New Smart Mute feature on Pioneer Rayz switches off the mic when not in use

Update: We’ve added information on the launch of the Rayz Plus’ new Smart Mute feature and Apple Store availability. 

When Apple released the iPhone 7 without a headphone jack, it was the end of an era. Like it or not, it’s doubtful the company will reintroduce the headphone jack in the future. Headphones with Lightning connectors are gaining in number, but many introduce another problem in that you cannot charge and listen at the same time. With its new Rayz Plus earphones, Pioneer lets you do both.

Pioneer’s Rayz line consists of two models: The Rayz and Rayz Plus. The models are similar when it comes to most features, but only the Rayz Plus offer the built-in Lightning port that enables charging while listening. Even so, both models do make use of the Lightning connector on iOS devices.

Both the Rayz and Rayz Plus make use of Avnera’s LightX platform, which the company says allows them to use the least possible power from iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch devices. The company doesn’t go so far as to say if this means more or less power draw than Apple’s own Lightning EarPods, but the LightX platform does enable features that Pioneer says isn’t possible with a standard 3.5mm jack.

Each mode features six embedded microphones for a feature Pioneer calls Smart Noise Cancellation, which is supposed to scan your ear and optimize the cancellation for your ears and environment. These microphones can also detect when you’re wearing the earphones and when you’re not, allowing for smart pausing of playback when you take them off and resuming playback when you put them back on. And Smart Mute, a relatively new feature, automatically mutes the microphone when you aren’t speaking and unmutes it when you begin speaking again.

These features cause the headphones to enter a low-power mode, saving you precious battery life.

A companion app, called Rayz by Pioneer, is available in the App Store and allows you to adjust the EQ as well as program the “smart button,” a feature available on both models. This button allows you to quickly and easy open apps without having to reach into your pocket for your phone.

The Pioneer Rayz are available in Onyx and Ice for $100, while the Rayz Plus come in graphite and bronze metallic finishes for $150. (The Rayz Plus is also available in black and rose gold exclusively at and brick-and-mortar Apple stores.) For more information, see the company’s website.

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