Earbud Trifecta: Quality Sound, Comfortable Fit, and at a fair Price.
Even though I have several Apple products, I am not averse to navigating away from the brand. When it comes to my MacBook Pro, iPad Pro, and iPhone 13 Pro Max, I have not yet found suitable replacement options. The AirPods Pro has proven to be a different saga, however, as I have developed a love-hate relationship with them. Despite my love for the sound and features, I have been less than excited about the fit within my ears. To date, I have never owned a pair of designer sunglasses and owned only a single pair of Bose over-ear headphones after receiving them as a gift. Most of my gear remains nontrendy, non-big-box, big-store, and without the catchy logo. Thanks to my availability to test out dozens of devices from a variety of companies, I have grown to trust several groups. One of those groups is Tribit. Thus, as many look to the big-box, name-brand companies this holiday season, I will look to the competitor.
The Tribit FlyBuds C2 True Wireless Earbuds arrived in a 4 1/8 inches wide by 4 7/8 inches tall by 1 7/8 inches thick hanging style retail package. The cover panel provided an emergency cone orange rectangle along the top left with “Tribit Unleash The True Sound” in the negative space. Like other Tribit gear, I have come to enjoy the splashes of orange upon the sterile white backdrop. Just beneath the Tribit icon, you will find the FyBuds C2 title in large bold black font. When you divert your gaze below the product name, you will find a side view of the earphones and a front view of the earbud charging case. I liked the way in which the bold black imagery seemed to float upon the white background and the use of gradient colors to provide added depth. Interestingly, the white background reminded me a little of the Wonka Vision scene from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Along the bottom of the panel you will find an orange-colored “True Wireless Earbuds The Key to Wireless Movement,” and a black Qualcomm aptX icon.
The top panel provided an opaque hanging tab and listed the Tribit name in grey. The bottom panel provided four product-descriptive icons: 4 Mic, Playback Time 8H, CVC 8, and Superior sound. The orange-colored rear panel added quite a bit of color to the experience. Along the top of the panel, you will find the product name in white font and then the BTH96 model number, FCC ID, SKU, IC, BLACK COLOR, 2402-2480MHz, and a QR code. The middle section of the rear panel provided information about device importation, product manufacturing labels, and information about Qualcomm aptX technology. Lastly, you will find QR codes that link to the website and Facebook, compatibility listings (computer/tablet/phone), as well as listings of the firstname.lastname@example.org and www.tribit.com websites.
To access the earbuds, I slid the outer slipcover away from the inner box and lifted the white lid with the orange Tribit logo. Within the orange-colored lower half of the box, you will find a large white-colored multilingual Tribit FlyBuds C2 instruction manual. Beneath the manual, you will find a black plastic layer with cutouts for the 1.6-ounce black Tribit case, and for the small black accessory box that contained the 12-inches long UBS-A to USB-C charging cable. I removed the accessory box from within the form-fitting plastic cutouts, and subsequently the charging case. I removed the semi-translucent plastic wrap from the charging case, lifted the lid, and then removed the earbuds, and then removed the thin plastic film that blocked the charging prongs. I plugged the USB-A cable into a standard 2.4A USB-A dock and then the USB-C end into the charging case. As the device charged, I perused the instruction manual.
The multilingual instruction booklet was broken into English, German, French, Spanish, Italian, Japanese, Chinese, and Korean sections. I turned to the English sections and found the first two panels depicted the product contents/parts, charging case/how to charge, how to wear the earbuds, and how to place them back into the charging case. The next section provided information about powering on/off the device, about Bluetooth Connections (simply open the lid to activate the Bluetooth pairing feature), and listed a convenient Touch Control Instructions table (PlayPause with a double-tap of either earbud, advance to the next track with a triple tap, increase the volume with a touch/hold on the right earbud, decrease the volume by tap/holding the left earbud, activate SIRI with a triple touch of the left earbud, answer/end a call with a double-tap of either earbud, reject a call by holding either earbud and power on/off the earbuds by tapping/holding the sensor). The subsequent pages detailed the charging instructions, 90-minute charging time, and the process to reset the earbuds. The last pages listed the frequency and transmission power, listed a five bullet warning, an important note section about barotrauma and using the correct charger, and then an FCC statement. The instruction manual proved to be quite useful and was well organized.
To pair the earbuds, I lifted the lid of the charging case and noted the white charging indicator on the front of the case. I removed the 0.2-ounce right earbud, then the 0.2-ounce left earbud placed them into the concha (bowl) of my ears, and rotated them into position. Each device measured 1 3/8 inches long by 5/8 inches wide by 3/4 inches thick and fit securely within my ear. Conveniently, a female voice then announced “Pairing.” When I navigated to Settings, to Bluetooth, and then selected Tribit FlyBuds C2 from the list on my iPhone 13 Pro Max, the female voice announced “connected.” To test the fit of the earbuds within my ears, I went for a short jog, I used my children’s jump rope, I shook my head side to side, and I bobbed my head forward/backward. I did not test the earbuds in the shower, however, as there was no waterproof rating listed within the packaging/manual. I was pleased to find the devices remained fixed within my ears and did not dislodge or change positions through any of the above activities. I loved the black coloration, the similar AirPods Pro shape, the texture, and the overall fit. Despite the lack of ANC/Pass-Through modes, the fit of the Tribit Flybuds C2 was markedly better than the AirPods Pro.
To test the sound output, I navigated to the audiocheck.net website and challenged the Flybys C2 to my routine set of tests. When I selected the Low-Frequency Response and Subwoofer Audio Test (10-200 Hz) the male announcer vocalized 10Hz, then 20Hz before I was able to hear the rumble of the bass. With the lower range of human hearing to be at about 20Hz, the earbuds should provide quality lower register sounds. For a non-in-ear canal setup, the bass felt crisper than I expected. Next, I chose the High-Frequency Response and Hearing Audio Test (22-8 kHz) from the list and found that I was able to hear the high-pitched buzzing noise at 15kHz. This test does rely upon the native hearing ability of the user and is the reason the manual provided the barotrauma warning. As we get older, we lose the ability to hear higher-pitched sounds and many adults struggle with pitches above 14kHz. Listening to music/movies too loudly can exacerbate this problem and speed up the decay. I found the test to be on par with other on-ear, in-ear, and over-earphones at 50-70% volume. As noted, it is important to avoid as much sound pollution/trauma as possible, in order to protect one’s hearing. The unfortunate truth is that the damage is often permanent; when it is gone, it is gone forever. The FlyBuds C2 will not provide HiFi/Audiophile deep bass and there was no preset EQ to shift the sounds. For a sub $100 pair of headphones, the bass felt above average.
With the first two tests out of the way, I navigated to the Left/Right/Center programming test and evaluated the earbuds. I found each of the channels was appropriately programmed. For the next test, I used the Stereo Perception and Sound Localization Test to evaluate the stereo nature of the earphones. If you have not used the feature, I would recommend that you turn off the lights, turn the volume to ~60-70%, close your eyes, and then activate the test. You will hear lifelike knocking and will likely turn your head toward the sound. My ten-year-old son and six-year-old daughter absolutely love this feature and regularly ask me to play it for them. Even though they know it will occur, they still jump and giggle. For added fun, listen to “Sound Of Silence (3D Binaural Audio)- Simon and Garfunkel Cover-Jarvis Brothers (Ear to Ear). Beyond the binaural recording and the sensation that people are singing directly into your ears, the intro knocking sequence proved to be quite realistic. Despite my enjoyment of the version of the song, I cannot help but feel a bit of nostalgia for the original or for the Disturbed version. I listened to several 8D audio (sound rotates around your head) and rather enjoyed the testing process.
With the above tests completed, I turned to the group of test tracks that I have come to trust over the last several years. Using a combination of Apple Music, Spotify, and Amazon Music, I listened to “Far Over The Misty Mountains Cold” in The Hobbit, CeeLo Greens “Bright Lights Bigger City,” and the “Train Song” by Holly Cole. I liked the bass balance and the overall blend. The Train Song opening sequence bounced and jived, providing a sultry jazz club vibe. I liked the modern city dance club vibe that the FlyBuds provided with the CeeLo song and the nostalgia of the Hobbit song. To further test the bass, I used the Dark Knight Joker Theme “Why So Serious” and focused on the segment from the ~3:30-4:00 mark. The cacophony of sounds culminated in a pleasing call/response, which was similar to a helicopter rotor wash. I love the song and the ability to feel the dynamic ups/downs of the bass line. For added fun, I listened to Home Free Ring of Fire and enjoyed the ending low growl from Tim Faust.
To test the mids/upper sounds, I used the Braveheart Soundtrack, Robin Hood Prince of Thieves Soundtrack, Far and Away Soundtrack, and “Caribbean Blue,” by Enya. I was pleased with the treble and with the clean movements of the songs. I felt that the bass supported the sounds without becoming too muddy and that the upper sounds felt round/warm without getting harsh/tinny at higher volumes. I like to use instrumental pieces to try to localize/identify each of the voices within the group. Similarly, I utilize Acapella-style songs (Pentantonix, Home Free, Gospel Plowboys) to appreciate the harmonies. With the holiday season rapidly approaching, I had an excuse to listen to several of my holiday favorites. Overall, I was pleased with the earbuds and enjoyed the sound output. I never missed an active noise canceling feature, even when riding inside of my friend’s loud diesel truck. I felt the blend EQ was well suited for instrumental, for modern Pop (Charlie Puth/Meghan Trainor, Beyoncé, Lady Gaga, Taylor Swift, etc), for Country (Alabama), and for Acapella ( Pentatonic, Home Free). Typically by this point, I deteriorate into play mode and forget that the goal was to review the earbuds. I found myself listening to the Star is Born soundtrack, to Rocketman, and to the Bohemian Rhapsody Soundtracks.
Luckily, the above problem is exactly the scenario that an earbud manufacturer wants to create. After several hours of continuous listening, I found no ear fatigue and wanted to continue listening. While reviewing the music quality, I also tested/evaluated the touch controls. I found the single/double/triple touch to be quite responsive and easy to control. However, I did not like the touch/hold volume controls because they were not sensitive enough for my liking. I would have preferred to control the volume through a single or double touch. Instead, the touch/hold option tended to bypass the level I wanted and I had to adjust it with the phone. I truly enjoyed the 90 minute charge time and found that I ran out of testing day before I ran out of charge on the Earbuds. Even at six hours of continuous use, I found the need to replace them in the case before they ran out of power. Using the devices for approximately 2 hours a day, I was able to go two weeks before needing to recharge. In fact, the website noted that the case provided 24 hours of extra charge (3 full recharges).
Once I finished the music testing, I navigated to Amazon Prime Video, Movies Anywhere, Disney +, Apple TV, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, and YouTube. Unfortunately, there was a substantial lag between sound/audio on YouTube. This problem was not found in the other apps listed above and is not isolated to this brand of headphones. I used the headphones on average two hours per night over the past 10 days and still have power left over. I was pleased with the battery size, the shape, the accessories, and the quality/feel of the headphones. For my final test, and for the ultimate goal/intended use, I navigated to Settings on my iPhone 13 Pro Max, To Bluetooth, tapped the Tribit Flybuds C2, and forgot the device. I plugged my Homuspot device into the bottom of my Nintendo Switch and then pressed/held the blue button. The Earbuds immediately paired with my Switch and the female voice noted “connected.” I was able to play Skyrim, and Borderlands with my dad. I liked the ability to talk through the microphone and was given great feedback regarding the quality of sound and the lack of environmental/background noise. I liked the flush fit within my ear and that the earbuds did not reside within the canal. I enjoyed being able to lay on my side while playing my Switch and loved that there was no pressure-feel within my ear. Lastly, my wife was pleased to report that there was a minimal sound leak from the earbuds.
As you are adding items to your carts this Holiday Season, consider adding some Tribit gear.