I have owned many Bluetooth headphones and earbuds because I just hate wires. Some of them have been pretty nice, and some of them have been a bust. My favorite up until now has been the Arriva Leo, which I reviewed way back in 2011. But in general, Bluetooth headphones suffer from two problems in my estimation: the smaller the headphones, the worse the battery; and using them to answer phone calls is mediocre at best. So I was eager to test the new SMS Audio SYNC in-ear wireless sport earbuds by 50 Cent. Aside from the cool looks of the SYNC earbuds, would they bring the full package to the table? Let’s find out!
Included with the earbuds are three passive noise cancelling tips (S,M,L), three stay-fit wings (S,M,L) to ensure a tight fit in the ear, a microUSB charging cable, an instruction booklet, a neoprene two-pocket zippered pouch, and a cord clip. And for you audio-geeks out there, here are the specs from the manufacturer.
- Bluetooth: CSR Bluetooth 4.0 8645 chipset with APTX, A2dp Profile on 2.1
- Profiles: HSP, HFP, A2DP, AVRCP
- Frequency Response: 20-20,000 Hz
- S/N ratio: <2%
- Range: Up to 30 feet
- Charging time: 2-3 hours
- Standby time: up to 250 hours
- Operating time: Up to 8 hours
- 6mm dynamic driver
- Sweat and water-resistant
What I don’t like
Let me start with the things I don’t like about the SYNC earbuds. They don’t warn you with any kind of beeps or tones before they die. They just die. When I use the SYNC earbuds with my phone when I am doing outdoor activities like sports or walking the dog, the earbuds will lose connection with my phone when my phone is on the other side of my body, away from the left earbud. Basically, when my body comes between my phone and the left earbud, it just stops working. The same thing happens when I listen with my Nexus 7 tablet. If I take the tablet and hold it behind my back, then the SYNC earbuds lose connection. I have had other Bluetooth headsets do this, but not all Bluetooth headsets do this, so this is a negative for the SYNC earbuds. I have just learned to work around it. I strap my phone to my left arm and all is well.
What I like (love)
I love the quality of the SYNC earbuds, which are meant to be worn with the cable around the back of your neck. They just feel like a high-quality product. Even the packaging is Apple-esque, if you know what I mean. The SYNC earbuds are incredibly comfortable. I could wear them for hours and never feel as if my ears are being worn out. The stay-fit wings are great at keeping the earbuds in my ears, and they come in 3 different sizes, just like the tips. I swapped out the stay-fit wings to the size that fits me, and I shortened the cable using the cable clip, and now it fits perfect every time I use it. They don’t come out when I turn my head left and right like many earbuds do. I also love that I can get almost 8 hours of listening time with the SYNC earbuds, which is amazing considering the size of them.
I also like the price, at $129.95, which is cheaper than other Bluetooth headsets that I have used that were not as nice as these. I like that the SYNC earbuds “synced” (do you see what I did there?) with every device I have, the first time. And they re-connect the first time, every time. I like the carrying pouch because it has two zippered pockets, so it can hold all the accessories that I take with me.
I like how the USB charging port is behind the left earbud, hidden under a flap on the outside of the earbud. And I like the in-line controls on the left side of the earbuds because the three buttons on the controller are big and easy to use, even when running. You can control the music, volume, and answer or ignore calls by using the buttons on the in-line controller.
The product specs list the earbuds as being “passive noise cancelling”, and I can confirm that they are indeed that. When I have my SYNC earbuds in, I can’t hear anything but the music. I also can’t listen to music at the highest volume setting on my phone or tablet because it blasts my ears, plus it can get a little distorted when I am playing heavy metal music (hey, don’t judge me), so I usually have it at about 75% volume.
The nice surprise that I found with the SYNC earbuds is that the mic that is built into the in-line controller does a great job of handling phone calls. This is the first time that I have tried to carry on a conversation using a Bluetooth headset of this type. I normally use the Plantronics Edge Bluetooth headset on a daily basis for calls, and it is a fantastic headset. I made several recorded calls using both of these headsets, and the SYNC earbuds held their own, surprisingly. I wouldn’t use the SYNC earbuds as my main headset for phone calls, but I have no fear now of answering calls when I have them on, because they are good enough to have long conversations. I should mention, though, that there isn’t any kind of windscreen on them, so when you are outside in the wind, they won’t sound that great to the person on the other end.
(my apologies for the picture of my ear)
I think for the price, these are great Bluetooth earbuds that make your music sound great and can handle your phone calls without fear. They are very comfortable and stay put no matter what you are doing and can last you several workout sessions before needing a recharge. The issue of the connection dropping when my phone is on the opposite side of my body from the left earbud is annoying, I will admit. But the positives outweigh the negatives in my book, so I recommend the SYNC earbuds.
Source: SMS Audio provided the unit used for this review. Learn more at SMS Audio.