BlueAnt Wireless merges comfort with quality sound in the Pump Soul On-Ear Headphone.
Sometimes, at the end of a long day of work, it is really nice to sit back and listen to music. Each of us may enjoy a different genre, but the beauty of music is there often is that one song that speaks to the inner you. I like over-ear/around-ear headphones for prolonged listening, as they tend to not cause ear fatigue. Whether listening to Amazon Prime Music, YouTube or watching movies on Netflix, Amazon Prime etc, I want a comfortable pair of headphones that provides good quality sound. I want full bass, rich luscious upper range sounds and I want a headset that is not going to wreck the bank. Pump Soul provides a great contender to meet all of my requirements.
The Pump Soul headphones are packaged inside of a visually appealing 6 1/2″ wide by 7 5/8″ tall by 4 7/8″ thick box. The front, back, top and bottom are black with rose gold side panels. The cover displays the control panel of the headphones and the popular rose gold coloration of the accents. The packaging promises a deep bass experience, the sweat proof and wireless nature of the headphones. The back of the packaging details the features of the Pump Soul Headphones: Wireless HD, IP54 Sweatproof, 24 hour play time, built-in microphone, Feel the rhythm and bass, and you can safely carry them with the deluxe carry case. At first glance, you will think that the inside box slides out of a slip cover. However, if you place the packaging onto a table, the right side panel is magnetically closed. Lift the flap and the front and left panels will open towards the left. You can then remove the thin clear plastic panel and remove the headphone carry case, with nestled headphones.
Beneath the carry case, you will find a 151 page, 2″ wide by 4″ tall by 3/8″ thick instruction manual. The manual is written in English, French, Spanish, Italian, German and 4 character languages. There is a warning on page 11 about hearing protection and that the headphones can reach decibel levels greater than 100. Most authorities recommended keeping the listening experience to less than 85 decibels, to prevent hearing damage from higher decibels. Additional warnings are provided to remind you to check laws for driving while using headsets and that the product contains chemicals known to the state of California to cause cancer, birth defects, and/or reproductive harm (Prop 65).
Opening the instruction manual to page 3, English, you will find a very helpful diagram of the buttons. Similar to the D-pad of many video game controllers, you will find the layout buttons to be arranged along a plus sign. From top to bottom, you have volume up, multifunction button (MFB) and then volume down. Along the left and right side of the controller, the company has intelligently separated the next/previous song buttons from the volume buttons. Having tested multiple headphones, I really appreciate having separate buttons for volume and track selection. Truthfully, combining the buttons into short press/long press options can tend to be a little less sensitive. At the base of the controller, you have the audio jack and the microphone. At the base of the other ear cup has the micro-USB charging port. If you desire to utilize the system with a wired connection, you will need to use the 3.5mm Jack (included) and plug it into the base of the right ear piece. This feature is less useful on the iPhone 7 plus, as you cannot use the 3.5mm cord without the lightning to 3.5mm adaptor.
The device rests inside of an oval shaped black mesh bag with an approximately 9 inch rose gold zipper. The zipper is incredibly aggressive and the outside is adorned only with a gray logo “BlueAnt Active Studio.” Opening the zipper, you will see the folded up headphones. Remove these from the package and look towards the back of the carrying case for the included accessories. There is a 3 1/2″ tall by 5″ wide mesh pocket that is closed by velcro. Within this pocket, you will find a 48 1/2″ 3.5mm to 3.5mm jack and a 28″ USB A to USB micro adapter. The headphone top is a padded black foam material and has some good flexibility. The ear cups fold into the overarching headband piece. They have a nice click feel, when opening, and are easily expandable for your comfort. The expansion will add 1 1/8″ length to each side of the headphones. To fit my head comfortably (not overly large head), I had to fully extend both sides. I am really thankful for the padded headband. If you have a wider head or a taller head, you may not find this headset to be as comfortable. Additionally, there is a lot of padding about each ear cup (1 3/4″ wide). More expensive earphones will provide a more sleek product, with thinner ear cups. However, you will have to decide if this is worth about 2.5 times the price.
To pair the device, hold the MFB button for 5 seconds. You will hear a didgeridoo sound (Australian aboriginal instrument) and then a double ascending beep. Navigate to settings, Bluetooth on your phone and look for “BlueAnt Pump Soul.” You will then hear a single beep alerting you to the paired status. Some of you may also be able to use NFC connection by placing your phone on the left ear piece. Within the audio playback mode, the button configuration is incredibly intuitive. During telephone mode, the MFB button does more than simply play/pause. Double clicking the MFB button will reject a call, activate voice dial or cancel. Once connected, you can enjoy the audio strength of the earphones.
To start sound testing, I use the audiocheck.net website. The Audio Test section is incredibly useful to test the range of the headphones. Normal human hearing can detect 20Hz at the low range up to 20kHz. The bass on the device is audible at 20Hz and is quite strong even at 25% volume on the iPhone 7 plus. Humans tend to lose higher frequency hearing as they age and most of us will not be able to hear over 14kHz by middle age. I can typically hear 15kHz and my two boys (five and eight) can hear up to 17kHz. The frequency of the device is on par with nearly every device I have tested (20Hz-15kHz). The next test was the channel test, which proved to have normal left, right, and center. Following these tests, I like to listen to my typical sound test tracks.
To test the bass, I use the same tracks again and again. My favorite bass test track is “Why So Serious?” The Joker Theme from The Dark Knight Soundtrack, specifically from 3:20-4 minutes. There is some really neat interplay between the ears, using the stereo nature of the speakers. Yes, they are clearly stereo based off of Audiocheck.net and “Bohemian Rhapsody,” by Queen. Another really good source of bass is the Gladiator Soundtrack and CeeLo Green “Bright Lights Bigger City.” The headphones provide some really nice deeper tones and will provide you a great listening experience. Personally, the sound was too loud at any higher level than 50%. I like that the ear cups provide a hybrid on-ear, over-ear experience. To test the upper sounds, instrumental sounds and the fullness of the sounds I love to use the Braveheart and Far and Away Soundtracks. I was pleased with the instrumentals and felt that the upper ranges were full and not tinny. With this testing done, I turned to CCR and listened to some of my favorite songs from my childhood. The sound was much better than I expected and provided good full tones and good rich bass. I love the privacy of the headphones, as there is not much sound leak from the cups, even at about 1-foot distance. The company has a really good audio/visual algorithm as there was no lag while watching movies, YouTube or Amazon Prime Video.
Overall the Pump Soul Headphones provide a great listening experience and proved to be quite comfortable. When lying on my back or on my stomach, the heavier headband does pull downward and decreases the comfort mildly. Repositioning the headphones fixed the problem. The fit seems nice and works for people with average sized heads. The soft headband is very comfortable, the foam padded ear cups seem thick but provide a comfortable ear feel. Additionally, the ear cups are quiet for those around you and do provide some ambient noise reduction. I was able to enjoy Daredevil on Netflix, while my daughter was watching Mickey Mouse Clubhouse on the TV. The sound passed all of my major tests and did so in a very satisfactory manner. For a pair of headphones under $75, I do not think you will find a better offering. It is true that you may find better sound when you pay for higher end products. This headset feels expensive despite the price.
I have a few minor criticisms. First, the carry bag needs a handle or some kind of webbing to lash/attach it to a pack. Second, the expandable section on the headphone would benefit by having another 1/2 inch per side. The microphone is under the cup on the right and thus the phone calls sound like you are in a tunnel or distant. It will also pick up a lot of background noise like the wind. It is not fair to rate this different than other devices, as most with a call feature have the same issue. I appreciate the option to use the device wirelessly or through 3.5mm jack connection, which is included. The Bluetooth connections/parameters are very good and there is no noticeable lag with video. I have used the headphones approximately 2 hours a day for the past week and I am still at over 50% power. It is listed as taking 1 hour to charge, which is absolutely amazing. I would rate the device at 5/5 stars.
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