Recently I was presented with two different types of headphones that are Bluetooth to test and review. I have always considered them for running but there was one thing holding me back. What do you listen to them through? I carry my music on an Apple iPod Shuffle which is a little bigger than the size of a quarter and it clips onto my shorts. It retails for only $49.99 for 2gb of space which holds thousands of songs, weighs 0.44 ounces and has 15 hours of battery life.
Compare that to the heavy Sony Walkman we used to run with!!!
Currently this model doesn’t have Bluetooth connectivity so you would have to use headphones with a cable.
When the Apple watch was released, I was excited to use it for running with music (even though it is a rather poor running watch with no GPS) as it had Bluetooth connectivity which would work with Bluetooth headphones. So when I was presented with the opportunity to try these headphones, this was the ideal time.
I tested two different models. The Reverb ACTIVE X Wireless Sport Headset and the Axgio Vigour Sport Wireless Headphones.
Rather than go into detail on the quality of the sound and fit, I’m going to explain why I feel most will not want to use these to run with. Bluetooth. Period. It doesn’t work as a result of signal transmission and water content. WHAT does that mean!!?? It means that if the two devices which are to communicate with each other are on your body and not close to each other, the water content in your body will interfere with the signal transmission and pretty much ruin the ability to hear the music. How bad?? Well, the first run that I attempted with my Apple Watch resulted in frustration as a result of music interruptions every 20-30 seconds. At times it was even more frequently and very annoying. I figured it was the watch or I was intermittently picking up signals from houses I was running by.
I then used the same headphones paired with my new iPhone 6S as I was mowing the lawn (yes I do cut my own lawn and enjoy doing it!!). Same issue. I even noticed that every time I bent over to remove the bagger from the mower, the music cut out. I was listening to CNN through an XM app so I immediately thought it was the app. Wrong. It continued so much that I figured the wifi connection and LTE connection were fighting for each other so I went straight to LTE. Same issues. At this point, I figured the issue was with the headphones. So reached out to the contact I had for them. I was asked, “where did you keep your iPhone while you were listening to the music?”. After explaining that it was in my pocket, the response was simple.
“I had a feeling that was why. This is a common problem among Bluetooth headphones across the board. The signal is broken up by the water in your body. It is recommended by all manufacturers that you use an arm sleeve for optimal signal performance.”
I was then directed to this page for a more detailed explanation.
The Sound Cuts In And Out, Is Choppy, I’m Having Signal Issues, Drops Out Intermittently, Audio Drops Out, Interference
If you are experiencing signal issues this could be a few different things. Below are some quick notes before freaking out…
QUICK NOTES ABOUT BLUETOOTH SIGNALS
While the range of Bluetooth is 10 meters (33 feet), the optimal range FOR ANY BRAND OF BLUETOOTH STEREO DEVICE is 2 feet from the music device, especially outdoors when the connection cannot bounce off things. THIS RULE APPLIES TO ANY BRAND ACROSS THE BOARD. The ACTIVE X bluetooth antenna is located in the right side so make sure your device is above your elbow and on your right side for optimal connectivity to your headset while streaming music outdoors. This will help remedy any signal interruptions.
Water and sweat can interfere with Bluetooth signals as well. Make sure that there is no sweat in direct contact with the Bluetooth Adapter or the cellular/audio device. Make sure the adapter is not in direct contact with skin when exercising and that it is on the outside of any clothing (e.g. if using the iPod or armband, use it over the top of your clothing)
REVERB recommends armbands for your music device to keep the device within optimal range and separated from your skin during workouts. Positioning your hand on the wrong spot of the iPhone or other cellular phones may cause signal drop outs/reception issues. Sweat and moisture in this area, may also cause the signal to be blocked. The issue may be the phone, rather than the headphones.
I then tried a second pair of Bluetooth headphones from a different manufacturer – Angio Vigour Sport Wireless Headphones, to see if the signal loss was the same. It was. In fact their’s was a bit worse.
So being that this is a blog about running and the review is in regards to using these headphones for running, I cannot recommend them. I feel that placing your phone in an armband to avoid the connectivity issues simply defeats the purpose of using a pair of Bluetooth headphones. This makes for a very uncomfortable situation when running and having a tight band strapped around your arm. It’s much more comfortable and less expensive to buy the $30 Apple EarPods and get a $50 Apple Shuffle than to use Bluetooth headphones with a $600 iPhone. Never mind the astronomical price difference!!
In all honesty, the Reverb headphones did sound really great, had great bass, and even blocked out sound by the comfortable fitting ear buds. They even have a wonderfully designed headband that ergonomically stays in place and doesn’t bounce around when running and is %100 cable less. The problem lies in the technology.
If someone out there has figured out a way to transmit the signal without water inference from the body, I’d love to hear from you. Until then, I’ll stick to the wired headphones.