VISIT ANY GEARHEAD’S NATURAL HUB—a Best Buy, maybe, or a coffee shop in San Francisco’s SoMa district. If you’re lucky, you’ll hear the gearhead’s howling soon enough. Someone will shout, “But it’s worth it!” It’s often true that you get what you pay for, whether they’re gazing at a $900 tablet or holding a $2,800 camera.
It could be tough to match our expertise with an ordinary person’s budget. Before this week, if you’d asked me for a nice set of wirefree exercise headphones for under $40, I would have told you that you get what you paid for, except a few outliers.
When I initially tested the Back Bay Tempo 30, I had to double-check the pricing before suggesting them to my colleague Parker Hall. I couldn’t get the $40 earbuds out in my ears when running and walking my dog in the rain and dangling upside down in the climbing gym. I feel bad suggesting any other exercise headphones since they’re so fantastic.
Pros and Cons
- The thing is little and light. The structure is of high quality.
- Waterproof. The bass is pretty powerful.
- It’s especially beneficial for tiny 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 bad.
- The Bluetooth signal isn’t as strong as it is on more costly headphones.
The startup Hot Fits Back Bay Audio is based 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 soon I received them out of the packaging. The case is composed of metal and is fairly tiny, considerably 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 pretty little and shallow. Fitting is usually a difficult procedure, and I’m always concerned if there’s no extra ear fin or wing to secure 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 procedure was basic. It was as simple as selecting them from the Bluetooth menu on my iPhone 11. It is true that they do not have an app to adjust the EQ, but they feature active noise cancellation that is effective. When I returned home after a run, I had to put them outside since I couldn’t hear what my children were saying to me.
Lightweight is a good thing.
These buds have a bevvy of market-leading attributes, which makes them very appealing. The battery lasts for eight hours without the case and for 32 hours with it attached. It has been four days since I have worn them practically continuously and the battery is still at 80 percent.
They’re IPX7-rated, which means they can withstand being submerged for up to 30 minutes at a depth of one metre. I used them while running in the rain (thank you, Oregon), and they felt and sounded amazing.
Allow me to emphasise the fit one more time. Few of my fitness companions passed my last exam, which consisted of taking them rock climbing at the (masked, socially distant) climbing gym after only a few days of training. I did pull-ups and swung wildly about on an outcropping that looked like a giant piece of corn before landing 10 feet away on a mat.
They didn’t make a single move. They’re also extremely lightweight, to the point that I didn’t even realise they were there. At this budget, they aren’t going to be audiophile-quality buds, but they are acceptable.
With Kacey Musgraves’ Pageant Material on repeat in the background, I swapped between these and a pair of Grado GT220s, and they just don’t have the same clarity, particularly in the higher register. Because they have two microphones, calls sound clear on the other end.
The Bass Boost mode is triggered by touching the right earbud on the headphones. For this reason, it was impossible to tell whether it was active because striking the right bud also increased the volume of music. Lowering the volume may be accomplished by pressing the left button.
I tried multiple times to turn off the Bass Boost feature, but the bass is still noticeable even without it, which is how it should be for a set of exercise headphones.
While working out at the gym, the drums on Elle King’s song “Drunk and I Don’t Want to Go Home” were so loud that it was necessary to remove my earplugs to check. That no one else could hear the low end save for me seemed ludicrous at the time.
In addition, the Bluetooth connection is not the most reliable. When I’m doing housekeeping, I generally wear headphones, but after getting the Tempos, I quickly learned that putting my phone on the kitchen table or even simply stepping around the corner can cause the music to stop playing altogether.
The fact that my phone isn’t in my pocket or that I’m not using exercise earbuds to sing songs about butterflies to myself isn’t a huge deal to me. In the event that all you want is a pair of headphones to use while picking up dog poop in the rain and you’re tired of hearing others tell you that you should simply swallow your pride and get a pair of AirPods Pro, these are the headphones to acquire instead.
It doesn’t matter how smooth the casing is because it has no influence on the responsiveness of the touch controls, and I appreciate Back Bay’s approach of assigning volume to a single tap, playback to a double-tap, and skipping tracks to a hold. It has been my experience that having faster access to volume/track skipping rather than stop/start is more convenient whether jogging or exercising.
The fit is as snug as a bug in a rug, and it remains in place during runs and gym sessions much like the Duet 50 Pro does. It is possible to maintain the seal indefinitely, which is superior than some noise-canceling workout earbuds in terms of keeping unwanted noises at bay. Your choice of ear-tips, which are available in six different styles, can have an impact on the quality of the seal, as well as the fit and sound of your headphones.
Despite the fact that the metal charging case is modest in size, which is unexpected given Boston’s love for huge charging cases, this means that it is both pocketable and portable. Because of its small size, the inside LED indicator is a bit more difficult to discern from the outside.
Although the finish is visually appealing, it is susceptible to wear. After packing them in a bag, scuff marks formed on the paint job, indicating that while the metal construction should be able to withstand some punishment, the paint job is not.
The sound quality is outstanding.
The tips of your ears have the potential to influence the tone of your ear.
Playback that is both energising and thrilling is desired.
There is a lot of bass in this song.
In the same way that previous Back Bay products were tested, it is worthwhile to experiment with the various ear-tip sizes available because the impact of their tuning may be significant.
When using the default and smaller options, you’ll get a clear, crisp tone that’s detailed but lacks bass; however, switching to a different sort will give you more weight and ‘fullness’ throughout the frequency spectrum.
Back Bay has yet to produce a subpar pair of earbuds, and the Tempo are no exception to this rule. In terms of looks, fit, and sound, the Tempo 30 hits all the right notes at an incredible price. It has a fashionable appearance, a terrific fit, and an exhilarating sound.
That’s the kind of experience I prefer, and the Tempo 30 can support it even if yours is different. Back Bay has a really dynamic audio flavour, in my view, cleaning up enough information to distinguish between instruments and singers, while also giving a size and scale that are not normally seen at this price point.
Every set of headphones we assess is subjected to extensive testing over an extended period of time. We use industry-standard testing to ensure that features are appropriately compared. We’ll constantly keep you informed of any new information we come across. We would never, ever accept money in return for a product review on our website.