Balding gingers really shouldn't wear headbands

 By Jarrett Bellini | @JarrettBellini 

Why This Interests Me:
For years I've been using the same cheap $10 earbuds from Target. Because I'm cheap. And I go to Target a lot. For cheap things.

I plow through about two sets a year. Presumably because they're made with tiny, leftover scraps of plastic from the Beats factory.

But the sound is fine. Quite decent, actually.

Of course, I'm also the worst kind of audiophile. The kind who doesn't mind the quality of MP3s. It's not that I have low standards - which my affinity for Lean Pockets might suggest - it's that I just can't tell the difference

However, when it comes to my beloved $10 earbuds I do struggle with two things: (1) The buds popping out of my ears when I semi-rapidly place one foot in front of the other while lying to myself about doing something that looks like exercise and (2) Actually losing the little plastic buds every time I shove them away in the dumpster fire I call my closet.

There had to be a better solution. Something wireless. Something snug. Could it be RunPhones?

Unboxing/First Look:
AcousticSheep LLC, the company that makes RunPhones and its sister product, SleepPhones, put a lot of thought and care into the boxing. And I especially like the expressions of the two jogging models on the front photo. 

The woman appears smug, thinking she got away with passing lady gas mid-stride, and the man is pretending like he didn't notice. But he did. It's completely awful. And it's trailing them through the park.

They break up later in the day. Sad.

The packaging also includes quick start instructions that were easy to understand, and not particularly taxing on my four functioning brain cells.

The RunPhones headband, itself, is made of really good quality fabric - a soft mesh that wicks away moisture. It doesn't feel or look cheap.

Tucked within the back of the headband is a small, rubbery Bluetooth device. It has three buttons that control power, volume, and track selection.

Attached to the rubbery Bluetooth device is a wire. This connects the two speakers which are both sewn up within protective squares of felt.

One speaker is stitched together with red thread for your right ear. 

Red. R. Right. 

And the other is stitched green for your left ear. 

Green. G. Gleft?

The Big Test:
Positioning your speakers takes a little getting used to. You kind of have to shove and pull and yank them within the band to where you think your ears might be. My ears are disproportionately huge, so finding the sweet spot spans a couple inches from my eye all the way to Pittsburgh.

But once you get them in place, they do stay put. And it's totally comfortable. Just like wearing a headband.

Because that's what it is.

Boom! I was ready for my run. 

Sort of. 

I successfully paired the headband to my iPhone's Bluetooth, but the connection was pretty bad. The audio was cutting in and out. 

I moved the phone out of my pocket into an athletic waistband, and positioned it front and center near my gonads. But the audio connection was still pretty bad.

However, when I slid the waistband around so my phone was resting on the small of my back, the connection was perfect. It never dropped out.

Which is to suggest either my butt has special powers, or that, generally speaking, the music source just needs to be fairly close to the headband and unobstructed.

An armband probably works fine.

Of course, the big question was: How would they sound?

For my trial run, I played some Hard Working Americans. Their live album. And I was sort of shocked. These things sounded ... good.

Really good.

Much better than I would have expected. Easily just as good as my earbuds from Target.

Almost more importantly, though, I could still hear the outside world. But just enough to feel safe. Passing cars. Bicyclists. People having loud conversations while standing DIRECTLY IN THE MIDDLE OF THE BELTLINE PATH!

Overall Thoughts and Suggestions:
RunPhones were impressive. And they should be. The Bluetooth version will set you back about $100.

I also tried the less-expensive wired version. It starts at $40, and goes up to $60 if you get the cord that has a built-in microphone for answering phone calls.

Which is a great way to avoid exercise. I recommend it. With fudge.

It's also worth noting that the actual cord seems to be really good quality. It's not the rubber-coated kind you find with most headphones. It's braided fabric that doesn't stick to your skin.

RunPhones still needs to improve the ease of positioning the left and right speaker pads. I felt like every time I went to run I had to adjust their placement. 

Which isn't a huge deal. But it's still annoying, and yet another step in my morning process which is already plagued by attention-sapping tasks like remembering my name and chipping off dried drool from the side of my face.

I'm not sure how best to fix the speaker positioning problem. Perhaps velcro or a series of snaps for locking them in once you find your sweet spot. 

I don't have the solution, but, for the price point, it's a necessary needed improvement. 

Overall, I really enjoyed my first Bluetooth running experience. And it was nice not to shove little rubbery buds into my disgusting ear canals.

I don't necessarily see myself using RunPhones in the warmer months. But in the winter, I think they'll work great to keep my ears nice and toasty.

The parts that aren't in Pittsburgh.


M Fisher said...

Maybe the goofy looking headband will distract from the fact that you aren't wearing pants.

Jarrett Bellini said...

Nothing distracts from that. Nothing.

Samantha said...

Haven't heard of these before. It is pretty much what I am looking for. Thanks for this review!

dean said...

i read this review for the product and then again for the comedy. thank you.

Anonymous said...

Green. G. Gleft. Nailed it. :)

Anonymous said...

Yes! HWA!

Gail said...

These look interesting. Happy to see ATM expanding!

Anonymous said...

be careful. totally true about the speakers being a pain to move around.

Sebastian d'Anconia said...

It's great to know that there's already a brand out there doing these, I myself made a pair for myself after getting tired or using wired headphones or my ...somewhat overpriced bluetooth Sennheiser, and finding that although the quality is superb, the slide off when doing things such as decline bench, sprinting and such.

I'll be starting an Indigogo soon as I believe I can exceed the quality (specially seeing how these are made on the inside, as well as a better band material and overall lower price. With the ability to make calls being standart. All for less that $40.

I'm curious as to how they're working now close to a year after your posted this article, please let me know.

- Sebastian d'Anconia