It’s not often that an underdog rocks the boat for some of the Big Kahunas in the audio equipment industry, and sure enough, as soon as Apple started retailing BlueAnt headphones, it seems the game has shifted. These waterproof, wireless, dustproof and sweatproof headphones are slowly but surely becoming a household name, even for those who don’t necessarily work out too much.
It’s easy to see why, considering BlueAnt has been awarded the V1 Voice Control Stevie Wonder Award for its built-in coaching, the Good Design Award, as well as many other titles and prizes for audio products released before the Pump headphones. This Australian global communications company claims to ‘orchestrate human connection’, with a headset that’s ‘uncompromisingly rugged’. Those are some mighty big words, especially coming from a company that mainstream audio equipment users had hardly even heard about a year ago, so we thought it’s time we put their Sportbuds to the test.
Build Quality & Design
First of all, we should point out that these are around-ear headphones with a rubberised exterior that incorporates what BlueAnt like to call a ‘Superfit’ system specifically designed for sportspeople. These are slightly on the bulkier side of the scale, with an arch that winds from underneath the earlobe to the top of the ear. It then descends to the ear canal, where it finishes off with silicone earbuds.
The lower end of the left earpiece houses a microUSB charging jack covered with a simple silicone flap. How well you close this hinged flap will affect the water resistance. The right earpiece features the Play/Pause and Volume controls, and the Power button is right above the earbud. Also, right above both of the earbuds are the microphones. The buttons are not flush with the unit, but slightly raised for ease of use.
It’s not the earbuds per se that give this headset its stability, but rather the bulky arch under the ear lobe. Unfortunately, there are no adjusting brackets, which you’d expect with bulky headphones, but even so, these are surprisingly comfortable. They are flexible and light, though, so they should be a good fit for most people.
Visually, the Pump is impressive. It comes in three colour schemes, namely Grey/White/Blue, White/Blue, and Transparent/Green. The colour tones are fresh and perky, and they give the unit a polished but laid-back look.
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In terms of sound quality, these are stereo, over-the-ear headphones, not high-fidelity boomers, so you can’t expect an opera overture on this unit to blow you away, though most highly compressed, high-pitched, big bass and midrange beats will be fine.
The cushiony tip on the earbuds are very light, and they allow some background noise to pierce through, which offers a bit more safety when crossing the street or passing through crowded areas. Still, it gives out a commanding, robust sound that will cover most noise levels, and the emphasis is on the base. With higher frequencies, they tend to drown out some of the detail, flattening the sound and taking out some of the depth, but it still makes for an enjoyable experience, nonetheless.
BlueAnt Pump Features
The packaging for these headphones is a blue box with a magnet clasp to the side, which opens up like a book or chest, and reveals the earbuds and their accessories tucked in under a plastic display pane. Inside the box, there’s a plastic layer holding the coiled headphones, and a booklet underneath, right on top of the accessory compartment. This, in turn, houses a micro USB charging kit, a cable ‘zip’ (cable tie for any extra cable around the neck) and 6 extra pairs of inserts for the earbuds to ensure the optimum seal in your ear. There are also two pairs of what BlueAnt likes to call ‘stabilizers’, which are those extensions that can be jammed into the ridges of your earlobe to keep them tucked in place.
BlueAnt Pumps feature Bluetooth 3.0 technology, which makes them suitable for use with the latest smartphones and media devices out there. They are also waterproof, with a Kevlar and Teflon seal on the 12.5 mm speakers. The commands consist mostly of the Play/Pause button, which also goes fast forward when held. To answer or end a phone conversation, the Play/Pause button will also be the one to use. Double clicking initiates voicemail and another click cancels a call. The’ +’ and ‘-’ volume buttons also double up as rewind and forward buttons when pressed down. This sort of multiple functionality is something that clearly puts the Pump at a vantage point.
The battery gives you two weeks of standby time and nearly 8 hours of continuous play. They take 2 hours or so to charge, and they will last for about two weeks. Unfortunately, the headset isn’t really waterproof, more like water resistant. It can be washed under a running tap, but it can’t be worn while swimming.
If you’re looking for a rugged, reliable headset to wear in inclement weather, the BlueAnt Pump may not come to mind immediately, though it has every reason to. As BlueAnt suggested, it will be your trusty sidekick come rain or shine, but it does have its limitations, though. One of these is the battery. Similar headsets within this price range have been known to last longer. Another one is the noise reduction feature, which is lacking, and the last one is the waterproof feature, which is an overstatement of the water resistance it can offer. Still, it is a wireless unit, and it does get some credit for that. All in all, the design, the functionality and the durability make this a good sporty headset, and they counterbalance some of its minor flaws.
|Play time||Up to 8 hours|
|Standby time||2 weeks|
|Charge time||2 hours|
|Profiles||A2DP; AVRCP; HFP; HSP|