Heading out with the ATH-SPORT50BT
If there’s one thing that you can rely on from Japanese brand Audio-Technica, besides the reliability of their devices, are the somewhat convoluted model names. The ATH-SPORT50BT is the latest in Audio-Technica’s mid-priced range of wireless earphones, and while largely devoid of the bells and whistles to keep the retail price low, it’s still a decently robust unit. Built on the same chassis as the costlier ATH-SPORT70BT, the SPORT50BT goes without the touch operation interface and relies on standard buttons. The ear hooks are freely adjustable for height and angle, and while the earphone bases do rest comfortably on the outside of the ears, the depth of the earbuds are fixed, so your mileage will vary depending on your ear shape. A runner with shallower ear profiles will have an easier time achieving a good seal with the ear tips. If you in the minority that happens to have ear canals that are a tad deeper than the earphones can reach to get a good seal, then they simply won’t, no matter which size ear tip you fit on. It’s not a fault of the earbud themselves though, as the nature of sports earphones of this construction style is a bit of a compromise and it’s impossible to have a one size fits all design. That said, the Bluetooth connection is quick to pick up and it’s possible to have the earphones comfortably hooked over your ears. There are no discernible high-pressure spots that can cause pain, and you’ll barely even be aware of them hanging on after a few minutes of use. Continuous playback will see the battery drained in about six hours and then you’ll need to recharge it through a micro USB port hidden behind a small rubber door. Audio is delivered through 9mm speaker drivers in each ear. It’s not the final word in audiophile quality, but when properly fitted with the right sized ear tips for a good seal, noise isolation is good and there is a solid bass kick. Unique to Audio-Technica is the use of optional silicon ear tips shaped like flowers. These do not allow for a complete seal, reducing noise isolation for better situational awareness. The drawback is a reduction in bass frequencies but allows you to properly hear the environment without resorting to electronic aids like pass-through microphones on the earbuds. They are water resistant but not fully waterproof, so while Audio-Technica claims that you can wash them under running water, they are not designed to be fully immersed. At a retail price of just S$88 though, it’s a competitively priced device, and with its sport-centric built, is designed to be tougher than other earphones that you may typically use on the bus and train.