The Tribit X1 True Wireless Earbuds provided many desirable features, with some limitations. Alas, I am still on the quest for the perfect pair of earphones.
I am on a hunt for the Holy Grail of earbuds. I want a low-cost device with maximal battery life, to be lightweight, water resistant, to have amazing full sounds, strong bass, smooth upper sounds and most importantly to have a comfortable all-day fit. I know that this may be like finding a Unicorn in a horse-field, but I can dream. I have read some amazing reviews of the Apple AirPods and some not-so-amazing reviews. I thus could not bring myself to spend over $150 for a pair of wireless earbuds. I am still on the fence about wireless earbuds as around-the-neck style earphones seem to offer more of the features that I want. Battery life and driver size/strength become a significant limitation as the sizes of these devices dwindle. With numerous sub $50 wireless earbuds on the market, I wanted to give the Tribit X1 True Wireless Earbuds a shot.
The Tribit X1 Earbuds arrived in a 3 15/16 inches square by 1 1/2 inches thick sleek, black-glossy, retail box. Resting atop my desk, my eyes were immediately drawn to the brilliant silver-colored 1 7/16 inches wide by 7/16 inches Tribit logo upon the dark void of the cover. Akin to perfume and cologne packaging, the company used mystique and allure to pique my curiosity. Except for a few stickers, the black-colored surfaces of the top, side, bottom and back panels were unadorned. The sticker on the top panel provided a little more information than the cover “Tribit X1 True Wireless Ear…rtable Charging Case, Black NEW.” Luckily, I have had exposure to products from the company previously because it was not easy to identify these as earphones. Turning the box onto the cover, the back panel had a clean, crisp, attractive, 3 1/8 inches wide by 1 9/16 inches tall sticker. The label detailed the Tribit X1 True Wireless Earbuds, the D40 model, the email@example.com email, the www.tribitaudio.com website and a few of the typical product labels.
Lifting the lid off of the box, I found a brown two-panel comment/warranty card with QR code. The card promised 30-day money back guarantee, an 18 Month replacement warranty, lifetime support guarantee and an ability to extend the warranty by 12 months after registering the product at tribitaudio.com/user. If desired, you can use the QR code to connect to Facebook and Twitter. I was impressed that the company set up a charitable contribution to the United States Fund for UNICEF. Behind the comment/warranty card, Tribit included a touching image of three children and their goal to give “every child, a fair chance.” For every review that people leave, Tribit will donate $1 to the United States Fund for UNICEF charity. Behind the cards, there was a five-language instruction manual. The first panel showed the product contents, a labeled diagram of the charging case, the earbud/MFB button and then detailed how to pair/charge the earphones. There were a series of three panels of tables providing information about powering on/off the devices, the MFB button functions, hands-free conversation, LED status, Charging Case LED Light status and then the specifications. The manual promised Bluetooth 5.0, with A2DP, AVRCP, HFP, HSP protocols, 50mAh batteries yielding up to 3-hour playtime, an 800mAh charging case good for up to five charges and the ability to charge the case in just two hours.
Behind the instruction manual, I found the black 31 gram 1 3/4 inches long by 1 1/4 inches thick by 1 9/16 inches tall charging case, two 5 gram earbuds and a 3 1/2 inches long by 1 inch tall by 1 5/16 inches thick accessory box. The case and earbuds were well packaged and arrived nestled within black foam cutouts. The accessory box housed a slightly limited nine inches long flat USB-A to USB-micro cable and a pair of large and small bi-flanged silicone ear tips. I removed the case, admired the subtle darker-black “Tribit” title upon the front of the case and along the MFB buttons of the earbuds. I removed the earbuds from the foam, lifted the magnetic lid of the charging case and then placed the device on charge for two hours. Once the white light extinguished, announcing that the devices were fully charged, I removed them from the charging case. I was surprised that the act of removing/replacing the earbuds did not turn them on/off. I held the MFB button of the left earbud for 2 seconds and heard a female voice state “Power on,” “Connecting” and then realized that only the left device powered on. I held the right side button for two seconds and heard “Second Device connected, left channel (left ear), right channel (right ear).” I navigated to settings, Bluetooth and then chose Tribit X1 from the list. The female voice then noted “connected.” I tested the earphones for a few minutes and then replaced them into the case and placed the case into my pocket. My ten and seven-year-old children asked to hear “We will Rock you” and I navigated to Amazon Prime Music to play the song for them. I heard music from my pocket and realized that the Tribit earbuds were still connected, inside of the case. As noted above, I found it odd that the device did not power down when replaced into the charging case. Interestingly, one of my favorite aspects of this device was the lid during charging. When plugged up to power, the rim of the earbuds illuminated and provided an impression of eyes looking back at the user. With the plethora of headphones that I have evaluated, this interesting and unique experience was refreshing.
The MFB buttons on the left/right earbuds were responsive and intuitive. A single press of either button played/paused a song, a long press of about 1.5 seconds activated SIRI and a double tap of either of the buttons advanced to the next track. There were no controls for volume, nor for previous track selection, which was odd. During a call, a single press answered/hung up the call, a double tap rejected the call and if in the call a double press moved the sound to the phone. Microphone placement at the jawline was not terrible, but it did pick up ambient wind/air if facing the wind. My wife noted that it sounded as if I was a little muffled, but it was no different than standard hands-free devices. Despite using Bluetooth 5.0, the wireless range was similar to other wired/wireless options on the market. You can expect about a 30-foot range and to have similar line-of-sight and interference limitations. Interestingly, after using this device over a few weeks, I found that they would power on/connect when removed from the case, but not if I turned them off before putting them back in. So if they were still powered on when placed back into the device, they would power back on when removed. If I turned them off and then placed them back into the case, it appeared that you had to turn them back on manually as well. Again, I expected for the devices to power on/off regularly when removed from or returned to the case.
If you have perused any of my headphone/earphone reviews, you know that I like to utilize many of the same songs, test sites, and tracks. A few years ago, I found the audiocheck.net website, and I have utilized their Low-Frequency Response and Subwoofer Audio Test (10-200 Hz), their High-Frequency Response and Hearing Audio Test (22-8 kHz), the Left/Right/Center testing and to evaluate an original binaural recording. The Tribit headphones provided a lower range of 30Hz, which is about 10Hz above the limits of human hearing. The bass was okay, but not as strong as the recently reviewed BliTZWOlF BW-FYE1 earphones and much less than some of the other wired devices. The upper range, which is more dependent on human hearing limitations than technology, appeared to be optimal/similar to most other devices. As an example, my ten and seven-year-old sons were able to hear from 30Hz to 17kHz, while I was able to hear from 20Hz to 15kHz. After finding the Left/Right/Center channels were correctly coded, I decided to listen to some music with Amazon Prime.
To test the bass, I utilized “Train Song” by Holly Cole, “Why so serious, Jokers Theme” from Dark Knight Rises, “Bright Lights Bigger City” by CeeLo Green and the opening sequence to Star Wars Episode 2. I have grown to enjoy “Train Song” for the jazz bar feeling and the bounding bass line. It teleports me to a smoke-filled room, where a sultry singer rhythmically sways with the lyrics. I found the bass line of CeeLo Green’s “Bright Lights Bigger City,” and the deep bass of Tim Faust (Home Free) “Ring of Fire” to be average and a little flat. The bass was not empty, but I wanted it to be fuller at the lower ranges. As an example, the low F# growl was audible, but it did not provide the power/feeling of similar devices. To test the upper sounds, I utilized the Far and Away Soundtrack, Queen “Somebody to Love,” “Bohemian Rhapsody” and selections from Billy Joel “Piano Man,” and “The Longest Time.” Recently I have followed whathifi.com recommendations and added a few other tracks to my repertoire. I listened to Radiohead “The National Anthem,” Bob Marley and the Wailers “Turn Your Lights Down Low,” and had similar experiences to those listed above. I believe that there is a limit to minimalism and the ability to provide fit/sound/bass/fullness/smooth sounds, etc. The audio output of these earbuds was about a 7/10. I found that I had to increase the volume to about 60-70% on my iPhone XS Max to enjoy the full potential of the Tribit X1. However, it is important to remember that higher volumes can lead to hearing loss. With the typical OSHA limits of 85 decibels, you can listen for about 8 hours. For every 3 decibel increase, you can expect to halve the listening time. At 80% volume, using in-ear earbuds, the safe listening time is anywhere from 30-75 minutes. Luckily with the volume set at 80%, the Earbuds lasted just over 120 minutes. The higher the volume and the more changes you make, the shorter the battery life.
In addition to the weaker than expected sound, I was displeased with the fit of the earbuds. The installed medium silicone flanges fit well into my ear canals, but the hard plastic shell was uncomfortable within the concha cavum and concha cymba. The devices remained securely affixed to my ear/ear canal with jumping, running and with any activity that I attempted. Unfortunately, I wanted to watch my digital copy of the new Robin Hood (2018) but could not lay comfortably on my side. The plastic pressed into the cartilage of my ear and was quite uncomfortable. I cupped my hand around my ear and enjoyed the listening experience but wish that the device had some padding for the ear. Lying supine, I watched the movie “A Star is Born” and navigated to Amazon Prime to listen to the soundtrack. Again, the sounds were not bad, but they were not as strong as I had hoped. I watched numerous YouTube videos about the movie and the previous Barbara Streisand version. The codecs appeared to be well programmed, and I did not notice any lag between the audio/visual signals with YouTube, Movies Anywhere, Amazon Prime Video, VUDU, HULU, Xfinity.
I do not think that you will be disappointed with these earbuds for $49.99. They fit comfortably into my pocket, and the sound was passable, but features were lacking. Having recently tested the BliTZWOlF BW-FYE1 wireless earbuds, I was better able to notice the limitations of this pair of earbuds. I did not like that the earbuds did not power on/off when adding/removing them from the case. The bass was not as strong, the battery life was not as long, the fit was not as comfortable, and the experience was overall less than the BliTZWOlF FYE1 device. I liked the Tribit case more than the BliTZWOlf case, and I loved the charging eye- effect. I found it odd that it was not possible to reverse the track or to control the sound of the connected smart device. The limited battery life of the earbuds may be one of the most problematic factors for the user. There was also no mention of waterproofing or sweat resistance, which may decrease interest in the device.
If you have not tested similarly priced earbuds, it would be difficult to find a reason not to like the sub $50 earbuds. Alas, there are plenty of features that were not included that should have been. I do not like to leave negative reviews for products, but this device did not meet or exceed my expectations. Having tested numerous devices from Tribit, I was disappointed in this device but know that they have other amazing gear. I have read numerous reviews on this device and found multiple 5* reviews. The Amazon site noted some Bluetooth limitation/connectivity issues, that I did not experience. I had no problem cupping my ears, I had no problem leaving my phone on the table and walking around my home. I had no issue with my iPhone XS Max on my hip and the earbuds in my ears. I also had no major issues with Amazon Prime Music, Apple Music, YouTube, or Pandora. The website promised 18-hour total battery, but this was not realistic. Listening at 50%, I was able to get between 2.5-3 hours per charge. I was able to charge the earbuds five times with the case, but this amounted to 12-15 hours and not 18 hours. I guess the 18-hour claim comes from the ~15 hours of charge available through the case, with an already fully charged pair of earbuds. After reviewing the website, I also found that the “Auto-Pause” feature did not work. Removing one of the earbuds from the ear did not pause the music/video. Placing one of the earbuds back into the case did not pause the playback either. As noted, I wanted to love the earbuds, but this set did not meet my expectations.