicroUSB cable, a 3.5mm jack cable and the obligatory paperwork.
For many, Bluetooth headphones, especially when they are over-ears, must have a simple design. After all, you wear the device on your head, everyone can see it. Large, bulky headphones with a lot of bling bling are eye-catching and like to look a bit ridiculous. Everyone as he wants it. With the Arc-1 you try to make chic design with simple elements look simple.
The manufacturer’s lettering is on the padded headband and is applied rather inconspicuously. The otherwise black headphones are highlighted in colour by two red metal pieces on the left and right with the inscription “aiwa”.
Although large drivers are used, the earcups are quite small and don’t look bombastically large, as is the case with others. The most striking thing about the entire ARC-1 is the bracket, which is made entirely of aluminum.
|40 mm Dynamic, Bonded biocellulose Composite with flexible surround
|15 Hz up to 20 kHz
|Max. Input power
|115dB/mW @ 1 kHz IEC 318
|3.5 mm Stereo mini jack, Bluetooth 4.2
|aptX, aptX LL, SBC, AAC
|20 hours / 800 hours Standby
|Aluminium, imitation leather, genuine leather
In spite of the price and the materials used, we have some faults with the workmanship, but first we address the positive aspects. As mentioned, the bracket is completely made of aluminium, but it is not completely torsion-resistant and can be attached so comfortably.
All pads, covers and seams are also well finished or glued. Nothing stands out or is loose. The leather on the headband is nice to touch and has no flaws. The plastic elements are also processed flawlessly, there are no sharp or protruding edges.
The only negative point is the MicroUSB socket. This is a bit slipped in the case and doesn’t fit properly. The cable can still be connected without any problems, but you can see this small error directly if you look at the Arc-1 from below.
With only 258 grams the Arc-1 is really light. Aiwa does a lot right when it comes to wearing comfort. The low weight combined with the good padding almost makes you forget the Arc-1 on your head. Also the contact pressure is just right. Sweaty ears are still present in hot weather.
Functional Test (Pairing, Volume and Media Control)
Fortunately, the Aiwa Arc-1 does completely without an app. Just switch it on, connect it to your smartphone or something else and you’re done. Of course, the headphones also reconnect directly if you turn them off and on again. The buttons for volume control are also used for media control. A simple press regulates the volume, if it is held down a title can be skipped or switched back.
An interesting feature is Qconnect. This allows the Arc-1 to be paired with other Bluetooth headphones and allows simultaneous sound playback on both devices. The headset is connected to the smartphone or similar. Once this is done, we put the Arc-1 back into pairing mode. Now we hold the two headphones, also in pairing mode, as close as possible to each other. An acoustic signal signals successful pairing. And it works really well! Since this is a beta feature, it can still cause problems according to the manufacturer. Watching movies together is difficult because of the latency.
The headphones can also be connected to two devices, such as smartphones. You can use both devices to output audio, not simultaneously, but if you’re on the go with your tablet and smartphone, it’ll help.
In the test we connected the Arc-1 to a Huawei P20 Lite. There it happened that the smartphone could not connect directly to the headphones when Bluetooth was switched off. This problem did not occur with other devices. Otherwise, the headset connects quickly to the smartphone if Bluetooth is switched on before switching on the Arc-1.
Bluetooth headphones are out of the question for audiophiles anyway, but the Aiwa Arc-1 is really well tuned. The highs and mids are well tuned. If not so good that songs come across as the artist imagined them to.
As a tester who mainly listens to metal, I would like a bit more bass. Even without an equalizer the result sounds very good. The soundstage is fine for closed headphones. Nothing gets lost and even a spatial feeling arrives.
If the Arc-1 is not only responsible for listening to music, but you also need it for telephony, you can confidently use it. The phone calls can be answered relaxed by pressing a button. The caller is very easy to understand (depending on the current network quality) and as a called party you are also easy to understand.
A big criticism goes to the built-in amplifier. If there is a soft spot in a song or if a song is being changed, you can hear a noise. The louder the headphones, the louder the noise. If you play music at normal volume, you won’t hear anything, just like in standby mode.
Aiwa indicates a battery life of 20 hours for the Arc-1. In standby mode (switched on and connected headphones without playback) up to 800 hours should be possible. We haven’t tested whether the specifications for standby mode are realistic. During operation, we came up with 19.2 hours, almost a precision landing. Of course, it always depends on the volume and the range to the smartphone.
For about 150 Euro the Aiwa Arc-1 is certainly not a bargain. Good Bluetooth headphones are available for less money, which even support active noise cancelling. On the other hand, the Arc-1s offer the Qconnect feature, a great workmanship and good sound.