iLive Truly Wire-Free Earbuds Are A Portable Double Whammy

Short on bag space but still need a speaker for when your beach party breaks out? This will do the trick.

At last count, I have six Bluetooth speakers at home. That's not bragging or a sign of an ongoing crusade to find the perfect portable Bluetooth speaker as much as it reveals my dissatisfaction with the lack of an all-purpose device that can handle a little bit of everything. I have a boombox for poolside jams, a "beer can" speaker for evenings on the patio, and a clip-on device for neighborhood strolls and Rodney Dangerfield dance parties on the golf course.

A few of the speakers are fine for packing in my luggage for longer trips, but for shorter trips that require just one bag, space is always a priority. Fortunately, that concern was eliminated with the addition of the iLive Truly Wire-Free Earbuds, which are earbuds first and foremost, but when they're placed in the charging case, they become an egg-sized portable speaker.

How Well Do They Work?

Most importantly, I really enjoy the sound quality of these earbuds. My bar is set by the quality I get from my fruit company earbuds, and in some cases (or rather musical genres) the iLive set sounded crisper and clearer. Typically, my sound testing scale goes from Mumford and Sons to Run the Jewels, and they both sounded great at various volume levels for both the buds and speaker.


Volume is the key, too, as the battery life relies on how hard you want your favorite bangers to bang. At half-volume, the earbuds last six hours, but at 100 percent that drops to four hours. As someone who usually has the volume up high, I found half-volume to be more than acceptable, and even a little too loud on my aging ears, if I'm being honest.

The speaker lasts four hours at half-volume, which is perfect for nine holes on a Caribbean course and downtime at the resort's private beach. As always, please be mindful of your neighbors, because there is a surprisingly strong sound bump when you switch from half-volume earbuds to speaker.

The Bells and Whistles

While they look very basic, these earbuds include some convenient frills, including on-ear touch controls. This option took a little getting used to because like most stubborn technophiles, I pulled the buds straight from the case and tried to figure them out without using the instructions. Bad move, because each operation requires a specific number of taps on the right or left buds. At one point I was tapping and twisting them both like a fool as I tried to figure out how to unpause them.


And for the fitness enthusiasts, the earbuds and speaker/charger case are sweatproof, so they'll slide right into your running/tech shorts' special pocket and give you the perfect soundtrack.

What I Love Most about Them

One of the things I dislike about some earbuds is how they make me look like I have Frankenstein's monster's bolts coming out of my ears—"Fire bad! New Norah Jones good!" This iLive set gave me that impression when I first removed them from the charging case, but I was quickly relieved to see that wasn't the case. You definitely see them, but the villagers likely won't come running at you with pitchforks and torches.