VISIT ANY GEARHEAD’S NATURAL HUB—a Best Buy, maybe, or a coffee shop in San Francisco’s SoMa area. If you’re lucky, you’ll hear the gearhead’s wailing soon enough. Someone will exclaim, “But it’s worth it!” It’s typically true that you get what you pay for, whether they’re looking at a $900 tablet or carrying a $2,800 camera.
It might be difficult to match our knowledge with a regular person’s budget. Before this week, if you’d asked me for a good set of wirefree exercise headphones for under $40, I would have told you that you get what you pay for, save a few outliers.
When I first tested the Back Bay Tempo 30, I had to double-check the price before recommending them to my colleague Parker Hall.
I couldn’t get the $40 earphones out of my ears while running and walking my dog in the rain and dangling upside down in the climbing gym. I feel awful recommending any other exercise headphones since they’re so wonderful.
Pros and Cons
- · The item is small and light. The construction is of good quality.
- · Waterproof. The bass is really strong.
- · It’s especially good for little ears. Battery life of eight hours. Onboard noise-cancelling technology.
- · Up above, there may be a lack of clarity.
- · The quality of the calls is poor.
- · The Bluetooth signal isn’t as strong as it is on more costly headphones.
The startup Hot Fits Back Bay Audio is situated in Boston. Jeremy Abend, the company’s founder, spent a year inventing exercise headphones with a superior fit and sound without the retail price tag.
I was taken aback the instant I got them out of the package. The case is made of metal and is rather compact, much smaller than the case that came with my AirPods Pro. There are six different sizes of rubber ear tips included. I tested the rose gold variant, but black is also available.
The ear tips, unlike other buds, vary not only in size but also in depth. My ears are quite tiny and shallow.Fitting is always a painstaking job, and I’m always concerned if there’s no extra ear fin or wing to keep the bud in place.
The shallow, medium ear tips that came with the Tempo 30 were secure and ideal for me right out of the box. That is never the case.
The pairing process was straightforward. I just picked them from the Bluetooth menu on my iPhone 11. They don’t have an app to tweak the EQ, but they do have active noise cancellation that works well. When I arrived home after a run, I had to take them out since I couldn’t hear my kids talking to me.
These buds boast a slew of market-leading characteristics. The battery lasts eight hours without the casing and 32 hours with it. The battery is still at 80% after four days of wearing them almost continuously.
They’re IPX7-rated, which means they can be immersed for 30 minutes at a depth of 1 meter—I ran in the rain (thanks, Oregon), and they felt and sounded wonderful.
Let me highlight the fit one more. Only a few exercise buddies passed my final test—I took these buddies rock climbing at the (masked, socially distant) climbing gym after a few days. On an outcropping fashioned like a gigantic piece of corn, I did pull-ups and swung wildly about, then landed 10 feet onto a mat.
They didn’t move. They’re also so light that I didn’t even notice they were there.Of course, these aren’t audiophile-quality buds at this price.
While listening to Kacey Musgraves’ Pageant Material, I switched between these and a set of Grado GT220s, and they just don’t have the same clarity, especially in the upper register. They feature twin microphones, so calls sound well on the other end.
Bass Boost mode is activated by tapping the right bud. Because hitting the right bud also increases the loudness, it was difficult to know when it was active. By touching on the left, you may lower the volume.
I tried switching to Bass Boost numerous times, but the bass is substantial even without it, as it should be for a pair of exercise headphones.
The drums on Elle King’s “Drunk and I Don’t Want to Go Home” were so loud that I had to take my earbuds out at the gym to verify. It seemed absurd that no one else except me could hear the low end.
The Bluetooth connection isn’t the best, either. I usually use earphones when doing housework, but with the Tempos, I immediately discovered that leaving my phone on the kitchen table or simply walking around a corner will cause the music to go off.
However, I’m not wearing exercise earphones to sing songs about butterflies to myself, and keeping my phone in my pocket isn’t a big concern.
These are the headphones to get if all you want is a set of earphones for scooping up dog poop in the rain and you’re tired of folks urging you to just suck it up and get a pair of AirPods Pro.
The housing’s smoothness has no effect on touch controls’ responsiveness, and I enjoy Back Bay’s approach of assigning volume to a single tap, playback to a double-tap, and skipping tracks to a hold.
When jogging or performing exercises, I’ve found that having faster access to volume/track skipping rather than stop/start is more handy.
Like the Duet 50 Pro, the fit is tight as a bug in a rug and stays place during runs and gym sessions. The seal is continually maintained, keeping extraneous noises at bay better than some noise-canceling exercise earphones.
Your choice of ear-tips, which come in six different varieties, can affect the quality of the seal, as well as the fit and sound.
The metal charging case is modest, which is surprising considering Boston’s penchant for large charging cases, but it means that it is pocketable and portable. The internal LED indicator is a little more difficult to distinguish due to its modest size.
The finish is attractive, however it is prone to wear. Scuff marks appeared after putting them in a suitcase, so while the metal construction should be able to survive some abuse, the paint job isn’t.
Sound quality is excellent.
The tone of your ear can be affected by the tips of your ears.Playback that is energising and excitingThere is a lot of bass.
It’s worth experimenting with the various ear-tip sizes available, as with past Back Bay products, because the influence of their tuning may be substantial.
The default and smaller selections provide a clean, sharp tone that is detailed but lacks bass, but changing to a different kind adds weight and ‘fullness’ to the frequency range.
Back Bay has yet to make a terrible set of earbuds, and the Tempo are no exception. The Tempo 30 strike all the right notes at an unbeatable price, with a stylish look, a fantastic fit, and an exciting sound.
That’s the experience I enjoy, and although yours may be different, the Tempo 30 can accommodate it.
The Back Bay, in my opinion, have a very lively audio flavour, cleaning up enough information to characterise instruments and vocals, and offering a size and scale that isn’t typically prevalent at this budget.
Every pair of headphones we examine is rigorously tested over a long period of time. To accurately compare features, we apply industry standard testing. We’ll always let you know what we discover. We never, ever take money in exchange for a product review.