I’m a bit leery of ear bud headphones in general. My ears are constructed in the exact shape that will rudely eject any bud the moment I put them in. Add to this the notion of earbuds that are wireless — the cord being the one thing that typically stops me from losing any pair of buds I own the instant I open the box — and it felt like I already knew how my review of BlueAnt’s new wireless sportsbuds was going to end before it began.
It didn’t though, and that’s probably why I like them so much in spite their flaws.
I’m not going to muck around here. The best thing about the BlueAnt Pump Airs is that, once they are in my ears, they aren’t going anywhere. They fit snugly in the ear, so much so that you can forget they’re there if you aren’t playing anything through them, and I’ve never once worried that they might be about to fall out or disappear on me. Your mileage may vary, but I didn’t even need to change the default nubs on them to get the fit right. In terms of comfort and stability, they without a doubt rank among the best buds I’ve ever used. This factor will be particularly important for the fitness market the buds are aimed at — you can pop these in before a solid run and not only will they go the distance, they’ll never once try to make a bid for freedom. They’re also sweatproof so don’t worry about water damage either. These headphones are happy for you to get stuck into your workout and they’ll sit still for you while you do it.
But while they’ll stay in your ears, the question is really whether you’ll want them to. One of the selling points on the back of the Pump Air’s box is that it has “bass you can feel.” This is an outright fib. Not only is there very little bass compared to similarly priced buds, the only way you’d be able to “feel” much of anything from them is if you turned them up to frankly dangerous volumes and let them rip. These are treble-heavy buds and while they aren’t necessarily tinny, the balance certainly leaves a lot to be desired in my opinion.
There’s also the look of them. While they’re certainly not as bizarre as the Apple Airpods, they’re not as stylish as something like the Jabra Elite Sports either. Indeed, having these odd white protuberances in my ears caused more than one odd look at the train station. The Pump Airs have a big rounded booty on them that extends just beyond the ear, which makes them rather obvious. I think the gawkers were trying to figure out if I had hearing aids. While still fairly small, I still felt a bit like Lobot from The Empire Strikes Back.
The reason for these big chambers on the base of the headset is that they pack a pretty solid charge. The box claims a 15 hour battery life and, having gotten a pretty significant amount of use out of them before needing to recharge, I have no reason to doubt them on this one. The recharge kit is a small plastic compact that connects to a mini-USB cable. This makes taking the charger without easy, and you’ll have somewhere safer than your pocket to stow your buds when you need to take them out.
The usual bluetooth bells and whistles are present and accounted for — microphone for calls, Google and Siri integration, and they come in colours that will match your iPhone.
My big take away from the BlueAnt Pump Airs is that they are ear buds with manners. They’ll behave themselves while you move about, never threatening to jump out of your ears. They have a sound that is inoffensive but decidedly unremarkable (despite some exceedingly confident messaging on the back of the box) and they’ve got a battery that will go and go and go. For those who just want a pair of earbuds that will flippin’ stay in, I can’t recommend these enough. If you’re looking for earbuds that will flippin’ stay in and sound great, you might still need to look elsewhere.
Score: 7.0 out of 10
Highlights: Rock solid fit; Very comfortable; Long battery
Lowlights: Middle-of-the-road sound
Price: $169 AUD