Next up in our line of audio product reviews are the TaoTronics Bluetooth Sport Earbuds Model TT-BH031. Marketed as inexpensive earbuds for those of us who work out hard and listen to music, uh, hard, these sport-style earbuds are sweat/water resistant, have form-fitting, 360 degree adjustable ear loops, and are built to stay put. We tossed these on and took them out for a spin, with activities ranging from jogging, bowling, biking and boxing. Here's what we found.
Out of the box, you get the earbuds, 6 ear tips, a USB charging cable, the carrying case, a clip and a user guide. The earbuds themselves are kind of bulky, and frankly, not all that attractive. They are still “in-ear” but they definitely protrude a bit, kind of like the early bluetooth devices businessmen would put into their ears to make a call and then wear non-stop throughout the day. That said, unless you are the type of person who color coordinates their outfit with their shoes to lift weights, or put on a face full of makeup before you go crossfit, you probably aren’t going to care that much. The included extras are nice, with a durable carrying case, but the included charging cable is extremely short, which is mildly irritating, although we assume this helps TaoTronics keep their costs down, so we can let it slide.
The earbuds have a solid feel to them, and the bulkiness of the design definitely adds to this. The clip that comes with the earbuds is a must use- otherwise, the little rectangular panel that controls the volume, track, etc. will pull to one side as you exercise. With the clip, this is not a problem; just make sure you don’t lose it, or you'll need to rig something up to keep the cord from bouncing all around and pulling at your earbuds. The control panel itself is relatively easy to use, and you can adjust the volume or track by pressing or holding a given button. All the buttons are black, which makes the whole setup more attractive but unfortunately a little harder to use; it's basically a case of fashion over function. It’s not a deal breaker or a big problem by any means, but different colored buttons or a more tactile feel would have been nice, especially when you are trying to change volume or song in the middle of a run.
One thing all of our reviewers praised was the fit. The “360” ear loops really do work well, as you can bend the loops to get your perfect fit and they'll stay in place. What seemed at first to be too snug in the ear ended up just right as we played basketball or ran cross country. In fact, when one of our reviewers took a little spill coming down the backside of a hill, her glasses went flying, but the earbuds stayed in place, giving her tumble a nice soundtrack the entire way to the bottom. What a fit! The water resistant buds held up to moisture quite well, with the aforementioned jogger getting caught in a rain shower (Becky had a rough week), and our basketball players sweating all over the place without a hiccup in the sound or functionality.
The battery life is as advertised, and our reviewers reported that the battery lasted beyond their expectations. The battery level is indicated by blue and red lights, which are easy to read once you know what you are looking at. At a glance, you can tell if you should head out the door, or charge them up a bit for uninterrupted listening. Speaking of uninterrupted, the range of these buds is impressive, allowing our tester to walk to the other side of the office, down a hall and into the break room without having his device on him. This is perfect for boxing, wind-sprints, or any other exercise where you don't want your phone bouncing around in your pocket or strapped to your arm.
The sound itself is quite nice for the price range; well-rounded, with the highs standing out the most. The bass isn't bad but it does suffer a little bit, so if you are buying these to exclusively listen to rap, you might be a little disappointed. However, for a pair of workout earbuds for under $50, the sound performs admirably, and with the exception of the bass (which isn’t terrible by any means), these buds sounded good with metal, classical, indie pop and most everything else we threw at them. Overall, the sound is nice and full, with a roundness that surprises, especially when you look at the price point.