Audio

Earbuds perfect for workouts

Look beyond the rather large charging case (left) of the Beats Powerbeats Pro and you have a pair of true wireless earbuds (above) that offer a comfortable fit and ease of use.
Look beyond the rather large charging case of the Beats Powerbeats Pro and you have a pair of true wireless earbuds (above) that offer a comfortable fit and ease of use.
Look beyond the rather large charging case (left) of the Beats Powerbeats Pro and you have a pair of true wireless earbuds (above) that offer a comfortable fit and ease of use.
Look beyond the rather large charging case (above) of the Beats Powerbeats Pro and you have a pair of true wireless earbuds that offer a comfortable fit and ease of use.

The Beats Powerbeats Pro true wireless earbuds are aimed at the sporty crowd. They are also powered by the Apple H1 chip, making them a distant cousin to one of the trendsetters of this genre - the Apple AirPods 2, which uses the same chip.

Compared with the AirPods, the Powerbeats Pro has a more angled design, arguably making it more comfortable to wear. Furthermore, each earbud has an adjustable earhook and you get four pairs of ear-tips of different sizes.

The earbuds stayed snug in my ears during jogs and even when I gave them my own headphones-fit test - vigorously shaking my head. So if I were dashing to catch a bus with them on, I would not be worried about losing them.

There is a button - recognisable by a Beats logo - on each earbud, which you tap once to play/pause music or answer calls. Tap twice to skip the current track and tap thrice to play the previous track. Music playback will stop when you take one earbud out of your ear - a nice touch.

On top of each earbud is a volume rocker. I like that it is a physical button, which is much easier to use compared with having to swipe up and down on an earbud's shell like some of its peers.

Like the latest AirPods 2, it is equipped with Apple's H1 chip that allows for quick pairing and hands-free Siri operation. Activate the voice assistant by saying "Hey, Siri" - you do not need to press a button on the earbud.

The charging case looks like a cosmetic compact on steroids.

  • FOR

    •Hands-free Siri

    •Easy to pair with iOS devices

    •Snug and comfortable fit

    •Long battery life

    AGAINST

    •Bass lacks punch

    •Bulky case does not support wireless charging

  • SPECS

    PRICE: $328

    DRIVERS: 12mm

    WATER RESISTANCE: IPX4

    CONNECTIVITY: Bluetooth

    WEIGHT: 20.3g (each earbud)

    RATING

    FEATURES: 4/5

    DESIGN: 3.5/5

    PERFORMANCE: 3.5/5

    BATTERY LIFE: 5/5

    VALUE FOR MONEY: 3.5/5

    OVERALL: 4/5

It is rather bulky, about 21/2 times the size of the AirPods charging case. At the case's rear is a Lightning port for charging. It does not support wireless charging.

With the H1 chip, it is a cinch pairing the Powerbeats Pro with an iPhone. Place the charging case (with the earbuds inside) near your iPhone and open the case. A window showing the Powerbeats Pro will appear on your iPhone. Tap on it and the pairing is done.

Coming from a brand known for having bass-heavy offerings, the Powerbeats Pro sounds tame, with its bass lacking punch compared with the Sony WF-1000MX.

Overall, Beats seems to have chosen the middle ground for everything with the Powerbeats Pro.

You can hear the mids and highs clearly, but there is nothing spectacular to wow the listener. The flat audio quality may not be obvious when you are huffing and puffing during workouts, but you will notice it in quieter settings.

Maybe Beats can take a leaf from its competitors' book by having an app with an equaliser to let users tweak the audio output to their liking.

The water resistance rating of IPX4 is rather low for a pair of sports headphones. This means the headphones are protected against only perspiration and water splashes.

However, it does have a long battery life of nine hours of music playback, while the charging case adds another 15 hours.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 07, 2019, with the headline 'Earbuds perfect for workouts'. Print Edition | Subscribe