How many pairs of headphones do you own? Better yet, how many pairs of headphones do you think you should own? My better half asks me that second question all the time, because the answer to the first is six. Why, you’re probably wondering, does one man need so many headphones? I’d like to tell you it’s because I’m an audiophile on a neverending quest to find the best sound for my favorite bands and musical genres (90s ska-punk demands a crisp portal to my eardrums). But the answer is a little simpler.
I’ll never forget the first time I lost a pair of Airpods. I was on a flight home from the Bahamas, when I reached into my backpack and pulled out a handful of just air. Gone were my expensive (some would even say overpriced) headphones, and now all I had was a sense of dread that would linger for the flight and Lyft ride home. Losing any set of wireless headphones stinks, because you either have to revert to an old wired pair or you simply don’t have a backup set. That’s part of the reason why I now have six.
Another reason is that losing an expensive set of earbuds really stinks, especially when you probably can’t afford to replace it anytime soon. Eventually I did, but it stung, and that’s when I vowed to find a great, affordable backup pair that could serve as my vacation buds. Today, I have three pairs, all the same brand, and each set serves a unique purpose.
The Treblab X5 Truly Wireless Bluetooth Earbuds
It’s very difficult for some of us to open our hearts to a new brand, but two of my favorite devices I’ve reviewed in the past year come from Treblab: the E3 Wireless Headphones and HD77 Portable Wireless Speaker. The great sound, battery life and durability (my four-year-old loves them as much as I do) I’ve experienced with these devices made it very easy for me to recently turn to this brand to restock my weekender bag’s smaller pockets. So, I started with the X5 as a pair that professes to deliver everything we get from the big brand’s buds, and just like the aforementioned devices, there’s one thing that immediately jumps out with these earbuds: battery life.
The worst sound I can hear in any song—even worse than an autotuned voice—is the dead battery alert. It’s the audio equivalent of licking a 9-volt battery. Fully charged and pumping out the greatest hits of the 70s, 80s, 90s and today, the X5 set provides roughly seven hours of music before they need to be tucked back into their portable charger for two hours. That’s all it takes to be fully powered, and the charger provides four juices before it needs to be charged. In all, that’s 35 hours of battery life with very minimal charging in between.
When is this set at its best?
The X5 earbuds are ideal for the vacation itinerary that just has “Pool time” written on it in huge letters, with maybe a crudely drawn picture of a margarita next to it. The sound is crisp but not overbearing, so I never have to adjust when my playlist makes a weird leap from Americana to hip-hop, and I won’t miss any servers as they shout, “Cocktails!” as if they’re ordering me to comply.
Other pros: They’re very light on the ears and the sound quality is also great for taking important phone calls, even if that’s the last thing you want to be doing on vacation.
Sometimes a name says it all, and that’s certainly the case with the xFit. Smaller than the X5, the xFit also offers a shorter battery life at five hours of continuous playtime (the case provides five charges for 30 total hours, so it’s not like you’ll be scrambling for a charger). But the surprising detail of the xFit is that it boasts bigger sound, which is why this set is so great for a morning or afternoon workout session at the resort’s fitness center.
When is this set at its best?
Great things come in small packages, and you’ll likely love how simple these buds are to control with just the touch of your finger, as if you’re James Bond tapping your ear to test your new gadget from Q. (Hey, I don’t judge how you imagine yourself with your gear.)
Other pros: Don’t want to spend your precious vacation time running on a treadmill? Hit the beach for a long run and don’t worry about a little water ruining your sound quality. The xFit has an IPX6 waterproof rating, which means it can withstand heavy sprays of water. Perfect for a jog through Arikok National Park, with a stop at the natural pool.
Treblab XR700 Earphones
Whereas the xFit earbuds are fine for a jog on the treadmill or beach (and they’re great for sitting poolside as well), they are not the headphones you want for a more rigorous workout or tropical adventure. If you’re hitting the trails of Saint Lucia’s Gros Piton or exploring the lush jungles of Costa Rica’s Nicoya Peninsula, you’ll need earphones that are designed to handle heavy activity without bothering you with annoying wires. This is where you’ll want the Treblab XR700 earphones.
You won’t enjoy the sense of ear freedom the previous sets offer, but that’s the sacrifice you make to have the security of comfortable over-ear hooks that keep these buds from falling to the ground when you’re sprinting or climbing your way through paradise.
When is this set at its best?
Let’s call these the Ironman earbuds of this Treblab collection, because they can handle land or sea. With an IPX7 waterproof rating, the XR700 set can withstand being submerged in one meter of water for up to 30 minutes. At the very least, that means making your way through a rain forest or forgetting to stash your buds in a bag before a cannonball into the Caribbean Sea won’t leave you mourning the loss of another pair of headphones. (Just please remember to at least stash your phone before you leap.)
Other pros: Big workouts and adventures require big sound, which is on display here. And while this set doesn’t have a charging pod like the others, it has the longest continuous battery life at nine hours.